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Subject: Bee Gees Frequently Asked Questions (FAQ), Part 1/4

This article was archived around: 17 Sep 2001 09:56:53 GMT

All FAQs in Directory: music/beegees-faq
All FAQs posted in: alt.music.bee-gees
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Archive-name: music/beegees-faq/part1 Posting-Frequency: monthly (25th of month) Last-modified: 1998/08/25 Maintainer: David Garcia <garc@compuserve.com>
Bee Gees Frequently Asked Questions Part One of Four August 25, 1998 Table of Contents: Part One: 1-01. Who are the Bee Gees? Part Two: 2-01. What LPs, CDs or videos am I missing from my collection? Part Three: 3-01. What Bee Gees on-line resources are available? Part Four: 4-01. What is a FAQ? 4-02. Whatever happened to...? 4-03. Will the Bee Gees ever perform live again? 4-04. Will "Still Waters" be their last album? 4-05. What is the Bee Gees e-mail address? 4-06. Who is Renee Schreiber? 4-07. What is this rumor about missing lyrics to the song "Rings Around the Moon"? 4-08. When will the Bee Gees make a Christmas album (and/or country album, "unplugged" album, etc.)? 4-09. Who decides whether rarities are released? Any chance that some unreleased tracks will be made available? 4-10. What kind of tuning does Barry use on his guitar? 4-11. How tall are the Bee Gees? 4-12. Are any of the Gibb brothers left-handed? 4-13. When are their families' birthdays and anniversaries? 4-14. Who is older, Robin or Maurice? 4-15. What's on the list of forthcoming events? 4-16. Where can I find the lyrics to...? 4-17. Have any books been written about the Bee Gees or Andy Gibb? 4-18. Where can I order a CD of...? 4-19. Any fan get togethers planned for the near future? 4-20. What interviews have appeared in newspapers or magazines lately? 4-21. Where can I find Maurice Gibb lunchboxes and other Bee Gees memoribilia? 4-22. Save me, save me! The Bee Gees are just another one of my obsessions, but she says it's tearing my world apart, and if I only had my mind on something else, I could dedicate my life to something new. Where do I stand? I look like a happy man, but how hopelessly I'm lost! I have just myself to blame, it seems. Where do I go from here? ~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~ 1-01. Who are the Bee Gees? A. David Garcia writes... The Bee Gees are three brothers: Barry Gibb, Robin Gibb, and Maurice Gibb. From 1967 to 1969, they were joined by Vince Melouney and Colin Petersen. In 1970, while Robin pursued a solo career, the album "Cucumber Castle" was released with just Barry and Maurice as the Bee Gees. Contrary to popular belief, younger brother Andy Gibb was never a member of the Bee Gees as such, although his brothers lent assistance in songwriting, producing and backing vocals on his three solo albums. The brothers Gibb were born in the Isle of Man, an island located between Great Britain and Ireland. Barry was born on September 1st, 1946. Robin and Maurice, twins, were born on December 22nd, 1949. The family later moved to Manchester, England, where Andy was born on March 5, 1958. According to a 1979 TV Bio, as children the three boys used to perform in Manchester theaters. They called their singing trio "The Rattlesnakes", and later "Wee Johnny Hays and the Blue Cats." Their harmonies were so natural that, one day at home, their mother mistook their singing as a radio on in the next room. In 1958 the Gibb family, with infant Andy, sailed to Australia. It was there that the brothers started pursuing professional careers as singers and songwriters. Their father, Hugh Gibb, and been a professional drummer and bandleader in his youth. The brothers' talent caught the attention of a local DJ, and soon they were performing at racetracks, beach resorts, and on local radio and TV broadcasts. Around this time they named themselves the BG's, and later, the Bee Gees. In 1963, Festival Records signed the Bee Gees to their first record contract. Though hits as a group were slow in coming, Barry put his songwriting talents to good use writing for other singers and groups. In 1966 the Bee Gees had their first number one single in Australia, "Spicks and Specks." The following January the Gibb family boarded a ship back to England. The brothers had sent demo tapes to NEMS, the group managing the Beatles. One night Robert Stigwood sat down and