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Music

ABBA keyboardist and producer Benny Andersson turns 70

He co-wrote some of ABBA's greatest hits like "Mamma Mia" and "Waterloo." Benny Andersson also went on to make films and run a hotel. Now, the Swede of many talents is turning 70.

Benny Andersson, together with ABBA band mate Björn Ulvaeus, wrote and produced the musical zeitgeist of the 1970s. Born as Göran Bror Benny Andersson, the musician celebrates his 70th birthday on Friday.

Vom teen idol to ABBA legend

Andersson's love for music dates back to his childhood. He received his first piano at the age of 10 and taught himself to play.

ABBA in 1974 (picture-alliance/dpa)

It all began for ABBA at Eurovision in 1974

When he dropped out of school at 15, he started playing in clubs. In 1964, he joined the band Hep Stars, which launched the keyboardist to fame as a teen idol. Hep Stars was one of Sweden's most popular bands in the 1960s.

But it was with ABBA that Andersson gained international renown. The success of "Waterloo" at the Eurovision Song Contest in 1974 catapulted the band in several countries to the top of the charts.

Additional number one hits followed: "Mamma Mia," "Fernando" and "Dancing Queen" defined the sound of the decade and remain iconic today.

For Andersson, ABBA wasn't just a job, but also part of his personal life. He was together with ABBA singer Anni-Frid Lyngstad for nine years. They were married from 1978 to 1981 before they split. After their divorce, the band also broke up in 1982.

A man with many hats

The end of ABBA wasn't the end of Benny Andersson's success. Together with Björn Ulvaeus and others, he continued to write music for various bands and popular musicals like "Chess" and "Mamma Mia." He also remained active as a musician and performed with the newly founded Benny Andersson Orkester.

ABBA in 1978 (picture-alliance/dpa/Schilling)

ABBA in 1978 - at the peak of their fame

In addition to his music career, Andersson became a filmmaker. At the Berlinale - Berlin's international film festival - in 2015, he presented the Swedish film "The Circle," which was based on the Swedish trilogy "Engelsfors" by Sara Bergmark Elfgren and Mats Strandberg. The film was only shown in cinemas in Sweden.

Since 2003, Andersson has also managed his own hotel, Riva, in downtown Stockholm.

Digital ABBA comeback

Rumors of an ABBA comeback have persisted, although all of the former ABBA members have long been active as solo artists and excluded any possibility of a reunion. But then, in October, an ABBA concert tour was announced. The only catch was that the band would merely appear as digital avatars on stage.

This year, Benny Andersson is celebrating his birthday with family, friends and the band. But in 2018, when he turns 72, a younger, digital version of the musician will be making appearances on stages all over the world.

 

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