Swedish pop four piece ABBA were one of the biggest acts in the world in the 1970s. They first came to prominence after winning the Eurovision Song Contest in 1974 with “Waterloo.” The song was later released as their first official single, and it reached No. 6 on the Billboard Hot 100 singles chart. One of the musicians to appear on every ABBA album except for their final studio album, The Visitors in 1981, was guitarist Janne Schaffer.
Though he will forever remain connected to the ABBA story and music, Schaffer is also, and has been, a very successful session guitarist and solo artist in his own right. He began undertaking a studio session career in 1970; the following year, he received a call that would alter the course of his career. “I was called by Björn Ulvaeus and Benny Andersson to their office,” Schaffer remembers today, speaking to me over the phone from his home in Stockholm, Sweden. “They asked me to come in to listen to a young 15-year-old cat called Ted Gärdestad. And they asked me what I thought about his talent. I told them it was fantastic, so they offered me to play on the recording sessions for his debut album, Undringar.”
Just before the album was released in 1972, Ulvaeus and Andersson contacted Schaffer again. “I ended up getting another call from Björn and Benny telling me that they wanted to try and do their own thing,” he says. “They didn’t have the name ABBA at that time — at the time, they were known simply as Björn & Benny, Agnetha & Anni-Frid, so I ended (up) playing on their song they did together called ‘People Need Love,’ which was also released that same year. And from then on, I ended up playing with them all the time, on the ABBA records and also on the Ted Gärdestad records as well.”
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