Anni-Frid, Princess Reuss von Plauen (born Anni-Frid Lyngstad 15 November 1945 in Bjørkåsen, Ballangen, Norway) is a Norwegian born singer, best known as Frida Lyngstad, one of the four members of Swedish pop group ABBA.
Lyngstad was born in Bjørkåsen, a suburb of Ballangen, near Narvik, north of Norway, as a result of a liaison between 19-year-old Synni Lyngstad (19 June 1926 - 28 September 1947), and a (married) German officer, Alfred Haase (born 1919), just before 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 the spring of 1947, Lyngstad, her mother, and her maternal grandmother, Arntine Lyngstad, left her birthplace because of fear of reprisals from people vengeful towards those who had dealings with the Germans during the occupation. This could entail not just insults, but also forced separation of infants from their parents and relatives (see War children).
Lyngstad was taken by her grandmother across the border to Sweden and eventually south to the city of Torshälla, (near Eskilstuna). Her mother stayed behind in Norway and worked for a period in the south of the country, but then became ill and traveled to Sweden to be with her mother and daughter. Synni Lyngstad died from kidney disease soon afterwards, aged 21. Lyngstad was raised by her grandmother alone. However, a near contact with her family in Norway continued, and Lyngstad recalls with warmth summer holidays spent with them at her birthplace.
Lyngstad believed that her father had died when his ship to Germany was sunk during the war. However, after the German teen magazine Bravo published her biography and a background story in August 1977 (at the height of ABBAs fame), she discovered that her father was alive, and they were reunited that year.
Lyngstad showed musical talent at an early age, and got her first job as a dance band and schlager singer in 1958, aged 13. 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, and married the bass player Ragnar Fredriksson, aged 17. The marriage produced two children, but the couple were divorced by 1970.
In the summer of 1967, Lyngstad won a national talent competition with the song "En Ledig Dag" ("A Day Off"). Unbeknownst to Lyngstad, the winner of the contest was also expected to appear the same evening in one of the country's most popular TV shows at that time, Hylands Hörna, and thus she got immediate attention and a recording contract with EMI. She soon recorded this song as her first single. On January 10th 1968, she performed this single 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 singer.
In 1969, she participated in Melodifestivalen - the Swedish heats for the Eurovision Song Contest - with the song "Härlig är vår jord" ("Our Earth is Wonderful"), and finished fourth. Backstage she met her future spouse Benny Andersson, who also participated in the contest as composer. They soon met again at another venue and then became a couple.
Her first album, Frida, produced by her then fiancé Andersson, was released in 1971. The album received unanimously generous praise from the critics, who especially noted the precision and versatility of Lyngstad as a vocalist (and scoring her first Swedish No.1 hit with "Min Egen Stad" ("My Own Town")). Anni-Frid 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 eventually led into the formation of ABBA. In 1972, Lyngstad changed record companies and moved to the Polar Music label. She recorded the single "Man Vill Ju Leva Lite Dess Emellan", which became her second No.1 hit in the Swedish charts.
Her next solo album in Swedish, Frida ensam (Frida Alone), that included the original Swedish version of the future ABBA mega-hit "Fernando", was released in 1975 when she was already involved in 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 Scandinavia, topping the Swedish album charts for six weeks and remaining in the charts for 40. 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".
In 1982, during ABBA's last year as a working band, Lyngstad released her first solo album in English, the Phil Collins-produced Something's Going On, that topped the charts in Sweden and reached the Top 20 in the UK and Germany, and Top 50 in the U.S. It sold around 1.5 million copies worldwide and spawned a hugely successful single, "I Know There's Something Going On", which topped the charts in Belgium, Costa Rica and France (spending five weeks at the top). The song also reached the Top 5 in Germany, Austria, the Netherlands, Norway and Australia amongst others. In the United States, the single reached No.13 on the Billboard Hot 100 chart and No.9 on Radio & Records airplay chart, with the music video for the song being heavily promoted on MTV. In all, "I Know There's Something Going On" sold 3.5 million copies worldwide, making this the best-selling solo project of any of the former ABBA members to date. The album itself was also well received by the critics, with Billboard writing: "ABBA's auburn-haired songstress makes a bold solo project a stunning success", while Mark Coleman described Something's Going On 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."
