Anni-Frid Synni, Princess Reuss of Plauen (German: Anni-Frid Synni, Prinzessin Reuss von Plauen; born Anni-Frid Synni Lyngstad, Norwegian: [ˈɑnːɪˈfriːd ˈlʏŋstɑ]; Swedish: [ˈanːɪˈfriːdˈlʏŋstɑːd], 15 November 1945), widely known as Frida Lyngstad or by just the mononym Frida (Norwegian: [ˈfriːˈdɑ]; Swedish: [ˈfriːˈda]), is a Swedishpop and jazz singer. Born in Norway to a Norwegian mother and a German father, she grew up in Sweden and reached international stardom as a member of the pop group ABBA, which has sold over 380 million albums and singles worldwide, making them one of the best-selling music artists in history. After the break-up of ABBA, she continued an international solo singing career with mixed success. In 1996, Frida recorded her final album before 'retiring' from music. She now focuses on environmental issues.
In April 1964, aged 18 she married Ragnar Fredriksson. Immediately after their divorce in 1970, Lyngstad courted eventual ABBA band member Benny Andersson, co-habiting until they officially married in 1978. The couple separated in 1980 and divorced in 1981. In 1992, Lyngstad married Heinrich Ruzzo, Prince Reuss of Plauen, who was a German Prince of the former sovereign House of Reuss. The prince died of lymphoma in October 1999. Lyngstad currently lives in Zermatt, Switzerland, sharing a home with her British boyfriend, Henry Smith, 5th Viscount Hambleden, since 2008.
Anni-Frid Synni Lyngstad was born in Bjørkåsen, a small village in Ballangen near Narvik, in northern Norway, to a Norwegian mother, Synni Lyngstad (19 June 1926 – 28 September 1947), and a German soldier father, a Sergeant in the Wehrmacht, Alfred Haase (29 June 1919 – 23 February 2009), just after the end of the Second World War and the German occupation of Norway. Lyngstad's father returned to Germany when his troops were evacuated.
In early 1947, Lyngstad, her mother, and her maternal grandmother, Arntine Lyngstad ("Agny"), left her birthplace, fearing reprisals against those who had dealings with the Germans during the occupation. This could entail not just insults and threats, but also forced separation of infants from their parents and relatives (see War children).
Lyngstad was taken by her grandmother to Sweden, where they settled in the region of Härjedalen and her grandmother took any available job. Lyngstad's mother, Synni, remained in Norway and worked for a period in the south of the country. Synni joined her mother and daughter in Sweden, and the three moved to Malmköping (72 km from Stockholm). Synni soon died of kidney failure, aged 21 leaving Lyngstad to be raised solely by her grandmother. In June 1949, they both relocated to Torshälla (just outside Eskilstuna), where Agny Lyngstad worked as a seamstress. Frida Lyngstad grew up in Torshälla and began attending school there in August 1952. Close contact with her family in Norway (notably her uncle and four aunts) continued, and Lyngstad recalls summer holidays spent with them at her birthplace. She was especially close to her Aunt Olive, who once stated that she saw how lonely and subdued Frida was and, as a result, always did her best to make her feel loved and welcomed during visits.
Lyngstad believed that her father, Alfred Haase, had died during the war on his way back to Germany as his ship was reported to have sunk. However, in 1977, the German teen magazine Bravo published a poster and a complete biography with details of Lyngstad's background, including the names of her father and mother. It was seen by Lyngstad's half-brother, Peter Haase, who went to his father and asked him if he had been in Ballangen during the war. A few months later, Lyngstad met Haase in Stockholm for the first time.
1958–1969: Early work
Lyngstad stated in several interviews that her grandmother frequently sang songs to her (notably old Norwegian songs), which resulted in her love for music. She soon showed musical talent at a very early age, beginning in her first years at school. On Fridays, she was often asked by her teacher to sing in front of the class and soon became known in school and in the neighbourhood for her beautiful voice. Although her grandmother encouraged her to sing (according to Lyngstad herself), she never attended any of her performances. Her grandmother died shortly before ABBA formed and therefore never experienced the success of the group.
