Abba Famously Won Eurovision in 1974, Did You Know These Other Major Stars Once Competed?

Picture taken in 1974 in Stockholm shows the Swedish pop group Abba with its members (L-R) Benny Andersson, Anni-Frid Lyngstad, Agnetha Faltskog and Bjorn Ulvaeus posing after winning the Swedish branch of the Eurovision Song Contest with their song

While not big in America, the Eurovision Song Contest is massive in Europe. It is a way for new and old singers to showcase their talents and the contest has proven to celebrate the best of the best. Started in 1956, the contest has spawned some incredible winners who went on to have very fruitful careers in music. Ahead of the 2024 contest, let’s go over some of the most famous stars who sparked their career by competing, or in one case, almost competing in the highly-publicized event.

1Celine Dion

Grand Prix Eurovision 1988: Céline Dion

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The Canadian-born singer has a very impressive voice and is known for hits such as “My Heart Will Go On” from Titanic and “The Power of Love.” Over the years, she has proved to be a powerhouse singer and cranked out hit after hit. She competed in the Eurovision Song Contest and won in 1988 with the song “Ne Partez Pas Sans Moi.” Unfortunately, the singer, now 56, has slowed down due to the diagnosis of stiff-person syndrome which caused her to cancel her tour.

2Olivia Newton-John

UK contestant Olivia Newton-John performs 'Long Live Love' during the final dress rehearsal for the Eurovision Song Contest at the Dome, Brighton, 6th April 1974.

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The Grease star got her big break in 1965 when she won the television contest Sing, Sing, Sing. In 1974, she placed fourth in the Eurovision Song Contest with her song “Love Live Love.” This was the year that ABBA won. Of course, she went on to have a massive career in music and starred in a few movies. Over her career, she recorded 26 studio albums, 15 Top 10 singles, including five No. 1 singles on Billboard, and won four Grammys. Sadly, she passed away in 2022 after a battle with breast cancer.

3Julio Iglesias

Der spanische Schlagersänger Julio Iglesias bei einem Auftritt im Februar 1970 in Deutschland. Mit 16 Jahren war Iglesias ein gefeierter Torschütze in der Jugendmannschaft von Real Madrid, als 1963 ein schwerer Autounfall seine Fußballkarriere beendete. Während eines 20-monatigem Krankenhausaufenthalts entdeckte er dann seine Liebe zur Musik. Sein Lied "Guendoline" 1970 beim Grand Prix d'Eurovision machte den Sänger in ganz Europa bekannt. Seither absolvierte er weit über 2500 Konzerte und rund 1000 TV-Auftritte, verkaufte mehr Schallplatten in mehr Ländern als irgendein anderer Sänger. Am 23.9.2003 feiert "Herzensbrecher" Julio Iglesias seinen 60. Geburtstag.

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Before there was Enrique Iglesias, there was his father and fellow singer Julio Iglesias. He took fourth place in the 1970 contest with the song “Gwendolyn.” Prior to becoming a famous Latin pop singer, he was a professional footballer until he had to quit due to injuries. In 2013, he was inducted into the Latin Songwriters Hall of Fame. Currently, the 80-year-old is in collaboration with Netflix to create a bio-doc series about his life and career.


31st March 1969: Glasgow born pop singer Lulu (Marie MacDonald McLaughlin Lawrie) performs 'Boom Bang-A-Bang', the British entry at the 1969 Eurovision Song Contest in Madrid, where she shared first place with the Dutch and Spanish contestants. Her most famous song is her first hit single 'Shout' which reached the top ten in 1964.

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The Scottish singer Lulu competed in 1969 which proved to be a controversial year with four joint winners. She was one of them and it caused the entire contest to get a revamp for the following year to avoid ties. She is best known for the song “To Sir, With Love” from the James Bond film The Man With the Golden Gun. At age 75 she still sings and just wrapped her Champagne with Lulu farewell tour.

5Engelbert Humperdinck

Britain's Engelbert Humperdinck performs during the Grand Final of the Eurovision 2012 song contest in the Azerbaijan's capital Baku, early on May 27, 2012. AFP PHOTO / VYACHESLAV OSELEDKO


Humperdinck was already pretty famous by the time he competed in 2012 but he didn’t do very well in the contest. He performed “Love Will Set You Free” and came in second to last. Even so, he continued to work and recently released a new album and admitted that he has even more music in the works.

6Bonnie Tyler

British musician Bonnie Tyler sings at the Maison de la Chimie in Paris on December 17, 1984. Veteran gravelly-voiced singer Bonnie Tyler is to represent Britain at the Eurovision Song Contest, the BBC announced on March 7, 2013. The 61-year-old will perform a new power ballad entitled "Believe In Me" and will be hoping to restore Britain's fortunes in the annual televised pop music extravaganza. AFP PHOTO/ PHILIPPE WOJAZER

Photo by PHILIPPE WOJAZER/AFP via Getty Images

Tyler, best known for her song “Total Eclipse of the Heart” was another artist who competed after she became famous. She represented the UK in 2013 and took 19th place with the song “Believe in Me.” Even though she didn’t win, she got a Eurovision Song Contest Radio Award and continues to make new music and tour to this day.


7th April 1974: Swedish pop group Abba, winners of the 1974 Eurovision Song Contest.

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The iconic group ABBA won in 1974 with the song “Waterloo.” It helped them to gain popularity and they are now known for their hits “Mamma Mia” and “Dancing Queen” among others. While the band separated in the ’80s, they now have a virtual concert called ABBA Voyage featuring their music and exciting technology.

8Cliff Richard

British singer Cliff Richard singing the UK's entry in the Eurovision Song Contest, "Congratulations", Royal Albert Hall, London, UK, 6th April 1968.

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Cliff Richard was beaten by just one point by Massiel in 1968. Even so, the British singer went on to have a successful career in the UK. He is now 83 years old and just did a farewell tour in 2023.


Clannad, irische Musikgruppe, Ciaran Brennan, Pol Brennan, Enya Brennan, Noel O Dugan, Padraig O Dugan, Auftritt in der ZDF Musiksendung: Liedercircus, 1978.

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Enya technically only competed in the lead-in contest but did not get selected. The Irish singer competed with her former group Clannad in 1973 with the song “An Pháirc.” Even though she didn’t make it to Eurovision, she tried and maintained a big career afterward. These days she is a recluse in her Irish castle.

10Katrina and the Waves

Katrina and The Waves winning the Eurovision Song Contest at The Point Depot, Dublin, 02/05/1997.

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Best known for their mega pop hit “Walking on Sunshine” in the ’80s, Katrina and the Waves won the 1997 contest and became one of the most successful acts. The song “Love Shine A Light” became a huge hit in Europe. The band split up not long after their Eurovision win but Katrina carries on as a solo artist, has a new single out and is currently touring.

The 68th annual Eurovision Song Contest competition begins May 7 and you can find out how to watch it here.

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