Björn Ulvaeus

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Björn Ulvaeus
Björn Ulveaus.JPG
Björn Ulvaeus at Gothenburg Book Fair 2007.
Background information
Birth name Björn Kristian Ulvaeus
Born (1945-04-25) 25 April 1945 (age 69)
Gothenburg, Sweden
Genres Europop, Folk rock, Swedish folk, Euro disco, Schlager
Occupation(s) Songwriter, composer, musician, writer, producer
Instruments Guitar, mandolin, banjo, vocals
Years active 1963–present
Labels Polar Music
Associated acts ABBA, Hootenanny Singers, Benny Andersson

Björn Kristian Ulvaeus (Swedish pronunciation: [bjœːɳ ɵlˈveːɵs]; born 25 April 1945; credited as Björn Ulvæus) is a Swedish songwriter, producer, a former member of the Swedish musical group ABBA (1972–82), and co-composer of the musicals Chess, Kristina från Duvemåla, and Mamma Mia!. He co-produced the film Mamma Mia! with fellow ex-ABBA member and close friend Benny Andersson.

Biography[edit]

Early life[edit]

Ulvaeus was born in Gothenburg, but as a child he moved with his family to Västervik.[1] Ulvaeus studied business and law at Lund University after doing his military service with stand-up comedian Magnus Holmström.

Career[edit]

Björn Ulvaeus with The Hootenanny Singers

Prior to gaining international recognition with ABBA, Ulvaeus was a member of the Swedish folk-schlager band Hootenanny Singers, early known as the "West Bay Singers", who had an enormous following in Scandinavia. While on the road in southern Sweden in 1966, they encountered the Hep Stars, and Ulvaeus quickly became friends with the group’s keyboard player, Benny Andersson. The two musicians shared a passion for songwriting, and each found a composing partner in the other. On meeting again that summer, they composed their first song together: "Isn't It Easy To Say", a song soon to be recorded by Andersson's group. The two continued teaming up for music, helping out each other's bands in the recording studio, and adding guitar or keyboards respectively to the recordings. In 1968, they composed two songs together: "A Flower In My Garden", recorded by Hep Stars, and their first "real" hit "Ljuva Sextiotal", for which Stig Anderson wrote lyrics. The latter, a cabarét-style ironic song about the 1960s, was submitted for the 1969 Swedish heats for Eurovision Song Contest, but was rejected; it was later recorded by diva Brita Borg. Another hit came in 1969 with "Speleman", also recorded by Hep Stars.

While filming a nostalgic schlager special for television in March 1969, Björn met an eighteen-year-old singer-songwriter Agnetha Fältskog. Benny had himself met his future spouse, a 23-year-old jazz and schlager vocalist Anni-Frid Lyngstad, only weeks before.

Björn Ulvaeus continued recording and touring with Hootenanny Singers to great acclaim while working as in-house producer at Polar Record Company (headed by future manager Stig Anderson), with Benny as his new partner. The twosome produced records by other artists and continued writing songs together. Polar artist Arne Lamberts Swedish version of "A Flower In My Garden" ("Fröken Blåklint") was one of Björn & Benny's first in-house productions. In December 1969, they recorded the new song "She's My Kind Of Girl", which became their first single as a duo. It was released in March 1970, giving them a minor hit in Sweden (and by chance a top-ten hit in Japan two years later).

The Hootenanny Singers entered Svensktoppen, the Swedish radio charts, in 1970 with "Omkring Tiggarn Från Luossa", a cover of an old folk-schlager song. It remained on the charts for 52 consecutive weeks, a record which endured until 1990; the song was produced by Björn and Benny, and had Ulvaeus's solo vocal and Benny's piano.

After ABBA, Ulvaeus, together with Andersson, created the musicals Chess, Kristina från Duvemåla (based on The Emigrants novels by Swedish writer Vilhelm Moberg), and Mamma Mia! (based on ABBA songs).

Together with Andersson, Ulvaeus was nominated for the Drama Desk Award in the category "Outstanding Music" (for the musical Chess), and for a Tony Award in a category "Best Orchestrations" (for musical Mamma Mia!). Original cast recordings of both musicals were nominated for a Grammy Award.

