After The Times and then the rest of the world’s press got all caught up with Benny’s casual remark about an ABBA reunion, Görel Hanser ABBA’s super-woman behind the scenes steps in and publicly admits to telling Benny off and quashes the rumour.
UK Telegraph piece by Murray Wardrop: Fans of the Swedish pop quartet were offered a glimmer of hope when former band member Benny Andersson said they could reunite for a one-off show.
However, the group has now apologised for raising fans’ expectations and admitted that the comment had been nothing more than a “joke”.
Speculation over a comeback mounted after Andersson and former band mate Bjorn Ulvaeus were asked if they would consider a one-off ABBA performance that could be beamed around the world.
Despite having previously turned down a raft of lucrative offers to reunite, including a £600 million tour deal, Andersson replied: “Yeah, why not?”
During the interview with a newspaper, he continued: “I don’t know if the girls sing anything any more. I know Frida (Anni-Frid Lyngstad) was in the studio,” adding: “It’s not a bad idea, actually.”
Referring to the last song on the group’s Super Trouper album, The Way Old Friends Do, Ulvaeus quipped: “We could sing The Way Old Folks Do.”
But in a blow to millions of Mamma Mia! devotees, the band have swiftly backtracked on the idea.
Görel Hanser, the group’s manager, said: “It’s simply not true.
“It was a passing comment Benny made, almost as a joke – nothing more than that.
“I’ve spoken to Benny and given him a stern telling off. I have told him not to make such ridiculous suggestions anymore.
“There is no prospect of ABBA getting back together – it’s never going to happen. I think the fans know that deep down but we’re sorry if we got anyone’s hopes up.
“It was great in the good old days but we should remember them as they were.”
The band, who split in 1982, previously dismissed any suggestion of a reunion, insisting they would never take to the stage again.
In 2000 they rejected a $1 billion (£600 million) offer to play a 100-date world tour.
At the time Ulvaeus, 64, said: “This is the budget of a small country so we had to give it some thought.
“In the end we decided that, whatever offer was on the table, it would be stupid to re-form and utterly ludicrous to change the images people all over the world have of us.”
And two years ago Ulvaeus said: “We will never appear on stage again. There is simply no motivation to regroup. Money is not a factor and we would like people to remember us as we were — young, exuberant, full of energy and ambition.
“I remember Robert Plant saying Led Zeppelin were a cover band now because they cover all their own stuff. I think that hit the nail on the head.”
Andersson has also previously dismissed talk of a reunion, saying: “We’d need a good reason to re-form and I just don’t see one. We could never recreate the old days. I’d rather be remembered for the way we were 30 years ago.”
The group, whose hits include Dancing Queen, Take a Chance on Me and Money, Money, Money, has sold 370 million records.
Famed for the spandex costumes, they have enjoyed a renaissance in recent years, helped by the success of the film version of Mamma Mia!, the musical based on their songs.
However, it remains to be seen whether former female band mates Lyngstad and Agnetha Fältskog would support the idea of a reunion.
Lyngstad, 64, who married a German nobleman, said in an interview in 2005 that she had no interest in returning to a music career.
Fältskog, 59, has enjoyed a solo pop career since ABBA split but has not hinted at a reunion. Staffan Linde, her spokesman, said that Fältskog was not aware of Andersson recent reunion suggestion.
Andersson and Ulvaeus are promoting their new musical Kristina which opens at London’s Royal Albert Hall on April 14.