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Hello and welcome, all ABBAtalkers,
to the very first ABBAtalk podcast! The energy in the coliseum was palpable, I
actually didn’t end up washing my hand for a week it was just a great memory
that I’ll always cherish with my mom and sister it was my first really big
concert I’d ever gone to and it will stay with me for the rest of my life my
name is Chris and with the help of some amazing friends I run ABBAtalk. We began
back in 2013 and we’ve done so much since then but something we haven’t
produced until now is a podcast we’re beginning with a three-part special
through which we will step back 40 years to 1979 and ABBA’s North American and
European tour and I’m so happy to be joined by my friend and fellow ABBA fan
Diego Martinez. Hello Chris and hello to all our fans worldwide this is very
exciting for me to be part of his project and to kick off this podcast
we’re gonna begin a discussion of what I consider to be one of ABBA’s greatest
career milestones and that is the 1979 North American and European tour for
their very first American tour we won’t go as far back as ABBA’s very
first tours as a group will perhaps jump straight in at around 1978 because they
had already toured Europe and Australia in 77 huge success in 78 however there
was no tour but you had a bird a movie you had out of the movie and I think
beyond in a TV interview on the BBC in the UK said that we should look at half
of the movie as you know a replacement for a 1978 tour but nothing quite beats
a real tour obviously as I’m sure we can agree yeah so fast-forward to 79 Agnetha and Björn had separated and Benny and Frida they got married yeah so going on
the road was quite a different prospect in 79 compared to obviously the previous
year’s this was a different dynamic for the
band and I believe it was especially taxing on Agnetha emotionally speaking
she had to basically come to terms with the fact that her marriage to Björn was
over and pretty much she had no other choice but to join a group as the stage
was set for a new tour for 79 and not just any tour but the tour that would
finally break the one market that had resisted the ABBA charm up until that
point and that is the North American market they had made a number of
attempts to break into the US market and of course Dancing Queen went to number
one and I think Take A Chance On Me was a number three hit, from memory. Yeah a
huge success and then of course there was the wonderful performance at UNICEF
at the United Nations in New York there was also the Olivia Newton-John special
in 1978 that’s right which again brought them to great prominence I think in in
the US but from what I understand in order to really break America you have
to tour an ABBA didn’t seem to be terribly willing to do that but of
course that all changed in so 89 when the North American tour began to
your point Chris I think they just realized that in order to make some sort
of a dent in the American singles and albums charts they had to go out on the
road up until then they were very much present through television and even
though it’s a fantastic promotional tool especially with their video image it
just wasn’t enough to gear up those sales and please the expectations from
their us label Atlantic Records considering what they were achieving
worldwide so this was a challenge for ABBA and their management and even
though they had this new dynamic going on I think that they were ready to
commit to this challenge that’s right and I really get the impression through
what I’ve read over the years that the one member of our who really relished
and looked forward to going on tour perhaps was Frida who really
came alive on stage and seemed to enjoy every moment perhaps not
the travel but actually being on stage and giving her all to the crowd and and
she brought so much to those performances which will come to a bit
later on but before we do I think it would be interesting to think about the
look of the tour the set design the costumes and so forth and how different
it was really to the previous tour in 77 which obviously didn’t make it to
America but took place in Europe and Australia as I mentioned before it was
torn down but stylized yes into refined chic Nordic fashion and for that we
have to think always sound strong oh my god I don’t know if I did it right
because my Swedish song it’s not happening today stiff it’s tricky, mine’s not perfect either. Owe Sandström. Yeah
ABBA’s longtime costume designer. Shout out to ABBA’s main art direction and
certainly the girls as always they played an important part of how the
stage design the costumes had to look they certainly made their mark in that
area don’t you think yeah totally and I would say that the 77 design
was perhaps a lot more youthful than in 79 the 79 costumes were more grown-up
more refined more sophisticated as he said and much more thought through
example the costumes mirrored the stage backdrop when they first come out on
stage and Benny’s playing his synthesizer and it goes into voulez-vous
an item free ders I stood there with their arms outstretched the famous
