Exclusive photos and “I Was There” report from the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame

Meeting Frida and Benny

Rock and Roll Hall of Fame induction ceremony on 15 March 2010 at the Waldorf Astoria Hotel, New York. An article by Jim McGuire, San Francisco, California, USA…

A dream came true for this long time ABBA fan on Monday night in New York. I met Anni-Frid Lyngstad and Benny Andersson.

I have now been lucky enough to meet 3 out of 4 of the Swedish music legends, ABBA.

I would like to share my most amazing experience with the readers of icethesite, which is fantastic in itself. (Thanks Jim! – Ice)

Back in December 2009 when I learned that ABBA was going to be inducted into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame here in the United States (courtesy of a world exclusive on icethesite), I just knew it was going to be special. Then I read on icethesite that Frida and Benny would definitely be attending the event!

I got tickets for myself and my partner of 28 years, Tom, back in December for this special event just knowing something magical would happen. My long time friend, Jimmy, from Montréal, Quebec is just as big of a fan as I am, especially a fan of Frida’s, so naturally he attended the event with us.

We stayed at the infamous Waldorf Astoria Hotel where the event was taking place, hoping that we would have an advantage of seeing Frida and Benny.

The energy in the hotel was magnificent. The night of the ceremony, Jimmy, Tom and I waited in the Lobby before the event with the hopes of seeing some of the famous rock stars as they entered. In our tuxedos looking quite handsome, I must admit, I was adjusting a photo of Frida that I had in my pocket in which I was going to ask her to sign should I be lucky enough to meet her.

After long deliberation, I finally chose the gorgeous photo of her from her box set Frida, on page 2, which is a beautiful black and white photo taken in 1996 for her Djupa Andetag album photo shoot. It is a stunningly perfect photo of her, just begging for an autograph. As I am fumbling around looking for my pen and trying not to bend the photo, Jimmy grabs my arm and in a shaky voice just says, “Jim – Frida, Frida, Frida!”

Then, my partner Tom says in a firm voice, “Jim! It’s Frida!” For a second, I just froze and couldn’t believe what I was hearing. I stood up, turned around and saw about 12 people in a circle with lots of flashing lights and the sounds of cameras shuttering and clicking. And then my eyes focused and there she was…

Dressed in black leather from head to toe with a beautiful porcelain face and an amazing hair style was none other than Anni-Frid Lyngstad herself. Standing tall, with the most amazing poise, grace, class and fantastic smile…posing for pictures and signing autographs.

Out of nowhere, she was surrounded by paparazzi and fans holding classic ABBA vinyl albums for her to sign. She was surrounded by what appears to have been her bodyguard and her grandson Jonathan (very handsome young man with lots of tattoos) and Görel Hanser who looks amazing! Her entourage kept trying to move her along, but Frida was incredible with her fans – she was taking her time, signing autographs, posing for pictures while trying to walk along.

I said to her, “Frida – please sign one more for me” and she looked into my eyes and said “I will be coming back this way soon”. That in itself made my night – I was ready to just get on the plane at that point and come back to California – my trip was compete. Frida looked at me, spoke to me, and I thought I was going to cry. I managed to get a few shaky pictures of her at that point, which was more than enough.

But the woman was true to her word. Within minutes, she was coming back through the Lobby, being stopped by people. She was signing albums, CD covers and even guitars! I was almost frozen just to see this whole scene unfold in front of me. As she was walking forward, I knew that this was my moment. The 3 of us were walking along side of her, and my fantastic partner Tom took my camera and I made my way to the front of the crowd. Here is the conversation that happened next:

Me: “Frida, I love you so much, you are so fantastic and this is a dream come true for me to see you. I’ve loved you for 30 years.” I then asked her if she would sign her photo.

At that point, Frida stopped, looked at me and said “What is your name?” (in her gorgeous Swedish accent with a beautiful smile) and I said “My name is Jim” (I’m surprised I remembered my name at that point). She then took my photo and signed it and said “Thank you so much”. I then asked her if I could have a photo with her, and she said “Of course”. The photo of Frida and me, I think, is absolutely fantastic and I will cherish forever.

At that point, she made her way into the cocktail lounge at the Waldorf Astoria and sat down in the back of the room with her entourage. We, of course let her have her privacy. At that point, I was the seventh heaven.