At the age of 13, she got her first job as a dance band and schlager singer in 1958, with the Evald Eks Orchestra. Evald Ek himself remembers: "It was hard to believe, such a young person could sing that well. She was so easy to rehearse with and she was never shy onstage. The only thing I taught her was to sing out. In those days, she had a tendency of holding back her voice a little." With the Evald Eks Orchestra, the 13-year-old Lyngstad, performed every weekend in front of a dancing audience. The sets often lasted up to five hours. The songs she liked most to sing were the evergreens; "All of Me", "Night and Day" and "Begin the Beguine". To advance and develop, she also started to take singing lessons. Later, she teamed up with a 15-piece 'big band', who performed a jazz repertoire covering Glenn Miller, Duke Ellington and Count Basie; her vocal idols being Ella Fitzgerald and Peggy Lee. In 1963, she formed her own band, the Anni-Frid Four.
On 3 September 1967, Frida won the Swedish national talent competition, "New Faces", arranged by record company EMI and held at Skansen, Stockholm. The song she chose to sing was "En Ledig Dag" ("A Day Off", original title: Week-End in Portofino). The first prize in this contest was a recording contract with EMI Sweden. Unbeknownst to Lyngstad, the winner of the contest was also expected to appear the same evening in the country's most popular TV show at that time, Hylands Hörna. This happened on the same day Sweden switched from driving on the left side of the road to the right side. Driving on that day was discouraged, so most of the nation was watching TV that night. Frida performed her winning song live. (The performance can be seen on Frida - The DVD)
This first exposure to a wider television audience caused a sensation, and many record companies and producers contacted Frida immediately. EMI executives, fearing they might lose their new singer, took the precaution of driving from Stockholm to Frida's home in Eskilstuna the next morning with a recording contract for her to sign. EMI producer Olle Bergman remembers: "We got so interested and fond of her and I thought she had everything a person needs to become something."
On 11 September 1967, Frida recorded the vocals for "En Ledig Dag", which was to become her first single for EMI Sweden. Professional and self-assured on this first day in the studio, she recorded the vocals in just one take. The early songs she recorded for EMI Sweden are included in the EMI compilation Frida 1967-1972, digitally remastered and released by EMI Sweden in 1997.
On 29 January 1968, she performed this song on national TV, and at this occasion briefly met future ABBA member Agnetha Fältskog, who also performed her first single in the same programme. Lyngstad toured Sweden in 1968, and recorded several singles for EMI. She decided to move to Stockholm to start working full-time as a singer.
Her first album, Frida, produced by her then-fiancé Benny Andersson, was released in 1971. The album received unanimously generous praise from the critics and the press, who especially noted the precision and versatility of Lyngstad's voice. For example, Sweden's biggest morning paper Dagens Nyheter (Daily News) wrote: "Professional, sure and certain LP-debut ... low-key but self-assured personality with sprinkles of temperament, humor and tenderness. And she sings in such a way that you understand that she's got something between her ears – she sings, in other words, in a very intelligent way". She now scored her first Swedish No.1 hit with "Min Egen Stad" ("My Own Town"). All four future members of ABBA sang back-up vocals on this song. The album is now included in the EMI compilation Frida 1967-1972.
Frida continued to play in cabarets, and tour and regularly perform on TV and radio. Subsequently, her relationship with Andersson, and friendship with Björn Ulvaeus and Agnetha Fältskog led to the formation of ABBA. In 1972, after five years at EMI Sweden, Lyngstad changed record companies and moved to the Polar Music label. She recorded the single "Man vill ju leva lite dessemellan" ("One wants to live a little from time to time"), which became her second No. 1 hit on the Swedish charts.
1972–1982: ABBA years
At first, Lyngstad was hesitant to perform with her boyfriend Benny Andersson, his best friend Björn Ulvaeus and his wife, Agnetha Fältskog. Their first project together was the cabaret act Festfolk, which flopped in the winter of 1970–1971. The following year, 'Frida' toured on her own while the other three future ABBA members started performing together on a regular basis. Eventually, she rejoined them. Andersson and Ulvaeus were busy producing other artists, but soon discovered the qualities of Lyngstad's and Fältskog's voices combined: ABBA came to life.