For the 2004 semi-final of the Eurovision Song Contest in Istanbul, Turkey, thirty years after ABBA had won the 1974 contest in Brighton, UK,[2] Ulvaeus appeared briefly in a special comedy video made for the interval act, entitled "Our Last Video". Each of the four members of the group appeared briefly in cameo roles, as did others such as Cher and Rik Mayall. The video was not included in the official DVD release of the Eurovision Contest, but was issued as a separate DVD release. It was billed as the first time the four had worked together since the group split. In fact, they each filmed their appearances separately.

Ulvaeus also shared with Andersson "The Special International Ivor Novello Award" from the British Academy of Songwriters, Composers and Authors, "The Music Export Prize" from the Swedish Ministry of Industry and Trade (2008),[3] and "Lifetime Achievement Award" from the Swedish Music Publishers Association (SMFF).

On 15 April 2013, it was officially announced by the EBU and the SVT that Björn along with the ex-ABBA member, Benny Andersson and the Swedish DJ and record producer, Avicii, have composed the anthem for the 2013 Eurovision Song Contest. The song was performed for the first time in the Final on 18 May.[4]

Personal life[edit]

On 6 July 1971, Ulvaeus married Agnetha Fältskog; the marriage resulted in two children: Linda Elin Ulvaeus (born 23 February 1973), and Peter Christian Ulvaeus (born 4 December 1977). In July 1980, Björn and Agnetha divorced, although they both agreed to remain in ABBA. Ulvaeus then married music journalist Lena Kallersjö on 6 January 1981. This marriage produced two daughters: Emma (born in 1982) and Anna (born in 1986).

Ulvaeus and Kallersjö currently live in Stockholm. From 1984 to 1990 they resided in the UK, where Ulvaeus founded an IT business with his brother.

He is also one of four people (including Per Gessle) who own NoteHeads, a Swedish company which publishes the music notation program Igor Engraver.[5]

Ulvaeus is a member of the International Humanist and Ethical Union's Swedish member organisation Humanisterna, and was awarded their annual prize, Hedenius-priset, in 2006. Ulvaeus describes himself as a "freethinker", rather than an atheist.[6]

In 2008, Ulvaeus revealed that he suffered from severe long-term memory loss and now no longer remembers many important events in his life. He now has little memory of some of the critical events in his professional history and has resorted to images of his past and even hypnotism to try to bring back his memory.[7] However, in a 2009 interview, he stated that reports of his memory loss were "hugely exaggerated".[8]

The Guardian called him Sweden's "highest-profile cash-free campaigner", explaining that "after his son was robbed several years ago, Ulvaeus became an evangelist for the electronic payment movement, claiming that cash was the primary cause of crime and that 'all activity in the black economy requires cash'".[9] He has reportedly been living cash-free for more than a year, and ABBA The Museum has operated cash-free since it opened in May 2013.[10]

Tax vindication[edit]

The Swedish Tax Agency accused Björn Ulvaeus of failing to pay 90 million kronor (US$12.8 million) in back taxes for eight years ending in 2005. The agency claimed that he "laundered" his music royalty income through institutions in several foreign countries. Ulvaeus paid the taxes as a precautionary measure during the 2½-year dispute. In October 2008, the county administrative court decided the case in Ulvaeus’ favour, ruling that he never owed any of the 90 million kronor.[11][12][13][14]

Discography[edit]

Björn solo singles[15][edit]

  • 1968: "Raring" (Swedish version of "Honey") / "Vill Du Ha En Vän"
  • 1968: "Fröken Fredriksson" (Swedish version of "Harper Valley PTA") / "Vår Egen Sång" – (Polar POS 162)
  • 1969: "Saknar Du Något Min Kära" (Swedish version of Where Do You Go To (My Lovely) / "Gömt Är Inte Glömt"
  • 1969: "Partaj-Aj-Aj-Aj" / "Kvinnan I Mitt Liv"

Björn & Benny singles[edit]

