- Agneta Åse Fältskog
- Jönköping Sweden
Agnetha Fältskog was born in Jönköping, Småland, Sweden. She was the first of two daughters of department store manager Knut Ingvar Fältskog (1922–1995) and his wife Birgit Margareta Johansson (1923–1994). Her younger sister is Mona Fältskog Ericsson (born 1955), who is a nurse in Stockholm. Ingvar Fältskog showed much interest in music and show business, whereas Birgit Fältskog was a very calm and careful woman who devoted herself to her children and household. Agnetha often said that female singers such as Connie Francis, Marianne Faithfull, Aretha Franklin and Lesley Gore were among her strongest influences.
In 1958, at the age of eight, Fältskog started taking piano lessons, which continued until 1964, when she was 14. She also sang in the church choir.
In the early 1960s, Fältskog formed a trio, The Cambers, with two female friends. The trio performed in unimportant venues and soon dissolved because of a lack of engagements.
In 1966, at the age of 16, when she was working as a switchboard operator in a car dealership, Fältskog started performing with Bernt Enghardt's Orchestra, which toured on weekends, since all the members had day jobs. Eventually Fältskog had to quit her job, however, because of overwork. The following year, in 1967, the band sent a demo tape to the record label Cupol. At Cupol, they were more interested in Agnetha than the orchestra, and she thus got her first solo recording contract. In late 1967, she recorded her first two singles. In 1968, she released her first album. Also in 1968 she submitted the song "Försonade" to Melodifestivalen, the Swedish heats of the Eurovision Song Contest. However it was not selected for the final.
In 1969, Fältskog released the single "Zigenarvän" about a young girl attending a gypsy wedding and falling in love with the bride's brother. Its release coincided with a heated debate about gypsies in the Swedish media, and Agnetha was accused of deliberately trying to make money out of the situation by writing the song.
In 1970, Fältskog released "Om tårar vore guld," which was perhaps her most successful song in Sweden before the ABBA period in spite of a claim from a Danish composer postulating that Agnetha has used 22 bars from his composition "Tema," even though this was written in the 1950s and had never been recorded. The case dragged on until 1977, when a settlement was reached and Agnetha paid the Dane SEK 5,000.
Agnetha Fältskog First marriage
On 6 July 1971 (aged 21), Fältskog married Björn Ulvaeus; 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 late 1978, and Fältskog moved out of their home on Christmas night, 25 December 1978. In January 1979, the couple filed for divorce, which was finalised in June 1980. Both Fältskog and Ulvaeus agreed not to let their failed marriage interfere with their responsibilities with ABBA.
Agnetha Fältskog ABBA
In 1971, Fältskog recorded the song "Dröm är dröm, och saga saga." Björn, Frida, and Benny all contributed with backing vocals. This song demanded a lot from the singer's breathing technique and made Fältskog decide to take singing lessons.
In 1972, Fältskog starred as Mary Magdalene in the original Swedish production of the musical Jesus Christ Superstar, providing vocals for its original Swedish cast recording. Her relationship with Björn Ulvaeus, as well as her friendship with Anni-Frid Lyngstad and Benny Andersson, eventually led into the formation of ABBA.
In 1975, during the same period as her bandmate Anni-Frid Lyngstad recorded her Swedish number one album Frida ensam, Fältskog recorded and produced her solo album Elva kvinnor i ett hus. These albums were both recorded between sessions and promotion for the ABBA albums Waterloo and ABBA. Even though ABBA was already a number one act in Sweden by 1975, Fältskog's album failed to reach the Top 10 on the Swedish album charts, peaking at #11. Elva Kvinnor I Ett Hus did, however, spend a staggering 53 weeks on the chart, even longer than any of the ABBA albums, and it also contained three further Svensktoppen entries for Fältskog: her Swedish language version of ABBA's "SOS" (also #4 on the single sales chart); "Tack För En Underbar Vanlig Dag"; and "Doktorn!". Except for the version of "SOS," all the songs had lyrics by Bosse Carlgren and music by Fältskog herself. The album had been underway since 1972, when Agnetha started writing the songs, but it got delayed because of the work with ABBA and her pregnancy. In 1974, she and Carlgren agreed on a concept for the album; it should consist of 12 songs, sung by 12 different women living in the same apartment building, each having a distinct name, identity, etc. In the end, only 11 songs were put onto the album, and the concept was never fully developed.
Between the years 1968 and 1980, Fältskog had a total of 18 entries on the important Svensktoppen radio chart, starting with debut single "Jag Var Så Kär" in January 1968 (peak position #1) and ending with "När Du Tar Mig I Din Famn" from compilation Tio år med Agnetha twelve years later, in January of 1980 (peak position #1). The 18 entries, most of which were composed or co-written by Fältskog herself, spent a total of 139 weeks on the chart during this time, with the biggest hit being 1970's "Om Tårar Vore Guld" (#1, 15 weeks). Fältskog also recorded the Swedish Christmas album Nu tändas tusen juleljus with daughter Linda Ulvaeus which reached #6 on the Swedish album sales chart in December of 1981. Chartwise Fältskog was therefore by far the most successful solo artist of the four ABBA members, both before and during the band's international career.
Fältskog is also the only member of ABBA to have participated in Melodifestivalen again after having won Eurovision with "Waterloo" in 1974 - albeit only as a composer. In 1981 she wrote the ballad "Men Natten Är Vår" ("But The Night is Ours") with lyrics by Ingela Forsman but instead of performing the song in the contest herself she chose new talent Kicki Moberg. The single, which Fältskog produced in the Polar Studios with the same musicians as on contemporary ABBA recordings, was backed with the Swedish version of "I'm Still Alive", entitled "Här Är Mitt Liv" ("Here is My Life"), a song which she herself had sung on ABBA's 1979 world tour. Moberg's recording of the song remains the only version to have been officially released to date.