Then, Görel Hanser came out into the Lobby and was speaking to some Swedish people. We waited for her to finish, and managed to speak to her and get a beautiful photo. Tom asked her why Agnetha was not there, and Görel simply answered “She doesn’t fly.” Görel  Hanser is a stunningly beautiful, kind and polite woman. Another class act.

At this point, the 3 of us decided to have a cocktail in the bar that Frida was in. As we were enjoying our drinks, we saw a rush of paparazzi go into to the back of the bar and lots of flashbulbs going off. Something was obviously going on. I took a walk back and Görel was stopping people from getting closer. I looked over her shoulder and saw that it was Benny Andersson who slipped in the back door.

People were standing on their chairs taking pictures and trying to get a glimpse. There, before me sat Frida and Benny in front of news cameras and paparazzi giving an interview. It was just amazing. No other words can describe this scene that I witnessed. Frida and Benny sitting together, preparing for their interview, speaking to the U.S. media and journalists. It was fabulous.

It is now time to go upstairs to the cocktail reception before the dinner. Tom, Jimmy and I enter the room and I immediately see a table of 8 people with 1 very recognizable face. It is Thomas Johansson – ABBA’s concert promoter! What a very nice gentleman!

I wish I knew the other people at the table, but I know they are very important to ABBA, as they all sat at their table for dinner, or close by. What an opportunity to be amongst ABBA’s inner circle. Thomas, Görel, Jonathan, Frida and Benny.

During the cocktail reception, Benny made his entrance with his son, Ludvig Andersson. Benny was amazing! He was so friendly, cheerful and polite. My friend Jimmy had an ultra-rare 45” Japanese single of People Need Love that Benny signed and he found quite amusing, saying “I’ve never seen this before.” I reminded Benny that I met him in San Francisco and jokingly asked “Don’t you remember me?” And he said “I’m sorry, I don’t”, as he put his arm around me and posed for a picture. He got a lot of attention as he entered the room.

After an hour or so of a cocktail reception amongst the likes of Rob Thomas from Matchbox Twenty, The Hollies, The Stooges and Genesis, it was time to go into the Ballroom for the dinner, ceremony and show.

NOTE: I managed to sneak into the Ballroom the night before the event and snap a picture of the reserved ABBA table in front of the Ballroom.

As we entered the Ballroom, it was another surreal “Hollywood” moment. We mingled and chatted amongst the likes of Meryl Streep, Michael Douglas, The Bee Gees, Phil Collins, Iggy Pop, Tim McGraw and Faith Hill, Green Day, Maroon 5, Chris Isaak, Bruce Springsteen and others.

During the entire show, my eyes were fixated on Frida. Frida and Benny sat at their reserved table in the 2nd row from the stage. (The first row was reserved for corporate sponsors who paid over $100,000 USD for their seats). It was amazing to watch Frida’s reactions throughout the show.

Frida was recording almost the entire show on her portable phone, which looked very much like a BlackBerry – it was so cool to watch. There were moments when some of the artists on stage were using profanities and I purposely looked at Frida’s reaction, and, just as expected from a classy woman like her – no reaction.

At first, Frida and Benny were seated across from each other at their table, but half way through the show, they sat next to each other.

The show was quite long, but wonderful. During commercials, everyone got the chance to get up and walk around and mingle amongst each other. Then….the producer’s voice came on….”1 minute to the induction of ABBA….”

At this time, Barry and Robin Gibb were lined up to take the stage….the lights came up, and the induction began…the video montage (quite good), followed by shared introduction by Barry and Robin and then…Frida and Benny!

At this time, Jimmy and I took our spots just off stage left on the floor. We couldn’t get any closer – just heaven!

As Frida and Benny approached the stage, Dancing Queen was played. Frida spoke first. She was amazing. Calm, cool, grateful, gorgeous, incredible. She acknowledged Agnetha, Björn and Benny, her grandson Jonathan, and like the incredible person she is, the fans!!

Yes, at this point in the broadcast, you will actually see Benny and Frida turn to their right, smile and acknowledge the audience, as I screamed “I love you Frida!”. You can even catch a glimpse of me on the broadcast! (I know, I was excited).

