This week, my mind is turning Swedish — or, more precisely, toward all things ABBA.
The legendary Swedish pop group, whose peak was the 1970s and early ’80s, sold more than 379 million records and the ABBA-inspired musical “Mamma Mia!” has been seen by more than 50 million people according to www.abbathemuseum.com. A 2008 movie based on the musical, which starred Meryl Streep and Pierce Brosnan on a Greek island, grossed more than $600 million worldwide, according to IMDB.com.
I did not know that Stockholm, the capital city of Sweden, boasted an ABBA museum until earlier this year, when good friends from England reported on their fun visit there. Now my husband knows that Stockholm and the ABBA museum are on my bucket list!
I should explain that when I was a young girl growing up in England, we all were ABBA-crazy. We sent away our money orders for about 75 cents to join the ABBA fan club and receive all sorts of letters, posters, badges (pins) and useless information about the group’s four stars: Agnetha, Benny, Bjorn and Frida. From winning the Eurovision Song Contest in Brighton, England, in 1974 (when I was 8 and thrillingly allowed to stay up and watch it) with their hit “Waterloo,” my friends and I collected all their records and eagerly tuned into BBC Radio One every Sunday evening to see where their latest hit was in the British pop charts. The two married couples who formed ABBA were the focus of our collective schoolgirl attention. We all wanted to be like blond, curvy Agnetha and wear their outrageous stage outfits. Sadly, we had to make do with bopping away at the school disco in rather unfortunate, brightly colored, flared trousers (pants).
We were all devastated in 1982 when ABBA’s members (whose marriages had not survived the pressures of fame) decided to step away from touring and recording new songs. We all felt sure that the sadder lyrics and music of their later works was due to their marriage breakdowns, which happened even as the band worked together over their final couple of years. While Bjorn and Benny’s careers as composers flourished — Bjorn, in particular, was very active in composing for “Mamma Mia!” — the women of the group had less success in pursuing solo careers. Agnetha actually lived in semi-seclusion for many years, only re-emerging as a solo artist about 10 years ago.
However, ABBA’s music just refuses to die. Not only do the movie and musical continue to thrive, but there also are many tribute bands all over the world. I am extremely excited that ABBA Girlz — one of the very best ABBA tribute bands — is flying in from New York to perform live in concert right here in Richmond Hill on Valentine’s Day. From 6:30-10:30 p.m. Saturday, Feb. 14, the Richmond Hill City Center will be transformed into a 1970s nightclub with Greek-island flair during the Rotary Club of Richmond Hill’s annual fundraiser. Cost is $60 per person, including dinner.
I intend to relive my “Dancing Queen” status with my girlfriends as our husbands amusingly tolerate us and hopefully join in for “Take a Chance on Me” and other classics. This promises to be great value, great fun and supportive of all the wonderful charitable works and good causes that Rotary funds. The toughest part will be to persuade my husband to dress up in 1970s glitz or Greek-island gear — but don’t worry, guys, this part is optional.
Get your tickets online at www.rotaryofrichmondhill.org or at the door that night.
I will leave you with a quote from one of their hit songs, “Thank You for The Music”: “Thank you for the music, the songs I’m singing, thanks for all the joy they’re bringing, for giving it to me”
God bless America!
Francis grew up in London, England, and made Georgia her home in 2009. Email her at firstname.lastname@example.org or go to www.lesleyfrancispr.com.