Sunday, March 18, 2012

The Ultimate Biography of The Bee Gees: Tales of The Brothers Gibb by Melinda Bilyeu, Hector Cook, Andrew Mon Hughes with assistance from Joseph Brennan and Mark Crohan

The Ultimate Biography of The Bee Gees: Tales of The Brothers Gibb by Melinda Bilyeu, Hector Cook and Andrew Mon Hughes with assistance from Joseph Brennan and Mark Crohan

Since I'm a huge Bee Gees fan from way back in '67 when I was a teenager of 18-19, this was a book right up my alley. And, as The Bee Gees are my age, I grew up with them.
The Bee Gees have proved to everyone that their longevity has been what has sustained them through 50 years and with being brothers, have had a spiritual type bond, unlike other groups.
Barry, the oldest of The Bee Gees, said, "We made a pact between the three of us that, hell or high water, we were going to be a famous pop group and that nothing was going to stop us." It took a bit longer to obtain, yet it took several highs and lows to achieve their goal. In my estimation, they are/were the best pop group ever because of their longevity and because they are, without a doubt, the best songwriting group of all time,with Lennon-McCartney the only ones with more songs. Their harmonies are unsurpassed.
Barry, Robin and Maurice are brothers, but each are very different. Their friend, David English, said it best. "Maurice is a wonderful comedian, very good soul, very good heart, very funny, witty. Robin is extremely sensitive...zany...eccentric...He's got this most wonderful off-the-wall sense of humour. Barry kind of harnesses these qualities, he's the steady captain of the ship. That'swhy I always call him 'the skipper.' He's an immensely creative person. If you are his friend, then he would do anything for you....Then you put all those qualities together, in the three of them, and it's unbelievable, but the humour is the thing that I've always thought has been exceptional. They make me laugh and laugh and laugh." The group's former drummer, Colin Peterson, said. "The Bee Gees are like a tripod; they need all three."
Hugh Gibb, father of The Brothers Gibb, was born in Manchester in 1918 and was the bandleader and drummer of a dance band when he met Barbara May Pass, born in 1920, at a dance. Barbara also was born in Manchester, was also a singer, but sang locally, not as “a big band singer.” Hugh wouldn’t let her sing with the band as “one musician in the family was enough.” He would have to bite those words later, as the entire family became musical.
Hugh and Barbara’s first child, Lesley, was born in 1945, then The Gibbs moved to the Isle of Man, an island in the Irish Sea. Barry, being the oldest of the three, was born 1 Sep 1946. Robin and Maurice, born on 22 Dec 1949, were different, as they were fraternal twins. As the boys got older, they were overheard singing in their bedroom and their parents thought the singing was coming from the radio, not their three sons. They started singing locally and when they booked passage on a ship headed to Australia later on, they sang onboard ship.
When Barry was approx 2-3, he accidentally knocked a tea kettle over, scalding his chest, sustaining a scar. Since all four of the brothers have hairy chests, that scar has been hidden to everyone but family. The brothers were pretty rowdy growing up, but have been considered normal boys compared to today. The brothers, esp Barry, was the songwriter until later. Their frst breakout hit was “Spicks and Specks” that did so-so in the US. As a young boy, Robin had a near disastor of an accident with his bike. He also had a fascination with fire that nearly did him in. Barry had another near disaster concerning his eye and falling off a building that to this day, has caused him to have back problems.
The Gibbs proceeded to move back to Manchester where little brother Andy was born on 5 March 1958. Andy wasn’t interested in the Business while growing up, as he was interested in horses and other things. When Barry gave him a guitar for his 12th birthday, everything changed. The brothers feel now that Andy would’ve been better suited as a pilot, as he’d gotten his pilot’s license a few months before his death.
Andy started performing in bars while in his early teens, getting a band together with his mom’s help. She decided on Melody Fayre, though Andy didn’t approve at first. While at this time, Andy was living in Australia and his mom followed soon to be near him. Andy met and started dating Kim Reeder, a girl down the road and when Barry said he was ready for Andy to join him in Miami to jumpstart his career, he asked Kim to go with him as his new bride. He was just 18, a little older than his brothers when they were married for the first time.
Earlier, when Barry, Robin and Maurice started hitting it big, they signed with Robert Stigwood as their manager, a union that lasted for many years. There was even a lawsuit with him and another person that caused some problems.
This ultimate biography goes into detail on how the brthers came to write so many wonderful songs like “Massachsetts”, 1941 New York Mining Disaster, Words, I’ve Gotta Get A Message To You, Holiday, How Can You Mend A Broken Heart, Stayin’ Alive, Night Fever, Alone, etc. When Saturday Night Fever was in the planning stages, the songs were already written. Because Hollywood didn’t think much of pop music, let alone disco, as a viable soundtrack album for an Oscar Nomination, this soundtrack, which became the all-time soundtrack of all time, was totally snubbed by the Academy. Afterwards, there was a huge backlash and The Bee Gees were snubbed as well.
