From ABBA To Mamma Mia! - the details

Published March 29, 2010

Off and on since 1993, photographer Anders Hanser and I had been talking about doing a book based on his enormous archive of ABBA pictures. Anders was married to former Polar Music Vice President Görel Hanser and he has been a personal friend of the former ABBA members for more than 25 years. He started photographing ABBA in 1978 and continued taking pictures of the individual members and documenting Björn and Benny's projects until the London opening of the musical Mamma Mia! in April 1999.

In the spring of 1999 Anders and I finally set to work on the book. We did not want to do an ordinary photo book with just a few lines of commentary text here and there. We agreed that the photographs should serve as a basis for writing a fairly in-depth text. Early on in the project, Benny came over to have a quick look at the pictures. He told Anders, "You've got a lot of great pictures here, but you will need a good text to go with it." For my part, I also felt an obligation to come up with something new and fresh for the fans, and not just repeat the same old stories again - or, indeed, write some bland copy text about ABBA's fabulousness.

I sat down with Anders and a tape recorder to get his story, as well as his memories of working with ABBA. I also interviewed people like Anders Eljas (played keyboards on the ABBA tours; arranger/orchestrator for Chess, Klinga mina klockor, Kristina från Duvemåla), Rune Söderqvist (art director), Owe Sandström (costume designer), Michael Tretow (sound engineer) and Lasse Hallström (video director).

In collaboration with the Swedish music book publisher Premium Publishing, the project gradually came together. After a while my English-language manuscript had been completed - it was always our intention to aim primarily for the English-language market - but since it took a while to get all the deals finalised, it was decided that we should issue a Swedish-language version first.

Thus, the book Från ABBA till Mamma Mia! was published in Sweden on November 17, 1999. A while later, a deal was made with Virgin Publishing in the UK for an English language edition. The autumn of 2000 saw the publication of this version, entitled From ABBA To Mamma Mia!


For technical reasons, the English language version of From ABBA To Mamma Mia! contains 48 pages less than the Swedish version. The original 304 pages were cut down to 256, although the heart and soul of the book remains intact. The cuts have mainly been made in the sections that are focused on projects that didn't reach far outside Swedish borders. Click on the link in the More Info menu to find out what material is available only in the Swedish version of the book.

Following on from the Swedish and English language versions of From ABBA To Mamma Mia!, the 2002 Tokyo premiere of the Mamma Mia! musical provided the perfect opportunity to publish a Japanese version of the book. With a slightly different format, and 16 pages less than the English version (which in itself had been edited down from the Swedish edition), the Japanese version of the book was published by Hinode Publishing in November 2002.

An updated version of From ABBA To Mamma Mia! was published by Premium Publishing in February 2010. This version contains an additional chapter covering the events since the first publication.

In 2005, I had the opportunity to collaborate with Anders again. I wrote the manuscript for a 12-part slide show, entitled Vad hände då? ("What Happened Then?"), which tells the Björn & Benny/ABBA story. The slide show was published on the Swedish site for the Mamma Mia! musical, but is no longer available there.

From ABBA To Mamma Mia! Current edition published by Premium Publishing, February 2010. English language. 264 pp. 29 x 24 cm. Hardback.