ABBA suddenly announced their return to the studio and stage Friday (April 27). The legendary Swedish pop band took to Instagram to clarify their full intention behind their upcoming “avatar” tour project, in which the band will be featured as holograms resembling their 1970s selves. Said the band: “We all felt that, after some 35 years, it could be fun to join forces again and go into the recording studio. So we did.”
This most unique pop ensemble, consisting of two married couples — Agnetha Fältskog with Björn Ulvaeus, Benny Andersson with Anni-Frid Lyngstad — may not have produced any music together during their three decades apart, but they’ve hardly been out of commission. There have been plenty of dispatches from both camps prior to their reunion this year. Here is a breakdown of what the members of ABBA have been up to during their long silence.
Benny Andersson mainly wrote music for the stage.
Much like The Beatles headed for the music of their youth for comfort once they all went solo, Benny Andersson found solace in early Swedish folk music when ABBA blew apart. Not only this, he found a new context in writing for theater. His first post-ABBA project was for the stage musical Chess — a collaboration with Ulvaeus. This would eventually culminate in Mamma Mia!, a smash hit musical written around 24 of ABBA’s biggest hits.
Agnetha Fältskog went solo before dropping out of the music industry.
Fältskog came out swinging when ABBA imploded, with her debut solo album Wrap Your Arms Around Me peaking at No. 102 on the Billboard 200 and its lead single “Can’t Shake Loose” peaking at No. 29 on the Billboard Hot 100. She continued to release solo albums to varying success until 1988, when Fältskog took a long hiatus from the music industry to devote her free time to horseback riding, yoga and astrology.
Anni-Frid Lyngstad began a long, diverse solo career.
Lyngstad got an even earlier start than Fältskog on recording a hit solo album, recording what would become Something’s Going On with Phil Collins behind the boards. It was an even more smashing success than Wrap Your Arms Around Me, peaking at No. 41 on the Billboard 200. The singer continued to have a rewarding solo career that also dipped a toe in philanthropy. As she released albums in English and Swedish, she also became a member of the environmental organization Det Naturliga Steget, or The Natural Step.
Björn Ulvaeus became an anti-cash campaigner and went on to record with the late Avicii.
As Björn and Benny, the men of ABBA collaborated on Chess extensively over the years, with all its accompanying soundtrack and rarities albums. But beyond music, Ulvaeus had an interesting activist side too: After his son was robbed, Ulvaeus campaigned to make Sweden a cash-free society, claiming that cash was a contributor to crime in the country: “All activity in the black economy requires cash.” (The ABBA Museum operates cash-free for that very reason.) Ulvaeus, interestingly enough, went on to work with Avicii, composing the theme to the 2013 Eurovision Song Contest with the late DJ and fellow Swede.