Frida sang solo parts in the following ABBA songs: "Andante, Andante", "Cassandra", "Fernando", "Gonna Sing You My Lovesong", "I Am the City", "I Have a Dream", "I Let The Music Speak", "On Top of Old Smokey", "I Wonder (Departure)", "The King Has Lost His Crown", "Knowing Me, Knowing You", "Like an Angel Passing Through My Room", "Lovers (Live a Little Longer)", "Me and Bobby and Bobby's Brother", "Me and I", "Money, Money, Money", "The Name Of The Game", "One Man, One Woman", "Our Last Summer", "Put On Your White Sombrero", "Should I Laugh or Cry", "Super Trouper", "Tropical Loveland", "The Visitors", "The Way Old Friends Do", "When All Is Said And Done" and "You Owe Me One" and her voice was of course clearly audible on most other ABBA tracks as well.
Lyngstad clearly enjoyed the spotlight more than the other three members of ABBA. She truly liked to tour and to meet audience members one-to-one. She took an active part in co-designing the famed ABBA costumes for their tours and TV performances. Since the members of ABBA went their separate ways, Frida has been the only one who openly regrets there has never been a reunion to date.
Her next solo album, in Swedish, was Frida ensam, (Frida Alone), released in 1975 during the ABBA years, and produced by Benny Andersson. This album includes her successful Swedish version of "Fernando", which stayed at the no. 1 spot in the Svensktoppen radio charts for 9 weeks, but was never released as a single. The album was recorded between sessions of the ABBA albums "Waterloo" and "ABBA". Due to the rising popularity of the group, the album took 18 months to record. It became an enormous commercial and critical success in Sweden, topping the Swedish album charts for six weeks and remaining in the charts for 38. The album was mostly a collection of covers of songs by artists like the Beach Boys, 10cc and David Bowie, receiving positive reviews from Melody Maker: "The album portrays Frida as a very strong and emotive singer and shows the true value of the music, that if sung properly and with enough feeling it transcends all language barriers". This album was such a big success, it eventually went platinum.
1982–1984: International solo career
In 1982, during ABBA's last year as a working band, Frida recorded and released her first post-Abba solo album. This was also her first solo album in English. The Phil Collins-produced album was called Something's Going On, and became a big success for Frida worldwide. A much rockier sound was found on many of the songs and Phil Collins' drum sound contributed a lot, especially on the lead single. The album sold 1.5 million copies and spawned the successful single "I Know There's Something Going On", which topped the charts in Switzerland, Belgium, Costa Rica and France, where it stayed No 1 for five weeks. The song also reached the top five in Germany, Austria, the Netherlands, Norway and Australia amongst others. In the United States, the single reached #13 in March 1983 on the Billboard Hot 100 and #9 on Radio & Records, and was the 20th biggest selling single in the US that year.
The song and its video were heavily promoted and played on MTV. The album itself received good reviews, with Billboard writing: "ABBA's auburn-haired songstress makes a bold solo project a stunning success", while Mark Coleman described the album in the third edition of Rolling Stone Album Guide as "a sharp, rock-oriented, delightfully eclectic album". William Cooper had a similar opinion in AllMusic: "Frida escapes the creative limitations of being a member of one of the world's most popular groups on this solid and often riveting album". Swedish Television SVT documented this historical event by filming the whole recording process. The result became a one-hour TV documentary, including interviews with Frida and Phil, Björn and Benny, as well as all the musicians on the album. Due to the success of this album and its lead single, Frida was voted "Best Female Artist Of The Year" 1982, by the readers of Sweden's biggest evening paper Aftonbladet, receiving the Swedish Music Award Price Rockbjörnen.
In 1983, Lyngstad assisted with Abbacadabra, and recorded one of the tracks with two different male vocalists in different languages, including Frenchman Daniel Balavoine on the track "Belle" and on the English version "Time" with B. A. Robertson. This track was a cover of "Arrival", an instrumental track from the ABBA album of the same name.
Lyngstad's next album was the experimental Shine (1984). This album was recorded at Studios De La Grande Armée in Paris, France and produced by Steve Lillywhite, known for his work with artists like Peter Gabriel, U2, Rolling Stones and Morrissey amongst others. The young producer Lillywhite was only 25 when this album was recorded and he gave Frida a very experimental sound and managed to create a relaxed atmosphere in the studio. The album had much less success than hoped, though it reached the Top 20 in many European countries, #6 in Sweden being its highest position.
