Thoughts and observations on the Swedish foursome
published November 02, 2023
The long-running book project ABBA On Record (abbaonrecord.com) has been full of challenges. One of the greatest was writing about the making of the Super Trouper album sleeve and trying to identify as many as possible of the individuals who were there that night, and, more pertinently, those who were actually visible (completely or partially) in the photograph that adorned the album cover.
From the start of the book project, I had the idea that I wanted to include a line drawing where the Super Trouper "cast of characters" would be identified. Here's an example of such a drawing of The Beatles' Sgt. Pepper album.
A line drawing identifying the faces seen on The Beatles' Sgt. Pepper album. Something similar for ABBA's Super Trouper album will be featured in ABBA On Record.
I haven't been able to identify everyone who's on the sleeve, despite sending pictures to many of the people who were there on the night (a couple of ABBA members even helped out a bit, for which I am very grateful). Apart from the bona fide circus performers and the gymnastics troupe, those who were there were friends of ABBA and their associates, friends of their friends, and acquaintances of friends of friends. It's hardly surprising that, more than four decades later, it's impossible to recognise everyone.
However, I'm pleased to report that a total of 43 people on the album cover have been identified, which is 34 more than I knew the names of when I started getting to grips with this. I have had help from so many different people: everyone from circus experts to former employees at Polar Music and Sweden Music have chipped in. Sometimes, when I was just about to admit defeat, accepting that I wouldn't be able to identify any more people, I took one more deep breath and made another attempt. This was how I finally managed to get in touch with the gymnastics troupe, leading to a lovely interview with some of the troupe members in the summer of 2021. Actually, the last few people on the sleeve that I now know the names of were identified only recently.
But what about the line drawing? It all came together this past week, as Maria Nicholas finished designing the Super Trouper section of the book. ABBA fan and author of Frida Beyond ABBA, Remko van Drongelen, had provided me with a line drawing of the sleeve, and then it was up to me to number everyone correctly, making sure that I didn't miss anyone and also being careful not to give the wrong person the wrong number. It took me four attempts to get it right!
When Maria delivered the final design, I don't mind admitting I welled up just a little. This might sound strange to you, but after working so hard on this for such a long time, sometimes feeling very frustrated, and then struggling to keep a firm grip of identifying everyone correctly, it was just amazing to see the final result. And even though I felt I had identified so few of the people on the sleeve, there were more than I thought. The numbered drawing looks quite impressive to me.
Looking forward to sharing the Super Trouper cast identities with you when the book is ready for delivery in early 2024. Read more about ABBA On Record and pre-order your copy at abbaonrecord.com.
Super Trouper - innumerable faces to identify.
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