Ola Brunkert, a former drummer for ABBA and one of only two musicians to play on all the Swedish pop superstars’ albums, died in a freak accident at his home on the Spanish island of Mallorca. According to authorities, Brunkert fell into a glass door in his dining room and slashed his throat. He apparently attempted to stanch the blood flow with a towel and apparently went outside to call neighbors for help. But he lost consciousness and collapsed.
According to published reports, a neighbor discovered Brunkert ‘s body, in a pool of blood, in the garden outside the musician’s home Sunday evening.
The 61-year-old had sustained major cuts to his neck. An autopsy later confirmed investigators’ findings that he died accidentally.
A renowned session drummer, Brunkert’s tenure with ABBA began with the famed foursome’s 1973 debut album, Ring Ring, and lasted through their swan song, 1981’s The Visitors.
He played on all of ABBA’s memorable hits–”Waterloo,” “Fernando,” “Dancing Queen” and “Take a Chance on Me”–and also provided the beats when the band toured.
“I remember him as a good friend when we worked together in the mid-1970s,” ABBA cofounder BjÃ¶rn Ulvaeus told the Swedish newspaper Expressen. “He was a very creative musician who contributed a lot when we toured together and worked in the studio.”
Fellow ABBA mastermind Benny Andersson said the loss of Brunkert was “tragic,” calling the drummer “one of the best.”
Per the band’s Website, Brunkert was a jazz drummer who got his start with a blues outfit called Slim’s Blues Gang and the pop act Science Poption in the mid-1960s. He segued into session work and collaborated with ABBA on its very first single, “People Need Love.”
He and bassist Rutger Gunnarsson were a key part of the quartet’s rhythm section, playing on all the studio albums and touring with the band in 1977, 1979 and 1980.
Ulvaeus, Andersson, Agnetha Faltskog, Anni-Frid Lyngstad broke up in 1982.
Brunkert and his wife, Inga–who passed away less than a year ago–retired to Arta, on the eastern end of the Mediterranean island, where he occasionally played with a jazz troupe.
ABBA remains as popular as ever. Thanks in part to the hugely successful musical Mamma Mia! (a movie starring Meryl Streep and Pierce Brosnan is due out in October), the band sells about 3 million albums annually, with total sales to date in excess of 350 million.