Waterloo was first performed by ... Ajax?!

Published January 30, 2020

So you thought that ABBA were the original artists who performed 'Waterloo'? Wrong! Well, in a sense, at least.

ABBA performed 'Waterloo' in Melodifestivalen - the Swedish selection for the Eurovision Song Contest - on 9 February 1974. But in advance of that year's broadcast, all the entries were performed in the Swedish television magazine, Sveriges Magasin, which aired Monday–Friday between 6.30 and 7.30 pm. Two songs were performed in each programme by the vocal group Ajax (who would also serve as Melodifestivalen backing singers for artists that required them). On 30 January, they performed ‘Min kärlekssång till dig’ (“My Love Song For You”, Lasse Berghagen’s entry) and also ‘Waterloo’, marking the first time that the ABBA song was heard in public, albeit not performed by Agnetha, Björn, Benny and Frida.

The four members of Ajax were:

Karin Stigmark - in the mid-1960s, she released a number of singles and EPs in France under the name Karine, before returning to Sweden towards the end of the decade. She continued her recording career in Sweden, co-wrote songs for Melodifestivalen (including one in 1973), and was a member of the Swedish progressive super group Baltik, the other members being ABBA musicians such as Janne Schaffer, Mike Watson, Malando Gassama and Ola Brunkert, to name just a few.

Beverly Glenn Sundel - an American singer who came to Sweden in 1964, and eventually did session work (she sings on Agnetha's Elva kvinnor i ett hus album) before concentrating on jazz and gospel; she passed away in 2009.

Peter Lundblad - although never a major star, he emerged on the Swedish music scene in the 1970s, and a handful of songs he released in the 1980s have remained popular; he passed away in 2015.

Göran Wiklund - became a member of Ajax through his friendship with Peter Lundblad, later went on to a progressive band, and is still around today, mainly as a soul music singer.

Later in 1974 the budget album Svensktoppen 2 was released, where Ajax performed a number of recent hits, including Waterloo. This recording, then, should be fairly close to that first TV performance. I recently located a copy of the LP, and I've uploaded Ajax' version of 'Waterloo' here. (May not work on mobile phones.)

This is just one of a myriad of similar stories to be included in my forthcoming book ABBA On Record - Packaged Promoted Reviewed. Read more here.

 

Ajax was the first act to perform Waterloo in public, in the Swedish television programme Sveriges Magasin.

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