listened to a few demo tapes from the pile. He liked what he heard, and wanted to see about signing them up. The 1967 album "Bee Gees First" was a tremendous debut success. The first single, "New York Mining Disaster 1941", was believed by many to be recorded by the Beatles under a different name. American record executives started using this as a technique to spark interest in the record, saying only that the name of this group began with a "B" and ended with an "S". With the follow-up success of "Holiday" and "To Love Somebody", people soon knew quite well who the Bee Gees were. Later that year, the Bee Gees -- now the three brothers and fellow Australians Vince Melouney and Colin Petersen -- recorded the album "Horizontal". The single "Massachusetts" topped the UK charts. In 1968, the "Idea" album soon followed with the classics "I Started a Joke" and "I've Gotta Get a Message To You". As was often the case with sixties pop groups, the first flash of success soon after brought dissension and clashes of egos -- what Barry calls the "First Fame" syndrome. Despite years of performing together as brothers, the sudden rise to fame soon overwhelmed the Bee Gees. In 1969, with the "Odessa" album, there were conflicts over the release of "First of May" as a single. Robin thought that "Lamplight" should be the a-side. Other divisions ensued, and eventually resulted in Robin departing to pursue a solo career. Around this time Vince Melouney and Colin Petersen also split from the band. Robin's solo debut, "Robin's Reign", was a modest success in Europe. The single "Saved By The Bell" did particularly well in Germany. Meanwhile, Barry and Maurice continued together as the Bee Gees. Their album, "Cucumber Castle", also coincided with a UK television special. Soon after, however, Barry and Maurice went their separate ways as well. The reconciliation was a gradual one. Barry once remarked that, if they hadn't been brothers, they probably never would have got back together. The "Two Years On" album seemed more like an anthology of three soloists than any sort of group effort. The song "Lonely Days", however, did show that they could still work together as a group. On their next album, "Trafalgar", the reconciliation process continued. The Bee Gees finally had their first #1 single in the US, "How Can You Mend A Broken Heart". The success of this classic showed that the brothers Gibb were far more successful as a group than they would ever be as soloists. As evidenced by the 1972 album "To Whom It May Concern", the Bee Gees were now drifting into a musical pattern of soft ballads. The songs "Run To Me" and "My World" were typical of the group's sound of this time. Eventually the Bee Gees decided to break away from the London scene and start afresh in the United States. In the US, the Bee Gees started in new directions musically. Unfortunately, these new directions were bereft of commercial success. The 1973 album, "Life in a Tin Can", saw meager sales of its single, "I Saw A New Morning". Finally, when "Wouldn't I Be Someone", the single from "A Kick In The Head Is Worth Eight In the Pants", failed to climb the charts, the record company chose not to release the album. Soon after this, the talents of accomplished record producer Arif Mardin were brought to the group's assistance. As producer of their next album, "Mr. Natural", he helped the Bee Gees to evolve their creativity, "open their ears", and explore musical forms quite different from the warm ballads they had grown accustomed to. The "Mr. Natural" album turned out not to be the commercial breakthrough the Bee Gees were seeking, but with tracks like "Heavy Breathing", "Dogs", and "Charade", it was obvious that the brothers were finding their way down new paths of songwriting. Around this time their personal lives also began to grow and change. Robin became a father, and so did Barry. In 1975, Maurice re-married. As the brothers were finding their way back to success musically, they were also starting to realize that there was much more to life than just putting another gold record on the studio wall. The following year, Arif Mardin's guidance paid off with the album "Main Course", featuring "Jive Talkin", "Nights on Broadway", and "Fanny (Be Tender With My Love)". This rebirth of the Bee Gees was far more intense than anyone had expected. The urban music scene was