Dick Cavett Meets ABBA

Filmed: Monday 27 - Wednesday 29 April 1981

Location: SVT Studios, Stockholm, Sweden

Broadcast: See below for detailed info

Release status: Partially released - see below

Shown in: Worldwide

Additional information


The show was co-produced by SVT1, Polar and ZDF and it was originally supposed to be filmed in Germany, but instead Swedish Television filmed it.

Dick Cavett Meets ABBA was not part of the American Dick Cavett talkshow series, but a standalone programme filmed and produced by SVT in Sweden.

The music introducing the programme was Benny & Björn's Fanfare for Ice Hockey World Championships 1981 and was performed by Benny on his Yamah GX-1 synthesizer.  The final clip in the VIDEO section shows its original use as the opening for the Ice Hockey and was named VM '81VM was the original working title for the Fanfare.


ABBA recorded their interview with US chat show host Dick Cavett on Monday 27 April 1981. 

Originally US personality Dick Clark was supposed to host this programme but he wanted twice as much money as Dick Cavett. ABBA themselves wanted to have Dick Cavett as a host because Björn said in the Swedish paper: "We thought long and hard and wanted to find someone who could make our 10th anniversary a memorable one. We wanted someone who was fun and the thought came up, "Dick Cavett". He is is very skilled and humorous. We wanted a mix of singing and interviews." 

The audience in the studio was mostly English-speaking which was demanded by Dick Cavett - that the audience would understand English. Björn described it as, "A happy conversation, more than just an interview!". 

There appears to be two different versions of the ABBA members being introduced one-by-one by Dick Cavett - with one version having a "competition" to see who got the most applause and Frida encourages the audience to clap loudly when her name is announced.

There's a picture of Benny playing an accordion (he was playing Lotties Schotties) but this was not included in any of the final broadcasts. During the photo sessions, Dick Cavett took Agnethas pulse!


After two days of rehearsals starting on Saturday 25 April 1981, ABBA performed nine songs (four hits, three songs from Super Trouper and two brand new songs from their next album) live and recorded on Tuesday 28 - Wednesday 29 April 1981 in a live "mini-concert".

The songs performed were:

  1. Gimme! Gimme! Gimme! (A Man After Midnight)
  2. Super Trouper
  3. Two For the Price of One
  4. Slipping Through My Fingers
  5. Me and I
  6. On & On & On
  7. Knowing Me, Knowing You
  8. Summer Night City
  9. Thank You For The Music

ABBA had their normal backing musicians with them:

  1. Lasse Wellander and Mats Ronander on lead guitars
  2. Rutger Gunnarsson on bass
  3. Ola Brunkert on drums
  4. Åke Sundqvist on percussion
  5. Anders Eljas on keyboards (and Benny).

Björn played acoustic guitar on Super Trouper, the ending of Two For The Price Of One, Slipping Though my Fingers, Me and I, Knowing Me, Knowing You and Thank You For The Music.

Backing vocals were provided by: Tomas Ledin, Lisa Öhman and Lena Ericsson.

In the German version, Björn introduced the members of ABBA one-by-one - Benny, Anni-Frid and Agnetha before Two For The Price of One - and a different shot of all four of them was shown from the concert, rather than from the interview.

According to a photo in the book From ABBA to Mamma Mia! by Carl Magnus Palm and Anders Hanser, Andante, Andante was included in the set list (in Björn's handwriting) although there's no hard evidence that it was actually performed or recorded.

Each song was performed more than once.  They were recorded onto 24-track tape and Michael B Tretow reduced them down to one track for television.  He told me in an interview in March 1999 that the lack of movement in these performances was because they wanted to get the best possible live recording.


(where information is available)

Different versions were broadcast in different countries. It is generally felt that (other than the Canadian and Swedish versions), none of the versions included ALL nine songs that were performed. The programmes were a pick'n'mix of: parts of the interview, parts of the concert, a PROMO video and a montage of clips from  ABBA - The Movie and ABBA in Concert.

Depending on the version of the show, the latest single's PROMO was included - either When All Is Said and Done or One of Us.

Canada - Their version, an hour long, showed a montage of clips from ABBA - The Movie and ABBA in Concert, One of Us, When All Is Said and Done and The Day Before You Came PROMOs, and all nine songs.

Germany - Their version had an introduction by Dick Cavett in German, a montage of clips from ABBA - The Movie and ABBA in Concert, short interview (maybe 5 minutes) featuring Don’t Fence Me In in Swedish, seven live songs (Gimme! Gimme! Gimme! (A Man After Midnight), Super Trouper, Two For The Price Of One (with a special introduction by Björn in German), Me and I, Summer Night City, Thank You For The Music and On And On And On and One of Us PROMO which was announced by Dick Cavett in German.  The One of Us PROMO featured a different scene (see One of Us PROMO).

Norway - The only version shown was the one with the long interview, When All is Said and Done PROMO and the five live songs (presumably Gimme! Gimme! Gimme! (A Man After Midnight), Super Trouper; Two For The Price of One; Slipping Through My Fingers and On and On and On).