1985–2004: Later career
In 1986 Frida was in the choir for the recording of her former husband Benny Andersson's song "Klinga Mina Klockor". Also in 1987, Lyngstad recorded the single "Så Länge Vi Har Varann" ("As Long As We Have Each Other") with the Swedish pop group Ratata, one of Lyngstad's favourites. She was contacted by singer Mauro Scocco, who mentioned that he had a song suitable for a duet. After hearing it, Lyngstad accepted immediately. The song achieved great success in Sweden, and was also recorded in English under the title of "As long as I have you". An English-language video of the song was produced, although an Australian release of this song on Festival Records in January 1998 was eventually shelved.
In 1990, Lyngstad became a member of the committee of the Swedish environmental organization Det Naturliga Steget (The Natural Step). The organization wanted a "famous face" to help them reach the public, and in 1991 she became chairwoman for the organization Artister För Miljö (Artists For The Environment). In 1992, Lyngstad performed live at the Stockholm Water Festival at the Kings Castle and released the environmental charity single with her cover of Julian Lennon's song "Saltwater". All the money from this single went to charity. In 1993, on Queen Silvia's 50th birthday, Frida was asked to perform "Dancing Queen" on stage, as performed by ABBA when the king and queen got married. Frida contacted The Real Group and together they performed the song at the Stockholm Opera House in front of the king and queen. The Swedish prime minister at the time, Ingvar Carlsson, also present that night, said it was an ingenious step to do "Dancing Queen" a cappella. This performance was filmed by Swedish TV and can be seen in Frida - The DVD.
In 1996, Lyngstad recorded her Swedish language album Djupa andetag (Deep Breaths). It was a long-awaited album as 12 years had passed since Shine was released. The album attracted overall relatively positive reviews and was a success in Sweden where it became #1 on the album chart. Frida did many TV appearances in Sweden, Norway, Denmark and Finland to promote the album. Djupa andetag was one of the first Swedish albums to be released as a combined audio-video CD-ROM, including interviews with Lyngstad, footage from the making of the album, as well as promotional videos. Despite the fact that Djupa andetag was officially only released in Scandinavia and the songs were entirely sung in Swedish, a remix album of the single tracks "Även en blomma", "Alla Mina Bästa År" (a duet with Roxette's Marie Fredriksson) and "Ögonen" was released in Germany in 1998, entitled Frida - The Mixes. Despite the success of the album, none of these singles made a big impression on the Swedish charts, leaving Frida very disappointed and she would never to record an album again. A one-hour documentary about the making of this album, both in the studio and from Frida's home in Mallorca, Spain, can be seen in Frida - The DVD. A follow-up album with producer Anders Glenmark was reportedly in the works, but was shelved due to the death of Frida's daughter in 1998. Lyngstad dedicated the song "Chemistry Tonight" (co-written by Kirsty MacColl,) to the songwriter after her death in 2000.
A few low key and one-off recordings followed, including a 2002 duet with opera singer Filippa Giordano of the "Barcarolle" from Jacques Offenbach's Les contes d'Hoffman as well as the song "The Sun Will Shine Again", written by former Deep Purple member Jon Lord, and recorded in 2004. "Barcarolle" is only available on the Japanese edition of Giordano's album Rosso Amore and "The Sun Will Shine Again" can be found on Jon Lord's album Beyond The Notes (although a limited-promotional single had been made available). Lord and Lyngstad made several TV appearances in Germany performing the song, on shows like The Sunday Night Classics and The Golden Henne Gala. Lyngstad also joined Lord on stage singing the song during his European autumn tour in 2004. During this tour, she also performed "In the Bleak Midwinter", a performance of which can be found on social media.
For the 2004 semi-final of the Eurovision Song Contest, staged in Istanbul thirty years after ABBA had won the contest in Brighton, Lyngstad appeared in a special comedy video made for the interval act, entitled Our Last Video. Each of the four members of the group appeared briefly in cameo roles, as did, amongst others, Cher and British comedian Rik Mayall. The video was not included in the official DVD release of the Eurovision Contest, but was issued as a separate DVD release on the Universal Music label. It was billed as the first time the four had worked together since the group split in 1982 although they each filmed their appearances separately. Also in 2004, Lyngstad appeared with former band mates Benny Andersson and Björn Ulvaeus at London's fifth anniversary performance of Mamma Mia!, the musical based on ABBA songs. In 2005, she joined all three of her former ABBA colleagues at the Swedish premiere of Mamma Mia! at the arena Cirkus in Stockholm.
