11THINGS YOU NEVER KNEWING ME KNEWING YOU ABOUT ABBA
They’re the Scandinavian pop foursome whose toe-tapping hits took the seventies by storm. They’re Abba, and nearly forty years after they last performed together, they’re still one of the biggest bands in the world. But how much do you really know about A
1 IN THE LYRICS of their 1974 Eurovision-winning song, Abba sang: “My my. At Waterloo, Napoleon did surrender.” In fact, military historians maintain that towards the end of the famous battle, the desperate French Emperor committed his Imperial Guard to a final attack, which was narrowly beaten back. With the Prussians breaking through on the French right flank, Wellington’s Anglo-allied army counter-attacked in the centre, and Bonaparte’s army was routed.
2 ABBA ARE SO FAMOUS that they have an entire museum dedicated to them in the centre of Stockholm. However, nobody knows what’s on display inside because it’s forty quid to get in. Forty fucking quid.
3 THE FOUR MEMBERS of the group had very different lives before they shot to stardom overnight at the 1974 Eurovision song contest. Agnetha worked in a bookshop, Bjorn was a meatball chef in the Upsala branch of IKEA, Benny was a tyrefitter at Snabb Passform, the Swedish version of Kwikfit, and Anni-Frid was a sales manager for Sweden’s leading publisher of farmyard pornography.
4 ABBA ARE ESTIMATED to have sold over 375 million records during their career. If all those records were piled up one on top of another in Trafalgar Square and pushed over by the World’s strongest man Geoff Capes, the top of the pile would hit the ground in the village of Revest-les-Roches, 10 miles north west of Nice in the South of France.
5 OTHER THAN the fact that Abba records would land on it if Geoff Capes pushed a pile of them over in Trafalgar Square, there is nothing else even vaguely interesting about Revestles-Roches. If you type the name of the town’s mayor, Rene Goldoni, into Google, nothing comes up.
6 WHEN THEY first formed, the group called themselves “The Swedish Beatles” - “De Svenska Skalbaggarna”. However, on the night of their Eurovision debut Katie Boyle was breaking in a new set of false teeth, and every time she attempted to say the band’s name, she spat out her top plate. The mortified presenter begged them to change their name to something she could pronounce more easily - suggesting the more denture-friendly “Abba” - and the rest is history.
7 KEYBOARDIST Benny Andersson is terrified of flying. So much so that when Abba go on tour, his bandmates pretend they’re going to let him go on the bus, before ambushing him, injecting him with a powerful sedative, and bundling him unconscious onto the plane.
8 ABBA ARE ONE of the few bands to have seen the Loch Ness Monster. While driving between Fortwilliam and Inverness on their 1976 tour of the Scottish Highlands, guitarist Bjorn Ulvaeus spotted what he thought was the monster swimming in the loch. “I was very interested in dinosaurs at the time, and I identified it immediately as a plesiosaur,” he told the NME’s Mark Ellen. However Ellen, an experienced music journalist, thinks it was more likely that Ulvaeus had actually seen a seal, a cormorant or a semi-submerged log.
9 IN 1978, after their van broke down in the Florida Everglades on the way to perform a concert, the band members and Ulvaeus’s Great Dane Scööbygör booked themselves into a run down motel. On the way to their rooms, they saw the glowing apparition of a highwayman, Black Jim, who chased them along a corridor. However, after setting a trap and catching him in a net, the group unmasked the spook as none other than Mr Jenson, the motel’s caretaker, who had discovered a diamond mine in the basement, and had been attempting to scare people away by dressing up as a ghost.
10 IT IS SAID that every Swedish person will run down a moose in their car a some point in their lives. Amazingly, however, no member of Abba has ever knocked down a moose.
11 APART FROM ABBA, the only other famous person from Sweden is tennis star Bjorn Borg. At the last count, Borg had mown down over twenty-five mooses since passing his driving test in 1973.