Drummer, painter and photographer from Orebro, Sweden, who quit school to become a full-time musician and started out as a jazz drummer as early as the 1950s.
He was in a group called Slim’s Blues Gang, who released a self-titled EP in 1966. Then he joined Science Poption, which consisted of Claes Dieden, Anders Gellner, Bjorn Stolt, and Roger Wallis. They issued a half-dozen 45s and scored a hit with “Buckingham Palace”.
In 1967, they disbanded, and Ola band-hopped to Grapes of Wrath, who appeared on the soundtrack of deserter u.s.a in 1969. They morphed into Opus III, which also included Janne Schaffer on guitar and released Opus III & Friends in 1970.
Bjorn Ulvaeus approached Ola about doing some studio work—by now Ola was on the A list of studio drummers—and he was on board when Bjorn, Benny Andersson, AgnethaFaltskog and Anni-Frid Lyngstad formed ABBA. It proved to be a fortuitous match: Ola’s first side with the new group was “People Need Love”, which became their first hit. Ola and bassist Rutger Gunnarsson are reportedly the only two session musicians who made an appearance on all of ABBA’s albums.
His alliance with ABBA did not preclude him from performing on albums by other artists and groups. In 1971, he appeared on Bjorn J:son Lindh’s Fran Storstad Till Grospad and ramadan and Slim’s Blues Band’s Blues Ain’t Strange.
He reunited with Bjorn J:son Lindh on 1972’s Cous Cous. The two of them and Janne Schaffer performed a concert at Karen in Stockholm, Sweden, in 1973. It was a busy year for Ola, whose name could be found on ABBA’s Ring Ring, Baltik’s self-titled album, and the various-artists compilation, Pop Workshop Vol. 1. In the meantime, he was busy laying down tracks for Janne Schaffer’s eponymous album.
In 1974, Ola appeared on ABBA’s Waterloo, ablution’s self-titled album, Bjorn J:son Lindh’s Boogie Woogie and Second Carneval, Mads Vinding Group’s Danish Design, Rabbit’s Dark Saloon, and Janne Schaffer’s andra and Chinese.
ABBA released an eponymous effort in 1975 and Ola did some drumming on Anni-Frid Lyngstad’s solo album, Frida Ensam. In 1976, he was among the credits on Harpo Smile. More albums arrived in 1977: ABBA’s Arrival and a self-titled album by Mads Vinding Groups. Also, Ola hit the big screen for ABBA: The Movie. ABBA: The Album followed in 1978, along with a handful of Ola albums: Finn Sjoberg’s Finn, Svenne & Lotta’s Bring it on Home, and Wellander & Ronander.
In 1979, Ola appeared on ABBA’s Voulez-Vous as well as their European and North American tours, for which he took several photographs that appear in a 32-page, leather-bound photo album. He also toured Japan with them in 1980, the same year ABBA in Concert hit the small screen and Super Trouper hit the record shelves. In October 1981, he recorded his final song with ABBA: “One of Us”.
After ABBA disbanded, Ola decided to retire to Majorca, where he went back to his roots and played in a jazz ensemble. Occasionally, he would come of out retirement and perform in ABBA tribute shows such as Arrival from Sweden in 1998 and ABBA the Show in 2002. Similar groups with whom he worked included ABBA the Concert, Bjorn Again, The Original ABBA Orchestra, and Waterloo.
Ola continued to show up on various recordings, as well, including Arne Domnerus with Jimmy Rowles and John Holm’s Veckans Affarer.
His wife Inger passed away in 2007.
On 16th March 2008, Ola died in a bizarre accident in his home, falling through a glass door and bleeding to death in his garden. He left behind two sons.
Ola was one of Sweden’s busiest drummers throughout the ‘70s and ‘80s. Fortunately, there are plenty of opportunities to hear him on CDs, such as Lasse Samuelson’s self-titled album, a rare find called Jazz Meeting I that was recorded in 1973 and released in 2009, and Ingemar Olsson’s forsta: livs levande.
Elaine (Bjorn Ulvaeus/Benny Andersson)
Atlantic 3776 ST-A-39221-SP (US 45)
Here he is performing with Janne Schaffer in 1974…