In 1983, Lyngstad assisted with ABBAcadabra - the Musical, and recorded one of the tracks with several different male vocalists in different versions, including Frenchman Daniel Balavoine on the track "Belle, 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, the experimental Shine (1984), enjoyed moderate success. It reached the Top 20 in several European countries, No.6 in Sweden being its highest position. One of the songwriters and backing vocalist for this album was Kirsty MacColl, who was killed in a boating accident in Mexico in December 2000. Lyngstad recently commemorated a song on her most recent compilation album to MacColl, "Chemistry Tonight", which MacColl had co-written.
In the years that followed, Lyngstad was seriously engaged in environmental work but also found time to make a couple of guest appearances on recordings by other artists, amongst others, her former colleague and husband Benny Andersson's 1987 album in particular.
Also in 1987, Lyngstad recorded the hit single "Så Länge Vi Har Varann" ("As Long As We Have Each Other") with the Swedish pop group "Ratata", the group being one of Lyngstad's favourites. One day, singer Mauro Scocco called and said that he had a song suitable for a duet. After hearing it, Lyngstad accepted immediately. The song was a huge success in Sweden.
In 1990, Lyngstad became a member in the committee of the Swedish environmental organisation "Det Naturliga Steget" ("The Natural Step"). The organisation wanted a "famous face" to help them reach the public, and in 1991 she became chairwoman for the organisation "Artister För Miljön" ("Artists For The Environment").
In 1993, she performed an a cappella version of "Dancing Queen" together with The Real Group, at Swedish Queen Silvia's 50th birthday. The event was held at the Royal Opera House in Stockholm. This performance was filmed by Swedish TV. It was Queen Silvia's wish to hear "Dancing Queen" again, as ABBA had performed it on the same stage the day prior to her wedding to King XVI Gustaf in June 1976. The Swedish prime minister at that time, Ingvar Carlsson, said it was a genius step to do "Dancing Queen" á capella.
In 1996, Lyngstad recorded her Swedish language album Djupa Andetag ("Deep Breaths"). Twenty-one years after her latest Swedish album Frida Ensam , her comeback was much anticipated and the album managed to enter the Swedish charts as number one and attracted overall positive reviews. Djupa Andetag was one of the very 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, an evidence of Lyngstad's continuing popularity in Continental Europe. A follow-up album with producer Anders Glenmark was reportedly in works, but eventually shelved due to personal reasons.
Several 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 especially for Lyngstad by former Deep Purple member Jon Lord, and recorded in 2004. Neither of these were however released as singles: "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". 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.
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 briefly 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, among 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 - a truth with modification. In fact, they each filmed their appearances separately.
Also in 2004, Lyngstad appeared with former bandmates 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.
On 15 November 2005, to celebrate Lyngstad's 60th birthday, Universal Records released the "Frida Box Set" consisting of the solo albums she recorded for Polar Music, all digitally remastered and including a set of bonus tracks. Also included was "Frida The DVD" where she openly - for more than three hours - talks about her life and her career in music. The DVD includes many rare clips, such as early Swedish TV performances and promo videos made for her international solo projects.
In November 2007, it was reported that Lyngstad and Jon Lord are planning to do further demo recordings together. Provided that the results of these recordings turn out well, Lyngstad may release a new album with Jon Lord as a producer some time in the near future.
In May 1969, Lyngstad met Benny Andersson, and the couple were quickly engaged. By 1971 they were living together, but did not marry until 6 October 1978, during the height of ABBA's success. However, after only three years of marriage, they separated in February 1981 and were divorced in November of the same year. In 1982, Lyngstad left Sweden and moved to London. In 1986 she relocated to Switzerland.
On 26 August 1992, Lyngstad married Prince Heinrich Ruzzo Reuss von Plauen (24 May 1950 – 29 October 1999). By this marriage, she has two stepdaughters, Princess Henriette and Princess Pauline. The prince died of lymphoma in 1999; a year earlier, on 13 January 1998, Lyngstad's daughter, Lise-Lotte Casper (born Fredriksson), died of injuries sustained in a car accident in Livonia, Michigan in the United States. Through Lyngstad's marriage to Prince Heinrich Ruzzo, who was a student at the same boarding school as the reigning King of Sweden, she became acquainted with the Swedish royal family and eventually became close friends with Sweden's Queen Silvia.
Today, Lyngstad still engages in charity work - environmental issues in particular. In 2005, she stated in an interview that she had no interest in a music career, though eighteen months later she returned to the recording studio. She currently lives in Zermatt, Switzerland.