2005–Present: after music
On 15 November 2005, to celebrate Lyngstad's 60th birthday, Universal Records released the box set Frida, consisting of all the solo albums she recorded for Polar Music, all digitally remastered and including a set of bonus tracks. Also included was Frida - The DVD, a 3½ hour documentary where Lyngstad talks about her entire career in the music business. Filmed in the Swiss Alps, she talks about her singing technique and about her career both before and after Abba and explains how songs were performed and recorded. In collaboration with Swedish TV, SVT, the film included many rare TV clips from her early performances, like her first TV performance with "En Ledig Dag", ("A Day Off"). Also included are TV-documentaries about the making and recordings of Something's Going On and Djupa andetag (Deep Breaths).
In September 2010, a new album by musician Georg Wadenius titled "Reconnection" was released. Frida and George had discussed working together for many years, as they had long been good friends. The album opens with her rendition of the traditional tune Morning Has Broken popularized by Cat Stevens. This song by Cat Stevens, is a favourite for Frida and the song was also on the playlist in the church for Frida and Prince Ruzzo's wedding on August 26, 1992.
On 16 February 2011 BBC Radio 4 broadcast a 45-minute play featuring Frida and the play's writer, long term fan and performer Christopher Green. The play, Like an Angel Passing Through My Room, was billed as "a story about love. The unconditional love of a devoted fan ... about a real and an imagined intimacy." It was a project several years in the making; what started as an upbeat reflection on fame and the notion of being a fan, developed into a meditation on the communication between two people and coping with the blows life deals. In an interview with Frida she and Green talked about her long recovery from the death of her husband in 1999. The play is reflective but with a comic sensibility. Frida stated in 2004 that she never intended to return to the music industry although this was short lived and future studio albums were discussed in 2010. Nothing ever came of them and Frida has never returned to recording music since. After the death of her friend Jon Lord in 2012, Frida has almost become almost a recluse, rarely seen in the public eye.
In 2013, Frida helped organise the opening of the ABBA Museum in Stockholm stated she wanted to "let ABBA rest". The Long awaited ABBA reunion was expected to happen in 2014 to celebrate their win at the Eurovision Song Contest in 1974, some 40 years prior, but this never happened, disappointing fans.
In 2015 Frida, along with Dan Daniell, released the single "1865" about the Matterhorn in Switzerland.
Marriage to Ragnar Fredriksson (1964–1970)
On 3 April 1964, at age 18, Frida married salesperson and fellow musician Ragnar Fredriksson. They had two children: Hans Ragnar (born 26 January 1963) and Ann Lise-Lotte (25 February 1967 – 13 January 1998). They separated in 1968 and were officially divorced on 19 May 1970. On the very same day, Lyngstad's grandmother, Arntine, died, aged 71.
Relationship (1969–1978) and marriage to Benny Andersson (1978–1981)
In 1969, Lyngstad met Benny Andersson. By 1971, they were living together, but did not marry until 6 October 1978, during the height of ABBA's success.
However, after two years of marriage, they separated on 26 November 1980, and were divorced in 1981.
Marriage to Prince Reuss of Plauen (1992–1999)
In 1982, Lyngstad left Sweden and moved to London. In 1986, she relocated to Switzerland, and lived with her boyfriend, an architect named Prince Heinrich Ruzzo Reuss, Count of Plauen (1950–1999), in his family castle in Fribourg.
In 1988, Lyngstad became a grandmother when her daughter, Ann Lise-Lotte, gave birth to a son named Jonathan.
On 26 August 1992, Lyngstad married the Prince of House of Reuss. By this marriage, she has two stepdaughters, the twins Princess Henriette Anna-Bess Helle Mette Reuss, Countess of Plauen, and Princess Pauline Margaretha Emma-Louise Mette Reuss, Countess of Plauen (both born 2 June 1977, Oslo, Norway).
Through her marriage to Prince Reuss of Plauen, who had been a student at the same boarding school as Crown Prince Carl Gustaf – who later became the King of Sweden – Lyngstad became acquainted with the Swedish royal family and eventually became close friends with Sweden's Queen Silvia.
