The Big Issue : Edition 536
THEBIGISSUE5–18MAY2017 15 PHOTOGRAPHSBYGETTYANDNEWSLTD/NEWSPIX;MELDRUMBYMARKNOLAN/WIREIMAGE Australia and ABBA has been one of music’s most enduring love affairs. Björn thought ABBA might be one hit wonders after winning Eurovision with ‘Waterloo’ in 1974. “But then Molly started playing our videos down in Australia and it seemed as though the rest of the world just woke up. ‘What is this? This Swedish group, they’re supposed to be dead by now!’” ABBA had six No 1 singles in Australia in two years, with ‘Fernando’ spending an incredible 14 weeks on top. They were even bigger in Australia (16 top 10 hits) than Sweden (12 top 10 hits; three No 1s). Just about every Australian home had a copy of the Arrival album – it went 18 times platinum, selling more than 1.2 million copies. ABBA also made Countdown big news in the international music industry. Record companies all over the world started taking our little show seriously when they realised how big ABBA had become in Australia. At the end of 1976, the ABC allowed me to go to Sweden to shoot an ABBA special for Channel 7. “He came to Stockholm to interview us as some kind of Crocodile Dundee,” Björn later joked. I chatted to the band on an old fishing boat. Benny, Björn, Agnetha and Frida were all lovely people, with a great sense of humour, even if they struggled to understand my Aussie accent. Molly: “Now for the million-dollar question for Australia...” Benny: “What colour is an orange?” Molly: “No, are you going to come back to Australia and are you going to tour?” Benny: “Yes.” Of course, ABBA came to Australia for their only concert tour here, 40 years ago. So many people, including Julia Zemiro, have told me it was their first concert. One of my biggest thrills was standing on the balcony of the Melbourne Town Hall with ABBA when they were given the keys to the city – with about 20,000 fans singing ‘Mamma Mia’. ABBA never returned to Australia, and by the start of the 80s, their chart reign was over. They made their last appearance in Countdown’s Top 10 on 15 February 1981 with ‘On and On and On’. But their music will go on and on. Björn kindly appeared on the ABC’s Countdown documentary, Do Yourself a Favour, in 2014. “We have so much to thank Molly, Countdown and Australia for,” he said. And we also owe a debt of gratitude to ABBA. All I can say is...Thank You for the Music. » Ian ‘Molly’ Meldrum. Legend. ABOVE AGNETHA AND ANNI-FRID WERE PERSUADED TO WEAR CARLTON JUMPERS IN 1977, BUT THERE IS NO PROOF THEY BARRACK FOR THEM. THE OTHER FAB FOUR: BJÖRN, BENNY, AGNETHA AND ANNI-FRID (FROM LEFT).