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37 years ago today - ABBA take the title with Waterloo

06 April 2011 at 02:05 CEST

Luxembourg had won both the 1972 and 1973 Eurovision Song Contest's but for financial reasons had declined to host their second contest in a row in 1974. The United Kingdom broadcaster BBC stepped in and took the contest to the seaside resort of Brighton, the venue being The Dome.

Katie Boyle returned as host for the fourth time, having presented the 1960, 1963 and 1968 contests already. A total of 17 countries participated in 1974.

1974 Facts & Figures

  • ABBA had previously been unsuccessful in trying to represent Sweden in the 1973 contest, missing out in the Swedish national final with Ring Ring ending in third place. Ring Ring would go on to become a hit in many countries.
  • A new voting system was introduced, 10 jury members in each country each gave their favourite song 1 point. Even recently, upon a visit to London, the ABBA members still made reference jokingly to the fact that the United Kingdom jury didn't award them any points!.
  • France withdrew their entry La Vie A Vingt-Cinq Ans by Dani, as the French president, Georges Pompidou, died in the week of the contest and Dani had to be content with watching the show from the audience.
  • Greece made their debut in the competition with Marinella finishing in 11th place with Krassi, Thalassa Ke T'agori Mou
  • Olivia Newton-John, the United Kingdom participant would go on to achieve huge worldwide success for her role in the musical Grease later in the 1970's
  • The 1974 interval act featured the childrens television characters The Wombles

ABBA - Worldwide superstars

ABBA were formed in Stockholm in 1972. They became one of the most commercially successful acts in the history of pop music, topping the charts worldwide from 1972 to 1982. ABBA sold over 375 million records worldwide.

They still sell between two to three million albums a year. During the band's early years, Agnetha Fältskog and Björn Ulvaeus were a married couple, as were Anni-Frid Lyngstad and Benny Andersson, although both couples later divorced.

At the height of their popularity, both relationships were suffering strain which led ultimately to the collapse of the Ulvaeus-Fältskog marriage in 1979 and the Andersson-Lyngstad marriage in 1981. In the late 1970s and early 1980s these relationship changes began appearing in the group's music, as they produced more introspective lyrics with different compositions.

After the band split, Andersson and Ulvaeus achieved success writing music for the stage while Lyngstad and Fältskog pursued individual solo careers with varying success. ABBA's music remained steadily popular until several films, notably Muriel's Wedding and The Adventures of Priscilla, Queen of the Desert, revived interest in the group, spawning several tribute bands. In 1999, ABBA's music was adapted into the successful musical Mamma Mia! that toured worldwide. A film titled Mamma Mia! released in 2008 became the highest grossing film in the United Kingdom that year. The group was inducted into The Rock and Roll Hall of Fame on 15 March 2010.

ABBA's music has bridged many generation gaps over the years, and Waterloo is widely regarded as the best song to ever win the Eurovision Song Contest amongst many a fan and viewer alike.