  • 1970: "She's My Kind of Girl" / "Inga Theme"
  • 1970: "Hej Gamle Man!" / "Lycka" (Happiness)
  • 1971: "Hey, Musikant" / "Was die Liebe sagt"
  • 1971: "Det Kan Ingen Doktor Hjalpa" (It Can't Be Remedied by a Doctor) / "På Bröllop"
  • 1971: "Tänk Om Jorden Vore Ung" (If Only We Had The Time) / "Träskofolket"
  • 1972: "En Karusell" (Merry-Go-Round) / "Att Finnas Till"
  • 1972: "Love Has Its Ways" / "Rock 'N' Roll Band" (Benny & Björn 1st version)

Björn & Benny albums[edit]

  • 1970: "Lycka"
  • 1984: "Chess" (Concept album with Tim Rice)
  • 1986: "Chess Pieces"
  • 1988: "Chess: Original Broadway Cast Recording"
  • 1994: "Chess in Concert"
  • 1996: "Kristina från Duvemåla"
  • 1998: "från Waterloo till Duvemåla"
  • 1999: "16 favoriter ur Kristina från Duvemåla"
  • 1999: "Mamma Mia!" (Original Cast Recording)
  • 2000: "Mamma Mia!" (Original Broadway Cast Recording)
  • 2002: "Chess på Svenska"
  • 2005: "Mamma Mia! På Svenska"
  • 2008: "Mamma Mia! – The Movie Soundtrack -"
  • 2009: "Chess in Concert" (London)
  • 2010: "Kristina at Carnegie Hall"

Gemini[edit]

Josefin Nilsson[edit]

  • 1993: "Shapes"

See also[edit]

References[edit]

  1. ^ "How the first performance by Agnetha, Björn, Benny and Anni-Frid turned into an enormous failure". Mix. February 2011. 
  2. ^ Sutcliffe, Libby (5 April 2014). "Abba's Eurovision win in Brighton remembered 40 years on". BBC. 
  3. ^ "The Government's Music Export Prize for 2008 goes to...". Sweden.gov.se (7 January 2009). Retrieved on 2013-07-22.
  4. ^ "ABBA's Benny, Björn and Avicii to write 'Eurovision anthem'". EBU. Retrieved 15 April 2013. 
  5. ^ "Noteheads.com – Corporate". Retrieved 29 April 2008. 
  6. ^ Björn Ulvaeus speaks on Humanism at the Wayback Machine (archived February 7, 2012). International Humanist interview (14 July 2006 )
  7. ^ Oscarsson, Marcus (16 July 2008). "Abba star Bjorn's shock admission: 'I'm battling long-term memory loss'". Daily Mail (London). Retrieved 16 July 2008. 
  8. ^ "Björn: 'Abba will never reunite'", Metro.co.uk (2 September 2009). Retrieved on 2013-07-22.
  9. ^ Russell, Helen (12 November 2014). "Welcome to Sweden - the most cash-free society on the planet". The Guardian. 
  10. ^ Ulvaeus, Björn. "Why we don’t accept cash at ABBA the Museum". ABBA the Museum. Retrieved 15 November 2014. 
  11. ^ "ABBA's Bjorn wins $17m tax case". The Sydney Morning Herald. 15 October 2008. 
  12. ^ "Sweden's Taxman After ABBA's Ulvaeus Again", E! Online. (4 January 2007). Retrieved on 2013-07-22.
  13. ^ "Abba's Björn accused of 87m kronor tax fiddle", The Local, Retrieved on 22 July 2013.
  14. ^ "Abba star 'underpaid' Swedish tax". BBC News. 5 January 2007. Retrieved 26 March 2010. 
  15. ^ Oldham, A, Calder, T & Irvin, C (1995) ABBA: The Name of the Game, Sidgwick & Jackson, p. 226, ISBN 0283062320.
Awards and achievements
Preceded by
Luxembourg Anne-Marie David
with "Tu te reconnaîtras"
Winner of the Eurovision Song Contest
1974
(as part of ABBA)
Succeeded by
Netherlands Teach-In
with "Ding-A-Dong"
Preceded by
Nova
with "You're Summer"
Sweden in the Eurovision Song Contest
1974
(as part of ABBA)
Succeeded by
Lars Berghagen
with "Jennie, Jennie"