I first saw ABBA perform on Top of the Pops performing their Eurovision winning smash, Waterloo. It changed my life. Less the lyrics (My my, at Waterloo Napoleon did surrender/Oh yeah, and I have met my destiny in quite a similar way) and more that it seemed like there was a whole universe up there on the stage. Blond and brunette. Straight hair and curly. Bearded and clean shaven. ABBA had the lot. And that hint of belly on Agnetha the blond was as risque a thing I had ever seen to that point in my life as a five year old boy. No wonder the keyboard player who I later learned was called Benny seemed to be grinding away at his piano. My love affair with music began, and I endeavored to inculcate the Swedish foursome into every aspect of my life, joining their fan club, subscribing to ABBA magazine, showering with ABBA soap and drying myself off with their talcum powder. I was hardcore.
When ABBA the Movie came out in England, after seeing it for the eleventh time, I made the bold decision that I wanted in on the action and decided I was going to piece together a rival band. I would be the Bjorn. Cool. Detached. Clearly running operations. And I persuaded my younger brother to be the Benny. Gregarious. Approachable. A little tubby. But the problem was, who would play the girls? I went to an all boys school and did not any. I was an early proponent that "best is the enemy of the good" and persuaded our baby sitter, 23 year old physical education student, Barb, to fill in while I worked on finding two more suitable replacements. We called our band MONEY MONEY MONEY in homage to our inspiration, and spent two exhausting rehearsals working on dance routines, mouthing long in our lounge to Side B of ABBA Arrival. I may have been young to be a svengali but I knew even back then that the way you moved was more important than the way you sounded.
With such a great start, the end was quick and surprisingly brutal. As well as being a die hard ABBA fan, it may not surprise you to know that I was also captain of my school's junior debate team. In that capacity I was able to frame all of the motions for our debates. In 1979, just as Gimmee, Gimmee, Gimme a Man After Midnight , that masterpiece that captures a woman's need for a one night stand, climbed the British pop charts, I called a debate "This house believes that ABBA are the greatest band to have ever lived." I went home and wrote my speech which you can see above. My points in retrospect were a little thin. That they had their own soap and talcum powder. You can also see where the teacher in charge has censored my speech changing the killer line "So, Shut Up the Beatles!" to the weaker and ineffective "Be Quiet the Beatles." I do not remember the final results but suffice it to say, the speaker representing the whole of Punk won handily, and the speaker for the Boomtown Rats came a close second. Even the Status Quo guy beat me. I came rock bottom. Sensing the tide was turning, I broke up the band immediately.