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Friday, 5 November, 1999, 17:01 GMT
Sweden's Abba tribute
Abba-inspired dolls on show in Stockholm
Sweden is to pay tribute to its most famous export Abba with a bumper exhibition devoted to the Seventies pop sensations.

The exhibition opens on 9 November and will display a mouthwatering supply of Abba memorabilia, including costumes, instruments, photos, trinkets and quotes from fans.

Abba on their way to stardom at the 1974 Eurovision Song Contest
Hosting the event will be Stockholm's National Museum of Cultural History. Its aim is to highlight the cultural influence and enduring appeal of one the world's most successful pop groups.

The show's project manager Agnetha Ehrensvaerd said: "We wanted to tell how Abba affected regular people, in their everyday lives and in their festivities."

Abba, made up of Anna-Frid, Bjorn, Benny and Agnetha, shot to worldwide fame in 1974 when they won the Eurovision Song Contest with Waterloo.

It was just the first of a string of catchy songs, including Money, Money, Money, Super Trooper and Take A Chance On Me, that kept them top of the charts around the globe for more than 10 years.

Now nearly two decades after they disbanded, Abba remain unflinchingly popular.

Huge exhibits that mirror the group's massive success
The album Abba Gold is a best-seller. Abba impersonators are two-a-penny and if you want to fill a dance floor, there's no better track than Dancing Queen.

It's not surprising therefore that many people in Sweden, such as Abba expert Hanser Gorel, consider the quartet worthy of being honoured in this way.

"What I like is that someone like this museum has taken Abba seriously and not just made fun of them," said Gorel.

In true tribute to the sequinned foursome, the exhibition looks like a disco.

It has free-standing sculptures of the band members surrounded by all things Abba from badges to dolls. There is even a karoke machine for visitors overcome with the need to break into one of their heroes' songs.

But likely to attract the most attention is the collection of trademark camp and clingy outfits. Among the favourites will no doubt be the white, flared polyester jumpsuits and gold lame clogs.

The musical has been a sell out since day one
The exhibition is a dream come true for millions of die-hard fans who grew up with the band. It is also set to attract the new generation of followers who have been seduced by contemporary takes on the band's appeal.

In Sweden, teenagers delight in Abba music via the copy band A-Teens. Similarly, Australia has spawned Bjorn Again who attract huge audiences, particularly in Britain.

Britain is currently also in the grips of the hit musical Mamma Mia! in London's West End. It centres on the music of Abba and has been even been written by the band's Benny and Bjorn.

Since it opened in April, Mamma Mia! has been playing to packed houses. It takes 60,000 a day at the box office and has 8m in advance bookings.

Siobhan McCarthy stars in Mamma Mia written by Benny and Bjorn
Now the cast has recorded an album for all those who haven't managed to get to show yet. The show's star Siobhan McCarthy confirmed that Abba's music is enjoyed by all ages.

"The show seems to have across the board appeal from young kids to those in their 70s. We have this sing-a-long section and from day one everybody in the audience got up to sing and dance," she said.

Back in Sweden, the Abba phenomenon is set to continue well into in the next millennium. Museum executive Lars Lofgren is already thinking of taking the Abba exhibition to London. While Benny and Bjorn's next musical hit Kristina from Duvemala may hit the London stage soon.

See also:

07 Apr 99 | Entertainment
Abba fever hits the West End
08 Apr 99 | Entertainment
Thank you for the musical
04 Nov 99 | Entertainment
Abba's Frida mourns husband
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