Few bassists have played on records that have sold over 350 million copies: Paul McCartney, a handful of session kingpins like Carol Kaye, and – lesser known, but still brilliant–ABBA’s Rutger Gunnarsson.
He joined the ABBA family in 1972, when he was a classical guitar major at Stockholm’s Royal College of Music. A classmate tipped him off about a bass audition for the pre-ABBA band the Hootenanny Singers. ”Their act included a comedy part where the whole band sang harmony, so they started with that,” Rutger remembers. ”I sang my part right off the sheet-no problem to me – but it apparently impressed them enough to offer me the job on the spot. I didn’t even touch the bass!”
After a couple of struggling years on the Scandinavian club scene, ABBA began conquering the world by winning the 1974 Eurovision Song Contest with ‘Waterloo’, which became the group’s first Top Ten U.S. single. And the rest is history as they say.
While with ABBA, Rutger played several basses, including a 1960s Fender Jazz, a 1970s Music Man StingRay, a Hagström Super Swede Bass (a model he helped design around 1980), and a Steinberger as well as a pre-Gibson Tobias 5-string.
After Abba disbanded, he worked on musicals and musical events, including: Chess, Les Misérables, Rhapsody In Rock, 007, Mamma Mia!, Bananas in Pajamas and Diggiloo and still occasionally joined the ABBA crowd for various projects.
In his post ABBA career he also arranged strings and played bass for the likes of Celine Dion, Westlife, Elton John, Adam Ant and Bobbysocks, as well as produced and arranged music for artists such as Gwen Stefani, Elin Lanto, Joyride and Alla Pugacheva.
age of 69.