How Australia catapulted ABBA to stardom

Forty years ago, Australia was gripped by ABBA mania. The talented Swedes were mobbed everywhere they went. Young and old lined streets and packed their concerts. We embraced them whole heartedly as honorary Aussies. Which was fitting, because without Australia they may not have become one of the greatest music groups on earth.

In an Australian exclusive, Benny Anderson, Björn Ulvaeus and Agnetha Fältskog revealed to Sunday Night the pivotal role our nation played in catapulting ABBA to the top.

Rewind to 1974 and the relatively unknown ABBA was representing Sweden in the Euro Vision Song Contest. The Swedish foursome was up against our very own red hot favourite Olivia Newton John, who was allowed to compete for Britain because of her UK heritage.

In the seaside resort of Brighton, ABBA took to the stage and performed Waterloo. It resonated with fans and they won. However, like many one hit wonder Eurovision winners, ABBA’s career faltered with the release of their second song.

“We chose the wrong song as a follow up…. In everybody’s minds, it seemed that they had decided (we) would be forgotten. It was a struggle and we have our Australian friends to thank for the fact that we came back.” Bjorn Ulvaeus confessed to Sunday Night reporter Rahni Sadler.

So how did Australia help catapult ABBA to stardom? Countdown host Ian ‘Molly’ Meldrum began playing their music videos to Australian audiences.

“We got a great reaction from the public.” Molly told Sunday Night.

In fact, the moment Mamma Mia went on sale in Australia, it shot straight to number one. Before long ABBA was topping the charts all around the world and the rest is history.

Over a ten year career, ABBA became one of the most successful bands in the world. Catchy chorus’s and upbeat music delivered hit after hit with a staggering 380 million records sold.

But a highlight will always be the 1977 tour of Australia.

"The fantastic amazing thing was having people along all that way, waving with flags and banners. That was something incredible because that rarely happened those days, anywhere." Bjorn told Sunday Night.

Follow Sunday Night on Facebook, Twitter and Instagram.

Got a story tip? The best way to reach us is by email at