Unless you’ve been under a rock for the past 24 hours or so you’ve probably run across the headline “ABBA to reunite?” or “ABBA hints at reunion” or something similar. It’s been reported on probably every news site in the world and also made newspapers and TV and radio news. A Google search reveals over 250 hits on this this story.
The hubbub came about from an interview with Benny and Björn in The Times (London) on 26 March headlined Abba to reform? ‘Yeah, why not?’. The article, which was supposed to be about the upcoming Kristina concert at Royal Albert Hall, starts with Benny joking about the inevitable reunion question. Later interviewer Pete Paphides suggests “the idea of an intimate, one-off performance for invited guests and families, perhaps with a small orchestra, focusing on some of the more “mature” material from the later albums”. Björn jokes that they could perform ‘The Way Old Folks Do’. Benny replies “Yeah, why not?”, then goes on to say that he doesn’t “know if the girls sing anything any more” and “It’s not a bad idea, actually”. That’s the full extent of the reunion “hint”.
A second article in The Times The Way Old Friends Do? Abba offer hope to new generation of fans with reunion hint emphasises Björn and Benny’s responses, but not the tone of the original article that made it apparent it was pretty much in jest. The story is credited to Pete Paphides and Patrick Foster, though I suspect Paphides’ name is attached only as the author of the original piece. He has written many positive articles on ABBA topics in the past, and I don’t think he’d be responsible for such speculation. It seems that then every wire service and news agency in the world picked up this story, not the original interview, and ran with it.
Within hours The Telegraph (London) posted an article headlined ABBA: ‘Reunion is never going to happen’, quoting ABBA business associate and spokeswoman Görel Hanser “It’s simply not true. It was a passing comment Benny made, almost as a joke – nothing more than that. … There is no prospect of ABBA getting back together – it’s never going to happen. I think the fans know that deep down but we’re sorry if we got anyone’s hopes up.”
Just two weeks earlier when ABBA was inducted in to the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame in New York Frida said in her speech “We haven’t been a group, we haven’t performed or sung together for 28 years. We broke up in ’82 and I never think we will reunite again – it’s a bit too late for that.” And on 4 March in a BBC Radio 4 interview the following exchange between Benny and Björn took place:
Question: Will you ever share a stage with the girls again, will ABBA reform?
Benny: Why do we have to say no to a question all the time?
Björn: If we say yes but don’t mean it then there will be headlines tomorrow.
A wonderful blog post titled Mamma Mia!: Abba Reunion Rumors Resurface makes sense of the recurring reunion stories.