Bassist Rutger Gunnarsson, who made waves with Swedish pop sensation ABBA, has passed away. He was 69 years old.
Gunnarsson was born in Linköping, Sweden in 1946. Originally a guitarist, he was studying at the Royal College of Music in Stockholm when a friend convinced him to audition for the Hootenanny Singers, a folk band that included future ABBA frontman Björn Ulvaeus.
The bassist became a part of ABBA in 1972. After struggling for a couple years, the band won the 1974 Eurovision contest with “Waterloo.” It would be the band’s first major U.S. hit, but certainly not the last. Gunnarsson played on all eight of the group’s albums in addition to multiple world tours. He played the bass lines on “Dancing Queen,” “Money Money Money,” and many more. He also contributed his arranging skills to several albums and worked on several musicals including Chess, Les Misérables, Rhapsody In Rock, 007, and Mamma Mia! After ABBA’s breakup, Gunnarsson continued to play bass and arrange for artists like Celine Dion, Elton John, Gwen Stefani, Adam Ant, and others.
ABBA paid tribute to Gunnarsson with a statement on their Facebook page. “Our friend, the bass player, guitarist, arranger and producer Rutger Gunnarsson (born 1946) has suddenly passed away in his home in Stockholm at the age of 69. His unique way of playing his bass, his beautiful string arrangements and thorough work as a producer for countless Swedish and foreign artists and musicians have colored pop music from the early 70s up until today. Rutger got the most attention through his long and intimate cooperation with Björn Ulvaeus, Benny Andersson and ABBA, participating in all of their albums, numerous singles, tours, movies and musicals. Keep plying your magic bass where ever you are Rutger.”
Our thoughts are with the family and friends of Rutger Gunnarsson.