poncho that’s right that they’re mirroring the set design behind them in
terms of the songs a really interesting setlist actually it began with the
inclusion of one man one woman which has never been officially released and is
something a lot of fans would love to hear in good quality it has been a deep
cut and for all we know it seems like it was taken out of the setlist quite early
so I don’t know if we’ll ever be able to hear that live rendition you’re right
it’s it’s very much what you might call a deep cut a favored album track by many
ABBA fans but it’s a somewhat polarizing track while some fans like myself think
it’s just an amazing recording there are some fans who feel perhaps it’s a
slightly dated lyric now and the production isn’t quite as catchy as it
could have been but personally just loved it the other songs on the setlist
were largely hits although you do have a few anomalies because you have Tomas
Ledin singing his own song not bad at all which obviously wasn’t included on
the live album that came out in 2014 but rather interesting that polar music
decided to break up ABBA’s show with another artist
performing the completely new song I don’t know whether that would have gone
down very well without us fans in the audience who really just wanted to see
ABBA but hey I think both Agnetha and Frida
were on stage for that particular song I think they sang backing vocals yeah they
were backing vocals for him so they were still there just thinking about unusual songs as
well or perhaps surprises for the audience obviously you had and yet a
performing her own song I’m still alive which again was a completely new song
yeah new lyric and there were other sort of new songs in there as well perhaps you could consider ‘Gimme! Gimme! Gimme! (A Man After Midnight)’ to be a new song because maybe a lot of the people in the audience wouldn’t have heard that
song. They may have heard it on the radio a couple of times but certainly in Canada,
in the USA, they might not have gone out and bought the single of ‘Gimme! Gimme!
Gimme! (A Man After Midnight)’ but yeah it would have been recognizable to
them in the concert but some people maybe wouldn’t have heard it before and
obviously just to wrap up my thoughts about these new songs you’ve got the way
old friends do which comes towards the end of the concert really a very unusual
thing for a pop group to do I would have thought perhaps very natural for ABBA
because they were never afraid of going outside their comfort zones but quite
unusual for a hugely successful pop group for the four of them to stand at
the front of the stage one of them playing an accordion not a particularly
rockin instrument that’s right in many ways it’s that bravery and that feeling
of well why shouldn’t we do this that’s what I love about ABBA
they did their own thing they weren’t confined within what they thought they
should be doing they went their own way and I think that was reflected in their
concerts too it’s a great number of the way old friends do very solemn and with
the heartfelt lyrics about how humans deal with things in natural mature way
you know it’s France in the midst of love and violence we always patch it up
the way old friends do it speaks volumes to who ABBA were and are as both
individuals and as a collective as I guess I said there was a recession
atmosphere one the group performed that song and that was obviously why they
decided to include a live version although it was touched up in the studio
just a little bit they chose a live version of
to close the Super Trouper album which was a really nice touch
the last song we did the way old friends do it came out so well
so we were thinking maybe we should have that as a live track in our next album
and that’s what we have for the fans this was a really wonderful opportunity
to see ABBA live in concert but as we touched on earlier I get the impression
that for the ABBA members themselves in different ways
it was tiresome to be on the road for so long when the members of the group would
perhaps have been happier home in Sweden working on new music and and being with
their families and living a fairly normal existence or as normal as you can
when you’re that successful but life on the road also had its upsides and when
you watch ABBA in concert which is available on DVD when you watch that you
can see that they did have a lot of fun as well there’s a great scene in ABBA in
concert where I think Frida, Benny, Björn are putting the cherries onto a cake to
map out the cities they’re going to stop at on their tour and they have a lot of
fun doing that and there’s this scene which everyone that’s perhaps quoted
over the years where I get a says she likes the ice cream time I like it
especially the ice cream at the time I tell you what if there’s one phrase I’ve
heard more over there over the years from ABBA fans it must be that one
especially the ice cream time ice cream time yeah that’s fun too and that’s
really nice to see when you watch those old films yeah yeah there was definitely
two sides to life on the road for them on one hand you had this quite