Note: I was approximately 25 feet from Phil Collins’ table when Frida said a special “thank you” to Stikkan Anderson – I immediately looked at Phil’s reaction, and Phil looked at the other people at his table and rolled his eyes! Did I not read before that he was not really a fan of Stikkan? I saw it first-hand!

The most special moment of the night

It was now time for the music. Benny played the piano (along with Paul Shaffer from “Late Night with David Letterman) to The Winner Takes It All sung by Grammy Winner Faith Hill. In my opinion, Faith did an “OK” job, but we all know there will be nothing like Agnetha’s lead vocal.

As Benny took the stage, Frida exited stage left, came down the stairs and stood less than 12 feet away from me!

This was a moment in music history as Faith Hill sang The Winner Takes It All with Benny accompanying her as Frida watched off stage! I knew at this moment that I was the luckiest person on this earth to be next to Frida as this was happening.

As the song started, Frida was standing proudly, clutching her Rock and Roll Hall of Fame Award watching in the shadow of the spotlight.

I could not help but wonder what was going through her mind during this 4 minutes and 55 second masterpiece sung by someone else on such an incredible evening.

Whatever she was thinking…I was there for it.

Here are conversations that I had with some of the stars that have ABBA connections. The stars were so awesome and in awe of ABBA. I have no idea why I turned into an interviewer – something just took over!

Meryl Streep:

Me: “Ms. Streep, I loved you in “Mamma Mia!” – you were fantastic. Thank you for coming tonight and supporting ABBA.

MERYL: “Why thank you – I wouldn’t miss this for anything. This is such a fantastic night.”

Me: “Did you see Frida?”

MERYL: “Yes!!!!”

Faith Hill and husband Tim McGraw:

Me: “Mr. McGraw, what ABBA song will your wife be singing tonight?”

TIM: “She will be singing The Winner Takes It All. Let me introduce you and Tom to her…"

Me: “Ms. Hill….you are stunning! How do you feel about singing one of Agnetha’s biggest songs?”

FAITH HILL: (Putting her hand on her chest)…”I know! I’m so excited!”

Phil Collins:

Me: “Mr. Collins, you are amazing. Did you see Frida tonight? What was it like working with her back in ’82?”

Phil Collins: “I did…she was and IS absolutely fantastic.”

And finally…

Congratulations ABBA. I am so happy and proud to say I was there.

Rock and Roll Hall of Fame 2010 images

Rock and Roll Hall of Fame 2010 images – courtesy of Jim McGuire

Jim is pictured with his partner Tom, friend Jimmy, Görel Hanser, Thomas Johansson, Phil Collins, Meryl Streep, Barry and Robin Gibb and of course, Benny and Frida in the various fantastic shots.

43 Replies to “Exclusive photos and “I Was There” report from the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame”

  1. Thanks Jim for sending the wonderful photos to Ice and i’m looking forward to reading the story of the evening.

  2. These are great pix. Thanks for sharing them, Jim! That picture of Frida and Benny at the table is particularly nice :o) It would have been a marvelous night. I look forward to your review, Jim.
    Cheers.

  3. These shots are absolutely awesome! Thanks Jim and thanks to icethesite I get to see what it must have been like to actually be there.

  4. Wow these are really great pics – absolute gorgeous.
    My favourite one is the pic with frida and benny on the table it looks very familiar seems that benny put his head on fridas shoulder – he look here more relaxed than later on the stage.
    A thrilling event for every abba!
    thank so much for sharing the pics with us unlucky guys who were not there.
    cheers franz

  5. Very nice pix. Great to see that at least Benny and Frida temporarily reunited, as were Frida and Phil Collins, her one-time producer.

  6. Great images and the text adds even more to the picture. It looks like an amazing night for a member of the public and an even more amazing night for an ABBA fan. Thanks Jim and thanks Ice for giving us this insight into this exclusive event.

    Linda (Hull, UK)

  7. …Here’s a question…"Who is Gary that Benny acknowledged in the crowd? I assume a die hard fan,but maybe someone can confirm this. Thx sooo much Jim for sharing this experience,very kind,and…umm..ur extremely jealous..ha!

