The ABBA Piano, the instrument on which ABBA recorded their best-loved songs, will be offered for sale at Sotheby’s Rock & Pop auction in London on 29th September 2015. One of the world’s finest pianos, no other single instrument has featured more prominently in pop music since the 1970s. From the opening refrain of ‘Mamma Mia’, to ‘Waterloo’, ‘Dancing Queen’ and ‘Money, Money, Money’, the sound of this piano has resonated throughout countless bedrooms, headphones and dancefloors across the world.
The first major piece of ABBA material to be offered at auction, the piano comes from the collection of Atlantis Grammofon (formerly known as Metronome Studios), where ABBA recorded their greatest hits. Estimated at £600,000-800,000, it is accompanied by a certificate of authentication signed by Benny Andersson in 2015.
“The Bolin Grand, one of a kind and a great source of inspiration while working in the recording studio during the ABBA sessions!”– Benny Andersson, 2015
“The opening piano glissando from ‘Dancing Queen’ is one of the most distinctive sounds of the seventies and we are delighted to offer the actual instrument used by the legendary ABBA in their major recordings. The piano itself is an instrument of real importance and with the added ABBA provenance we expect it will have worldwide appeal.” – Dr. Philip W. Errington, Sotheby’s Specialist in Books and Manuscripts.
The ABBA Piano:
Truly unique, the piano was originally built for the American jazz pianist and composer Bill Evans (1929-1980) by the innovative Swedish designer Georg Bolin (1912-1993). Then known as the “Bolin Grand Piano”, it was arguably Bolin’s most inventive design, described as a “Space-Age piano” by the New York Times in 1964. It was said to represent “Mr Bolin’s ultimate desire – to produce an instrument that gives the pianist the sensation of playing “directly on the strings” as a guitarist would’.*
“It is one of the most unbelievable instruments I’ve ever played. I fell in love with it the first time I touched it” – Bill Evans, 1964.
In 1967 the piano was purchased by Metronome Studios (now Atlantis Grammofon) in Stockholm, where the instrument came to the attention of Benny Andersson of ABBA. It soon became known as “The ABBA Grand Piano” and featured on virtually all of their recordings in the period 1973-1977, including the first five studio albums released by ABBA: Ring Ring (first released in 1973, prior to the use of the ABBA name, as by “Björn Benny & Agnetha Frida”), Waterloo (1974), ABBA (1975), Arrival (1976) and ABBA: The Album (1977). Individual songs include the classics ‘Ring Ring’, ‘Waterloo’, ‘Honey, Honey’, ‘Mamma Mia’, ‘SOS’, ‘I do, I do, I do, I do, I do’, ‘Dancing Queen’, ‘Knowing Me, Knowing You’ and ‘Money, Money, Money’.
This is not the first time such a significant instrument with a distinguished cultural status has been offered at auction. In 2000 John Lennon’s Steinway upright piano, on which he composed ‘Imagine’, was sold for £1.67 million. The upright piano which featured in Rick’s Café Américain in the movie Casablanca was sold in 2014 for $3.4 million.