When Andy hit it big as a teen idol, appearing on several variety shows like The Donny and Marie Show, Gimme A Break, co-host of Solid Gold with Marilyn McCoo, his concert tours, and his foray into Broadway with Pirates of Penzance and Joseph and The Amazing Technicolor Dreamcoat, he began a spiral of massive consequences with his cocaine addiction. After his much-publicized relationship with Victoria Principal, he suffered a nervous breakdown. When his career took a nosedive, he flew to England to be near Robin and to write music for a new album. When he died on 10 March, just five days after his 30th birthday, of an inflammation of the heart muscle, caused by years of cocaine abuse, the world had lost a beautiful, sensitive and talented soul. The brothers grieved for a long time, having difficulties dealing with Andy’s death.
The Bee Gees wrote some songs for other performers, namely Dionne Warwick with Heartbreaker, Kenny Rogers and Dolly Parton with Islands In The Stream Barbra Streisand with her Guilty album with a couple of duets with Barry, and Celine Dion with Immortality. Barry could always write a song in approx 15 min. Robin and Maurice could as well, but writing has always come easy for Barry.
The Bee Gees did alot of tours, then, because of their fear of flying, took to doing One Night Only concerts, like the one in '97 at the MGM Grand in Las Vegas, where Barbara Gibb now lives. She is now 91. You can get the One Night Only CD on Amazon. There is another live concert CD, called Request. I plan on getting this one, as I have the other. YouTube has some rare recordings you should see.
Since this biography has had two updated editions and I have the 2001 edition and there is a 2004 edition with an added last chapter with added material on Maurice’s untimely death from a massive heart attack brought on by a blocked intestine in Jan 2003, I was able to get a PDF of that last chapter. Thanks Andrew. Years later, when Robin experienced the same stomach/chest pains, he was able to get to the hospital and get this potentially life-threatening situation fixed. They found that this problem was congenital. Soon afterwards, Robin was in the hospital with colon cancer, then after treatments, he had it go to his lungs. Robin is now in remission, getting ready for he and his son RJ’s Titanic Requeim premiering 10 April in London with The Royal Philharmonic. You can go to Robin’s website to order a copy of his CD or to amazon.
Barry and his wife Linda have recently become naturalized US citizens, since they’ve considered Miami as their home now. With Maurice’s death in ‘03, Barry and Robin have retired The Bee Gees name, since The BeeGees aren’t The Bee Gees without Maurice. Just this last month, Barry opened at The Hollywood Hard Rock Cafe as a solo act and he was given a standing ovation.
Robin said, “We enjoy what we do. There’s no cut-off moment. We just feel that as long as we feel that we’ve got something good to contribute, and we enjoy what we’re doing, then we’ll keep on doing it. It’s like painting, you just have to do what you do. I see no reason to retire when I’m 65. Picasso didn’t stop painting, dkid he? Maybe someone will have to carry the colostomy bag onto the stage, but asking me about retirement is like asking me about death."
Barry said, "First of all, you gotta care about each other and we really do. We are brothers and we love making music. That's infectious and extremely addictive for us. It's the best drug in the wlorld, and we can't stay away from it.” Barry said, “I like the idea of signing 30 albums-not every 5 minutes, but I like it.” We’re working to become the best, not just becoming good.”
Maurice said, “I do know I’m one hell of a contented guy.”
And in one parting word, Barry said, “What the end thing is, no one knows. But my final goal is to walk through the Golden Gates and have someone standing there saying “Liked Ya!!!!"
This is by far the best biography I've read, as it has so many details about personal stories and insights into how and why The Brothers Gibb wrote their wonderfully beautiful songs with their beautiful harmonies. I came to know, love and respect these enormously talented brothers. Give yourself a treat and go get this awesome book, you'll be glad you did.

I received this book as a birthday gift in 2002-2003.

Publisher: Omnibus Press
Date Published: 2001, 2004
ISBN: 0-7119-8748-3


Anna del C. Dye said...

Wow, I didn't know much about them and you too Teri. Thanks for the post. I will get me some of their songs to add it to my play list. I have like many of their songs through the years.

Anna del C. Dye
for tales of Elfs & Romance

Danielle Thorne said...

Interesting topic and great review!

Meechie said...

I was very surprised and extremely excited--okay, and PROUD!--to read your lovely review of my sister's book! This is so nice!!! Just spoke with her this afternoon and she had completed an update of the book to reflect the passing of Robin. Hard to believe the Twins are both gone... There will never be another group of this caliber.
Well, just had to comment!

Forever Friends said...

Hi Meechie,
Thanks for your kind words. Would you ask Melissa if she would send me a pdf of what she wrote on Robin? Does she talk to Barry? If so, ask her if she would give Barry my condolences and love. I also recently found out from a lady who posts alot of videos on YouTube of The BeeGees and did come up with info that The Gibbs and Osmonds were related, thatg Olive Osmond had done some research. Andy had told this to Dick Clark and I heard it. This is nice to know. My e-mail is

I'm on FB.