THE shock decision by pop legends Abba to reunite after 40 years comes after they finally healed the bitter feuds that drove them apart.
The Swedish superstars have knocked back a series of money-spinning offers to reform — including a staggering BILLION-DOLLAR deal for a 100-date world tour in 2000.
Biographer Carl Magnus Palm told how Agnetha Faltskog, 71, Bjorn Ulvaeus, 76, Benny Andersson, 74, and Frida Lyngstad, 75, did not want to compromise their legacy.
But he said they were united in their support for the revolutionary concept of “Abbatars” — performing holograms of the group in their 1970s prime that will form the centrepiece of the band’s stage show.
And the agreement paved the way for them to rebuild their friendships.
Carl told The Sun on Sunday: “The live digital avatars have brought them together. I don’t think they will ever want to perform live again.
“They want to protect the Abba legacy. And part of why they are doing this digital avatar show is because they don’t look how they did in 1979 any more.
“All four of them are now in their seventies and they don’t want to shatter the memory of how people remember them.
“They all still very much value their privacy and the avatars are a smart way of protecting that.
“This is the only way they would ever return to the spotlight.”
Carl added: “They get together regularly now and they are committed to this project.
“They wouldn’t go into the studio unless they really liked hanging out.
“But they get on very well now. They are all friends.”
Abba, who this week announced historic new studio album Voyage, also unveiled a four-year UK residency which will see the digital versions of the singers perform in a purpose-built arena in London.
The stars, whose string of mega- hits include Super Trouper, Dancing Queen and Take A Chance On Me, last performed together in 1982.
And after two bitter divorces between Bjorn and Agnetha in 1979 and Benny and Frida in 1981, they turned down a string of mega-money deals to reunite.
Carl, 56, author of Abba biography Bright Light, Dark Shadows, said: “It has been 40 years since all the divorces, so everyone is fine.
Now it is, ‘Oh, we are Abba! It’s great, let’s embrace it!’ For the first few years, they felt they didn’t want to hang out as much. But they have done this for the right reasons.
“With some band reunions, the members arrive in four different limousines, bring four different lawyers and it is through gritted teeth. But this happened organically and they wanted to do it.”
The 90-minute concert, called Abba Voyage, has taken four and a half years to put together.
‘The expectation is a heavy burden to bear’
The catalyst for this virtual reunion came in 2016 when they performed at a private event marking the 50th anniversary of the first time songwriters Bjorn and Benny met.
Since then they have spent a total of five weeks in motion-capture suits, performing 22 songs in front of 160 cameras, as well as body doubles, to create digital versions of themselves as they looked in 1979.
From May 2022, the avatars will appear on stage every night at the Abba Arena — a newly erected 3,000-seater “cyber theatre” in the Olympic Park.
Tickets for the 360-degree immersive experience go on sale from Tuesday, with plans for eight shows a week until 2025.
Carl added: “They felt this project would be more valid if they introduced some new songs.
“They may not match up to the classics but they are great.
“The expectation has built up over 39 years, and can they live up to that? It’s a heavy burden to bear.”
Their share of the proceeds from both the album and virtual shows are set to send the Money Money Money band’s bulging bank balances skyrocketing, with each member of the quartet due to rake in an estimated £100million a year.
According to entertainment industry experts, the group would be entitled to a cut of at least 50 per cent of all profits for sharing their images, as well as performance rights and royalties from the music.
Benny and Bjorn, who wrote all the group’s hits, already have fortunes worth over £230million each, thanks largely to the Mamma Mia! musicals and films.
Following the band’s breakup, they also wrote the musical Chess and songs for bands including Steps.
But while they seem comfortable with their enduring fame, Frida and Agnetha stayed out of the limelight, knocking back the lucrative offer for a huge tour in 2000.
At the time Bjorn said: “It would be stupid to get back together and utterly ludicrous to change the images people have of us.”
Voyage will be released on November 5, 41 years after their last album Super Trouper topped the charts in 1980.