shifting to R&B Dance, and the "blue-eyed soul" of the Bee Gees' "Main Course" album fit right in. In 1976, the Bee Gees changed record labels in the US. Now that they were under Polydor, they no longer had Atlantic Records producer Arif Mardin to assist them. In this sense, the "Children of the World" album was a true test of their talents: Arif Mardin had brought them this far, now could they continue on their own? The album's first single, "You Should Be Dancing", quickly rose to success as the dance clubs latched onto its intense rhythms and falsetto harmonies. Among the trendy night clubs and discotheques, the song became an anthem. Other songs from the album, "Boogie Child" and "Love So Right", also did well. Work began on the next studio album. The Bee Gees relocated to the Chateau D'Heuroville studio in France. Sometime soon after, Robert Stigwood, their manager, called them to request some songs for a movie soundtrack. He described the film he was producing, some low budget dance movie set in Brooklyn. He persuaded the brothers to give him the songs that were already recorded for their next album. This project eventually became the film "Saturday Night Fever". Having thus been relieved of their entire studio album, the Gibb brothers now spent some time mixing the tracks for the live double-LP, "Here At Last... Bee Gees Live!" Soon after, though, Robert Stigwood called again -- this time about yet another film. Now Robert wanted the Bee Gees to work as supporting actors in a musical, a film that would weave Beatles songs into a story about Sgt. Pepper and a mythical place called Heartland. Peter Frampton would be assigned the lead role, and the Bee Gees would be cast as the Henderson brothers. The film would be called, of course, "Sergeant Pepper's Lonely Hearts Club Band." In late 1977, while the Bee Gees were filming "Sgt. Pepper", the film "Saturday Night Fever" was released. Three songs from the soundtrack -- "How Deep Is Your Love", "Stayin' Alive", and "Night Fever" -- instantly climbed to the top of the singles charts. The soundtrack album stayed at #1 for 24 weeks, becoming the top selling album up to that time, and remains even now the best selling soundtrack album in history. While all this took place, the brothers saw changes on the set of the "Sgt. Pepper" film. They had been sharing a trailer; now they each had a private trailer of their own. People who had previously ignored them were now far more deferential. With the astounding success of the "Saturday Night Fever" soundtrack, suddenly these three nameless supporting actors were central to the film. It's a wonderful feeling, of course, to be the sudden center of attention on a movie lot. Except, in this case, the movie was looking less and less promising each day. In stages, the Bee Gees began to realize that their movie debut, arriving at the pinnacle of their success as a music group, was destined to be a hideous waste of film. "Sergeant Pepper's Lonely Hearts Club Band" was a bomb in the making, and the Bee Gees wanted out. On three separate occasions, the brothers literally begged Robert Stigwood to take them out of the film. But it was, of course, too late for that. So, they carried on as best they could and hoped the damage to their careers would be minimal. In the end, their musical careers emerged relatively unscathed. It was, however, the end of their acting careers. At the time, it was rumored that Barry was being considered for the role of Che Gueverra in Robert Stigwood's film version of "Evita". As it turned out, the film "Evita" ended up being postponed for nearly two decades, by which point the opportunity had passed him by. As for the film "Sergeant Pepper's Lonely Hearts Club Band", although the brothers' predictions of cinematic disaster proved correct, they did manage to pull a nice single out of the soundtrack: Robin's version of "Oh, Darling", the only Bee Gees' hit song that they didn't write themselves. Whatever the public thought of the film "Sgt. Pepper", the Bee Gees were to be more permanently linked with a movie they had never even appeared in: "Saturday Night Fever". Before the release of "Fever", disco was gaining some airplay, but merely as another of many forms of popular music, and disco clubs were something most people only read about in "New York" magazine. The film "Saturday Night Fever" changed