Agnetha Fältskog Biography

Songwriter, Singer(1950–)
Agnetha Fältskog was a singer with the Swedish band ABBA, famous for hits like "Mamma Mia."

Synopsis

Agnetha Fältskog born on April 5, 1950, in Sweden. By the time the singer was 18, she had already become a prominent artist in her country. However, she became an international superstar after joining artists Björn Ulvaeuwas, Benny Andersson and Anni-Frid Lyngstad and forming the band, ABBA. As part of the iconic band, Fältskog released the hit singles, "Dancing Queen" and "Mamma Mia," among others. Following ABBA's breakup in 1983, Fältskog continued her career as a solo artist.

Early Music Career

Singer Agnetha Åse Fältskog was born on April 5, 1950, in Jönköping, Sweden. Fältskog was the first daughter of parents Ingvar and Birgit. Encouraged by her father, Ingvar, to participate in theater and music, Fältskog fell in love with performing and began writing her own songs on the piano while still very young. At only 13 years old, she formed a musical group called The Cambers with two of her friends. The group performed only at small, local events, but nonetheless provided Fältskog with early experience in a career that would take her to the heights of international fame.

In 1965, at the age of 15, Fältskog left school to focus on music more seriously. She was in a band headed by Bernt Enghardt, who later sent a demo of the group's music to a producer at Swedish label Cupol Records. Because the producer was related to one of the group's members, he listened to the demo thoroughly, and was most impressed by a song called "Jag var så kär" ("I Was So In Love").

The song had been written and sung by Fältskog, and was about a recent break-up she had gone through. The producer invited Fältskog to record an album with Cupol; though she had some reservations about leaving Enghardt's band behind, the allure was too great. She signed with Cupol, and her first album, Agnetha Fältskog, reached the top of the Swedish charts in January 1968.

Still a few months shy of her 18th birthday, Fältskog had already become famous in her home country. Throughout 1968 and 1969, her singles and albums remained very popular with Swedish listeners, but Fältskog was poised to take on a larger audience.

Birth of ABBA

In 1969, Fältskog became engaged to Björn Ulvaeus. At the time of their engagement, Ulvaeus was working with a songwriter named Benny Andersson. Andersson was engaged to an Anni-Frid Lyngstad, who, much like Fältskog, was becoming an increasingly popular singer in Sweden. The two women sang back-up vocals for their fiancés and performed with them at small concerts. In time, these two couples used the first letters of their first names -- Agnetha, Bjorn, Benny and Anni-Frid -- to form the name of their musical group, ABBA.

In the meantime, Fältskog looked for ways to further her career. The first Swedish production of Jesus Christ Superstar was set to premiere in 1971, and Ulvaeus encouraged Fältskog to try out for a part. Fältskog won the role of Mary Magdalene, and participated in the first Swedish cast recording of the musical. That same year, Fältskog married Ulvaeus in a small church in southern Sweden.

In 1972, Bjorn Ulvaeus and Benny Andersson were approached to write a song for Sweden's submission into the upcoming 1973 Eurovision song contest. They chose to enter a song called "Ring, Ring," which did not win, and failed to make much of a name for ABBA at the time. The band was still relatively unknown in 1973, when Fältskog gave birth to her and Ulvaeus' first child, Elin Linda Ulvaeus.

Internatiol Fame

Despite their lack of success the year before, ABBA was again chosen to submit a song to Eurovision in 1974. Their entry this time was "Waterloo," and it hit the mark. The song not only won the Eurovision contest, but even reached No. 1 on the charts in many European countries. Riding the wave of this newfound fame, ABBA began an international tour that included a stop at The Merv Griffin Show in the United States.

ABBA had made its name as a one-hit wonder, but the band managed to shake that reputation by releasing another album with hit songs like "S.O.S." and "Mamma Mia." At the peak of their powers, Fältskog and her fellow ABBA members were selling hundreds of thousands of albums and playing sold-out shows around the world.

Around this time, Agnetha Fältskog was becoming increasingly concerned about how little time she was able to spend caring for her child due to her ABBA responsibilities. She also developed tonsillitis, and had to take time over the Christmas holidays to have her tonsils removed. Still, despite these worries, Fältskog was determined to keep ABBA moving forward. The band continued to tour, and churned out signature hits such as "Fernando" and "Dancing Queen."

The End of ABBA

The 1970s were a time of fantastic popularity and prosperity for ABBA, but the band's success did not translate into success for the couples that made up the group. Fältskog gave birth to a son, Peter Christian Ulvaeus, in 1977; in 1979, Fältskog and Ulvaeus were divorced.

Fältskog recounts: "The breakup had been coming for quite sometime. We just drifted apart, it's as simple as that. When you talk about everything and you still don't get through to one another, then it's a sign that there's really nothing left between you." The two agreed to stay in the band, however, and the group stayed together until 1983. By that time, Andersson and Lyngstad had also ended their marriage.

Solo Career

After ABBA broke up, Agnetha Fältskog went on to once again actively pursue her solo career. She lives in Sweden, and has kept a relatively low profile in recent years. Her solo albums have not gained the popularity of ABBA's records, but, she says, "I am now doing what I always wanted to do, writing songs, singing and recording, and being a little star. I like being a little star, being a big star is too much pressure and I don't like pressure at all. I don't really miss all the fame and success of ABBA."

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