pessimistic feeling going on because well these were no amateurs you know by
the end of the 70s the members of ABBA were seasoned performers and have done
the road thing several times before so I guess you could say they were pretty
tired of it by then and yet they did it anyway and mainly to meet their fans and
interact with them and on the other hand yes they had a lot of fun we’ve seen
images of them swimming in the pool or visiting Disneyland while they were in
the greater LA area so overall they made the best of this situation and of course
it was not just great for ABBA but it was a great opportunity for their
fans and we’re really lucky as we mentioned earlier that some of those
fans who went to some of those concerts have actually joined us to remember what
they saw what they heard what they did back in 1979 absolutely we’re very lucky
to have Tim pithan from Seattle here in the United States you share with us his
very cute memory of ABBA’s concert at the Seattle Arena on September 17th 1979
where he got his wish to meet one of his idols Hey ABBA fans this is Tim in the US. I
want to say it was September 17 1979 at the Seattle Coliseum their first stop on
the North American tour the energy in the Coliseum was palpable the sets the
costumes ABBA performing all the greatest hits live it was amazing I
remember waiting around a little bit after the concert and most everyone had
left and Benny Andersson happened to be in the hallway and he shook my hand you
would have thought I’d died and went to heaven he was a nicest guy I actually
didn’t end up washing my hand for a week a whole week thank you so much Tim for
your words now I don’t know if I’d go as far as not cleaning my hand for a week
but in the case of ABBA I don’t know I would consider it but even though these
concerts were memorable for the fans the US critics on the other hand had a hard
time understanding ABBA and gave some nasty reviews there is a review of ABBA’s
Anaheim Convention Center concert published on the October since 1979
issue of Billboard magazine oh yes I remember you saying about this this is
Paul grind writing quote what the group needs to work on is injecting more
personality into its set presenting seamless versions of its many hits isn’t
enough the members have to let us get to know them on a personal level how are
they finding the states why they haven’t tour here before it doesn’t matter what
they talk about but it is important that they relate to the crowd beyond polite
Wiggles and smile it’s pretty hard pretty harsh but I I’m inclined to agree
with some of what that reporter is saying there because when you listen to
ABBA live at Wembley Arena and some of the bootlegs that have cropped up over
the years some of that stage banter between the songs is kind of awkward for
me it is anyway it is for me to you know introducing someone as your old buddy
before my wife and yet who’s over there it’s
like okay you know it’s fine I’m your old buddy well that’s a sense of humor
and I think it didn’t always translate terribly well perhaps it would have in a
one-on-one conversation but when you’ve got thousands of people out in the
audience maybe it just didn’t work that well but hey I wasn’t there
I I can only give my impressions based on what I’ve read over the years and
what I’ve heard on the albums there’s someone who had a different recollection
of the concert we were just discussing in the one at the Anaheim Convention
Center his name is Nicky Caruso and he has a very moving story to tell us
fantastic let’s take a listen hello my name is Mickey Caruso and I’ve been an
Abba fan probably since I was 12 years old which was I think around 75 my first
record I ever bought was the single Mamma Mia and I took it home and played it I love
that song to death and my mom took me to the record store the next week and I
bought the album and I totally was hooked totally fell in love with ABBA
I think that next week I asked my mom to take me to the record store and I bought
the Waterloo album and I didn’t even I remember hearing Waterloo on the radio
but I didn’t buy that album so it was great hearing that hit and I do I do I
do I remember that being playing on the radio and honey honey and ever since
then I’ve just been a huge Abba fan kind of been the soundtrack of my childhood
and into my teens and really my whole life my stepfather who was a
professional racecar driver we used to travel a lot I think we’ve been to about
maybe forty five of the states including Canada back then it was eight track so I
always had several eight track ABBA cassettes then that was kind of
soundtrack of the road trip along with the Beatles and The Beach Boys
carpenters fifth dimension Jim Croce Judy Collins primarily ABBA
but my dad in 78 it was that actually had a race track and got out of his car
after doing warm-up laps in his race car it was NASCAR and it was at Sears Point
which is now I think called Infineon Raceway up in Monterey he had passed
away from a major heart attack and so sort of our family’s life just changed
in that one instant and that was August 78 and it was basically we were a family
team it was just my dad my mom my sister myself and the mechanics and I remember
