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Björn Ulvaeusis best known as one of four members of 1970s Swedish pop sensation ABBA.
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Born in Gothenberg, Sweden, Björn Ulvaeus frist gained recognition in the 1960s in Sweden as part of pop group the Hootenanny Singers. After Ulvaeus met fellow musician Benny Andresson, the two teamed up with vocalists Agnetha Fältskog and Anni-Frid Lyngstad to form ABBA. The group became a major international hit with songs like "Dancing Queen," "Fernando,
" and "Money, Money, Money." ABBA's music remains popular around the world today.
Musician. Björn Ulvaeus was born on April 25, 1945, in Gothenburg, a city on the west coast of Sweden. His family moved to the small eastern town of Vastervik in 1951, and it was there that Ulvaeus spent the rest of childhood. His parents, Aina and Gunnar Ulvaeus, were both passionate music lovers, and they bought Ulvaeus his first guitar for his 11th birthday. Under the tutelage of an older cousin, Jon Ulfsater, a folk and jazz guitarist, Ulvaeus showed rare talent and promise. As a teenager, he became enamored with rock 'n' roll and skiffle music.
Ulvaeus was also a gifted student, attending Lund University to study business law. At Lund he befriended three other aspiring musicians—Tony Rooth, Hansi Schwarz and Johan Karlberg—and, at the encouragement at one of the school's music teachers, formed a group named the West Bay Singers.
Playing a mix of folk and Dixieland jazz, the West Bay Singers competed in amateur singing competitions, soon developing a strong local following in the Vastervik area. In 1963, the foursome took a hiatus from school, borrowed an old Volvo and set out to tour across Europe. While the tour did not achieve staggering success, the band's gigs earned enough money to cover food, gas and hotel lodging, and by all accounts the group had the time of their lives. Returning to Sweden later that year, they learned that Ulvaeus' mother had entered them in a national talent show whose Swedish name translates to Place on the Stage. "I wanted to cancel our appearance straight away," Ulvaeus recalled, "because I thought that we weren't ready. And then finally, after some thought, I told myself that maybe we had a chance." The West Bay Singers reached the contest finals in Norrkoping, and although they did not place, they attracted the attention of music producer Stig Andersson, who signed them to a recording contract. He recalled, "I must confess that when I saw Björn singing and playing, I had a feeling that he had enormous potential. They were a good group, of course, but Björn stood out from the others."
Changing the band's name to the Hootenanny Singers and deciding to sing mostly in Swedish, which was very uncommon for Swedish commercial pop music at that time, the group released a debut single in early 1964. It skyrocketed to the top of the Swedish pop charts. They released their first album, which contained six Swedish and six English songs, later that year. Meanwhile Ulvaeus, who had kept up his studies while touring and recording, passed his exams to graduate from Lund University.
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