Abba’s long-serving guitarist Lasse Wellander dies

Tuesday 11 April 2023

Band hail ‘brilliance’ of session musician who has died aged 70 after being diagnosed with cancer.
Abba have paid tribute to the “musical brilliance” of their longstanding guitarist, Lasse Wellander, who has died aged 70 after being diagnosed with cancer.

The musician, who played on the band’s biggest albums and toured with them between 1975 and 1980, died early on Friday “surrounded by his loved ones”, his family said.

The Abba band members, Björn Ulvaeus, Benny Andersson, Agnetha Fältskog and Anni-Frid Lyngstad, said in a statement: “Lasse was a dear friend, a fun guy and a superb guitarist. The importance of his creative input in the recording studio as well as his rock solid guitar work on stage was immense.

“We mourn his tragic and premature death and remember the kind words, the sense of humour, the smiling face, the musical brilliance of the man who played such an integral role in the Abba story. He will be deeply missed and never forgotten.”

Raised in the small village of Skrikarhyttan, Sweden, Wellander had his first recording session with Abba in October 1974 and continued to play on their respective solo albums after their split.

In a post on Wellander’s official Facebook page, his family said the musician had died after his cancer spread.

Translated from Swedish, they paid tribute, saying: “You were an amazing musician and humble as few, but above all you were a wonderful husband, father, brother, uncle and grandfather.

“Kind, safe, caring and loving ... and so much more, that cannot be described in words.”

His family said it was “unbelievable” that they would have to live on without him, adding: “We love and miss you so much.”

Most recently, Wellander played on Abba’s No 1 comeback album, Voyage. In an interview with the Sunday Express shortly before its release in 2021, he said working with the band was “of course always a bit special”.

“When I was doing my guitar tracks it felt like the old days. The only difference was that there was some pre-production this time around, which is very usual nowadays,” he told the newspaper.

“The girls’ voices sound as great as ever. They are a bit lower, of course, as everybody gets lower by the years, but they sure still have their great voices. No doubt about that!”

He worked on his solo music after recording the album.

Before partnering with Abba, Wellander was a member of local groups, including Nature, the backing band of the Swedish singer-songwriter Ted Gärdestad.

It was through Gärdestad that he met Ulvaeus and Andersson, the male members of Abba, and later toured with the Eurovision winners in 1975, 1977, 1979 and 1980.

When Abba split, he appeared on the Chess concept album and the soundtracks to Mamma Mia! The Movie and its sequel, Mamma Mia! Here We Go Again.

He also appeared on Fältskog’s solo albums, Wrap Your Arms Around Me (1983) and My Colouring Book (2004).

In 2005, he received the Albin Hagström Memorial Award from the Royal Swedish Academy Of Music and in 2018 the Swedish Musicians’ Union’s special prize for his work as a session musician.