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Norwegian singer Anni-Frid Lyngstad and her band, ABBA, became an overnight sensation in 1974 with their first hit single, "Waterloo."
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Born in Norway in 1945, singer Anni-Frid "Frida" Lyngstad got her big break when her band, ABBA, released their first single "Waterloo" in 1974. The song topped the charts in both the U.S. and U.K., making the band a sensation. Over the next decade they had a number of other hits, including "SOS," "I Do, I Do, I Do, I Do, I Do," and "Mamma Mia."
Singer. Anni-Frid "Frida" Lyngstad was born on November 15, 1945, in the small town of Ballangen in northern Norway. Her father, Alfred Haase, was a young sergeant in the German Army who arrived in Ballangen in 1943 during World War II. Although he was already married, Haase met a pretty young Norwegian girl named Synni Lyngstad and wooed her with a bag of potatoes—a rare and valuable commodity in wartime Norway. Synni reciprocated with a gift of whale meat, and the pair struck up a relationship. Eventually Synni became pregnant, but after the war ended Haase left Norway before his daughter was born.
Lyngstad grew up believing that her father drowned when his ship back to Germany sank. But this proved to be false. In 1977, at the height of ABBA's popularity, Lyngstad and her father were reunited in Switzerland. Their meeting, despite being cordial, did not lead to a sustained relationship. "It would have been different if I'd been a child. But it's difficult to get a father when you're 32 years old," Lyngstad explained. "I can't really connect to him and love him the way I would have if he'd been around when I grew up."
When Lyngstad was 18 months old, she moved with her mother and grandmother to Torshälla, Sweden, in order to escape the discrimination that children of German soldiers faced in postwar Norway, where bitterness about the Nazi occupation lasted for decades after the war. But only months after the family arrived in Sweden, Lyngstad's mother passed away, leaving her grandmother as her sole guardian.
At 11 years old, Lyngstad made her stage debut performing for a Red Cross charity event. Two years later, at the age of 13, she was hired as a vocalist by a local dance band. For the next eight years, Lyngstad worked as a singer for various dancehall acts around the country. On September 3, 1967, Sweden switched its traffic pattern from driving on the left side of the road to the right; all drivers were advised to stay home except for essential travel. That same night EMI Music Sweden staged a national talent competition called New Faces. They made an agreement to showcase the winner on live TV to celebrate the traffic switch. So that night after Lyngstad won first place, millions of Swedish households tuned in to watch Lyngstad perform live. "It's just like a dream," she marveled in an interview after the performance. EMI producer Olle Bergman said, "We really liked her as an artist and I thought she had all that it took to go places."
Despite this promising start to her career, it took several years for Lyngstad to achieve commercial success.
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