all that. Now discos were not just for the urban trendsetters. Suddenly you had assistant managers of suburban tub and tile outlet stores wearing leisure suits and gold medallions on Saturday nights. Dance instruction studios were overwhelmed with requests to "teach me to dance like Travolta". Songs like "Disco Duck" and "Macho Man" crowded established rock acts off the airwaves. During this time the Bee Gees were a constant presence. At one point, Gibb compositions held all the top five slots on Billboard's top ten. This sort of success naturally evokes a wide span of reactions, ranging from blind imitation to outright resentment and loathing. In the midst of all the excitement, while Rod Stewart released his disco hit "Do You Think I'm Sexy" and Mick Jagger of the Rolling Stones worked on his "Emotional Rescue" falsetto, others began to rebel, and the anti-disco backlash began. Looking back, it was both unfortunate and unfair that the Bee Gees were blamed for disco. Had the movie "Saturday Night Fever" never been made, and those same Gibb compositions made their way to the Bee Gees' next studio album as originally planned, the whole "disco fever" travesty might have been avoided. Ultimately, disco was as much a fashion trend as a music trend, and the fashion industry found "Saturday Night Fever" to be a convenient infomercial. The irony in all this was that the Bee Gees didn't dance, didn't wear leisure suits, and didn't even particularly like dance movies like "Fever". They've always characterized their music as "Blue-Eyed Soul", and whether people danced to it or not was pretty much beside the point. They took pride in their songwriting craft, not in the merchandising of garish disco lifestyles. With their next studio album, "Spirits Having Flown", they sought to provide more variety. The lead single, "Too Much Heaven", was a slow ballad, not a disco dance tune. The "Spirits Having Flown" album had a variety of musical styles, from the Caribbean feel of the title track to the smoky nightclub sound of "Stop, Think Again." Nearly all the songs were sung in falsetto vocals, however, and "Tragedy", the second single, was undeniably disco in style. The album sold well, and the Bee Gees easily filled football stadiums in their 1979 concert tour. One of the fans at Dodger Stadium that night was singer Barbra Streisand. She asked the brothers to work with her on her next album. As Barry started production of Barbra's "Guilty" album, Maurice produced the LP "Steppin' Out" for the Osmonds. During this time, new Bee Gees compositions went to Barbra's album, and also to Jimmy Ruffin's "Sunrise" album, which Robin was producing. Barbra's "Guilty" album netted three top singles in 1980, and has been the most successful album of her career. Now work began on the Bee Gees' next studio album. In many ways, the "Living Eyes" album was unlike all their other recent work. "Spirits Having Flown" had a falsetto lead on every track but "Until"; "Living Eyes" avoided falsetto leads on every song but "Soldiers". Not only were the pulsating rhythm sections of "Children of the World" gone, but the backup trio of Alan Kendall, Dennis Bryon and Blue Weaver were all replaced by session musicians halfway through the production. One song, "Be Who You Are", even had a long symphonic introduction with a full orchestra. Unfortunately, 1981 was not a good year for the brothers Gibb. The disco backlash was causing radio stations to avoid any new vinyl by the Bee Gees. In the meantime, punk rock and new wave groups were defining the sound of the 80's. Looking back on these days, one journalist remarked "...the Bee Gees were trying to be the Bee Gees at the same time that the Sex Pistols were being the Sex Pistols." In the meantime, their record label, RSO, was in turmoil. Changes at the top and financial chaos clouded the release of "Living Eyes". The pages of Rolling Stone carried, not Bee Gees album reviews, but news of lawsuits and audits. So it was that the rock press barely noticed when, in the wake of six consecutive number one hits, "He's A Liar" floundered on the singles charts. There might be an article or an interview somewhere that explains what happened next. If so, I have yet to find it. It's easier to say what didn't happen. The Bee Gees didn't release any more studio albums. They didn't go on tour. They didn't work with