  8. Jim…? JIM??!!! Jim! What a great article and pictures! And I knew you when we were just 3rd grade spelling partners! The only thing that would have made it better was if the ceremony was HERE in CLEVELAND where the actual ROCK & ROLL HALL OF FAME is…then I would have gotten to see you!

  9. @ Jim, what a wonderful evening, I have very much enjoyed reading your report and seeing your photos. Thank you so much for sharing it with us "icethesiters" who couldn’t be there.
    @ Ice, Am I just dreaming or did I not here on the great ABBA bush telegraph that last month they had all got together at Benny’s hotel and recorded a message to be played at the induction ceremony?

  10. What a wounderful evening you had, I am very proud of your article, and of you!!Your loving sister, Jo Ann

  11. Thank you Jim. What an amazing night! You are so lucky, and also very special, sharing all of this with us. So many details, great photos, your feelings…THANK YOU!

    Frida is so beautiful!
    Benny is a gentleman!
    So nice to see them together in this event.

  12. Thanks so much Jim for sharing this . you lucky lucky lucky man – you will never forget this experience, I’m sure – OMG, Fantastic photos too!!

  13. Jim what a wonderful story i can imagine exactly how you felt on Monday. What an emotional night i can imagine not only for yourself but for both Frida and Benny im sure they must have been feeling on top of the world. Thank you for your wonderful story plus pics…I was lucky enough myself recently and was fortunate too have met Frida just last dec at the Svenska Hjalter Cermony in Sweden Dec 14. It was a dream come true for me, also I had met both Benny and Bjorn a few times but this was my first meeting with Frida my favourite member…The way you describe Frida is the way she is in reality she was so so caring and considerate a very stunning and radiant lady…I was in awe that night will always have a special place in my heart.
    Regards JS
    R

  14. Thanks for sharing Jim. How I wish I could have been there. I am glad to hear Phil had positive things to say about Frida. She IS fantastic.

  15. Thanks Jim for sharing this!
    I wondered when I watched the show; and maybe you can answer this question: did Frida have any contact with Phil Collins?

  16. Hi Jim, thank you so much for the beautiful pictures and your report! It is so exiting to read your words and I share every moment because it reminds me so much when I met Frida once and really, I spoke the same: ?Frida, I love you so much, you are so fantastic and this is a dream come true for me to see you. I?ve loved you for 30 years.? What else could we say in such a moment we’d never expected? 😉 I know you will never forget this evening and it will make you strong forever.. *djupa andetag* 🙂

  17. Hi everyone, great to hear your story. It truly was a wonderful night!! I was there as well. I just got home to Australia today. Frida referred to me directly in her speech and that totally blew me away. I went up to her again after the ceremony and said thank you for metioning me, she said no worries you came from so far! We exchanged a kiss. She introduced me to her grandson. She is such a beautiful woman!!!

  18. Hi everybody! I am Jimmy, the other crazy fan who was there with Jim McGuire! I would like actually to thank him deeply – with you as witnesses – for sharing that special moment in my life. I’ve been knowing Jim for quite some time now and I’m very pround to be his friend. His so well-written article about our evening brought me back so many incredible memories and I can tell you that EVERYTHING is TRUE! I was there, beside him all the time and we did not stop pinching each other (litteraly, I asked him twice to do it)! I spent some time during that magic moment thinking about YOU other ABBA fans! I hope you’re getting a real kick with Jim’s article and our pictures!… Frida and Benny (and others too) were incredibly nice, that’s for sure! And my Goddess Meryl Streep too! What a woman! I’ll remember that the rest of my life… Thank you ICETHESITE for this opportunity! You rock!…. And sorry for my English if I did some mistakes:(French is my first language)! Jimmy.

  19. Thank you all for your comments – I’m glad you enjoyed the article and photos. It truly was an amazing night that I won’t forget. Thank you ICE for this opportunity!!! And a special thank you to my partner Tom for his patience and taking these great photos. You really are the best.

  20. Thank you all for your comments – I’m glad you enjoyed the article and photos. It truly was an amazing night that I won’t forget. Thank you ICE for this opportunity!!! And a special thank you to my partner Tom for his patience and taking these great photos. You really are the best.

