The end of ABBA

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Today marks the 30th anniversary of ABBA’s last appearance as a group, before taking a “break” that has continued to this day.

Having done almost no in-person publicity for 1981’s The Visitors, the last three months of 1982 saw ABBA on a publicity blitz promoting the compilation ABBA – The Singles – The First Ten Years, new singles ‘The Day Before You Came’ and ‘Under Attack’, and commemorating the band’s 10th anniversary.

In October ABBA were interviewed for the Dutch television special The Story Of ABBA. This special has been made available on DVD under several different titles.

On November 5th a party was held at the Belfry Club in London celebrating ABBA’s ten years. Epic Records, ABBA’s UK licensee, presented the group with a large framed award featuring gold records of ABBA’s 23 singles featured on The Singles album.

The following day Agnetha and Benny appeared on the UK morning children’s television show Saturday Superstore. That evening the whole group appeared on The Late Late Breakfast Show, being interviewed by host Noel Edmunds which ended with an “impromptu” performance of ‘Thank You For The Music’. This programme is featured on The Visitors Deluxe Edition DVD released in April this year.

On November 11th ABBA were interviewed on German TV’s Thommy’s Pop Show. Later the same day they performed ‘The Day Before You Came’, its B-side ‘Cassandra’, and ‘Under Attack’ on Show Express. This latter performance is a popular one among ABBA fans.

On November 19th ABBA appeared on Swedish talk show Nöjesmaskinen (The Entertainment Machine), in one of the group’s most relaxed interviews ever. It’s almost as though they know the end is near, and they (mostly) drop their guard. They performed another rendition of ‘Thank You For The  Music’ around Benny’s piano, and also performed the newest (and as it turned out final) single ‘Under Attack’. This programme is also featured on The Visitors Deluxe Edition DVD.

On December 11th ABBA made their final appearance as a group, with a satellite interview on The Late Late Breakfast Show. It was a rather ignoble end, with an inconsequential interview filled with silly questions. The show ended with performances of ‘I Have A Dream’ and ‘Under Attack’. These two performances were included on the Number Ones DVD (2006).

Then ABBA took their well-publicised break, so that Benny and Björn could fulfil their dream of writing a musical (Chess, with British lyricist Tim Rice), while Frida and Agnetha resumed their solo careers. For years all four maintained that the group was just on a break but would reconvene at some point, but it seems obvious that none of them were really interested in being ABBA anymore; the last couple of years as a group had been difficult and it became evident that inspiration for the group was gone.

(Thanks to ABBA on TV and ABBA Annual for some details)

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