Swedish Touchdown: The Day ABBA Landed In America

On September 17, 1979, the quartet played their first-ever concert on American soil.

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ABBA - Photo: Courtesy of the artists
ABBA - Photo: Courtesy of the artists

ABBA made a historic landing on September 17, 1979, when they played their first-ever concert on American soil – during the only international tour they ever did.

ABBA: The Tour had arrived in North America two days earlier, as the Scandinavian superstars started their itinerary with Canadian shows in Edmonton and Vancouver. But when they stepped out on the stage of the 5,000-seat Seattle Centre Arena, it was the first time they’d ever played for an American audience. This was fully five years after their international breakthrough with “Waterloo.”

It began a run of 13 US shows, followed by two more in Canada, before the quartet and their touring entourage headed for Europe. A Washington date on October 11 was canceled because Agnetha was ill. Bur this was the leg of the tour that would include the six-night run at Wembley Arena that was commemorated with the 2015 release of a CD, limited edition digibook and a 180 gram triple vinyl set, courtesy of Universal Music Catalogue.

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With their sixth studio album Voulez-Vous on release, ABBA were undergoing a big promotional push in the States at the time of the debut date. Billboard magazine had published a 50-page special on the group earlier in the month, and after a Top 20 American hit with “Does Your Mother Know,” Atlantic released the double-sided “Angeleyes” and “Voulez-Vous” as a single there. It made the Billboard Hot 100 in the week of that first gig, but would only climb to No.64. The album, though, reached No.19 and went gold.

The set for the Seattle show, and the whole tour, featured just about all of the many hits ABBA had amassed by 1979, as well as key album tracks like “As Good As New,” “Rock Me” and “Eagle.” The shows ended with an encore of “The Way Old Friends Do,” “Dancing Queen” and “Waterloo.” After Seattle, it was on to the Portland Opera House, as the ABBA machine rolled across the States for the only time.

Listen to the best of ABBA on Apple Music and Spotify.




  1. JP

    September 17, 2014 at 9:40 pm

    Your music makes me feel better everytime again.

    • Stephen Tooth

      September 17, 2020 at 6:23 pm

      Slightly wrong information landed in North America 2 days before,Edmonton 1st concert was 13th September,14 planned U.S.shows ended as 13 ,Washington cancelled as Agnetha was ill.

  2. Eugene Golden

    September 17, 2014 at 10:18 pm

    The Washington DC concert…the last US concert was canceled do to the illness of Agnetha.


    September 17, 2014 at 10:55 pm


  4. artemio s. royo

    September 18, 2014 at 1:17 am

    Thank you for featuring ABBA on your article..from a long time ABBA is rekindling effect on my whole being..feeling recharged..though my liking to ABBA is ever flaming till now..never getting sick and tired of them…ABBA Forevermore!!! God bless!!!

  5. Priit Ilves

    September 18, 2014 at 3:40 am


  6. Gregory James Bent

    September 19, 2014 at 3:40 am

    The ABBA Machine Was Turned On In The World—THE MUSIC STARTED AND NEVER STOPPED—-We Were—-AND Remain The WINNERS—-The Brilliant Entertainment—The Songs—-The Writing—-AND THE BEAUTIFUL ABBA WOMEN Will Forever Be With Us—

  7. Tad Thorton

    September 19, 2014 at 6:43 am

    ABBA was and still is pure perfection both live and in the studio. They are the cleanest, clearest band I have ever had the extreme pleasure of listening to. I never saw them live and never will, but they truly epitomize pop and rock music at its finest. Agnetha,GOD bless her, had the love within her to record and and release her super excellent “A” album in 2013. She has such a well seasoned and beautiful voice, it is truly amazing. Thank-You ABBA and Agnetha!

  8. doug

    September 24, 2014 at 9:51 pm

    abba made a better world abba rocks and always will


    October 19, 2014 at 1:55 pm

    SEPTERMBER 17 .1979.

  10. Philigan

    September 17, 2015 at 4:19 pm

    I went to the Oct 2, 1979 concert at Radio City. It was amazing. To this day it is still the greatest event I ever attended. One thing I still haven’t figured out is why they didn’t perform Waterloo. Oh well, I did have the time of my life!

  11. Larry

    September 17, 2015 at 4:25 pm

    I had that Billboard magazine – wish I still did! And wish I could have seen the tour too –

  12. Rodolfo

    September 17, 2015 at 4:38 pm

    Their music traspassed generations,and will continue……hopefuly to hear from them together one more time.Thank you for the Music!!!!

  13. Altandush

    September 18, 2015 at 4:34 am

    ABBA is a legend 1979-80 s.
    All songs is wonderful and music is romantic.
    Agnetha’s voice mostly so nice strong clear and pretty woman in Band too!!!

  14. dale f. bishop

    September 18, 2015 at 3:48 pm

    Ah, but there was a lot more to the story…in the official Abba history book, there was a reference to their tour bus rolling through my hometown of Nashua New Hampshire to get from Boston to Montreal. However, I saw the list of shows and saw Washington DC scheduled between those 2 shows…which, it turns out, was cancelled because Agnetha was traumatized on the flight from New York City to Boston; it ran into some severe weather (including a tornado that caused fatalities and severe damage in Connecticut) and had to be diverted to Manchester New Hampshire, just making it there before they ran out of fuel. She did the Boston show, but went to hospital afterward while the rest went to Washington, but didn’t perform. They then returned to Boston, and all went to Montreal. Thanks for making me go back and finding out the rest of the story.

  15. Jimmy Cunliffe

    September 19, 2017 at 11:38 pm

    Sean ABBA when they came to Manchester England Late 70’s Brilliant Tickets £5.50p

  16. Michael c

    April 21, 2018 at 1:37 pm

    I still think they the greatest group to ever play I think they better than the Beatles Day music makes your heart feel very warm thank you a b b a I wish I could have seen you

  17. Kenny Majors

    June 9, 2018 at 4:58 pm

    I wonder why they only did 14 US shows, I mean you come all that way and don’t do at least 20??? I really think they missed US popularity by waiting until 1979 they had 4 albums by then wonder what happened ..and 1982 I think they were done as a,group… They were bigger than that, they deserved better that that….

  18. Dave

    September 17, 2018 at 5:40 pm

    Saw the concert in St Paul minnesota august 29th. Met them and got the tour program autographed after the show at the hotel. Best night ever….!

  19. june

    June 11, 2022 at 11:47 am

    a symmetry of 9 and 7, 9/17/1979

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