AGNETHA Faltskog, the blonde member of Abba, has admitted that fame drove her to become a recluse. Faltskog (55) disappeared from public view in 1987 and retreated to a remote Swedish island.
In a rare interview she said she became so overwhelmed by the scale of the group's popularity that she was unable to sing. She confessed to developing a range of phobias which she has never been able to shake off.
"I didn't sing at all for 13 years. I didn't even have a hi-fi at home. I never wanted to play another record again. I developed a microphone phobia," she said. She retreated from the group and her fans after having nightmares about what they would do to her.
"I had visions that (fans) grabbed hold of me, or that I was being suffocated by the sheer weight of people.
"It was the case that people clambered all over us in a crude way and sometimes when we were finally back in the car, we would burst into tears out of the sheer terror of it. It shapes your whole personality and led to me developing phobias," she said in the interview, given to the authors of an Abba biography published recently in Germany.
Nowadays she barely leaves her villa, plagued by her fears of flying, open spaces, crowds and even microphones.
Abba first received worldwide attention in 1974 after winning the Eurovision Song Contest with 'Waterloo', and went on to sell 350 million records. The group split up in 1982.
In 1987 Faltskog withdrew to the island of Ekero near Stockholm with her two children from her 10-year marriage to fellow Abba singer Bjorn Ulvaeus, which broke up in 1981.
She later moved to an even more remote island. Since then she has gone through two more marriage break-ups. (© Daily Telegraph, London)