Rune Söderqvist, the man who designed many ABBA record sleeves and the famous ABBA logo, has died at the age of 79.
As Rune related the story, he was talking to his friend Ola Lager, who had taken the photographs for ABBA’s Waterloo (1974) and ABBA (1975) albums, suggesting that ABBA needed a logo. Ola introduced Rune to ABBA and their manager Stig Anderson, who tasked him with designing a logo.
Rune came up with the now famous logo, in the very plain News Gothic Bold font, with the first B reversed so that it faced the first A, making the word ABBA symmetrical. Compared to some extravagant band logos at the time (see Kiss, Bee Gees, Wings, Carpenters, Chicago, etc), it was quite sleek and industrial.
Happy with his creation, Rune became the designer for ABBA’s and Polar Music’s record sleeves, starting with ABBA’s Greatest Hits, released in November 1975. Though it’s never been revealed exactly when he designed the logo, which was launched in July 1976, it’s telling that the song titles and text on the back cover were in a non-bold version of News Gothic, the same font.
Rune went on to design all of ABBA’s album sleeves, and probably most single sleeves, right through to the posthumous ABBA Live album in 1986. He designed many other sleeves for Polar Music, including Frida ensam (1975) and Benny’s Klinga mina klockor (1987)
He also designed the set for ABBA’s 1979/80 concert tours, in collaboration with costume designer Owe Sandström, with the “icebergs” backdrop matching in with the band’s costumes. The backdrop later became the image for Polar Music, with a modified version still used to this day.
Rune can be seen talking about his contribution to ABBA in interviews for the ABBAWORLD travelling exhibition (2010) and in the documentaries ABBA: Absolute Image (2012) and ABBA: The Photographers Stories (2014).
Many of Rune’s designs instantly became iconic, and will be remembered for many years to come.