that following spring I think it must have been beginning of 79 or so or
spring of 79 I saw in the LA Times that Abba was going to be performing in
California and I’m and I think they were playing in San
Diego the next day I think the date was September of 79 September 28th or so so
it was a little more than a year after my dad had passed away anyway I asked my
mom for the credit card we got three tickets one for myself my mom and my
sister who was five years younger than me and I remember that day we were so
excited when we drove down to Anaheim I think it was a the Anaheim Convention
Center I think we got there several hours early and we kind of stood out
front before they let us in I remember seeing a bunch of limos drive through
going into like a back entrance and I was thinking it was the Apple members
but I’m not sure later on I I realized I think it was all
the kids because they brought out kids when Frida sung I have a dream they brought on a bunch of like school
kids I remember thinking how like lucky they were to be singing the chorus and I
have a dream but it was like a magical night I remember the day after the
concert we spent like so much money on like souvenirs programs and hats I think
a t-shirt any button anything you could get your hands on and I think my biggest
regret is my mom had said let’s just drive down to San Diego and if we see if
we can get tickets to see them perform there and it was such a magical night
that I just said oh no let’s let’s just go home and you know it could can’t get
any better than this so we ended up driving for hours back home that night
and it was just a great memory that I’ll always cherish with my mom and sister Thank You Mickey that was really
touching and and very interesting as well let’s jump straight into our next
memory which comes from Bob Wilkins and it relates to the concert in Arizona
barb goes by bark the animals you know she’s a rocking lady she took up
drumming after listening to Karen Carpenter of the Carpenters which I love
and even though she plays some heavy rock
she’s a dancing queen at heart as we can tell from her experience at M pays
active center in Arizona in 77 and 78 when Abba were really big take a chance
on me was really big I was in high school over here and so when 1979 came
around and I heard that Abba was coming in concert in Arizona I freaked out
bought me and my best friend in high school tickets and I had just gotten my
driver’s license so it was me and my best friend and one of her friends from
her apartment complex and I I drove us to the stadium which was in Tempe
Arizona and it was a round Stadium and we found a place to park and I was just
overcome with excitement I mean Abba to me were like the Beatles to everyone
else in the 60s it was the most amazing feeling to know that I was actually
gonna see these this group live I got us really good tickets it was about center
stage and about 30 rows up so it wasn’t on the floor I don’t think we could see
everything and we were fairly right in the middle I remember the place was
packed with people which I was surprised because none of my friends really liked
al but nobody I knew really liked ABBA it was more rock and roll and pop rock
and soft rock and rock and heavy rock and stuff like that
so it was absolutely packed to the gills and I was just standing there staring at
the stage and when the lights went down and
really bounded with great energy on to the stage I was just in shock I screamed
like one of those girls you see greeting the Beatles at the airport I just was
screaming the entire time probably pissing everybody else around me off but
I just couldn’t contain myself a bow to me with the greatest group I ever seen
or would ever see in my life and they were not that far away from me I remember that
Benny’s keyboard was set over to the right if I’m facing the stage they had
great energy the backdrop of course was the polar ice caps but they did change
outfits at least once especially Frieda who I believe changed
into a hockey shirt I don’t know if it was the Toronto Maple Leafs or if it was
another hockey team or if it was a local Arizona sports team but I know she
changed the show was tremendous some of the songs a lot of people in the crowd
didn’t know because they were from America and they just only knew the kind
of radio hits I knew every song as they started to play the more noticeable hits
like Waterloo Fernando Mamma Mia SOS that type of stuff that the American
crowds were familiar with the crowd started to get a lot louder and a lot
more on their feet clapping and stuff and when dancing
queen came on everyone just it was so loud and so massive and so it was my
first really big concert I had ever gone to and it will stay with me for the rest
of my life I mean I’ve been to a lot of concerts in my time now and the Abba
concert will absolutely be the number one concert for me as long as I live
after the show we stood in a big line at a table and bought our 1979 Abba in
America tour books and posters and everything else I could afford and then
we walked out to my truck and because I was very familiar with the area and the
