The voices, the costumes, the hair — and oh so much eyeshadow — the Swedish quintet ABBA embodied the funky spirit of the 1970s. But it was much more than simple flare that captured the world’s attention, it was their music.
ABBA began when Björn Ulvaeus met Benny Andersson in 1966. The two musicians were already successful independently. Ulvaeus was a part of a folk music group, the Hootenanny Singers, while Andersson was a keyboardist in The Hep Stars. After meeting, they decided to try their hand at writing music together. It worked so well that they kept right on collaborating.
In 1969, the duo met the two women who would become their wives, as well as the other half of ABBA — Agnetha Fältskog and Anni-Frid Lyngstad. They formed the group as an acronym of their first names. From there, they took the band on the road, touring European festivals, eventually winning the coveted Eurovision Song Contest in 1974 with their tune “Waterloo.” Over the coming years, the band become extremely popular, cranking out classics like “Mamma Mia” and “Dancing Queen,” hitting the international charts in a big way.
The band continued touring even after the couples parted ways romantically. But by the early 1980s, the band had run out of steam and decided to take an indefinite break in 1990.
That doesn’t mean the love of their music has faded. In fact, a new generation of fans has been created throughout the world thanks to their songs appearing in popular movies, like “Mamma Mia,” released in 2008. Garry Lichach, a Toranto-based music producer, can attest to the power ABBA still holds over fans.
In the early 2000s, he was approached to help organize an ABBA tribute show in Canada. The result was ABBAMANIA.
“They asked me if there was an ABBA tribute band, and I said I would find one,” he said with a laugh. “So I found two girls who did Spice Girl shows. They looked like them and sounded like them so we went with it.”
Nearly 20 years later, the group is still going strong. Backed by two other members, ABBAMANIA does 200 shows a year around the world.
“Since we started, we’ve performed more than The Beatles, Elvis, Madonna, Michael Jackson,” Lichach said. “(ABBAMANIA) does all the hits, note for note, chord for chord. They do all the harmonies.”
That’s no small task. In the beginning, “ABBAMANIA” spent six months in rehearsals just focusing on the intense vocal arrangements. But the result was well worth the effort.
“ABBA’s harmonies are very difficult to reproduce as ABBA recorded their vocals many times on each record to make them sound so big and full. They are backed by a live band and carry charts for a full symphony show. They sold out two shows, 6,000 tickets, with the San Diego Symphony,” Lichach said.
Golden Isles residents can soon see that magic for themselves. ABBAMANIA will perform at 8 p.m. Sept. 6 on Rainbow Island on Sea Island. Tickets are $45 per person and food will be offered for purchase courtesy of the St. Simons Island-based Certified Burgers. Tickets may be purchased online at www.southerngrown.com or by calling 877-896-3378.
Lichach says the band is looking forward to traveling to the Golden Isles and feels that the crowd will be in for a real treat.
“It’s a really good time for us. There’s a lot of new interest in ABBA with new movies coming out and the stage play. It rejuvenates itself,” he said.
“ABBAMANIA is great for the people who want to see ABBA but can’t. Everyone loves to sing along to the catchy tunes.”