ABBA’s Bjorn Ulvaeus Surprises ‘Mamma Mia!’ Audience On 50th Anniversary Of ‘Waterloo’ Win

ABBA fans the world over yesterday celebrated the 50th anniversary of the Swedish supergroup’s Eurovision victory in 1974, and one crowd were treated to a surprise appearance by band member Bjorn Ulvaeus.

It was the group’s Eurovision triumph 50 years ago with their song Waterloo that kickstarted their phenomenal success, an event marked by ABBA fans all across the world on Saturday with special events. The BBC, who hosted the event back in 1974 when it all began, gave over their BBC Two Channel to “ABBA Night”, including a new documentary charting the band’s fortunes over the last five decades.

On stage in London, the cast celebrated the 25th anniversary of the Oh mama! musical, and then had one more treat for the audience – with the appearance of Bjorn Ulvaeus – one quarter of ABBA, and one half of the band’s songwriting duo (along with Benny Andersson).

When Ulvaeus took to the stage at London’s Novello Theatreintroduced by producer Judi Cramer, he was typically understated. In a TikTok video posted by theatre-goer Kelly Allen, he is seen telling the audience:

“About this time in the evening, exactly 50 years ago, I was standing on another stage here in the UK. It was the second time I entered the stage that night because me and my three bandmates had been called back to perform our song a second time. Because the juries of the Eurovision Final had delivered their verdicts. Nul points from the UK!

“Despite that, we won, and by the thinnest margin in the history of Eurovision… On a night like this, it’s strange to think that, if we hadn’t won… I most probably wouldn’t be standing here today… so I’ve got to thank Waterloo for. But, in this room, I can admit that when I relax at home, put on some music, it is not Waterloo.”

He mused on the band’s success over the past 50 years:

“People often come up to me in the streets and I can see in their faces, they’re about to say something which they think, ‘He’s never heard this before.’ And out comes, ‘Thankyou for the music, Bjorn.’ And it’s very touching. Every time the same thoughts go through my mind, the fact that, somehow, ABBA has managed to touch so many millions of lives throughout the world, generation after generation. People ask me, ‘How does it feel for you to know that? It’s a very elusive feeling, it’s more to do with gratitude and humility than pride. It humbles you to know that so many people have listened to something that you’ve created and that they’ve been made happy by it, or sad, and that it has meant so much for them and their lives.”

He expressed his gratitude for “the sheer existence of music, because what kind of world would we have without music? I think one of the finest examples of how you can use music in an uplifting way to make people happy, it is Oh mama!

And he finished:

“I might not be here for the next big anniversary, but my avatar will.”

ABBA have sold more anywhere between 150million and 385million records in their stellar career, Oh mama! continues to play to full theatre crowds across the world, and ABBA Travel – where the avatars of Bjorn, Benny, Agnetha Faltskog  and Anni-Frid Lyngstad perform all their biggest hits in a specially made East London arena – continues to play to full houses two years after its arrival.

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