Abba’s members have reunited for the opening of a new business venture in the capital Stockholm.
The dining-entertainment venue, based on the Greek taverna featured in the Abba-themed film Mamma Mia!, is the idea of Abba star Bjorn Ulvaeus.
Bjorn Ulvaeus was joined for the opening night by Benny Andersson, Anni-Frid Lyngstad, and Agnetha Faltskog.
They were last seen in public together in 2008, news website thelocal.se said.
Fans and guests paid 1,340 kronor ($157) for a ticket to the opening night of Mamma Mia! The Party at the Tyrol restaurant in Grona Lund, Stockholm, on January 20, it added.
The venue’s website says punters will enjoy a Mediterranean-style buffet while the show takes place.
“Everything happens on a magical evening in several acts filled with singing and dancing, daredevil stunts, Greek Gods, flirty waiters, and perhaps a zorba and an ouzo or two,” it says.
“No evening is like any other and no-one knows how it ends. It all depends on where Abba’s songs take us.”
The four Abba stars were last seen in public together for the movie premieres of Mamma Mia! in London and Stockholm in 2008, thelocal.se said.
Abba’s former members Benny Andersson and Bjorn Ulvaeus are to perform on stage at the finale of the Olivier Awards at the Royal Opera House in London.
Benny Andersson and Bjorn Ulvaeus will appear with the current London cast of the musical Mamma Mia! to celebrate its 15 years in the West End.
Benny Andersson and Bjorn Ulvaeus are to perform on stage at the finale of the Olivier Awards
Hit musicals Charlie and the Chocolate Factory and Stephen Sondheim’s Merrily We Roll Along are the most nominated shows, with seven nominations apiece.
Gemma Arterton and Stephen Mangan are co-hosting this year’s ceremony.
The Olivier Awards, the biggest event in the UK theatre calendar, are taking place at the Royal Opera House in central London.
Queen becomes the first act to sell six million copies of an individual album in the UK.
Their first Greatest Hits collection, which includes the hits We Will Rock You and Bohemian Rhapsody, has extended its lead after being Britain’s highest-selling album for several years.
The Official Charts Company said one in three British families now owned a copy of the 1981 compilation.
Queen guitarist Brian May said the feat was “incredible”.
“Great news, amazing news from the Official Charts Company,” he said.
“I just want to say thanks to everyone who has supported us through the years, we hope to continue to serve you.”
Band mate Roger Taylor added: “Wonderful. Who would have thought it? And all due to the great British public. Thank you. A great honor!”
Queen’s Greatest Hits leads the all-time album chart by some 900,000 copies, ahead of Abba’s 1992 greatest hits collection Gold.
However, Adele’s 21 is catching up on the top spot quickly. It has sold an impressive 4.7 million copies in just three years.
Queen’s Greatest Hits becomes first album to pass 6 million sales in UK
The Official Charts Company said Queen’s album – which also features Another One Bites The Dust, Bicycle Race and Fat Bottomed Girls – regularly sells several thousand copies per week, particularly around Christmas.
The majority of the sales have been on vinyl, CD and cassette – with only 124,000 downloads to date.
“Becoming the first album to pass six million sales is a quite incredible achievement by Queen,” said Martin Talbot, chief executive of the Official Charts Company.
Queen’s Greatest Hits is also their biggest-selling album in the US, where it is certified as having sold 8 million copies, according to the Recording Industry Association of America (RIAA).
Top 5 UK album sales:
- Greatest Hits – Queen (1981) – 6 million
- Gold – Greatest Hits – Abba (1992) – 5.1 million
- Sgt Pepper’s Lonely Hearts Club Band – Beatles (1967) – 5.1 million
- 21 – Adele (2011) – 4.7 million
- What’s The Story Morning Glory – Oasis (1995) – 4.6 million
Source: Official Charts Company
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The Eurovision Song Contest has been running since 1956 and in that time, acts from around Europe have been singing their hearts out in the hope of winning the trophy.
