Stardom

In March 1980, ABBA took their tour to Japan for what turned out to be their very last live concerts. The rest of the year was devoted to the recording of ABBA’s next album, Super Trouper, containing classic hits like ‘The Winner Takes It All’ and the title track.

 

In February 1981 the final blow was dealt to ABBA’s happy-couples image of the 1970s, when Benny and Frida announced their divorce. This event still didn’t stop the foursome from working together. At the end of the year, ABBA’s eighth album, The Visitors, was released. ‘One Of Us’ was the biggest hit off the album.

1982 saw the energy gradually running out of the group, as Björn and Benny set their sights on writing the musical Chess and Agnetha and Frida were reviving their solo careers. The only ABBA LP release this year was a compilation double album of their hit singles, entitled The Singles – The First Ten Years, including two new songs. Although the single ‘The Day Before You Came’ was one of the group’s most accomplished recordings it failed to become a worldwide hit on the scale that they had been used to. At the end of 1982, ABBA decided to take a break. If they wanted to, they reasoned, they could always get back together after a few years.

Almost three decades after ABBA’s “temporary break”, there still has been no ABBA reunion. But the group’s music lives on: the 1990s saw the beginning of a major revival, with successful cover versions and high-profile movies using ABBA songs on their soundtracks attracting a great deal of attention. The compilation CD ABBA Gold, released in 1992, has sold more than 28 million copies to date.

The 1993 companion album, More ABBA Gold, went on to sell 3 million copies. The box set Thank You For The Music followed in 1994, containing all the hits, selected album tracks, plus rare and previously unreleased recordings. Today, ABBA are regarded as one of the all-time classic pop acts, acknowledged by their 2010 induction into the Rock And Roll Hall Of Fame.

1999 saw the London première of the hugely successful musical Mamma Mia!, based on the songs of ABBA. The musical opened on Broadway two years later, and today it is the world’s most popular show, having been seen by more than 42 million people. The fifth anniversary of the musical in London in 2004 was attended by Björn, Benny and Frida of ABBA, while the première in ABBA’s home country of Sweden in February 2005 was attended by all four members of the group. A hugely successful movie version of Mamma Mia!, starring Meryl Streep and Pierce Brosnan, opened in July 2008. The Stockholm opening of the movie was attended by the four ABBA members.

Since the start of the 21st Century, Polar Music International and Universal Music have continually upgraded the ABBA catalogue. So far, ABBA’s eight original studio albums have been reissued with additional bonus tracks, revised artwork and expanded booklets (Waterloo, Arrival, ABBA – The Album and Voulez- Vous have since been released as expanded Deluxe Editions, featuring DVDs containing previously unissued television performances and other rarities). The compilation albums ABBA Gold and ABBA Oro have been reissued with revised booklets and updated liner notes, and a double-CD compiling all ABBA singles, The Definitive Collection, has sold more than 3 million copies. A comprehensive box set, The Complete Studio Recordings, was released in 2005, receiving spectacular press reviews. A box set entitled ABBA – The Vinyls, containing faithful vinyl reissues of ABBA’s eight original studio LPs, is released in December 2010.

ABBA’s videos have been collected on two different DVD releases: The Definitive Collection and ABBA Gold, featuring the cleaned-up and remastered original film clips. The two live concert films ABBA – The Movie and ABBA In Concert have been restored and re-released on DVD, with bonus material. Other DVD releases include ABBA In Japan (featuring a vintage television special), the official documentary Super Troupers and the short film The Last Video, which featured cameo appearances from the ABBA members.

The official website, ABBA – The Official Site, is an acclaimed resource for authoritative information about the group. The year 2010 saw the London opening of ABBAWORLD, an authorized exhibition and interactive experience. This touring exhibition is endorsed by the former members of the band, who have also contributed items and personal video interviews. In 2011, ABBAWORLD is expected to find a permanent home in Stockholm, Sweden.