  21. Yes, thank you so much Jim for sharing – actually the whole thing has made me feel quite emotional for many many different reasons. I’m very envious of all the photos, particularly the great ones of you with Frida and Meryl Streep – classy ladies both.
    And, as ever, thank you ICE – this site is the best..

  22. Thanks Jim for sharing!

    What an amazing night it must have been!! I’m so happy for you, I know exactly how you must have felt! And I have to admit I’m also of course VERY jealous with you 😉

  23. @ Anne: there was a day last month when all four were at the Mono Music building at the same time. It was a widespread assumption that they may have recorded something for the HoF induction but really no one knows what they were doing, or even if all four were actually together. All their business and management interests are run from there so it may simply have been a coincidence.

    Thanks Jim for the great story and photos 🙂

  24. WOW that was amazing Jim. I must add how gorgeous you boys look very very nice indeed. This the best coverage I have ever had the pleasure of reading The pictures and your story has brought an envious tear to my eyes. To meet your idols wow I cannot imagine what that would feel like. One day maybe. Thanks Jim from the bottom of my heart for sharing this with us all. You LUCKY guy you!

  25. What a great article! Congratulations Jim (UJ)on having the opportunity (DREAM came true) to be at such a great event!

  26. Jim… thank you again. I’ve just had a chance to read your article. That would have been such a magical night. Thanks also to your partner Tom for the photos; thanks also to Jimmy for your posting; and thanks to Ice for letting us all share that night via this magnificent website.
    Cheers from Australia, and have a good weekend!

  27. Thanks for sharing this with us! Congratulations on being on this event and meeting Frida and Benny! I really envy you! Great story! P.S. I saw a video on YouTube a few days ago, it’s really funny! I was wondering who that fan was… 🙂

  28. You’re welcome Tony from Australia (one country to visit one day top of my list)!… Thank you Aussies for your incredible support to the group. It helped them to become who they are. They are so incredibly talented, each one of them. Without forgetting Mr Tretow and Mr Anderson. And all their friends/collegues.

    I’m glad to say that Canada was pretty much supportive of ABBA. I remember listening a lot on the radio: When All Is Said And Done, On And On And On, Super Trouper, Angeleyes, Voulez-Vous, Does Your Mother Know, One of Us and the popular The Winner Takes It All. I remember my mother buying all their singles on vinyl (which I kept of course). I was so excited when I could get a new song on a b-side, like three of my favorites: Should I Laugh Or Cry, Lovelight and Elaine. Of course we could hear older hits once in a while but I started to listen to music as a young teenager and that period matches with the release of the Super Trouper album. Shortly after that, I found at my aunt’s a Voulez-Vous album vinyl with a title in my mother tongue??!!
    I couldn’t put the record down that night! I must have been only 12 years old but I can recall it clearly. Magic had happened! I was hooked! They got me! The killer Agnetha’s scream in As Good As New was blowing me away! Frida’s sexy performance in The King Has Lost His Crown (another underated song), the infectious melodies and intriguing lyrics of the Boys were like a whole other world. Everything fitted!!!

  29. Hi again Jimmy.

    The ‘ABBA-Mania’ days in Australia were amazing (I was 10 to 12 at the time, and to this day, 1976 is still my most favourite year).

    I’m glad you love Voulez-Vous. I call it my ‘Sunny Saturday’ album: since 1979, I’ve always equated this album with happy feelings from ‘Saturday’ things in my childhood: going to the beach; having fun with my family; drawing, etc. I still enjoy that album most on sunny days and when I’m drawing. I love Agnetha’s strong performances in ‘As Good As New’ and ‘Chiquitita’; I also enjoy Frida’s singing of ‘The King Has Lost His Crown’ very much; and absolutely love ‘Lovers (Live A Little Longer)’.

    I agree with you about ‘Should I Laugh Or Cry’. I love Frida’s ‘vocal-gymnastics’ in that song.

    Talking of under-rated songs, I wish that ‘Gonna Sing You My Lovesong’ was better known by the masses… Frida’s voice is magnificent: ranging from soft and comforting through to strong and confident; and Benny’s changing of time-signatures works very well!

    Anyhow, it’s great to hear from another Voulez-Vous fan. I’m really looking forward to the forthcoming Deluxe release :o)

    Have a great day!

