The historic Polar Studios in Stockholm will close its doors May 1 after 26 years of operation. Owners Lennart Östlund, Marie Ledin and Tomas Ledin have failed to reach terms that would allow them to continue leasing the facility’s space.
“We have been in long negotiations with the private landlord but have not been able to reach an agreement, so we have to shut down the so-called ‘ABBA studio,’ ” Marie Ledin says. “For us and many in the music world, it is the end of an era.”
Stig “Stikkan” Anderson, Björn Ulvaeus and Benny Andersson bought the building and opened the studios in 1978 to consolidate recording for ABBA and other Polar Music artists in one location. Several artists worked there before ABBA, including Led Zeppelin, which used the studio to record its album “In Through the out Door.”
In 1984, Anderson bought out his two partners in the studio. Six months later, Anderson sold Polar Studios to his daughter and her husband (the Ledins) and Östlund. The building was then sold to Swedish insurance company Skandia before being converted to a private housing cooperative. The cooperative has has tried to impose a rent of 3,000 Swedish kronor ($397) per square meter on the studios, while other businesses in the building pay 1,000 kronor ($132), according to the Polar managers.
Nearly every major Swedish artist has recorded at Polar, including Roxette, Robyn and the Cardigans. Among other acts that have used the facility are the Rolling Stones, Backstreet Boys, the Pretenders, Beastie Boys, Joan Armatrading, the Ramones, Ofra Haza, Randy Edelman, Chic, Def Leppard and Burt Bacharach.
Anderson, who died in 1997, founded the Polar Music label in 1963, ten years prior to ABBA’s first album. In 1989, he established the Polar Music Prize with the Royal Academy of Music.