New ABBA series starts airing in The Netherlands

Published April 29, 2021

I am one of many Swedes interviewed for the new ABBA series "Nick, Simon & Kees: Take a chance on me", which starts airing on Dutch TV tomorrow, Friday 30 April 2021. If I recall correctly, it's a six-part series.

Applying the format from a previous series about Simon & Garfunkel (one of the duo Nick & Simon's inspirations), this time the team has travelled to Sweden to trace the history of ABBA: out of the three, it's Kees who's the major ABBA fan.

Apart from myself (interviewed at Julius Kronberg's studio, where The Visitors sleeve was photographed), ABBA-related people appearing in the series include guitarist Janne Schaffer, costume designer Owe Sandström, and tour sound engineer and ABBA pal Claes af Geijerstam. I believe Tonny Roth of the Hootenanny Singers may also have been interviewed for it, along with lots of other people.

The production team was quite ambitious, so there's every chance this might be a good series.

Read more here (in Dutch).

Thanks to Jan van den Berg for the alert.

 

Talking Elvis, Hep Stars, ABBA and more

Published April 28, 2021

Is there nothing I won't blab about? Clearly not, as I'm taking part in the Talking Elvis podcast chatting about Hep Stars lead singer Svenne Hedlund's Elvis album, various other ABBA/Elvis connections - and the time my dad met Elvis on the set of either Viva Las Vegas or Kissin' Cousins in 1963 (it's related to the glass ashtray Elvis is holding in the picture).

Listen here or here.

ABBA features in new book

Published April 14, 2021

My friend Staffan Olander is a long-term fan of The Beatles, and the go-to person in Sweden for expertise on everything connected with the group. As a consequence of his winning Sweden's equivalent of The $64,000 Question in 1973 (this being Sweden, the win was a more modest SEK 10,000), he became a close personal friend of Beatles producer George Martin, and Staffan has contributed to many official Beatles projects over the years. For instance, if you see Beatles single and EP sleeves on official merchandise these days, they're likely to come from Staffan's immaculately preserved and catalogued collection.

I grew up listening to his "Beatles Hour" programmes on Swedish radio and got to know him personally in 2003. As a life-long Beatles fan, I was honoured to accompany Staffan on a trip to London, when he took me along to a visit with Sir George Martin as they were working on the book Summer of Love - The Making of Sgt Pepper. George served us tea and biscuits in his London flat and I remember thinking that this would probably be the first and last time that a "Sir" would ever serve me tea.

Staffan has just published a kind of memoir, entitled Staffan & Beatles: popmusiken blev ett livsprojekt ("Staffan & The Beatles: Pop Music Became A Life Project"). In the book, he looks back on his life, not least the many Beatles-related projects he's been involved in - and above all his friendship with George Martin.

For the ABBA fan, there are a number of items of interest in the book, perhaps particularly the three pages covering the story behind the video greeting Paul McCartney sent to Björn and Benny in June 2016, as the male half of ABBA celebrated the 50th anniversary of their first meeting. There are also pictures from the video greeting that Björn and Benny sent back to McCartney. Staffan was instrumental in making all this happen.

Other ABBA-related features in the book include a meeting between the Martin family and Björn & Benny in 1995 (including a picture); a telegram George Martin sent to Björn and Benny; and an invitation to the the Martin family to see the Mamma Mia! musical.

The book is in Swedish and if you want a signed copy you can order it directly from Staffan at info@olander.se. The price is SEK 300, plus postage, which varies according to your location on the planet.

The book is also available worldwide from Book Depository.

It's a beautifully designed book with a lot of warmth in it, which is very nice just to flick through, even if you don't understand Swedish.

 

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