Benny's Road To ABBA - the details

Published April 01, 2010


Back in 2002, when I began writing the Hep Stars biography Cadillac Madness, Premium Publishing asked me if I would consider doing an English version of the book. Their idea was to tell the story about The Hep Stars' extraordinary career in much the same way as in Cadillac Madness, but remove most of the personal details (childhood years, musical experience before The Hep Stars, etc.) about all the members except Benny Andersson, then extend the time-frame of the English book to encompass Benny's career during the three-year period from the break-up of The Hep Stars in 1969 up until the recording of the first ABBA single, 'People Need Love', in 1972.

Thus, the book would start with Benny's childhood, growing up in the Stockholm suburb of Vällingby, tell the story of his time with the Hep Stars in the 1960s, and then the formation of his relationship and initial collaboration with Björn, Frida and Agnetha - ergo Benny's Road To ABBA. The purpose of this approach was, of course, to produce a book that would be more interesting for readers outside Sweden.


I eventually began preparing the manuscript for this book, and it was completed just a few months after Cadillac Madness. Benny's Road To ABBA is a little less extensively illustrated than the Hep Stars book. However, I believe it still contains around 150 pictures, and - needless to say - more photographs of Benny than the Hep Stars book (however, not all the Benny pictures in Cadillac Madness are featured in Benny's Road To ABBA). Some of the pictures are very rare, of course. Also, we have a couple of photographs from the Festfolk cabaret show, alternate to the one used in my ABBA biography, Bright Lights Dark Shadows. Finally, there are some early ABBA pictures - and even a photograph of Björn and Agnetha!


The book ends with a discography that is quite different to the one in Cadillac Madness. The discography in Cadillac Madness is what I would call a "collector's discography", focusing on reproducing all the label and sleeve variations, foreign releases, determining the value of the records, and so on (you can view a sample spread of this collector's discography if you go to the Cadillac Madness page and click on "A look inside the book").

However, the discography in Benny's Road To ABBA uses another approach. Here you will find a detailed, chronological track-by-track description of every song recorded by The Hep Stars between 1964 and 1969 (some of which were first released only decades later), put together by yours truly. There is also an overview of the records released in Sweden by the duo Björn & Benny between 1970 and 1972. Excerpts from the Hep Stars discography in Benny's Road To ABBA can be accessed via the link under "More info".


Both the main text and the discography in Benny's Road To ABBA should hopefully be of interest not only to Hep Stars/ABBA/Benny Andersson fans, but also to people interested in 1960s garage rock and sunshine pop. No less a garage/punk authority than the late Greg Shaw - of Bomp! magazine fame - has championed the 1965 Hep Stars On Stage album in the past. "There is a tremendous live atmosphere on the album, one of the best ever captured on wax," he wrote in his magazine.

Sunshine pop enthusiasts and Curt Boettcher aficionados may also find the story of The Hep Stars 1968 album It's Been A Long Long Time quite intriguing. Many of the songs on the album had been culled from recordings made by Boettcher-related cult groups such as The Ballroom, The Millennium and Sagittarius. That in itself is unique, but the really surprising angle of this tale is that The Hep Stars actually released most if not all of their versions of those songs before the American bands. Read the book to find out the whole story.

For more details about the research effort that went into this project and further background information, please go to the page about the Cadillac Madness book (link under "More info").


Benny's Road To ABBA. Published by Premium Publishing, June 12, 2004. English language. 316 pp. 24 x 17 cm. Hardbound. ISBN: 91-89136-14-4.