Sven-Olof Walldoff, the Swedish orchestra leader famous for appearing at the 1974 Eurovision Song Contest dressed as Napoleon as he conducted the orchestra for ABBA’s winning performance of ‘Waterloo’, has died at the age of 82.
In addition to that famous appearance, Walldoff conducted the orchestra when ABBA performed at Melodifestivalen, the Swedish qualifying heat for the ESC. He also arranged the strings on ABBA’s recordings ‘I Am Just A Girl’, ‘Honey, Honey’, ‘Mamma Mia’ and ‘Dancing Queen’.
But his association with ABBA pre-dates the group’s formation: his orchestra played on many of Agnetha’s solo records right back to her first self-titled album in 1968, and also played for Hootenanny Singers ‘En Gång Är Ingen Gång’ in 1967, Frids’s final EMI single ‘Vi är alla bara barn i början’/’Kom en sjung en sång’ in 1972, and wrote string arrangements for Björn and Benny’s 1970 LP Lycka. Sven-Olof Walldoff’ Orkester (orchestra) backed a veritable who’s who of the Swedish music scene in the 1960s and 70s, including many Polar records.
Contrary to popular belief it is not Walldoff dressed as Napoleon on ABBA’s Waterloo LP sleeve – that was bassist Mike Watson.