Before there was MAMMA MIA!, there was ABBA.
On Saturday, April 6, 1974, in the English coastal town of Brighton, a group known in their native Sweden but unknown to the rest of the world, won the Eurovision Song Contest with a song entitled “Waterloo.” ABBA had arrived and the rest is not merely history but the stuff of legend. To date, ABBA has sold over 350 million records and remains the world’s second biggest selling band of all time, surpassed only by The Beatles.
Following their Eurovision triumph, Agnetha Fältskog, Benny Andersson, Björn Ulvaeus and Anni-Frid Lyngstad (the initials of their first names made the name ABBA) were catapulted onto the world stage. “Waterloo” topped pop charts all around the globe. Over the next eight years, ABBA would achieve countless hit singles, platinum albums, sell-out concert tours and even a hit movie, "ABBA - The Movie."
The group’s chart domination of Europe was unequivocal – with only the Rolling Stones, Elvis Presley and The Beatles achieving longer runs of top ten singles in the U.K. at the time. In Ireland, 13 songs reached number one while in Belgium there were seven consecutive number one singles (overall 16 singles reached number one) and seven consecutive number one albums. Across Scandanavia, France, Italy, Spain, Germany, The Netherlands, Switzerland and Austria the statiscis remain mindboggling. Meanwhile, across the Atlantic, the American hits continued as 10 songs made the Top Twenty, with “Waterloo,” “Take a Chance On Me” and “The Winner Takes It All” making the Top Ten. “Dancing Queen” took ABBA to number one on the Billboard charts.
A truly global success, “Dancing Queen” was also number one in twelve other countries. But Europe and North America were not the only continents to experience ‘ABBAmania’ - there were six consecutive number one singles in Australia and four number one albums. “The Best of ABBA” remains, to this day, the country’s highest selling music album. ABBA’s Melbourne concerts were legendary. There were six number ones in New Zealand with a further twelve singles reaching the Top Twenty. In Mexico, the group scored eleven Top Ten hit singles, with seven reaching number one, and six number one albums; and in Zimbabwe there were thirteen Top Ten singles and no less than eight consecutive number one albums (excluding the compilations still on general release!). In Japan, fourteen singles made the ‘All Japan Pop 20’ with “Summer Night City,” “Chiquitita,” “Voulez-Vous” and “Gimme! Gimme! Gimme!” all reaching number one.
But by 1982, it was all over. Plans for another new album were abandoned and “The Singles – The First Ten Years” released in its place. The year ended with the release of the single “Under Attack” which was the last for the group. Yet despite the fact that ABBA ceased to record or tour together, their music continued to entertain, to enthrall, and to inspire. ABBA is very much a continuing success story. The countless hits have transcended time to remain as popular today as they were when first released, in some cases more so. “ABBA Gold” remains a best-selling album worldwide.
The movies “Muriel’s Wedding” and “Priscilla, Queen of the Desert” both featured ABBA’s music and won the group whole new generations of fans. The opening of MAMMA MIA! has not only seen theatergoers dancing in the aisles - reliving memories or discovering the ABBA sound for the first time – but has also seen “ABBA Gold” back in album charts everywhere the show has played. With at least 3,500 records still being sold every day around the world, the ABBA phenomenon is seemingly unstoppable.
MAMMA MIA! will play the Fox Cities Performing Arts Center in Appleton, Wisconsin August 21-26, 2012. Tickets are on sale now at foxcitiespac.com!
Source: Mamma Mia!