Sweden - Both One of Us and When All Is Said and Done with the nine live songs was shown on Swedish Television. It had Swedish subtitles.

UK - The programme was sold to two English TV companies: London Weekend Television (LWT) and Southern.

US - In the US, Cavett hosted a late night talk show on PBS, but the network did not secure the rights to this special.

Five of the songs (Gimme! Gimme! Gimme! (A Man After Midnight), Super Trouper; Two For The Price of One; Slipping Through My Fingers and On and On and On) have been officially released on DVD as part of the ABBA - The Complete Studio Recordings boxed set.

Apparently SVT has "lost" the remaining four songs: Me and I, Summer Night City, Knowing Me Knowing You and "Thank You For The Music" even though ZDF have them (Summer Night City and Gimme! Gimme! Gimme! (A Man After Midnight)) were used in their Kultnacht programme around 2002/3 - but were both shortened versions of the songs performed on the original Cavett programme. 



Björn on Dick Cavett: "We wanted to do something really special, a TV show with both an interview and a live performance. We've been together for more than ten years and yet a proper interview with all four of us at the same time where people had a chance to get to know us in depth had never been done. A very superficial picture of ABBA is most often spread. Someone suggested Dick Cavett, one of the world's most famous and skilful interviewers. He accepted and came to Sweden one day at the end of April. We didn't talk much beforehand but went almost directly into the studio and recorded the interview. I think we were more nervous than he was, but his composure made us relax and open up. He had a way of tossing out a question and then talking around it . It was more a pleasant conversation than an interview. We never regretted that we chose Dick Cavett."

Frida on Dick Cavett: "What the public sees and hears is just a tiny fraction of all the time and effort we put into it. We rehearsed each song endlessly and take the harder parts home for more practice. When we began rehearsing for this show, we had just been in the studio finishing a couple of songs for the new album. Rehearsals were held in the same place we had used on the eve of our 1979 world tour with the same musicians. Suddenly, it felt as if there hadn't been any pause at all, that it was yesterday we last stood together on stage. It felt wonderful.

"Three days later, we moved to the studio, tested the lights and sound and did all the songs over and over again. Naturally you're tired after singing all day and perhaps you've sung the same song twenty times, but we set very high standards for ourselves. There's always something that can be a little better. The results make it worthwhile."

Agnetha on Dick Cavett: "We worked on it for three days. I think it will be around 55 minutes of old things cut together with new things like a live concert in the studio and the interview - and it will just be about our being together for ten years."

(Re: the clothes), "Half of them we bought in Paris. They aren't stage clothes, they are quite casual styles. The leather trousers that I wore were made in Sweden."

Gunnar Nilars (Producer) on Dick Cavett"In February 1981 Swedish TV began preparations for the programme Dick Cavett meets ABBA. ABBA had long been talking about doing a programme with both talk and music and we thought it would be great to work together with them. After all the contracts were signed, there was an endless series of meetings with lighting and sound engineers, stage designers, cameraman and ABBA. I didn't want it to feel like two programmes, one with talk and one with music. We solved the changeover by letting the group be interviewed in the same place where they would later sing, hanging a curtain in front of the instruments. One weekend at the end of April, we hauled all the instruments and equipment into a a large studio and began to build the sets. By Monday when everyone involved arrived, we were ready to record.

Most people think that this is a simple kind of programme to do - five people sit and talk and then four of them stand up and sing. but there are thousands of details to keep track of and hundreds of problems to solve.

When the recording was finished, we began editing and mixing the sound. We had twenty hours of material for a one hour programme. It takes time to find a line and the tone you want the programme to have. With the aid of the best crew and both Micke Tretow and Claes af Geijerstam, ABBA's recording engineers, the job was done. We really had a lot of fun making this programme, most of all because the four members of ABBA were so co-operative. They gave one hundred percent of themselves and inspired everyone involved to give that little bit extra."

Benny had worn the red suit jacket (and possibly the red trousers) the previous year for the Conociendome, Concoiendote PROMO.

Broadcast information:
Saturday 12 September 1981, 20:00, SVT, TV1, Sweden
Friday 4 December 1981, ZDF, Germany
Saturday 21 November 1981, BRT, Belgium
April 1982, ZDF, Germany 
Sunday 19 September 1982, KRO, Netherlands
Saturday 30 October 1982, 11.40-12.45, ITV (Yorkshire), UK
1982, Channel 7, Australia (as the programme ABBA Today hosted by Greg Evans and featuring the songs from Dick Cavett Meets ABBA but not the interviews)
Thursday 28 July 1983, A2, France
July 1993, 3-SAT, Germany
Wednesday 16 November 1993, MTV, Germany
Wednesday 16 November 1993, MTV, Netherlands
CBC Television, Canada (as ABBA in Concert)

Release information:
Gimme! Gimme! Gimme! (A Man After Midnight), Super Trouper; Two For The Price of One; Slipping Through My Fingers and On and On and On have been officially released on DVD as part of the ABBA - The Complete Studio Recordings boxed set, November 2005.


