John Cleese turned down chance to write ABBA musical
ABBA star Benny Andersson says John Cleese turned down the chance to write a book and musical with the pop group.
The 76-year-old singer and his songwriting partner Bjorn Ulvaeus met Cleese whilst on a trip to Barbados in the late 1970s and approached him about collaborating on a stage show based around New Year's Eve celebrations.
However, the Monty Python legend turned them down flat, but the trip to the Caribbean did produce the ABBA song 'Happy New Year', which featured on their 1980 album 'Super Trouper'.
Speaking to Record Collector magazine, Benny recalled: “'Happy New Year' was written in Barbados. Bjorn and I went out for a week, to the same house that Paul and Linda McCartney hired a year before. I heard about this wonderful place, and I thought, 'We must go there.'
"We met John Cleese in Barbados. We said, ‘We're thinking about writing a musical about New Year's Eve. Would you be interested in writing the book for that?’ And he said, ‘No!’ We didn't get any further with that idea but we liked the song."
Benny and Bjorn, 77, eventually did create a musical based on ABBA's songs, collaborating with producer Judy Craymer to create 'Mamma Mia!', which launched on the stage in 1999 and spawned two hit films.
ABBA returned in 2021 with new album 'Voyage' - their first new material in 40 years.
In 2022, the 'ABBA Voyage' virtual concert residency launched in London with the band members, Benny, Bjorn, Agnetha Faltskog and Anni-Frid 'Frida' Lyngstad, recreated as 'ABBAtars' - holograms depicting how the group looked in 1977.