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Benny Andersson Biography

Benny Andersson

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Born: 1946. Living in: Sweden

Goran Bror Benny Andersson is a Swedish musician, composer, member of the Swedish music group ABBA (1972-1982), and co-composer of the musicals Chess, Kristina från Duvemaa, and Mamma Mia!. For the 2008 film version of Mamma Mia!, he worked also as an executive producer. Since 2001, he is active with his own band Benny Anderssons orkester.

Andersson met Bjorn Ulvaeus in June 1966, and the two started writing songs together, their first being "Isn't It Easy To Say", eventually recorded by the Hep Stars. He also had a fruitful songwriting collaboration with Lasse Berghagen, with whom he wrote several songs and submitted "Hej, Clown" for the 1969 Melodifestivalen - the Swedish Eurovision Song Festival finals. The song finished in second place. During this contest he met vocalist Anni-Frid Lyngstad, and they soon became a couple. Around the same time his songwriting companion Ulvaeus met vocalist Agnetha Faltskog.

The personal relationships and Andersson and Ulvaeus' songwriting collaboration has led quite naturally to the very close co-operation which the four friends had during the following years. Benny and Bjorn scored their first hits as songwriters in the spring of 1969: "Ljuva sextital" (a hit with Brita Borg) and "Speleman" (a hit for the Hep Stars). As the two couples began supporting each other during recording sessions, the sound of the girls' voices convinced the songwriters to model their 'group' on various MOR acts such as Blue Mink, Middle of the Road and Sweet. Thus, ABBA came to life.

The group's breakthrough came with winning the Eurovision Song Contest for Sweden with "Waterloo" on 6 April 1974. During the next eight years, Andersson (together with Ulvaeus) wrote music for and produced eight studio albums with ABBA. The group achieved great success globally and scored a chain of No. 1 hits.

After ABBA Andersson continued writing music with Ulvaeus. Their first project was the stage musical Chess, written with Tim Rice. The Chess concept album - with vocals by Elaine Paige, Barbara Dickson, Murray Head and Swedes Tommy Korberg and Bjorn Skifs - was released in October 1984, selling two million copies worldwide. The Paige/Dickson duet "I Know Him So Well" became a major UK No. 1 hit, and Murray Head's "One Night in Bangkok" gave Andersson/Ulvaeus a US No. 3 hit.

Chess was staged in London's West End Prince Edward Theatre in May 1986 and received mixed to positive reviews, running for about three years. A revised staging on Broadway in April 1988 received poor reviews, running for two months.