Next: Lay All Your Love On Me PROMO - 1981
Previous: A Wie ABBA Commercials -1981

  1. In response to why they have such tremendous appeal, Benny flutters his eyelashes and said that it might have something to do with his face!
  2. Agnetha described her first stage appearance when her knickers fell down.
  3. Björn brings up the fact that Dick Cavett is wearing boots borrowed from him.
  4. ABBA sang Cole Porter's song Don't Fence Me In in Swedish and then in English.
  5. Frida asked Dick Cavett to try to pronounce "777" in Swedish (sjuhundrasjuttiosju)

Björn's German introduction:
"Guten Abend. Ich spreche nur ein bisschen Deutsch, aber ich möchte Sie und alle unsere Freunde in Deutschland im Namen von Benny, Anni-Frid und Agnetha ganz persönlich und herzlich begrüßen. Nach Super Trouper - und ich denke, dass viele von Ihnen kennen diesen Titel -" (right German would be: "und ich denke, dass viele von ihnen diesen Titel kennen"), "möchten wir Ihnen nun einen neuen Titel vorstellen: Two For The Price Of One. Dankeschön."

Björn's German introduction (translation):
"Good evening. I only speak a little German but I want to greet you and all our friends in Germany completely and heartily on behalf of Benny, Anni-Frid and Agnetha. After Super Trouper - and I think that most of you know this song - we want to introduce a new title: Two For The Price Of One. Thanks."

Archive data from SVT archive:
The history; Live in April 1981 / ABBA
Stockholm : Polar Music International, [svensk distr. 2005], cop. 1981, cop. 1999
1. The history
Personer Barnes, Barry (regissör) (fotograf)
Hussey, Paul (producent)
Tretow, Michael B. (medverkande)
Ulvaeus, Björn , 1945- (medverkande)
Anmärkning Produktionsbolag: Polar Music International
Sammanfattning Dokumentär gjord med anledning av 25-årsjubileet av ABBA:s seger i Eurovisionsschlagerfestivalen
Anm. uppl/utgivning cop. 1999
Speltid 25 min.
2. Live in April 1981
Personer Nilars, Gunilla (regissör) (producent)
Bergmann, Lars (fotograf)
Boström, Nils (ljudtekniker)
Berglöf, Lennart (klippning)
Anmärkning Produktionsbolag: SVT
Innehåll Innehåller fem inslag: Gimme! Gimme! Gimme! (A man after midnight) -- Super trouper -- Two for the price of one -- Slipping through my fingers -- On and on and on
Sammanfattning Delar av ABBA:s sista livekonsert, ursprungligen visad i TV-programmet Dick Cavett meets ABBA
Anm. uppl/utgivning Digitalt restaurerad. 2005
cop. 1981
Speltid 18 min.
Genre Yxne
rock & pop
Ingår i The complete studio recordings /ABBA (2005) 9 CD, 2 DVD anm: Böckerna The lyrics och Timeline & disc contents ingår i denna blå sammetsbox
Grupp/institution ABBA (musiker)
År/datum [svensk distr. 2005], cop. 1981, cop. 1999
Utgivning Stockholm : Polar Music International
Utgivningsland Sverige
Anmärkning Övriga medverkande/upphov, se delposter
Språkval på DVD: textad på engelska, tyska, japanska, spanska, brasiliansk portugisiska
Anm. uppl/utgivning Produktion: Sverige
Språk engelska
Publikationstyp musikvideo
DVD-video VR06-0141 Utgiven i boxen The complete studio recordings, köpvideo
Antal enheter 1
Anmärkning Utgiven i boxen The complete studio recordings, köpvideo
Teknisk anm. Regionkod saknas
Ljud stereo
Färg färg
Leverantör Universal Music

Thanks to Carl Magnus Palm, Jos Heselmans, Paul Burt, Robin Andersson and Ian Cole c/o ABBAMAIL (no longer online) and From ABBA to Mamma Mia! for information. Info also from ABBA Magazines No.37 & 38 and International ABBA Magazine No. 8.  Extra thanks to abba4ever forum (no longer online); Michel Evers, Julian Körner, Rudolf Ondrich, Gareth Jones, Uwe Meyer. Chris Williams c/o ABBAtalk, Per Kristian Brændø, Rudolf Ondrich, Julian D, Philipp Manderscheid, Jozsef, Petr Mlejnek, Danny Guyon, Oreopagus, Alexandre Carvalho, Graeme Dempsey and Ola Sivertsen. Picture of Benny and accordion from Maggott's ABBA Gallery.
YouTube links c/o per2gron, virgisa, mozpiano2Venice Monroe, ABBAtalk

Got any information to add?
Spotted a mistake?
Contact me at abbaontv@yahoo.co.uk