Sunday 5 June 2016 marked the 50th anniversary of the day that Benny Andersson and Björn Ulvaeus first met.
One of the world’s most successful and enduring musical collaborations was celebrated in grand style at a private party at Berns Salonger in Stockholm.
The party was attended by 350 guests, all of whom Benny and Björn have worked with during their career, including Agnetha Fältskog and Anni-Frid Lyngstad, Görel Hanser, Michael B Tretow, Tommy Körberg, Helen Sjöholm and BAO, Tim Rice, Murray Head, Judy Cramer, Peter Jöback, Thomas and Marie Ledin, Lill-Babs, Kristina Lugn, Björn Skifs and Janne Schaffer, to name but a few!
Sir Paul McCartney (Björn and Benny have often acknowledged the massive influence The Beatles made upon their early careers) sent a video message conveying his congratulations.
The celebrations commenced at 18.15 (a reference to the year of the Battle of Waterloo) with a champagne reception during which Benny and Björn both made short welcoming speeches.
While the guests enjoyed dinner, a video of old photographs and interviews from the 1960s played on a big screen.
Some of the guests took to the stage in musical tribute: Benny’s sons Ludvig and Peter performed Rock Me, Helen Sjöholm sang Where I Want To Be, Peter Jöback Det kan ingen doctor hjälpa and Svenne Hedlund Isn’t It Easy To Say. There were also performances from Lill-Babs, Lena Philipsson and Pernilla Wahlgren.
Benny said that most of the entertainment was as much a surprise for him and Björn as it was for the invited guests, having been planned in secret by a committee consisting of Ludvig, Görel, Lars Rudolfsson and the evening’s toast-master Claes af Geijerstam.
“When we started talking about throwing a party about a year back, Ludvig suggested that maybe they should do something that we didn’t know about,” Benny told us. “It is incredible that so many people wanted to participate. We had such a great time and I think they did too,” he said.
Later in the evening Benny’s band, BAO (Benny Anderssons Orkester), entertained with an hour long set of songs old and new, including their hit Du är min man, performed with a comic twist of Tommy singing the female vocals inferring that Benny and Björn’s relationship was like that of a couple!
However, for many, the highlight of the night was undoubtedly when Agnetha and Frida joined Benny and Björn on stage for the second time in just a few months. And this time they sang!
The female half of ABBA performed a moving duet of The Way Old Friends Do, from their 1980 album Super Trouper, while Benny (piano) and Björn (vocals) performed another classic from the ABBA catalogue, Does Your Mother Know.
Afterwards, Frida said that it had been a very special occasion: “It was absolutely amazing. A lot of emotions. It’s been very nostalgic,” she told journalists.
Benny told icethesite that he had no idea that Agnetha and Frida were going to sing. “I think it was just so wonderful that they did that for us. I think they were really brave!” he said.
The party continued well into the early hours.