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Lasse Wellander, longtime ABBA guitarist, has died at 70

Lasse Wellander performs on stage with ABBA at the Wembley Arena in London in 1979.
Gus Stewart/Redferns/Getty Images
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Gus Stewart
Lasse Wellander performs on stage with ABBA at the Wembley Arena in London in 1979.

Updated April 11, 2023 at 8:52 AM ET

A key contributor to Abba has died.

Lasse Wellander was the group's lead guitarist on some of their biggest hits in the 1970s and '80s, including "Knowing Me Knowing You," "Slipping Through My Fingers," and "Eagle."

The Abba band members — Benny Andersson, Agnetha Fältskog, Anni-Frid Lyngstad, and Björn Ulvaeus — released a statement on their Instagram page expressing their sorrow for the passing of Wellander, who played "an integral role in the Abba story." The statement also conveyed that Wellander's contribution will be remembered forever, and he will be greatly missed.

Born in 1952 in the small Swedish town of Skrekarhyttan, Wellander began playing the guitar after watching the Beatles perform on television in 1963.

Prior to joining Abba, Wellander played in a rock-blues band called Nature, which toured with Swedish singer-songwriter Ted Gärdestad. It was during this time that he met Björn Ulvaeus and Benny Andersson, the two male members of Abba.

Wellander played guitar on eight Abba studio albums and was a prominent performer in the group's live concerts. He first recorded with the group in 1974, playing guitar on "Intermezzo No.1" and "Crazy World."

Following Abba's breakup in the early 1980s, Wellander pursued a solo career, producing and recording his own music. But he maintained strong connections with Abba, contributing to the soundtracks of the two "Mamma Mia!" movie musicals, and also playing a part in Abba's comeback album, "Voyage," released in 2021.

Wellander died Friday of cancer. He was 70 years old.

Miranda Kennedy edited this story.

Copyright 2023 NPR. To see more, visit https://www.npr.org.

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Barry Gordemer is an award-winning producer, editor, and director for NPR's Morning Edition. He's helped produce and direct NPR coverage of two Persian Gulf wars, eight presidential elections, the Sept. 11 terrorist attacks, and hurricanes Katrina and Harvey. He's also produced numerous profiles of actors, musicians, and writers.