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Bjorn Ulvaeus Biography

Bjorn Ulvaeus

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Born: 1945. Living in: Sweden

Bjorn Kristian Ulvaeus is a Swedish songwriter, producer, a former member of the Swedish musical group ABBA (1972-1982), and co-composer of the musicals Chess, Kristina fran Duvemala, and Mamma Mia!. He co-produced the film Mamma Mia! with fellow ABBA member and close friend Benny Andersson.

Before gaining international recognition with ABBA, Ulvaeus was a member of the Swedish folk-schlager band Hootenanny Singers, early known as the "West Bay Singers", who had an enormous following in Scandinavia. While on the road in southern Sweden in 1966, they encountered the Hep Stars, and Ulvaeus quickly became friends with the group's keyboard player, Benny Andersson. The two musicians shared a passion for songwriting, and each found a composing partner in the other. On meeting again that summer, they composed their first song together: "Isn't It Easy To Say", a song soon to be recorded by Andersson's group. The two continued teaming up for music, helping out each other's bands in the recording studio, and adding guitar or keyboards respectively to the recordings. In 1968, they composed two songs together: "A Flower In My Garden", recorded by Hep Stars, and their first "real" hit "Ljuva Sextiotal", for which Stig Anderson wrote lyrics. The latter, a cabaret-style ironic song about the 1960s, was submitted for the 1969 Swedish heats for the Eurovision Song Contest, but was rejected; it was later recorded by diva Brita Borg. Another hit came in 1969 with "Speleman", also recorded by Hep Stars.

After ABBA, Ulvaeus and Andersson created the musicals Chess, a collaboration with lyricist Tim Rice,(3) Kristina från Duvemåla (based on The Emigrants novels by Swedish writer Vilhelm Moberg), and Mamma Mia! (based on ABBA songs).

Together with Andersson, Ulvaeus was nominated for the Drama Desk Award in the category "Outstanding Music" (for the musical Chess), and for a Tony Award in a category "Best Orchestrations" (for the musical Mamma Mia!). Original cast recordings of both musicals were nominated for a Grammy Award.

For the 2004 semi-final of the Eurovision Song Contest in Istanbul, thirty years after ABBA had won the 1974 contest in Brighton, UK,(4) Ulvaeus appeared briefly in a special comedy video made for the interval act, entitled "Our Last Video". Each of the four members of the group appeared briefly in cameo roles, as did others such as Cher and Rik Mayall. The video was not included in the official DVD release of the Eurovision Contest, but was issued as a separate DVD release. It was billed as the first time the four had worked together since the group split. In fact, they each filmed their appearances separately.