Stockholm » Sometimes the existence of a music teacher in the apartment above you is enough to start a global career. When Agnetha Faltskog was a small, Swedish girl, one day, drawn to unknown sounds, she raced up to her neighbour Sigvard Andersson. “Uncle Sigge,” as she called him, had just received a piano. He showed her that little fingers can produce tones when they press certain keys. It was a magical moment for the then five-year-old Agnetha – and the starting signal for a life in the world of music.
What followed is one of the great pop music stories of the 20th century. Agnetha Faltskog became a singer, merged with Bjorn Ulvaeus, Benny Andersson and Anni-Frid “Frida” Lyngstad to the cult band Abba and supplied the planet with world hits like “Dancing Queen”, “Mamma Mia” and “Super Trouper”. Now the blonde Swede with the blue eyes and the clear soprano voice turns 70 on Sunday.
Shy and reserved
The brightly coloured, shimmering Abba period is now almost four decades ago. While her ex-husband and bandmate Ulvaeus still has one project after another underway, Agnetha Faltskog has largely withdrawn from the public eye. She will also spend her special day exclusively in private, there are no interviews, said former Abba manager Gorel Hanser. Only so much: “You are fine.”
Even inactive times, Faltskog was said to be shy and reserved, some even saw it as detached. “I have to be allowed to be who I am,” is said to have been said by Faltskog. In the early 1980s, she stated in an open letter: “I protect my private life, especially for the benefit of my children.” She later described herself as melancholic, emotional, romantic. This did not detract from their popularity.
In 1967 she wrote, “Jag var sa kar” (I was so in love), 17-year-old teenager out of heartache, her first song, which was released on record in Sweden and was a success. One of the national teen idols of the time also heard the song: Bjorn Ulvaeus. He immediately fell in love with Agnetha’s voice. “There was something incredibly attractive in that voice even before I knew this girl,” he told an Australian television station years ago.
The fact that Ulvaeus and Faltskog later met each other personally was a stroke of luck for pop music. The two became a couple, had two children named Linda and Christian, and merged with Lyngstad and Andersson to Abba. After the international breakthrough with “Waterloo” at the Eurovision Song Contest in 1974, one number one hit after another followed. The band grew huge, toured to Australia – and sometimes Faltskog wished to be a less big star. The marriages of Bjorn and Agnetha, as well as Benny and Frida, could not endure the tour stress, also for the band was over after a good ten years together.
The music remained true to Faltskog: As before Abba, she also recorded solo albums afterwards, but then retired into private life for years before she reached number three on the German album charts with “A”. Two years ago, Abba suddenly announced two new songs, but they are still a long way off.
And in private too, music continued to play an important role for Faltskog, at least in 2014: “Sometimes I sit at the piano with my grandchildren, that’s pretty funny,” she said at the time at “Skavlan”. Just like Uncle Sigge once with her.