There have been 57 Eurovision winners to date but what has become of those acts that hit the dizzy heights of Euro fame?
Some have gone on to be international stars, while others have faded into obscurity.
Here we take a look at some of the winners over the years and what they have been up to since.
1950 – 1959
1956 – Lys Assia (Switzerland)
Lys Assia was the very first Eurovision winner when it was held in Lugano, Switzerland. She won with her song Refrain and went on to compete in the contest for the next two years, finishing eighth and second respectively. She entered a song into the Swiss national selection for the 2012 contest, but didn’t qualify.
She continued with her singing career and released her last album in 2008. She is considered Eurovision royalty and regularly appears at the contest as a guest of honor.
1959 – Teddy Scholten (The Netherlands)
Teddy won the contest for the Netherlands for the second time in four years with the song Een Beetje.
She had a career in both television and music and released dozens of records through to the 1960s. But she gave up showbiz to work as a public relations officer for the Dutch Red Cross. She died in 2012, aged 83.
1960 – 1969
1960 – Jacqueline Boyer (France)
Jacqueline Boyer gave France its second Eurovision win with her song, Tom Pillibi. As well as being a singer, she also became an actress and appeared in several films and TV series, enjoying a career in Germany as well as France. She continues to record music today.
1964 – Gigliola Cinquetti (Italy)
Italy scored its first win with Gigliola Cinquetti’s Non Ho L’eta (I’m Not Old Enough) aged 16. The song became a European hit.
She competed again in 1974 with her song, Go (Before You Break My Heart), and finished second, losing out to Abba’s Waterloo. She went on to co-host the contest in 1991 when it was staged in Rome.
In the 1990s she quit the music industry and became a journalist. She currently hosts the current affairs programme Italia Rai.
1967 – Sandie Shaw (UK)
Sandie Shaw gave the UK its first Eurovision victory with her famous barefoot rendition of Puppet On A String. With a number of hits to her name before the contest, she was an ideal choice having recorded many of her songs in French, Spanish, German and Italian.
As one of the most successful British singers of the 1960s, she was absent from the music scene in the 1970s and returned to the spotlight with a cover of The Smiths’ song Hand In Glove.
She disappeared again until 2010, when she announced she had started recording music again. However, in April 2013, in an interview with The Telegraph, she said she was retiring for good.
1970 – 1979
1970 – Dana (Ireland)
Dana’s All Kinds of Everything was a hit around the world after becoming Ireland’s first winner. She went on to release more than 30 albums, many with a strong Christian focus.
She also pursued a political career, coming third in the Irish presidential election in 1997. In 1999, she was elected to the European Parliament but lost her seat in 2004.
Showbiz came calling again however, and in recent years she has appeared on celebrity dance show Celebrity Jigs ‘n’ Reels and been a judge on The All Ireland Talent Show.
1972 – Vicky Leandros (Luxembourg)
Greek singer Vicky won for Luxembourg with Apres Toi after coming fourth for the country in 1967. The song gave her success in Europe, North America and Asia.
More recently, she was elected a councilor in Piraeus in Greece and subsequently became the deputy mayor. She resigned in 2008 and has continued with her music career performing all over Europe. Her career as a Eurovision singer has also continued, taking part in the 2006 German final with the song, Don’t Break My Heart. She is still recording and touring today.
Probably Eurovision’s most famous and successful winners, Abba have sold millions of records thanks to their hit Waterloo
1974 – ABBA (Sweden)
Probably Eurovision’s most famous and successful winners, Abba have sold millions of records thanks to their hit Waterloo.
They topped the charts until the early 1980s when they split up, with hits including Mamma Mia, Dancing Queen and Money Money Money.
Members Benny Andersson and Bjorn Ulvaeus continued to work and record together, including writing the musical Chess. Anni-Frid Lyngstad embarked on a solo career and Agnetha Faltskog’ shied away from the spotlight, although she has recently returned to the music scene with a new album.
