Such sad news about Olivia. Her approach to life and her illness was inspiring. She lived a great life and wore her stardom brilliantly - I have never heard a bad word said about her. I think she'll leave behind more than just a fantastic back catalogue: the work she has done for other cancer patients is wonderful.
Olivia was known as a famous Australian but was actually British. Her mother was of German origin but her Jewish grandparents had moved to the UK before WW2 to escape the Nazi regime. Her father, Bryn Newton-John, was Welsh. Olivia was born in Cambridge in 1948 but the family moved to Melbourne, Australia when she was six (1954/55).
Moving back to the UK in the mid 1960s to forward her singing career, she stayed for around ten years before moving to the US in 1975, when her career took off there. She remained signed to the UK’s EMI but they had little control over her output as, in the US, she was with MCA.
EMI was her record company in much of the world (except the US, Canada and Australia) but Stig Anderson must have provided a favourable deal as she was signed to Polar in Scandinavia. Olivia was, of course, a major part of ABBA’s 1978 US promotion when they appeared on her TV show. She remained friends with Frida.
I’ve been expecting this day for a while but it’s still upsetting to hear today’s news.
Lovely, charming woman whenever I saw her on TV; and I've just heard an interview on BBC Radio 5 Live with the film director of 'Grease' who said she was always that way. Terrible that she had to struggle for so long against cancer and wonderful that she engaged with others who also had it. I didn't take all that interest in her music, but I've always especially lked this one: music written by Hank Marvin and John Farrar of The Shadows with lyrics by Don Black:
Agnetha and Frida have posted lovely, touching messages about Olivia. Very sad to hear this news this morning on the radio. RIP beautiful lady x
For anyone that’s not seen the messages:
Alongside a photo of ABBA and Newton-John on-stage together, Frida wrote: “What do you feel, what do you say when the nice, kindest and most loving woman leaves us to travel somewhere else.
“The heart aches to know Olivia’s brave fight against an, in her case, invincible enemy. That she never gave up or complained about her situation, but instead told us her story so that we would understand and want to help others affected.”
She added: “I am grateful to have known a person like you Olivia and you will always be in my heart.”
Agnetha said that she was “so sad to hear of Olivia’s passing”, writing: “A fine person has left us – and there are many of us who mourn her now… My thoughts go out to the family, and her music and personality will always remain in memory.”
Olivia’s family have accepted a state funeral from the Australian government, though her family says it may take form as a concert. I think it would be fitting and wonderful if ABBA did a little video to contribute, I can imagine Them singing I Honestly Love You. I know it’s really really doubtful, but who could have forseen Voyage.