ABBAWORLD opens in Melbourne

ABBAWORLD The Official Interactive Exhibition was declared open last night by none other than Agnetha and Benny, by video from Stockholm. See their video greeting here.

Members of the Official International ABBA Fan Club were treated to a special preview on Wednesday night, with the official gala opening on Thursday night.

Everyone at both events seemed to really enjoy the experience, taking part in the interactive activities and marvelling at the memorabilia on display. In a nod to the location there is a selection of original Australian ABBA merchandise from 1976 and 1977, and a board of stories from Australian ABBA fans.

Also in a special coup Australian writer Christopher Patrick’s book Let The Music Speak – an armchair guide to  the musical soundscape of the Swedish supergroup is on sale in the gift shop, the only book aside from Björn Ulvaues’s The Little White Piano authorised for sale at ABBAWORLD by the ABBA members themselves. But if you can’t get to ABBAWORLD to buy it you can order it from Christopher’s website.

ABBAWORLD opens to the public at Federation Square, Melbourne on Saturday June 19th. The exhibition is schedule to run until October 31 2010. See a report on the opening here. Go to the ABBAWORLD website for more information.

ABBA tribute acts face their Waterloo

So read the headline of this article in The Stage on 3 June 2010. The story reported that Universal Music hasd written to fifteen UK-based ABBA tribute acts requesting they stop using the name “ABBA”, stating that use of the name was “an infringement of its intellectual property rights”.  A UM spokeswoman was quoted: “We’ve had complaints from all over the world where fans feel they’ve been misled and we feel it’s our duty to protect the ABBA brand from misuse.”

It didn’t take long for the story to morph into “greedy ABBA sues to ban tribute acts”. Firstly in this article and comments on Yahoo! Music, then in this article in The Independant.

While it’s a long-standing tradition for tribute acts to use a name that puns the original (e.g. The Beatnix, Elton Jack), there are at least 100 acts around the world that use the unadultered name ABBA, in names as unimaginative as “ABBA Duo”.

Though many commentators have observed that ABBA fans recognise the real ABBA members, it’s a fact that many tribute shows are misleadingly advertised, especially in North and South America where the individual members aren’t as recognised as elsewhere. There have been dozens of stories in ABBA forums that some of the audience did genuinely believe they were seeing the original ABBA, but surprised that members of a band from the 1970s still looked so young. Some people have even joined ABBA forums and gushed over meeting “Agnetha”, only to feel humiliated when it’s pointed out they met a member of a tribute band.

Search for ABBA images on Google and there are almost as many tribute act photos as photos of the real ABBA. It’s becoming increasingly common to see a photo of a tribute band referred to as “ABBA”.

I wrote about this a few years ago in this very blog. I’m surpised that it’s taken this long for some sort of action to be taken. In 1999 when Stockholm Records (also owned by Universal Music) created the group ABBA Teens as a “new ABBA for the kids of the 90s” Benny Andersson  intervened and requested the name be changed, citing that “ABBA was ABBA”.

ABBAWORLD wants your stories

ABBAWORLD – The Official Interactive Exhibition opens in Melbourne, Australia on 19 June 2010. ABBAWORLD is seeking stories from Australian ABBA fans about their Australian ABBA experience for a special section of the exhibition telling the unique Australian ABBA story.

Did you go to an ABBA concert, have special memories of watching an ABBA special on TV, do you have a favourite ABBA record or a special piece of ABBA merchandise, or any other special ABBA memory?

If you are an Australian ABBA  fan (past or present) and you have an ABBA story you’d like to share please contact me at for details. Stories must be submitted before Friday 11 June for inclusion in the exhibition.

For more information see here.

Australian fans are also invited to join the OzABBA group for all the latest Australian ABBA news.

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