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Björn Ulvaeus
Björn Ulvaeus in May 2013.jpg
Ulvaeus in May 2013
Born
Björn Kristian Ulvaeus

25 April 1945 (1945-04-25) (age 76)
Nationality Swedish
Alma mater Lund University
Occupation
  • Songwriter
  • composer
  • musician
  • singer
  • guitarist
  • producer
  • writer
  • musical director
Years active 1963–present
Height 5 ft 9 in (175 cm)
Spouse(s)
Agnetha Fältskog
(m. 1971; div. 1980)

Lena Källersjö
(m. 1981)
Children 4, including Linda and Peter Christian Ulvaeus
Parent(s) Aina Eliza Viktoria Bengtsson
Erik Gunnar Ulvaeus
Musical career
Genres
Instruments
Labels
Associated acts
Signature
Björn Ulvaeus signature.svg

Björn Kristian Ulvaeus ( born 25 April 1945) is a Swedish singer-songwriter, producer, a member of the Swedish musical group ABBA, and co-composer of the musicals Chess, Kristina från Duvemåla, and Mamma Mia! He co-produced the films Mamma Mia! and Mamma Mia! Here We Go Again with fellow ABBA member and close friend Benny Andersson. He is the oldest member of the group.

Biography

Early life

Björn Kristian Ulvaeus was born in Gothenburg on 25 April 1945. In 1951, he moved with his family to Västervik, Kalmar County. His parents were Aina Eliza Viktoria (née Bengtsson; 1909–2005) and Erik Gunnar Ulvaeus (1912–1999). Ulvaeus has one sister, Eva Margareta (born 1948). Ulvaeus studied business and law at Lund University after undertaking his military service, alongside comedian Magnus Holmström.

Career

Hootenanny Singers
Björn Ulvaeus (second from right) with Hootenanny Singers

Before gaining international recognition with ABBA, Ulvaeus was a member of the Swedish folk-schlager band Hootenanny Singers, known earlier 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 cabarét-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.

While filming a nostalgic schlager special for television in March 1969, Björn met eighteen-year-old future wife and singer-songwriter Agnetha Fältskog. Benny also met his future spouse, 23-year-old jazz and schlager vocalist Anni-Frid Lyngstad, only weeks before.

Björn Ulvaeus continued recording and touring with Hootenanny Singers to great acclaim while working as in-house producer at Polar Record Company (headed by future manager Stig Anderson), with Benny as his new partner. The twosome produced records by other artists and continued writing songs together. Polar artist Arne Lamberts Swedish version of "A Flower in My Garden" ("Fröken Blåklint") was one of Björn & Benny's first in-house productions. In December 1969, they recorded the new song "She's My Kind of Girl", which became their first single as a duo. It was released in March 1970, giving them a minor hit in Sweden and a top-ten hit in Japan two years later.

The Hootenanny Singers entered Svensktoppen, the Swedish radio charts, in 1970 with "Omkring Tiggarn Från Luossa", a cover of an old folk-schlager song. It remained on the charts for 52 consecutive weeks, a record which endured until 1990; the song was produced by Björn and Benny, and had Ulvaeus's solo vocal and Benny's piano.

After ABBA went on hiatus in 1982, Ulvaeus and Andersson created the musicals Chess, a collaboration with lyricist Tim Rice, 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!). The original cast recordings for 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, 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.

Ulvaeus also shared with Andersson "The Special International Ivor Novello Award" from the British Academy of Songwriters, Composers and Authors, "The Music Export Prize" from the Swedish Ministry of Industry and Trade (2008), and "Lifetime Achievement Award" from the Swedish Music Publishers Association (SMFF).

On 15 April 2013, it was officially announced by the EBU and the SVT that Ulvaeus and Andersson, with the Late Swedish DJ and record producer Avicii, had composed the anthem for the 2013 Eurovision Song Contest. The song was performed for the first time in the Final on 18 May.

In 2019, Ulvaeus worked with Swedish songwriter Andreas Carlsson to arrange an English dub of Tomas Ledin's jukebox musical film En del av mitt hjärta (English: A Piece of My Heart) directed by Edward af Sillén. Ulvaeus was asked to write English lyrics for Ledin's songs as they are long-term friends.

In 2020, Björn Ulvaeus has been appointed President of CISAC, the International Confederation of Societies of Authors and Composers.

Personal life

On 6 July 1971, Ulvaeus married Agnetha Fältskog; the marriage resulted in two children: Linda Elin Ulvaeus (born 23 February 1973), and Peter Christian Ulvaeus (born 4 December 1977). The couple decided to separate in early 1979, and their divorce was finalised in July 1980. Ulvaeus then married music journalist Lena Källersjö on 6 January 1981. This marriage produced two daughters: Emma Eleonora (born 3 January 1982) and Anna Linnea (born 29 April 1986). Ulvaeus and Källersjö live on a private island in Djursholm, an upscale area in Danderyd municipality north of Stockholm. From 1984 to 1990 they lived in the United Kingdom, where Ulvaeus founded an IT business with his brother.

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