Possessing genuine star quality yet one of the most modest names in the entertainment business, Björn Ulvaeus can justifiably be referred to as a living legend of the music industry.
His songs, co-written with ABBA partner and close friend Benny Andersson, became some of the most famous and iconic hits of all time, selling more than 400 million records all over the world.
Björn Ulvaeus involved himself heavily in the staging of Mamma Mia!, a stage musical based on ABBA songs. The show opened in London, England, in April 1999 and has since been staged all over the world. The production lead to the release of two feature films, ‘Mamma Mia! The Movie’ in 2008 and, ten years later, ‘Mamma Mia! Here We Go Again’, starring Meryl Streep and Pierce Brosnan. For the sequel, Björn rewrote the lyrics to two lesser-known ABBA songs.
Today, Björn is a true entrepreneur and thought leader who operates many successful businesses. He is also president of the International Confederation of Societies of Authors and Composers, CISAC, the global confederation of authors’ societies and the largest network of creators worldwide. Since 2016, he has been involved in developing a software and system that ensures songwriters and musicians receive the royalty payments they are due.
Björn is also the co-owner of Pop House which includes the Cirkus Theater, Hasselbacken hotel, Pop House hotel and ABBA The Museum. The award winning museum opened in 2013 and is home to a permanent ABBA exhibition that tells the story of the group and its members from the pre-ABBA days to the present day. The museum also displays memorabilia such as stage outfits, instruments, gold records and awards as well as many interactive features.
Before gaining international recognition with ABBA, Björn 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 song writing, 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 1972, the supergroup ABBA was formed by Agnetha Fältskog, Björn Ulvaeus, Benny Andersson, and Anni-Frid Lyngstad. The name is an acronym of the first letters of their first names arranged as a palindrome. They remain one of the most popular and successful musical groups of all time and are one of the best-selling music acts in the history of popular music, topping the charts worldwide from 1974 to 1982, and again in 2022.
In 1974, ABBA were Sweden's first winner of the Eurovision Song Contest with Waterloo, which, in 2005, was chosen as the best song in the competition's history as part of the 50th anniversary celebration of the contest.
After ABBA disbanded in December 1982, Ulvaeus and Andersson continued their success writing the musicals Chess — a collaboration with lyricist Tim Rice — followed by Kristina från Duvemåla, based on The Emigrants novels by Swedish writer Vilhelm Moberg), and then Mamma Mia!, whilst Fältskog and Lyngstad pursued solo careers.
Together with Benny Andersson, Björn 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.
He 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 a Lifetime Achievement Award from the Swedish Music Publishers Association (SMFF).