40 years since ABBA won with Waterloo

40 years since ABBA won with Waterloo
ABBA onstage in Brighton in 1974
Brighton, United Kingdom -

It was 40 years ago today, on the 6th April, 1974 that the Swedish group ABBA won the Grand Prix of the Eurovision Song Contest with their memorable song Waterloo. ABBA went onto become one of the biggest selling groups in the world, selling millions and millions of records, and Waterloo topped the list of songs in the Congratulations show that commemorated the 50th anniversary of the contest in 2005.

Although Luxembourg had won the 1973 edition of Europe's Favourite Tv show, the Luxembourg broadcaster CLT, declined to host the contest for a second successive year, and once again the British broadcaster, the BBC took the opportunity to once again stage the event, this time in Brighton on the south coast of England.

The Way Old Friends Do

The contest was presented, for the fourth time, by Katie Boyle, who had previously taken the role in 1960, 1963 and 1968.

Arrival

Eighteen countries registered to take part in the 19th edition of the contest, including for the very first time, Greece, who sent one of their biggest starts, Marinella.

I Wonder (Departure)

However in the week of the contest, the French President, Georges Pompidou died on the 2nd of April, and as a mark of respect the French withdrew from the contest; their entry was due to be sung by Dani and called La Vie A Vingt-cinq Ans.

Thank You For The Music

The seventeen entries performed in the following order.

  1. Finland - Keep Me Warm sung by Carita
  2. United Kingdom - Long Live Love sung by Olivia Newton John
  3. Spain - Canta Y Se Feliz sung by Peret
  4. Norway - The First Day Of Love sung by Anne-Karine Strøm and the Bendik Singers
  5. Greece - Krassi, Thalassa Ke T'Agori Mou sung by Marinella
  6. Israel - Natati La Khaiai sung by Poogy
  7. Yugoslavia - Moja Generacija 42 sung by Korni
  8. Sweden - Waterloo sung by ABBA
  9. Luxembourg - Bye, Bye I Love You sung by Ireen Sheer
  10. Monaco - Celui Qui Reste Et Celui Qui S'en Va sung by Romuald
  11. Belgium - Fleur De Liberté sung by Jacques Hustin
  12. Netherlands - I See A Star sung by Mouth and MacNeal
  13. Ireland - Cross Your Heart sung by Tina
  14. Germany - Die Sommermelodie sung by Cindy and Bert
  15. Switzerland - Mein Ruf Nach Dir sung by Piera Martell
  16. Portugal - E Depois Do Adeus sung by Paulo de Carvalho
  17. Italy - Si sung by Gigliola Cinquetti

Knowing Me, Knowing You

Norway's entrant Anne-Karine Ström had been part of the Bendik Singers in the 1973. Romuald had represented Monaco in 1964, and Luxembourg in 1969, whilst Gigliola Cinquetti had won the contest for Italy in the 1964 contest.

The Winner Takes It All

There was a return to the voting system that had been last used in the 1970 contest. 10 jury members in every country each awarded one point to their favourite song. For the first time, a draw of lots was used to decide the order in which countries would give the results of their juries. However, it was the last time this method was used to cast the votes. You can see a full breakdown of the voting in our 1974 history page.

Sweden's ABBA led from the very first round of voting and never lost the lead, although briefly threatened by both Italy and Belgium in the early rounds of voting.

Money, Money, Money

Waterloo topped the charts all over Europe and the world.

Their success did not stop there by any means. They continued to top the charts with singles including Mamma Mia, S.O.S, Dancing Queen, I Do, I Do, I Do, I Do, One Of Us, Gimme Gimme Gimme and many many many more. Their albums also charted high and went gold and platinum in a number of countries.

In 1983 the group split up after more than a decade of phenomenal success but their careers continued. Agnetha and Frida continued to perform and released music although Agnetha did shy away from the spotlight for a long whilst after ABBA split up but has recently released new material. Benny & Björn continued their careers as writers and have worked closely together on new music, have performed in bands and precided over musicals including the world famous and very successful Mamma Mia, which also became a box-off superhit when it was turned into a film.

ABBA's revival still continues and their songs are iconic. One of the Eurovision Song Contest's biggest treasures. Congratulations to ABBA on the 40th anniversary of their victory.


