Stig Anderson

Stig Anderson

b. Stikkan Erik Leopold Anderson, 25 January 1931, Hova, Sweden, d. 12 September 1997. Anderson achieved fame as the manager of Abba, the Swedish pop group who dominated the charts throughout the 70s. Anderson originally worked as a primary school teacher, but also performed with the wonderfully named Stig Anderson And His Mashed Creampuffs in a brief attempt at pop stardom. His real talent lay in songwriting, however, and it was with comic hits such as ‘The Girls Who Know Are Found In The Country’ and ‘Rockin’ Billy’ (a hit in Scandinavia and Holland for Lill-Babs) that Anderson made his name. As well as setting up the Sweden Music company to publish his songs, he formed Polar Music with studio engineer Bengt Bernhag, and achieved early success with the Hootenanny Singers, a Swedish folk group featuring Björn Ulvaeus. When Ulvaeus subsequently befriended Benny Andersson of the Hep Stars, it was Stig Anderson who first persuaded the duo to write together, before inviting them both to be partners in Polar Music following Bernhag’s suicide. Determined that Abba should win the Eurovision Song Contest, Anderson suggested the title ‘Waterloo’ for one of their songs. The group duly won the 1974 contest, and from that point onwards became a bigger and bigger phenomenon, with Anderson retaining a tight control on what would eventually prove to be Sweden’s second most profitable company (after car manufacturer Volvo). He also continued to provide lyrics for the Andersson/Ulvaeus songwriting partnership.

By the early 80s, however, Anderson’s attempts to reduce the group’s tax burden had led to some questionable business ventures, including dealing in oil, and prompted a tax investigation that almost put Benny Andersson, Björn Ulvaeus and Agnetha Fältskog in jail. As a result, they sued Anderson for unpaid royalties and ended their hugely successful business partnership with him. Anderson went on to sell Polar Music to PolyGram Records in 1989, at the height of the Abba nostalgia revival. The same year, he also set up the Polar Music prize through the Royal Swedish Academy of Music, awarded to one pop and one classical musician every year. One of his final collaborations before his death was with producer Tony Calder and Andrew Loog Oldham on Abba: The Name Of The Game, an entertaining look behind the scenes of the Abba phenomenon.

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