This article was published in Swedish Television's weekly magazine Röster i Radio/TV, issue 46, 1978.
I knew I wanted to be a singer allready when I was seven years old.
Torshälla in the beginning of the 50's was still an idyllic place. The old houses leaned on each other and was every architect's dream to do something with. The town gossip had the proportions of a small town. You knew people, by age and careers.
In this little town with the 5.000 people living there Anni-Frid and I grew up.
We never went to the same school and we weren't best friends - but we both belonged to an organisationn URK - Ungdomens Röda Kors [The Red Cross Youth Division] - and we played together sometimes. In the basement of one of the official buildings in the town we wove baskets and made armslings (mitellas). Anni-Frid didn't do much of the woveing, instead she sang a lot: "Que sera, sera, det sker vad än ska ske, din framtid kan ingen se, que sera, sera..."
She was fantastically beautiful and her voice was clear as crystal. She sang all the time. We admired her. She got to be Barnens Dags Prinsessa and ride in the parade through the town with a crown on her head:
– I remember that day very vividly, says Anni-Frid. I felt so bad I thought I couldn't do it.
Her debut as a singer happened at a Röda Kors soaré. On the Folkets Hus stage. Dressed in a folklore costume including a bonnet, 11 years old she sang: "Fjorton år tror jag visst att jag var" [I believe I was 14 years old]...
We wanted it to work out well for her, because we know that she was living with her grandmother and didn't have a father or a mother. It was almost something romantic about her, almost like in the books we read. And she had the cutest smile, she wrinkled her nose when she smiled.
The everything went so quickly. We outgrew URK and each other. We only said a quick hello when we just made it on the 7.30 bus on the way to Eskilstuna where Anni-Frid attended realskolan and I went to the girl's school.
– I never had any other plans. As a 7 year old I knew that it was a singer I was going to be, Anni-Frid says smiling, before I get the chance to ask her the next question. Well, I guess we all had understood that. At the tender age of 13 she went touring with orchestras "just because it was such a lot of fun just to sing". I didn't have any time for boys at that time.
At the schooldances she performed Glenn Miller songs while the rest of us danced in the dimly lit gymnasium.
SANG AND SANG
She sang and sang and sang. She won a talent competition and started taking singing lessons from the famous operasinger Folke Andersson. During my first time as a reporter in Eskilstuna at the magazine "Folket" I wrote some articles about her every now and then. It's 15 years ago...
In ABBA's bastion at Baldersgatan 1 in Stockholm, in a room where the successes of ABBA's literally are plastered on the walls in the shape of gold records from all around the world, I get to meet Anni-Frid again. She is coming straight from her singing lesson, in "civilian clothes", beige pants, blue sweater and beige boots with high heels and she has the red hair in a braid on her back. She is beautiful, friendly, a little hesitant. I don't blame her. Your childhood is something to be careful with.
We talk about ABBA, about right now and of the future. And only a little bit of our common ground, the same town we grew up in. The reason for this interview is that the American TV-show with Olivia John which ABBA participated in as guest performers now will be shown on Swedish TV. On the show ABBA will perform "Money, Money, Money" and "Fernando". Why did these songs get chosen for this show?
– Simply because they are songs that have appeared on the US charts and they are known to the American public, the songs they know us from, says Anni-Frid.
– To be on a show like this is amazing, a lot of fun. Everyone knows exactly what to do and when to do it, no waiting at all, everything just flows in a very professional way.
– And Olivia was a very nice girl. No manners at all.
On the show Anni-Frid sings a few operatic notes. And today she just came back from her singing lesson.
– I don't want to stand still. One has to look beyond ABBA. One day ABBA will end, whenever that happens, I don't know, and you have to prepare for that. If you want to stay in this business you have to work for it. You can't just sit on your behind and think that everything is allright.
– So opera is the next thing for you?
– It's possible. I think it's a lot of fun to work on. It's the thing that I love to sing and I love to do the odd things now and then. I would like to do it more, but I realise that when we are travelling there's no possibility to do it. If I was to start howling in my hotel room I think I would be a nuisance. That is why Frida takes private operatic lessions as often as she can. She has a daily appointment which she is making the most of.
– I could rehearse in the privacy of my home, but it doens't work out the way I want it to do. It doesn't give me the peace and quiet that I long for, since children and their friends keep comping home at all hours. So in that case it's better for me to go away and see my song coach.
How is ABBA evolving.
– Naturally, it's an undergoing development in what way is hard for me to say. One thjng os for sure though, - it becomes more and more difficult, it takes longer time to finish a complete album. We are becoming more and more critical. It really takes blood, sweat and tears when the boys (Björn and Benny) are writing new material. It's is very important that they are left alone with the creative process. And in the meantime Anni-Frid deals with other aspects, i e interviews and stage outfits.
– It's just they way it has developed. I throughly enjoy the clothes aspect. Not long ago I went to Milan and bought some new outfits. Everyone thinks that our clothes are such a well thought out aspect, butit only came to look like that because we love clothes so much. And I think it should be glitter and glamour on the stage. It has become synonymous with us.
The world star from Thermaniesgatan i Eskilstuna is on her way together with the rest of the ABBA-members to conquer one of the biggest markets there is; Japan. It was the world's biggest kick when ABBA conqured Brighton in Enland in 1974. Back then everything was new, and exciting. Back then everything was "new", "exciting" and thrilling".
The excitement may be not be as prevalent anymore. The thing with fame and fortune is that the longer you have experienced it, your need for it has been met. It's not as important as it was before you had it. Instead its channeled to an inner satisfaction to be able to work with what you really love. And it if that works out tremendously then it becamos the best thing you have ever done. Still, to this day when we enter the charts with our songs it means as much as it did the first time. Anni-Frid glances at her watch, it's late afternoon and at home in the Lidingö Villa her youngest daughter, Lise-.Lotte have arrived home from school. – I try to be there when then they get home, but I miss out everyone now and then.
So we end the inteveriw by talking abou the ABBA fans - are they children?
– No, ¬don't think so Anni-Frid repies. Abroad our audiences are very mixed from the ages 4 to 80, but at home here in Swedeen it seems like it's not quite OK to like ABBA. People don't dare tell each other that they like ABBA.
But there are some brave adults who dare to stand up and say that they like us. One woman who would have loved ABBA is my grandmother.
She really supported my singing once she realized that I was dead set serious about doing this.
Who knows, in 15 years time I'll might be doing a inteveriw with Anni-Frid Lyngstad, the opera singer...