Last week we introduced you to the members of ABBA and their individual music that led to them forming the iconic group that has produced some of the most memorable hits of the 1970s and 1980s. Their fans are global and come from every age group and it is clear that even though they are no longer producing music as a group, their legacy is phenomenal.
I am going to hand you over to William Price King now to share the story of their music and hits of the start of the 1970s.
In April 1970 the two couples went on holiday together on the Island of Cyprus. They began singing as a group for fun on the beach but that turned into an unexpected live performance for the UN soldiers who were stationed on the Island. At the time Benny and Bjorn were in the process of recording their first album “Lycka” which was due to be released in the September, Agnetha and Frida added backing vocals on some of the tracks and following their improvised gig in Cyprus they put together their first stage act under the name of “Festfolket” which is the Swedish for both Party People and Engaged Couples.
The cabaret show attracted generally negative reviews, except for the performance of the Andersson and Ulvaeus hit “Hej, gamle man” (Hello, Old Man)–the first Björn and Benny recording to feature all four. They felt that the foursome was not working at the time and went off to concentrate of their individual projects.
Hej, gamle man” (Hello Old Man), was the ABBA’s first hit. Composed by Björn Ulvaeus & Benny Andersson, the song is about a soldier in the Salvation Army. The track peaked at #5 on the sales chart and #1 on Svensktopopen*, staying there for 15 weeks. *Sweden’s record chart.
During 1971 the group began working together more on each other’s recordings and then Agnetha, Benny and Bjorn toured together whilst Frida toured on her own. However, eventually the recording sessions with the four of them brought them closer to forming a more permanent performing group.
After the 1970 release of “Lycka,” two more singles credited to ‘Björn & Benny’ were released in Sweden, “Det kan ingen doktor hjälpa” (No Doctor Can Help with That) and “Tänk om jorden vore ung” (Imagine If the Earth Were Young), with more prominent vocals by Fältskog and Lyngstad–and moderate chart success.
Stig Anderson, founder and owner of Polar Music, saw a huge future for Benny and Bjorn and persuaded them to write a song for one of the countries prominent music festivals Melodifestivalen. It took a couple of attempts before their song “Säg det med en sång” (Say It with a Song) performed by Lena Anderson achieved third place and became a hit in Sweden.
“She’s My Kind of Girl” was written for the Swedish movie “Inga II: The Seduction of Inga,” by Björn Ulvaeus & Benny Andersson and was originally released in March, 1970 as the first Björn and Benny single. Two years later it was released in Japan, hitting #1 and selling half a million copies.
“People Need Love” was recorded in March, 1972 on the group’s first album “Ring Ring.” This single was set out to promote the “Björn & Benny” duo. The women were simply “guest stars” on the new “Björn & Benny” single. “People Need Love” made the Top 20 of the combined Swedish singles and albums chart, and reached No. 3 on the popular Swedish radio chart show, “Tio i topp” (The Top Ten). Interestingly, it was the foursome’s first charting record in the U.S., where it peaked at No. 114 on the Cashbox singles chart and No. 117 on Record World singles chart.
In 1973, Stig Anderson, tired of unwieldy names, started to refer to the group privately and publicly as ABBA. At first, this was a play on words, as Abba is also the name of a well-known fish-canning company in Sweden, and itself an acronym. However, since the fish-canners were unknown outside Sweden, Anderson came to believe the name would work in international markets. A competition to find a suitable name for the group was held in a Gothenburg newspaper and it was officially announced in the summer that the group were to be known as “ABBA.” The group negotiated with the canners for the rights to the name. “ABBA” is an acronym formed from the first letters of each group member’s first name: Agnetha, Björn, Benny and Anni-Frid. During a promotional photo, Benny flipped his “B” horizontally for fun, and from 1976 onwards the first ‘B’ in the logo version of the name was “mirror-image” reversed on the band’s promotional material and ᗅᗺᗷᗅ became the group’s registered trademark.