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  • Posted on 9 April 2014 at 20:02
    I am proud to be Swedish. Knowing that Abba today 40 years after his victory in ESC 1974 is still one of the world's biggest bands. Who knew that when you went and won the ESC 40 years ago. Thank Abba for all the great music you shared with you to the outside world. And all you have done for Sweden! You guys are outstanding report to the moderator
  • Posted on 7 April 2014 at 12:40
    Waterloo est sans doute le plus grand moment de l'histoire de l'Eurovision. Et s'il faut choisir une chanson d'ABBA, c'est "Knowing Me, Knowing You" pour la complexité et l'entrelacement de ses parties vocales. report to the moderator
  • Posted on 7 April 2014 at 12:31
    I just really, really love ABBA! It's really hard to choose one favourite song! Waterloo, Mamma mia, Gimme, gimme, gimme, Fernando and so many others are true pop classics! ABBA and Céline Dion has got so much from ESC and also ESC has got a lot from them! I love that fact that ABBA and Céline Dion has won Eurovision Song Contest! I love ABBA, Céline and ESC! Best wishes to everyone from Finland with lots of love! :) report to the moderator
  • Posted on 7 April 2014 at 07:10
    I can't choose, I'm a big fan of the group, so !

    It depends of my mood ! report to the moderator
  • Posted on 7 April 2014 at 04:46
    Abba didn't just finish in 1982 , but Benny & Bjorn have continued to compose to the present day , and Agnetha & Frida have turned out some great solo albums . Agnetha's latest album was last year , and Frida is releasing a new one soon . There is also a rumor , which seems to be true , that there will be one concert in Sweden of the them together again singing new folk or jazz songs , sometime over the next year or so ! report to the moderator
  • Posted on 7 April 2014 at 02:00
    Gordon might have added that, in 2010, ABBA was inducted into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame. Some American rock purists were dismayed but the HoF was quick to note that it was the votes of other musicians that put ABBA there. Other artists -- like Bono, Pete Townshend, Elvis Costello, Peter Cetera, Madonna, Chris de Burgh and many others -- have long known what self-styled critics have overlooked: that the music Ulvaeus and Andersson wrote, arranged and produced with such care from 1972 through 1982 is absolutely timeless. In the words of the former Rolling Stone writer Tom Moon, ABBA's performances were "models of impeccable craft".

    Even if Benny, Bjorn, Frida and Agnetha are not together tonight, I hope wherever they are they raise a toast to a truly unique and monumental achievement, one that was advanced in so many ways by Waterloo's win at Eurovision 40 years ago.

    Much love from Canada. report to the moderator
  • Posted on 7 April 2014 at 01:01
    Marvelous article! ABBA will forever be known as the GREATEST act to ever win the Eurovision Song Contest. In 1974 they scored just 24 points, but 31 years later they scored a collective total of 660 points over two rounds at Congratulations: 50 Years of The Eurovision Song Contest. That's a massive total of 684 points over four decades. That's a record that will most probably never be broken unless Helena Paparizou, Dima Bilan, Alexander Rybak, Lena, Loreen and Emmelie de Forest were to all team up and represent the same country.

    I just really hope ABBA will reform for just one night only at the Eurovision Song Contest 2014: Grand Final to perform "Waterloo" one last time for the billions of loyal fans in Europe and around the world.

    Come on ABBA, "The Winner Takes It All", and you can definitely win it again! :) report to the moderator
  • Posted on 6 April 2014 at 19:36
    Sweden own Eurovision. Wouldn't it be great if a supergroup was formed. We could have Carola, Charlotte Nilsson and Loreen. report to the moderator
  • Posted on 6 April 2014 at 18:18
    Deserved victory!!! report to the moderator
  • Posted on 6 April 2014 at 17:11
    Today we celebrate also the 15th anniversary of the world premiere of the musical Mamma Mia! report to the moderator
  • Posted on 6 April 2014 at 15:40
    I remember when I saw ABBA winning the ESC. I will never forget that feeling, and to me, they are and will probably be the best group ever. report to the moderator
  • Posted on 6 April 2014 at 15:04
    Congratz to ABBA! Would be great to see any other artist or group of today to have a similar success after winning Eurovision! I know it's hard but I'm hopeful! :-) report to the moderator