ABBA is one of the world’s most influential pop bands of all time. The Stockholm group was born in 1972 and is known for the hits, Dancing Queen, Mamma Mia, Gimme Gimme Gimme!, selling more than 400 million records, with ABBA Gold spending more time in the top 100 chart than any other album. The ensemble was composed of two couples, Anni-Frid and Benny Anderson, as well as Agnetha Faltskog and Bjorn Ulvaeus; both of whom divorced in the early 80s. However, vocalist Anni-Frid’s life hasn’t always been a lap of luxury.
Anni-Frid Lyngstad, known by her nickname Frida, was conceived in the village of Bjørkåsen, 1945(situated in the northern part of Norway). Born to a Norwegian mother, by the name of Synni and a German father, Sergeant Alfred Haase. Frida is the result of a liaison, and she, her mother and grandmother were ostracized by her village, considered traitors after Nazi control of the region was no more. They fled to Malmkoping in Sweden, then relocated to the small town of Torshälla, where Frida grew up. The vocalist’s mother died of kidney failure when Anni-Frid was two years old, leaving her to be raised solely by her grandmother. Alfred Haase ran away to Germany right before the Nazi occupants of Norway were defeated.
Frida started going to school in 1952, and maintained contact with her family back at Bjørkåsen, where she usually visited in the summer holidays. Anni-Frid was extremely close with her aunt, Olive, who caught sight of Frida’s loneliness and how subdued she was. Consequently, Olive made sure to make her feel treasured and embraced by the family members. As a child, Frida believed that her father had died during the war, as reports suggested his ship had sunk whilst making its way back to Germany, therefore never sought to meet him. Anni-Frid would later meet him in 1977, in quite peculiar circumstances.
Frida’s rise to fame
The Lyngstad household in Sweden had always been musical, Anni-Frid has stated in multiple interviews that her grandmother had always sung traditional Norwegian songs for her; which resulted in Frida falling in love with the art form. As a child, teachers and adults from her town knew of her talent, but Anni-Frid’s stage fright took the best of her, thence preventing her from performing.
At the age of 13, Frida got scouted and landed her first job as a singer. She participated in Evald Ek’s Orchestra, a shlager band. Anni-Frid then participated in several other groups, before marrying fellow musician Ragnar Fredriksson. In September 1967 Frida won the Swedish National Talent Competition, which put her on the radar. Many record companies and producers contacted Anni-Frid, and she ended up signing with EMI Sweden.
She divorced her husband in 1968, and met Benny Anderson in 1969. They quickly started dating, and by 1971 moved in together. The duo performed by themselves on various occasions, with moderate success. In 1972 Benny suggested they’d group together with his best friend, and his mate’s wife, which originated ABBA.
ABBA achieved instant success, Frida was the main attraction of the ensemble and became a fan favorite. She also took part in designing the famed ABBA costumes. Anni-Frid achieved what many dream of, but away from the spotlight things weren't as perfect as they seemed.
The dark side of Anni-Frid, and the long-awaited reunion
Frida’s lonely childhood, and somber origins were some of the reasons behind her depression. Anni-Frid has been through two divorces, and her latest husband, Prince Heinrich Ruzzo Reus of Plauen’s death left her alone again. Media romanticized Frida’s life, and made it even harder for her to seek help.
In 1977, Bravo, a German magazine, published a complete biography of Anni-Frid’s background. The biography included Frida’s parents name. Peter Haase, Frida’s half-brother, saw the article and contacted her father. A few months later, Anni-Frid and Alfred Haase met in Stockholm for the first time.
After meeting her father, Lyngstad was asked about their connection. “It's difficult... it would have been different if I'd been a teenager or a child. I can't really connect to him and love him the way I would have if he'd been around when I grew up.”
The pride of the Tsykerbanas
Known as the Tyskerbarnas or German children, they were the offspring of Norwegian mothers and German soldier fathers, the outcome of a Nazi plan to 'enrich' the Aryan gene pool. Around 12,000 children (who are now in their 70s) were the result of the experiment, many of whom consider Anni-Frid their inspiration. A pop idol who overcame the same circumstances they had.
A significant number of tsykerbanas are social misfits, and few have received formal education or been employed. It is common that they have depression or low-self esteem, and considering the conditions they’ve been given, it isn’t surprising.