A musical based on their hits, a successful box office film and a museum dedicated to the group have cemented them firmly in Eurovision history.
1980 – 1989
1981 – Bucks Fizz (UK)
Possibly the UK’s most popular Eurovision entry, Bucks Fizz beat Germany by four points with Making Your Mind Up. Famous for its dance routine which included ripping the skirts off Cheryl Baker and Jay Aston, the song was a hit around Europe, Australia and New Zealand.
They scored several more chart hits following the contest, but tragedy struck the band in 1984 when their coach crashed while on tour, badly injuring them.
After several line-up changes and legal disputes over ownership of the group’s name, there are now two versions of the group – one which features Bobby G, and the other with Mike Nolan, Cheryl Baker and Jay Aston – both of which are currently still performing and touring.
1988 – Celine Dion (Switzerland)
Celine Dion has gone on to become one of the most successful female singers in the world since winning Eurovision for Switzerland with the song Ne Partez Pas Sans Moi.
It wasn’t until 1991 that she found more international fame with the theme to Disney film Beauty and the Beast and then power ballads The Power Of Love, Think Twice and the mega-selling theme to Titanic, My Heart Will Go On followed.
She took a short career break to start a family and came back with a five-year residency in Las Vegas.
She has sold in excess of 200 million albums worldwide.
1990 – 1999
1995 – Secret Garden (Norway)
Irish-Norwegian duo Rolf Lovland and violinist Fionnuala Sherry scored a win for Norway after a period of being the butt of “nul points” jokes. Originally planned as an instrumental, a few lines of lyrics were later added.
The group has had global success with their first album, spending two years in the US Billboard New Age chart from 1996-1997.
Rolf Lovland is most famous for composing one of the world’s most covered songs – You Raise Me Up – made famous by the likes of Josh Groban, Westlife and Il Divo.
1998 – Dana International (Israel)
Dana International caused controversy as Israel’s Eurovision entry. As a transsexual, conservatives tried to block her involvement, but she beat the UK’s Imaani by six points to win with her song, Diva.
Already a success in her native country with three albums to her name, Eurovision propelled her to international stardom. The following year’s contest, she famously fell over on stage after the Swedish entry stepped on the back of her dress.
She released more albums and even composed Israel’s Eurovision entry in 2008 which finished ninth.
After disappearing from showbiz for a few years, she came back in 2009 as a judge on the Israeli version of Pop Idol. She released a new single in April 2013.
2000 – 2009
2003 – Sertab Erener (Turkey)
It was third time lucky for Sertab Erener, who had previously tried out twice to represent her country in 1989 and 1990. Everyway That I Can was Turkey’s first entry sung entirely in English and gave the nation its first victory after 25 attempts.
The song topped the charts in Turkey, Greece and Sweden as well as charting in nearly 10 other European countries.
Sertab Erener was already one of Turkey’s most successful female singers before the contest and had released five albums.
She has since released another five records in both Turkish and English.
2006 – Lordi (Finland)
Finland finally won the Eurovision Song Contest thanks to monster act Lordi. Hard Rock, Hallelujah stormed to the top with a huge 292 points – the highest score ever at the time – and won by almost a 30 point margin.
Led by Tomi Putaansuu (otherwise known as Mr. Lordi) and inspired by the rock group Kiss, the group never take off their masks and costumes.
Eurovision helped boost their success and their song charted over most of Western Europe, while their album charted over in the USA and Japan too.
They tour extensively and have performed at numerous festivals, including on the main stage at Ozzfest in 2007.
They released their seventh studio album, To Beast or Not To Beast, in March.
Abba The Museum, the first permanent exhibition to celebrate Sweden’s most successful band, will open to the public in May.
The museum site is located 25 miles from Arlanda airport on the island of Djurgarden in eastern Stockholm.
Each fan will be able to view Abba performance online and upload it to social networking sites to share with friends and family.
They will also have the chance to virtually try on Abba’s trademark sparkly dresses and flared trousers with the help of green screen technology.