The prince died of lymphoma in October 1999.
Other relations and interests
Lyngstad remains involved in charity work, and stated in a 2005 interview that she had no interest in ever returning to a music career.
She currently lives in Zermatt, Switzerland, sharing a home with her British boyfriend, Henry Smith, 5th Viscount Hambleden, since 2008. Frida also has an interest in racing pigeons and is actively involved in the UK. She is the Honorary President of the Hardwick Homing Society in Stockton On Tees. She also competes as a partner in a team in the same club "Cunningham, Nixon, Lyngstad". Lyngstad also owns several homes in the UK; one in Newcastle Upon Tyne, another in London and another, shared home in the Yorkshire Dales.
In April 2016, Frida's agent, Gorel Hanser wrote this, "It is true she holds an honorary membership and that she and Gordon Nixon have been in contact. However, she does not have any interest in racing pigeons, she has never visited the club or has not in any way been active."
Style, titles and names
- 1945 – 1963: Anni-Frid Synni Lyngstad (single)
- 1963 – 1970: Anni-Frid Synni Fredriksson (period of marriage to Ragnar Fredriksson)
- 1970 – 1978: Anni-Frid Synni Lyngstad (after divorce from Ragnar Fredriksson)
- 1978 – 1981: Anni-Frid Synni Andersson (period of marriage to Benny Andersson)
- 1981 – 1992: Anni-Frid Synni Lyngstad (after divorce from Benny Andersson to date of marriage to Prince Reuss of Plauen)
- 1992 – present: Her Serene Highness Princess Reuss, Countess of Plauen(since her marriage to Prince Reuss of Plauen)
Awards and recognition
In 1982, Lyngstad won the Swedish music prize Rockbjörnen for the Best Female Artist.
|Title||Album details||Peak chart positions||Certifications|
|Something's Going On||41||2||3||2||2||1||3||18|
|"-" denotes releases that did not chart or were not released.|
|På egen hand|
|Tre kvart från nu|
|Frida - The Mixes(remix album)|
|Title||Year||Peak chart positions||Certifications||Album|
|"I Know There's Something Going On"||1982||13||5||2||11||1||5||3||3||3||43||Something's Going On|
|"To Turn the Stone"||–||–||8||–||33||52||6||–||–||–|
|"Tell Me It's Over"||–||–||–||–||–||–||–||–||–||–|
|"Here We'll Stay"||1983||102||–||36||–||34||–||–||–||–||100|
|"Belle" (with Daniel Balavoine)||–||–||–||–||15||–||–||–||–||–||Abbacadabra|
|"Time" (with B.A. Robertson)||–||–||–||–||–||–||–||–||–||45|
|"Twist in the Dark"||–||–||–||–||–||–||–||–||–||–|
|"Heart of the Country"||–||–||–||–||–||–||–||–||–||–|
|"Come to Me (I Am Woman)"||–||–||–||–||–||–||–||–||–||–|
|"-" denotes releases that did not chart or were not released.|
|Title||Year||Peak chart positions||Album|
|"En ledig dag"||1967||–||non-album song|
|"Härlig är vår jord"||1969||–|
|"Så synd du måste gå"||–|
|"Där du går lämnar kärleken spår"||1970||18|
|"En liten sång om kärlek"||1971||Frida|
|"En kväll om sommarn" (with Lasse Berghagen)||–||non-album song|
|"Min egen stad"||5|
|"Vi är alla barn i början"||1972||–|
|"Man vill ju leva lite dessemellan"||–||non-album song|
|"Även en blomma"||1996||11||Djupa andetag|
|"Alla mina bästa år" (with Marie Fredriksson)||1997||54|
|"-" denotes releases that did not chart or were not released.|
|Title||Year||Peak chart positions||Album|
|"Så länge vi har varann" (with Ratata)||1987||5||Mellan dröm och verklighet|
|"Änglamark" (in Artister för miljö)||1991||–||Charity single|
|"Lieber Gott" (with Dan Daniell)||2003||–|
|"The Sun Will Shine Again" (with Jon Lord)(promotional single)||2004||–||Beyond the Notes|
|"-" denotes releases that did not chart or were not released.|
|Frida - The DVD|