Their official logo, distinct with the backward ‘B’, was designed by Rune Söderqvist, who designed most of ABBA’s record sleeves. The logo first appeared on the French compilation album, Golden Double Album, released in May 1976, and would henceforth be used for all official releases.
But the idea for the official logo was made by the German photographer Wolfgang “Bubi” Heilemann (de) on a “Dancing Queen” photo shoot for the teenage magazine “Bravo.” On the photo, the ABBA members held a giant initial letter of his/her name. After the pictures were made, Heilemann found out that one of the men held his letter backwards, which resulted in this style, “ᗅᗺᗷᗅ”. They discussed it and the members of ABBA liked it.
“Nina, Pretty Ballerina” was recorded in 1973. It was issued on 7″ vinyl record in Austria and France to promote the band’s debut album “Ring Ring,” and later in the Philippines. It reached #8 on the singles chart in Austria. The song was also the theme song of “Sirius” talk-show hostess Lynn Samuels who only played “Nina, Ballerina,” as she called it, on Fridays, to reward herself for working all week, when she was on “Sirius Radio” in New York.
Ring Ring,” recorded in 1973, gave ABBA their first big break in several European countries. The song was written by Björn Ulvaeus, Benny Andersson, and their manager Stig Anderson with the original title being “Ring Ring (Bara Du Slog En Signal)” “Ring Ring (If Only You Called)”. This song was initially written for the 1973 “Eurovision Song Contest.” Afterwards, the song was retitled “Ring Ring.” To make it more accessible to a universal audience, Anderson asked American songwriter Neil Sedaka, together with his songwriting partner, Phil Cody, to pen the lyrics for an English version. The Swedish version reached #1 in the Swedish charts.
“Waterloo” is the first single from ABBA’s second album “Waterloo.” This was also the first single to be credited to the group performing under the name ABBA. On the 6th of April, 1974 the song was the winning entry for Sweden in the 1974 “Eurovision Song Contest.” This victory began ABBA’s path to worldwide fame. The single became a No.1 hit in several countries and reached the U.S. Top 10. “Waterloo” went on to sell nearly six million copies, making it one of the best-selling singles of all time.
Next week the second half of the 1970s and more of ABBA’s iconic hits.
Additional sources: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/ABBA
ABBA’s Amazon Store: https://www.amazon.com/ABBA/e/B000APR9C2
About William Price King
William Price King is an American jazz singer, musician and composer. Originally he studied classical music and opera but over the years his style has evolved to what many refer to as the ‘sweet point’ where music and voice come together so beautifully.
His vocal mentors are two of the greatest giants in jazz, Nat King Cole and Mel Torme. His jazz album, ‘Home,’ is a collection of contemporary songs and whilst clearly a homage to their wonderful legacy it brings a new and refreshing complexity to the vocals that is entrancing.
His latest album Eric Sempe and William Price King is now available to download. The repertory includes standards such as “Bye Bye Blackbird” (a jazz classic), Sting’s “Englishman in New York,” Queen’s “The Show Must Go On”, Led Zepplin’s “Stairway to Heaven” and other well-known jazz, pop, and rock classics.
William and Eric Sempe have also brought their own magic to the album with original tracks such as Keep on Dreaming and Red Snow with collaboration with Jeanne King
Download the new album. http://cdbaby.com/cd/williampriceking
William is currently in France where he performs in popular Jazz Venues in Nice and surrounding area.
Connect to William
Website – http://www.williampriceking.com/
Facebook – https://www.facebook.com/WilliamPriceKing
Twitter – @wpkofficial
Regular Venue – http://cave-wilson.com/
You can find all of William’s posts on Jazz, Classical and Contemporary artists in this link: https://smorgasbordinvitation.wordpress.com/william-price-king-a-man-and-his-music-jazz-classical-and-contemporary-legends/
Thanks for dropping by and we hope you have enjoyed this week’s performances.. Your feedback is always welcome. Sally