their former back-up band of Kendall, Bryon and Weaver. They didn't stay with RSO. Instead, for the next six years their efforts would be divided between writing and producing for other artists and working on their own occasional solo projects. To make an unfortunate comparison, the Bee Gees became the three artists formerly known as the Bee Gees. The lone exception to this period "in exile" was the soundtrack to the movie "Stayin' Alive". Sylvester Stallone was hired to direct this sequel to "Saturday Night Fever". Looking at the film, it is obvious that this was a work crafted in Stallone's own image. Even John Travolta ended up looking like Rambo in Spandex. In directing the film, Stallone was at least somewhat obligated to include Bee Gees songs in the soundtrack. But most of the emphasis was given to the music of Frank Stallone, the director's brother. In contrast, some songs the Bee Gees wrote were faded out abruptly in the middle of a verse. In any case, both the film and the soundtrack album failed to measure up to the original. In between "Living Eyes" and the "Stayin' Alive" film, Robin released his solo album "How Old Are You" on the Polydor label. This album was produced by Robin and Maurice, and all the compositions were by the twins, including the single "Juliet". The album and single did well in Germany, but were scarcely noticed in the US. Barry's absence from the album was easily explained: he had just finished producing Dionne Warwick's "Heartbreaker" LP, and was about to begin production of "Eyes That See In The Dark" for Kenny Rogers. Both of Barry's projects were co-produced by Karl Richardson and Albhy Galuten, and consisted of songs written by the Bee Gees, and occasional co-writing by Albhy Galuten. The next Bee Gees success was to come in under the radar. "Islands In the Stream" was a huge country hit for Kenny Rogers and Dolly Parton. It also crossed over and dominated mainstream pop radio -- one of very few country duets to ever do so. In all the excitement, people didn't seem to notice who wrote the song. The biggest country hit of 1983 was written by the same composers who wrote the disco anthem "Stayin' Alive" -- the Bee Gees had made a most remarkable transition in their songwriting, and hardly anyone seemed to realize it. As if to emphasize the point, the Bee Gees now started another transition. They began work on an R&B comeback album for Motown diva Diana Ross. "Eaten Alive" and the single "Chain Reaction" gave Diana Ross her first major chart success in the UK. In the wake of "Saturday Night Fever", the Bee Gees had proven their worth as songwriters and producers with both country music and Motown style R&B... but at the same time their own solo careers were going nowhere. Robin had a brief hit with the "Secret Agent" album's single "Boys Do Fall In Love", but his followup album "Walls Have Eyes" failed to attract listeners. EMI later blamed this on internal changes at the record label. At the same time, Barry's solo debut "Now Voyager" was unable to spark excitement with record buyers. While "Shine Shine" did find its way into the top 40, it was quickly forgotten along with the album. A second solo album, "Moonlight Madness", was instead diverted to the soundtrack of the film "Hawks", a British comedy-drama starring Timothy Dalton and Anthony Edwards. In 1987, Arif Mardin and the brothers Gibb set their sights on a renewal of the Bee Gees' career as recording artists. The "E.S.P." album brought the single "You Win Again", a #1 success in several countries. The USA, however, wasn't one of them. Following the tragic death of younger brother Andy Gibb in 1988, the Bee Gees started to seriously re-evaluate their careers. Trying to make sense of the tragedy, they also began to feel a need to truly dedicate themselves to what they've always done best: songwriting and performing. Regardless of what the radio stations thought about the Bee Gees, they would be heard. The 1989 album "One" brought the brothers success on both sides of the Atlantic. "Ordinary Lives" was the featured single in Europe, and the title track proved to be the group's "comeback" single in the US. For the first time in ten years, the Bee Gees set forth on a world tour. The 1991 followup album "High Civilization" was less well received. While the song "Secret Love" did well in Europe, "When He's Gone" was