Bright Lights Dark Shadows: The Real Story Of ABBA

Carl Magnus Palm

Revealed for the first time – the people who were ABBA, their individual backgrounds, their musical influences and their personal demons.

By the time ABBA spilt up, no one was in any doubt that behind the glitter there was a dark side, and behind the smiling group were four troubled individuals. But even as a whole new generation of fans discovers ABBA’s great music, Anni-Frid, Agnetha, Benny and Björn have continued to remain rather shadowy, secretive figures. Their marriages, personal break-ups and superficial biographical details are well known …  but who exactly were ABBA?

How did Norwegian Anni-Frid, the illegitimate daughter of a German soldier, become a real-life princess? How did folksy Benny and Björn reinvent themselves as an international pop force to rival Lennon & McCartney? And what actually happened to blonde Agnetha who smiled a lot but never really looked happy?

The author answers these and many more questions about the hit group that no one took seriously … until everyone did. Each page is a revelation and Palm’s acute understanding of the culture of his native Sweden makes these sometimes dark personal stories understandable in a unique way.

Bright Lights, Dark Shadows is an instant classic – a truly great account of the rise and fall of a legendary group and a multiple biography of rare insight.
At the time of ABBA’s breakthrough single ‘Waterloo’, the group seemed like a life-affirming challenge to the popular notion of Sweden as a musically-barren land famous mostly for Volvo cars and Ingmar Bergman movies.

A decade later, at the time of their hauntingly bleak final single ‘The Day Before You Came’, it was clear that Nordic angst had been there all the time, just below the surface. Probably no one but a Swede could have written the definitive story of ABBA’s four members: certainly to most outsiders it sounds like an unlikely history. Despite their beautiful voices, Anni-Frid and Agnetha were surely fated to be strictly domestic singing successes. And despite their musical enthusiasm, surely unhip Benny and Björn were destined to remain semi-pros, essentially pub players with a second-hand fold/country/pop repertoire?

Carl Magnus Palm unravels the complex story of how ABBA built themselves into a supremely talented musical force in pop; in the process he fully exposes the Svengali-like influence of Stig Anderson, carefully analyses all the musical influences and reveals what happened to the fortune they made.

But this book also contains the first real three-dimensional portraits of the group members. They were real people, after al, despite an infamous dress sense that sometime suggested they might be aliens from the planet where bad clothes go to die. Their personal histories are sometimes shown as being as dark and tragic as anything from a Bergman movie. But Bergman movies never had a soundtrack by ABBA, and the sheer ebullience of their enduringly popular music is also celebrated in a book that his surely destined to become one of the all-time classic pop biographies.

First published UK September 2001.
Paperback edition published June 2002.
Updated edition with new Afterword published July 2008.
Kindle edition published October 2009.

Bright Lights Dark Shadows: The Real Story Of ABBA

Bright Lights Dark Shadows: The Real Story Of ABBA paperback edition

Bright Lights Dark Shadows: The Real Story Of ABBA updated edition 2008

Bright Lights Dark Shadows: The Real Story Of ABBA Kindle edition 2009


Thank you for the music - now for the real story.

Revealed for the first time – the people who were ABBA, their individual backgrounds, their musical influences and their personal demons.

By the time ABBA spilt up, no one was in any doubt that behind the glitter there was a dark side, and behind the smiling group were four troubled individuals. But even as a whole new generation of fans discovers ABBA’s great music, Anni-Frid, Agnetha, Benny and Björn have continued to remain rather shadowy, secretive figures. Their marriages, personal break-ups and superficial biographical details are well known …  but who exactly were ABBA?

The author answers these and many more questions about the hit group that no one took seriously... until everyone did.

Bright Lights Dark Shadows is an instant classic - a truly great account of the rise and fall of a legendary group and a multiple biography of rare insight.

Audio book on 22 CDs or 2 disc MP3 published 1 July 2011. 

Bright Lights Dark Shadows: The Real Story Of ABBA audio book 2011


Licht und Schatten: ABBA - Die Wahre Geschite

(Light and Shadow: ABBA - The True Story)

Carl Magnus Palm

Als die Gruppe ABBA auseinanderbach, wurde es fur jedermann offensichtlich, dass sich hinter der glitzernden Fassade und hinter dem stahlenden Lachen vier angespannte und verzweifelte Individuen verbargen. Und Anni-Frid, Agnetha, Benny und Bjorn blieben weiterhin undurchschaubar und geheimnisvoll, auch dann noch, als ABBAs groBartige Musik von einer ganz neuen Generation wiederentdeckt wurde. Ihre Ehen und Scheidungen , ihre personlichen Zusammenbruche sowie einige oberflachliche biografische Details sind allgemein bekannt, ...doch wer waren ABBA wirklich?

First published Germany February 2003.
Updated edition published Germany 3 October 2011.

Licht und Schatten: ABBA - Die Wahre Geschite

Licht und Schatten: ABBA - Die Wahre Geschite - Weltbild edition

Licht und Schatten: ABBA - Die Wahre Geschite 2004 edition

Licht und Schatten: ABBA - Die Wahre Geschite updated edition 2011


ABBA - Bright Lights Dark Shadows: Подлинная история (Podlinnaya Istoriya)

(ABBA - Bright Lights Dark Shadows: The Real Story)

Carl Magnus Palm, translated by G. Sachazkij

Russian edition.

First published Russia October 2003.

ABBA - Podlinnaya Istoriya


Яркий Свет, Уерные Тени: Подлинная История Груллы ABBA

(Bright Lights Dark Shadows: The Real Story of the group ABBA)

Carl Magnus Palm, translated by G. Sachazkij

ABBA – одна из самых знаменитых поп-групп XX века, по исполнителей и объемy лродаж дисков сравнимая толъко свеликими The Beatles. О том, как шли ко всемирной славе ее участники, об их судьбах и творчестве рассказывает книга шведского писателя, биографа этой во всех отношениях неординарной четверки Карла Магнуса Пальма.

Published January 2009.

Яркий Свет, Уерные Тени: Подлинная История Груллы ABBA


Bright Lights Dark Shadows: The Real Story Of ABBA

Carl Magnus Palm

Bright Lights Dark Shadows is the definitive biography of Abba , the world’s greatest pop ba nd whose hit musical Mamma Mia! has become the most successful stage show and UK film musical of all time.

This new edition of the best-selling Abba book has been updated to include details of Mamma Mia!’s extraordinary success and the ongoing lives of Björn Ulvaeus, Benny Andersson, Anni-Frid Lyngstad and Agnetha Fältskog, their music and their personal lives. It has also been substantially revised throughout.

As generations of new fans discover Abba’s timeless music, Frida, Agnetha, Benny and Björn remain rather shadowy, secretive figures. Their marriages, personal break-ups and superficial biographical details are well known… but who exactly are Abba?

• How did Norwegian orphan Anni-Frid become a real-life princess?
• How did folksy Benny and Björn become an international pop force to rival Lennon & McCartney?
• What happened to blonde Agnetha who smiled a lot but never really looked happy?
• And how many billions have Abba been offered to reform?

World renowned Abba expert Carl Magnus Palm’s acute understanding of the culture of his native Sweden offers a unique insight into the group, and their sometimes dark personal stories.

Bright Lights Dark Shadows: The Real Story of Abba is the ultimate account of the rise and fall of a legendary group and a biography of rare perception.

Published 30 Januaryl 2014.

Bright Lights Dark Shadows: The Real Story Of ABBA revised edition 2014


More information @ Carl Magnus Palm.com  

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