    Cheers for now, Tony.

  30. Jim, absolutely bloody brilliant. I’m so happy for you. Of all the members of ABBA, I have met Benny, but the only other member I want to meet is Frida. Your whole account reminds me with my first meeting with Benny in 1998. Thank you for the report and pics…

  31. what a wonderful story Jim & thanks for sharing it with us.I have also been lucky enought to the members of ABBA & have my photo taken with Benny (an absolute gent)it is a story you will want to tell over and over again, never tiring of telling about the time you met ABBA.Its like telling people you met the Beatles…like they say everyone loves ABBA. Just a thought Mr Ice..how about a section on your brilliant site for fans to share their memories of the time they met ABBA? I for one love hearing these tales.

  32. It has now been over a week since this magical evening took place and it still seems like it happened yesterday to me. I can’t come down from this "high". Thank you so much for your great comments – there’s nothing like sharing the excitement with people that has that same special feeling when we talk about A,B,B & F.
    @Marco: I don’t know who "Gary" was that Benny referred to – I wondered this myself.
    @JohnSteven and Eric: We met Frida! I don’t know what else to say – she was THE STAR at this star-studded event. The pic of Frida and me is my screensaver on my BlackBerry!
    @Henk: Although I did not see Frida and Phil chatting together personally, you can see an interview with Frida on YouTube talking about how it was so great to be reunited with him again.
    @Jason: I was wondering who Frida was referring to when she mentioned you! That is so awesome!!! I wish we met each other.
    @Jimmy Marceau: Our cell phone bill is going to be more than our rent! Who knew that 15 years ago after sitting on your living room floor fighting over Agnetha and Frida that we’d actually meet Frida!
    @my Sister JoAnn…it was like you were there beside me the whole night.
    @ICE!!!!! Thank you again for this opportunity! I am so happy to be able to share this incredible experience with your readers. It is no surprise why you are THE award winning ABBA news site of all time. Keep up the good work – you have sooooooo many fans.
    @Tom: The world needs to know what an incredible person you are. All these years together – unbelievable. And you should have seen the sparkle in YOUR eye when you met Frida!!! Thank you for everything.
    ****Note****
    I forgot to mention in my article one of the most important things! One of the last things I said to Frida:
    ME: "Frida…PLEASE, please record again…"
    FRIDA: (Looking at me as she was walking away into the cocktail reception with a most beautiful and sincere smile)…"Maybe…"

  33. Oh God Jim! I remember now that fun time we had in my living room 15 years ago, looking at my ABBA stuff! Yes, we never thought we’d live that magic night one day! I’m still on a high too! I sincerely wish you’ll meet our dear Agnetha one day (hopefully I’ll be around LOL)! And YES! I remember hearing Frida answering you that "MAYBE" about a possible new solo album… Let’s all pray ABBA fans!!!

    Aussie Tony: I loved your SUNNY SATURDAY story. Very cute and touching. And you’re right about Gonna Sing You My Lovesong… Some of my Frida’s favorites are When All Is Said And Done, Andante Andante, Our Last Summer, I Let The Music Speak, the haunting Like An Angel Passing Through My Room and many more. I like the way she has fun with Put On Your White Sombrero, putting all that sun in her voice so brilliantly (with Agnetha harmonizing at the end – it’s so joyful)! Frida did also a great job with The Visitors, modulating her voice with weeks of practice… And yes! I will buy the Deluxe Voulez-Vous as soon as it’s out, a few days away from my birthday (nice present to myself)!

    Thanks again a zillion times EVERY single ABBA fan out there and people at ICETHESITE to allow Jim to write about that night! He is such a good writer! He was able to describe exactly our feelings and the little differents magic moments of the whole evening…

    Finally, to my partner TIM, thank you for your support in everything and your unconditional love! YOU’RE THE BEST! I LOVE YOU!

  34. Thank you Jim for posting!It´s amazing, I had goosebumps and tears in my eyes when I was reading your story, really! I´m happy for you! That´s a wonderful memory :O)))
    Cheers
    Vera

  35. Absolutely amazing!!! I loved reading this. What a night to remember. Abba are the most amazing group, and I especially love frida and benny. I can vouch for Gorel’s kindness, she is a lovely lady.

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