The most commercially successful pop group of the 1970s, ABBA put Sweden on the map as a music mecca and influenced the sound of pop for decades to come. With their flamboyant fashion sense and two-couple membership, the quartet also became pop culture icons. The hits kept coming through the early '80s, including 1978's "Take a Chance on Me" and the dramatic 1980 ballad "The Winner Takes It All." Though ABBA temporarily disbanded in 1982, they remained in the pop culture consciousness for decades to follow thanks to popular compilations and the success of 1999's Mamma Mia!, the Tony-nominated jukebox musical based on their many hits. It was adapted for the big screen in 2008 with a cast that included Meryl Streep, and its Grammy-nominated soundtrack went to number one on the Billboard 200.
The origins of ABBA date back to 1966, when keyboardist and vocalist Benny Andersson, a onetime member of the popular beat outfit the Hep Stars, first teamed with guitarist and vocalist Bjorn Ulvaeus, the leader of the folk-rock unit the Hootenanny Singers. The two performers began composing songs together and handling session and production work for Polar Music/Union Songs, a publishing company owned by Stig Anderson, himself a prolific songwriter throughout the '50s and '60s. At the same time, both Andersson and Ulvaeus worked on projects with their respective girlfriends: Ulvaeus had become involved with vocalist Agnetha Faltskog, a performer with a recent number one Swedish hit, "I Was So in Love."
In 1971, Faltskog ventured into theatrical work, accepting the role of Mary Magdalene in a Swedish production The next year, submitted the single "Waterloo," and became the first Swedish act to win the Eurovision competition. The record proved to be the first of many international hits, although the group hit a slump after their initial success as subsequent singles failed to chart. In 1975, however, ABBA issued "S.O.S.," a smash not only in America and Britain but also in non-English speaking countries such as Spain, Germany and the Benelux nations, where the group's success was fairly unprecedented. A string of hits followed, including "Mamma Mia," "Fernando," and "Dancing Queen" (ABBA's sole U.S. chart-topper), further honing their lush, buoyant sound; by the spring of 1976, they were already in position to issue their first Greatest Hits collection.
ABBA's popularity continued in 1977, when both "Knowing Me, Knowing You" and "The Name of the Game" dominated airwaves. The group also starred in the feature film ABBA: The Movie, which was released in 1978. That year Andersson and Lyngstad married, as had Ulvaeus and Faltskog in 1971, although the latter couple separated a few months later; in fact, romantic suffering was the subject of many songs on the quartet's next LP, 1979's Voulez-Vous. Shortly after the release of 1980s Super Trouper, Andersson and Lyngstad divorced as well, further straining the group dynamic."
Although all of the group's members soon embarked on new projects -- both Lyngstad and Faltskog issued solo LPs, while Andersson and Ulvaeus collaborated with Tim Rice on the musical Chess -- none proved as successful as the group's earlier work, largely because throughout much of the world, especially Europe and Australia, the ABBA phenomenon never went away. Repackaged hits compilations and live collections continued hitting the charts long after the group's demise,
In 1997, theater producer Judy Craymer commissioned playwright/screenwriter Catherine Johnson to write a musical-theater showcase for ABBA's songs. Members of the band were involved in the development of Mamma Mia!, which opened on the West End in April 1999. The Broadway premiere followed in October 2001, leading to five Tony nominations.. A film version starring, among others, Amanda Seyfried and Meryl Streep hit movie theaters in mid-2008, and its accompanying soundtrack reached number one in over a dozen countries, including the U.S., Canada, and Australia. In 2010, ABBA were inducted into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame by Barry and Robin Gibb.Returning with most of the same cast from the 2008 film, a sequel, Mamma Mia! Here We Go Again, saw a worldwide release in 2018. Its soundtrack went to number three on the Billboard 200, topping the album charts in places as a far-spread as the U.K., Australia, and Greece. Around that time, a reunited ABBA returned to the studio to begin work on their first material in over 30 years.
In 2021, ABBA reunites after 40 years to delight and surprise fans with the announcement of their brand new album, ‘ABBA VOYAGE’ and virtual concert.