The ABBA story began in June 1966 when Bj?rn Ulvaeus (born 1945) met Benny Andersson (born 1946) for the first time. Bj?rn was a member of the Hootenanny Singers, a very popular folk music group, while Benny played keyboards in Sweden?s biggest pop group of the 1960s, The Hep Stars.
In the spring of 1969, Bj?rn and Benny met the two women who were to become not only their fianc?es but also the other half of ABBA. Agnetha F?ltskog (born 1950) had been a successful solo singer since releasing her first single in 1967. She and Bj?rn were married in July 1971. Anni-Frid Lyngstad (born 1945), also known as Frida, started her recording career shortly before Agnetha. Frida was of Norwegian origin, but had moved to Sweden at a very early age. Benny and Frida didn?t get married until October 1978.
At first, the four members collaborated musically mainly by contributing songs, instrumental backing, production work or backing vocals to the recordings they each made as solo or duo acts. In 1970, the attractive sound of their four voices combined gave them the idea to put together the cabaret act Festfolk (which had the double meaning "engaged couples" and "party people"). This first attempt failed, but in the spring of 1972 they recorded a song called ?People Need Love?, garnering a medium-sized hit in Sweden. At this time they called themselves Bj?rn and Benny, Agnetha and Anni-Frid.
The group entered the selections again in 1974, this time with ?Waterloo?, which took them all the way to the finals in Brighton, England. By this time they had changed their name to ABBA, an acronym of their first names. ABBA was also the name of a Swedish canned fish company, which luckily agreed to lending their name to a pop group. The Eurovision Song Contest on April 6, 1974 turned out to be the most famous moment in ABBA history, when the group won the international juries over with ?Waterloo?.
More than two 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 26 million copies to date.
Many different releases are planned for the 30th Anniversary year of 2004. First up is the DVD release of the television special ABBA In Concert, made during ABBA?s 1979 tour of North America and Europe. ABBA In Concert comes with several bonus selections, including a never-before-seen performance of ?Thank You For The Music?. In April, ABBA?s Waterloo album is released in a 30th Anniversary Deluxe Edition, featuring additional bonus tracks and a DVD of previously unissued television performances.