Abba The Museum, the first permanent exhibition to celebrate Sweden’s most successful band, will open to the public in May
Abba has sold almost 400 million albums around the world and a film featuring their hits, Mamma Mia!, is the most successful musical movie of all time.
Almost 50 million people have seen the stage version of the production.
Stockholm has long considered building a museum to celebrate Abba, its most popular music export, but the band was initially hesitant about the idea, with Bjorn Ulvaeus saying he did not want to become “a museum artefact before I’m dead”.
Previous plans for a permanent exhibition in a disused customs warehouse in Stockholm harbor collapsed in 2008.
The new museum has Abba’s full support, with Bjorn Ulvaeus offering daily direction to some of the 50 staff involved with the final preparations. He is busy promoting the project in Germany, where Abba has a loyal fan base.
The museum’s curator, Ingmarie Halling, is the band’s former stylist and says her work remains an emotional experience.
“It is a scary feeling because it feels like I am doing a giant loop. In the 80s and 90s I had my children and worked in the film industry. So it is a bit strange to be back working with Abba, but at the same it is really fun to do this job and tell this story.”
Ingmarie Halling says she did not just want to “put labels on glass cabinets” and instead has combined her favorite Abba memorabilia to create sets where visitors can follow in the band’s footsteps.
These include Abba’s song-writing cottage on the island of Viggso, where the group were inspired to write many of their hits, surrounded by seagulls and boats.
“Bjorn told me that when he heard Benny playing the piano in the morning, he knew that they would be composing that day!” Ingmarie Halling said.
The hut is her favourite section of the museum, both because she has fond memories of midsummer parties with the band there and as a lifelong fan of Sweden’s archipelagos.
Her other sets include the legendary Polar Music Studio, where Abba recorded some of their biggest hits, and Edmonton Ice Hockey Arena, where they performed in 1979 as part of their final world tour.
“Visitors will come into the dressing room there and Abba have just left, so there are empty champagne glasses and you can hear that they are on stage,” Ingmarie Halling explained.
Some of the exhibits were included in the Abbaworld show that toured Australia and parts of Europe between 2009 and 2011.
The band members have also donated clothes and memorabilia from their private collections.
Ring Ring, the group’s first major hit in 1973, will be celebrated with the red telephone Agnetha Faltskog posed with in publicity shots. It has been connected to an outside line and only four people in the entire world know the phone number.
A sister exhibition, The Swedish Music Hall of Fame, is also being built on the same site.
There, visitors will be able to learn about the country’s more recent global success stories including Roxette, Europe and Swedish House Mafia.
Abba museum is hoping to attract several hundred-thousand visitors in its first year, half of them foreigners.
Eva Camel from Visit Stockholm, the city’s tourist board, believes the museum will become its most popular tourist destination.
By 2020 she hopes there will be 15 million commercial overnight stays a year in Stockholm – compared with around 11 million in 2012 – with the Abba museum “a very important piece in the plan to help reach that goal”.
The Polar Music Studio was turned into a gym in 2006.
The Hotel Rival, which is owned by Benny Andersson from Abba, is said to attract some so-called “Abba tourists”, although on our visit its red-cushioned chairs appear to be full of Swedes holding business meetings.
Abba have not performed together in public since 1986, and last appeared as a group in 2008 to attend the Swedish premiere of the Mamma Mia! film.
Organizers say they are unsure whether the band will reunite again to attend the museum’s official opening in May.
Agnetha Faltskog is busy promoting her first album in nine years around Europe, and Frida Lyngstad now lives in Mallorca.
- Formed in 1972 and broke up in 1982
- Won the Eurovision Song Contest in Brighton in 1974 with Waterloo
- 378 million global album sales
- Gold: Greatest Hits is the third biggest selling album of all time in the UK
- Almost 50 million people have seen the stage version of Mamma Mia!
- The movie, Mamma Mia!, is the highest grossing musical film worldwide