stadium I knew where the back back entrance was and so everyone was just
leaving and driving off into the night and I actually drove my truck round to
them very back hoping to see something just anything and I stopped my truck I
had a big jacked-up 4×4 truck which was really noticeable I pulled into the back
and there was one or two big tour buses at least maybe
even more I just couldn’t see it was so dark but you could see an exit with a
big bunch of light shining on a group of people standing right in front of the
open passage into one of the buses and I distinctly saw Agnetha or Agnetha
standing there talking to several people it could have been other band members it
could have been the rest of the band but I just sat there and my jaw just dropped
and I just sat there in my truck and stare it as long as I just wanted it to
never end and then I think a security guard came out or something and I drove
off and all throughout school the next day I was just I didn’t do drugs I
wasn’t drinking and I was only 16 years old it was all I could think about it
was all I could talk about and my friends thought I was crazy like who’s
ABBA they just knew al but from dancing queen
that’s it and it was one of the best experiences of my life it was one of the
funnest times I’ve ever had and it just continued my love of everything ABBA
well into the 80s and even before the Abba Gold revival in the 90s I was still
a massive Abba fan and that concert was just a bucket list for me
thank you Bob that was really fascinating and as a carpenter’s fan
myself it’s great to hear that Karen Carpenter
inspired Bob to become a drummer aside from the critics there was another group
of people that rubbed ever the wrong way and that was the Las Vegas mafia we had
a particular situation with the group doing their concert in Sin City yeah
where after all was said and done they literally just had to flee Vegas
essentially and Thomas Johansson who was Abbas tour manager at the time had a
great insight as to how it went down during sound check there was Capitol
rose put in the in front of the normal seats and Benny said who this is for
well you know therefore the guys don’t even hostage don’t even go there just
forget it don’t see stayed there for VIPs no these are the people bought the
tickets for the first drugs would be in the first round when our contracts they
very clearly that so I went to the the promoter said you’ve got to remove these
seats and no no so we remove the seats only to learn during the show that our
agent in America came to me and said I think you should leave Las Vegas I said
what do you mean well the CT removed belong to the people you don’t remove
seized from so I left during the show and haven’t been back since what a great
story and he goes to show that Abbas music and can be appreciated by anyone
from any background really the fact that the Las Vegas mafia wanted to have seats
at the very front of Abbas concerts is is quite something and on that note I’d
like to invite all of our listeners to tune in for the next part in our
conversation regarding Abbas North American tour of 1979 there’s some
turbulence in the air the final dates of the tour and a very special interview
with an ABBA not I’m already looking forward to part 2 and I hope all of our
listeners are as well and please do let us know were you there at one of ABBA’s
1979 concerts and please do share your special memories of that night with us
I’d like to send a special thanks to Tim Mickey and Barb for their invaluable
contributions to our very first podcast thank you so much all of you and
everyone out there please do take a look at ABBAtalk on Facebook Instagram
Twitter and YouTube just search habit all can you’ll find us
yeah that’s right so please join us on the next episode of ABBAtalk until then
bye-bye ABBAtalk is unofficial and is not
affiliated with ABBA Universal music or poly music
international a B or third-party audio remains the property of the content
owner the podcast was hosted and produced by Chris Williams and Diego
Martinez join ABBAtalk on Facebook Instagram Twitter and YouTube.


  1. Listening to these recollections really took me back to a time in my own life. Music has the power to trigger memories and emotions long packed away. Thank you, ABBA, for providing the soundtrack to so many lives, and thank you, podcasters and contributors for your sweet stories!

  2. I have a lot of memory's of 1979 , on NOVEMBER 9TH, i was at the ABBA concert and was fortunate to meet ABBA and they all signed a photo , which take's pride of place in my home to this day . I also have a separate autograph signing done in person by AGNETHA ,of a photo of herself only .

  3. I was a young teen at the Vancouver Canada concert, September 15th 1979. 11th row on the floor. Ticket cost $8.50!! I remember it like it was yesterday. Such a great show although they strangely omitted performing Waterloo. The Vancouver show was sold out and the largest of their tour (17,000 people). On the way out, I saw Agnetha backstage getting set up to do some local press.

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