Benny Andersson interview: ABBA’s Rock Hall induction won’t be a reunion

Two ABBA alumni, Benny Andersson and ex-wife Anni-Frid “Frida” Lyngstad, are scheduled to attend the 25th annual induction ceremony at New York’s Waldorf-Astoria, and just one is likely to perform. “I may play something on the piano, with someone else singing,” Andersson says. He doesn’t disclose the crooner, except to say that it won’t be Lyngstad. “I don’t think she wants to. It’s been so long.”

Andersson’s co-songwriter, Bjorn Ulvaeus, can’t make it because of “a big family thing,” and Agnetha Faltskog, Ulvaeus’ ex-spouse and Lyngstad’s former vocal partner, “doesn’t like to fly.”

The band has turned down numerous offers to reunite through the years, though not because of interpersonal tension. Andersson, 63, and Ulveaus, 64, have continued to work together on several musical theater projects since ABBA dissolved — including, of course, the international smash Mamma Mia! “We were never tempted” to revisit the group, Andersson explains, “because we’ve been so busy doing other things.”

ABBA has been eligible for induction since 1999, 25 years after its first U.S.-released album, Waterloo. The writing team that crafted such hits as Dancing Queen, SOS and The Winner Takes It All isn’t surprised ABBA was overlooked for a decade, even as less commercially successful acts were welcomed. “Critics suspected we weren’t quite as serious as some other bands from the ’70s,” Ulvaeus says.

The band’s recordings, with pristine melodies and ear-candy production, don’t fit everyone’s definition of rock ‘n’ roll. “Their musical vocabulary drew from many types of pop music,” says J.D. Considine, a music contributor to Canada’s The Globe and Mail. “But there weren’t traditional rock mannerisms, like a strong blues base or Chuck Berry guitar.”

As time has passed, though, ABBA’s influence has been cited by many younger rock acts, “so there’s a revisionist appreciation,” Considine says. Hall president Joel Peresman agrees that “the respect ABBA has from rock ‘n’ roll musicians” was a factor, and points to the recent inductions of Madonna and Run-D.M.C. as signs of growing inclusiveness.

Andersson remains a working musician; his Benny Andersson Band just released Story of a Heart in the USA. But neither he nor Ulvaeus, who no longer performs (“He’s a pensioner, a senior citizen,” Andersson quips), longs to revive ABBA.

“Let people remember us as an ambitious, energetic young group,” Ulvaeus says. “A wonderful memory.”

Read Elysa Gardner’s original article in USA Today

8 Replies to “Benny Andersson interview: ABBA’s Rock Hall induction won’t be a reunion”

  1. Isn’t Linda pregnant again and due to give birth shortly? Bjorn mentioned in some recent interview he was due to be a grandfather again soon.

  2. I guess no one really expected all 4 members to go. Even at Mamma Mia in Sweden they avoided standing altogether. But they have left us a huge amount of memories and music that just lives forever. So for that I am thankful.

  3. Well…as Barry n Robin Gibb will be presenting… maybe they can fill in for the missing duo 😉

  4. What a beautiful evening it was. Let me start by saying that Frida’s and Benny’s speeches made up for the embarisingly akward intro by the brother’s Gibb. They couldnt even pronounce Agnetha’s name right. Frida moved me to tears of joy, and I loved that she mentioned talking to Agnetha. I also enjoyed Benny’s long speech. I do in retrospective have to applaud Bjoern’s decision not to reunite, especially after seeing Bands like The Stooges on stage that night (quite frightening I must say (lol).
    However, I really enjoyed seeing half of Abba on stage. I also did not care for Faith Hill singing Twtia, If it’s not sung by Agnetha I just don’t like it (smile).

    Much love to all Abba fans,

    Markus

  5. Anyone else sense a change in shift from the ABBA camp on how they are handling the ABBA legacy? While the no reunion message has been given out for decades this year responses have been much stronger and a united no to reforming – Frida’s no to performing again at the R&R hall of fame comment and the feedback from Gorel that "they" have decided to only send two members to events does indicate that the members are making a joint decisions on ABBA standing again rather than just letting it seemly drift along
    The ABBA world and ABBAsite.com had several items signed by all four members so there does seem to be a steady flow between them which has not been as apparent before. I just hope this does mean they recognise ABBA’s status rather than just being surprised their music has lasted. It may go against Swedish reserve to highlight ones successes and ABBA is just one part of their life’s work (a fact which really does make them outstanding performers) but I do hope that they may organise official biographies or record interviews as they did for ABBAworld for DVD release to help us know just how ABBA and the ABBA team worked and help show the world there were real people and a lot of hard work and amazing talent behind the music.

  6. I thought perhaps Benny and Bjorn would go to the ceremony, OR Bjorn and Frida. I was surprised and happy to see Benny and Frida there. Also, I loved the shot of Frida’s grandson–his smile is just like hers!

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