ignored in the US. The Bee Gees again toured Europe. But while touring Europe, their thoughts surely were directed toward the states. It was maddening. Songs and albums that sold well in Europe went unnoticed by Americans. "You Win Again" provides a perfect example: how can a song by a major artist be number one in England, yet number 75 in the US? Two years later, Warner even re-released "You Win Again" in the US as the second single from the "One" album, hoping that it would finally get airplay. It didn't. Why did American radio ignore the group? As one reviewer quipped, we were ready to forgive Nixon for Watergate, but were we ready to forgive the Bee Gees for disco? In 1993, the Bee Gees returned to the Polydor label and released the CD "Size Isn't Everything". Appearances on radio and TV brought inevitable one-liners about the meaning of the title, even leading shock jock Howard Stern to ask "which one is the 'biggest' Bee Gee?" Sadly, the "Full Size" tour planned for April of 1994 had to be abruptly canceled, due to Barry's health problems. During this time no less than three tribute albums to the Bee Gees have been released: An alternative rock version, "Melody Fair", joins compilations of previous cover versions on the rack: "Bee Gees Songbook" (a UK import), and the recently released "Soul of the Bee Gees", featuring a liner note "mea culpa" over the record company's mishandling of Robin Gibb's single "Toys" back in 1985. In September of 1996 word was received that the Bee Gees had been chosen as 1997 inductees into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame. The ceremony was held in Cleveland on May 6, 1997. Additional awards have included the American Music Awards' "International Artist" award, and special recognition in this year's "Brit" awards. The newest release, "Still Waters," debuted at #2 on the UK charts. The compilation album "The Very Best of the Bee Gees" also briefly reentered the top ten a s well, putting the brothers Gibb in the remarkable position of having two albums in the UK top ten at the same time -- all this thirty years after their international debut. The album debuted in the US at #11, their first top twenty album since 1979. The US release of "Still Waters" was been acompanied by a whilrwind of activity. The weekend before the album's debut, VH-1 had a "Bee Gees Weekend" with a Saturday afternoon marathon of videos and performances. On the day of the album's release, the Bee Gees appeared on the Oprah Winfrey show, and that evening were inducted into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame in Cleveland. The album reportedly sold over 2.5 million copies worldwide, making it their greatest success since 1979's "Spirits (Having Flown)." Is it over? Not yet -- the brothers Gibb, even with a four decade career to look back on, continue to look forward, and plan for the next album, the next single. As Barry puts it, "...a gold record on your wall is like an ornament, and it doesn't really mean anything. It's a memory -- you look at it and go, 'Well THAT was great,' but it's not part of your NOW. And it's now and tomorrow that are the most important..." ~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~ Responses to FAQ: Send responses and comments to David Garcia at garc@compuserve.com or post to the mailing lists if you are a subscriber. Special thanks to the following for their kind assistance in producing this FAQ: Renee Schreiber, Joe Brennan, Chris Mathis, Bette Hanson, Lynn Lyda, Antonette Daniar, Jill Thompson, "Imran C.", Joey Spain, Ed Vlasov, Melody Ishiwata, "Kevin M.", Doug "Doug in MO" Shannon, Jimmy Wade, Goran Gustafsson, Juan Perea, Grant Walters, "Tony", "Mike", Lucas Broer, Joel K. Ashby, "Di", Marty Hogan, Rhonda J. Platania, Anne Simpson, Al Collum III, Elliott A. Jacobowitz, Sue Thompson, Kathy Gray and her friend in France, Ruth Burcaw, "BG Pixie" CBolitiski, Ann M. Richardson, Marcel Troost, Daniel Navarro, Doug "Doug in TX" Wilson, Phongsak Suppattarachai, "Marion from (today's climate here) Germany", Colin Harris, Greg Luther, Helio Takahashi, Douwe Dijkstra, Diane Weidenkopf, Robert Phan, Karen Liew, Ron Ramirez, Jay Siekierski, Alan Dail, Joan Furilla, Jan Carnell, "Amy on AOL", Udo Muellner, Park Duk-Hyeon, Joseph Yellin, Tom Fini, Martha Irvin and many others (to whom I apologize for their accidental omission)