Woman's Day (Australian) 1989
Barry Gibb Tormented by his Brother's Death
The handsome Bee Gee candidly admits he will always wonder if he could have done more to prevent his baby brother's tragic death
Mega-rich rock star Barry Gibb has known personal heartache as his group, the Bee Gees, has swerved in and out of fashion. But his troubles have been nothing compared with the agony he feels over his brother Andy. Tragic Andy was just 30 when he died a year ago of a massive heart attack, brought on by drink and drugs.
Now Barry, who's on the verge of yet another Bee Gees comeback, is haunted by the belief that maybe he could have done something to save his brother.
"That has to be the saddest, most desperate moment of my life, when I heard he had gone," admits Barry. "Since then, I've asked myself a thousand times, could I have done more or said more to help him?"
The 42-year-old star certainly did his best when Andy was still alive, giving him constant encouragement and help. But it did seem nothing could rescue Andy: he was never able to believe he could match his brothers' success, and gradually he spiralled downward into despair.
Now the Bee Gees have relaunched their career with a new album "One", dedicated to Andy, and a single, "Ordinary Lives".
Stunning-looking Andy's life was never ordinary. A former boyfriend of ex-"Dallas" beauty Victoria Principal, and a pop star in his own right with a string of solo hits in the 1970's, Andy was always the odd-Gibb out. Too young to share in the Bee Gees first wave of success in the 60's, he never joined brothers Barry, Maurice and Robin in the band.
"And because of that, Andy was always a bit of a loner," says Barry. "But six months before his death, I campaigned to get him included. It was put to the vote and I'm afraid I was outvoted two to one."
Barry wonders if that blow might have contributed to Andy's sad death.
"But I don't really think so. Andy's attitude was "Well, I'd like to have some more hits on my own before I join anyway!" The biggest thing on his mind was "Can I make it back to the top?" That's what he really wanted to do-and under all the pressure his mind and heart gave way."
On the face of it, Andy Gibb was blessed with everything - looks, hits, and beautiful girls. He was romantically linked with beauties like Marie Osmond, Susan George and Olivia Newton-John after his divorce from his wife, Kim, in 1978. But Barry saw another side and worried about Andy's bingeing on drugs and alcohol.
Andy blew a fortune on cocaine and, six months before he died, was made bankrupt in Florida, owing some $2 million. Friends say he finally did kick the habit, but after his death his mother Dorothy (sic), found a huge hoard of more than 20 vodka bottles under his bed.
This is how Barry now explains his brother's reliance on booze and on drugs, "He always seemed to have a zest for life. But beneath all that fun was an incredible sadness that only a few of us could see. He was the most insecure man in the world and even when he had hit records, he felt it was still not good enough. Whatever I'd say to reassure him, he would still go away and hide in the depths of depression."
Barry says the only way he could keep his baby brother's spirits up was to constantly tell him how well he was doing. "I was either on the phone or seeing him, giving him encouragement. I would say to him, "Just get up and sing. Do what you do best. No one does it better." I would tell him this everyday."
Yet when Andy did get back to the recording studio, all his confidence went right out of the window, says Barry. He turned into a recluse - just at the time when Barry himself was tied up working on a new film. He and writing partner David English were developing their own idea about two terminally ill young men having a last wild fling, which became the major movie "Hawks", and starred the James Bond actor, Timothy Dalton.
Ironically, Andy saw two previews of it before his death, which came after he'd been admitted to hospital in Oxford, U.K. suffering from crippling stomach cramps. "Andy had been staying at Robin's house in Oxfordshire for around a month, working on the album. Those previews were virtually the only times he went out," says Barry.
A few days before he died, Barry said his partner David suggested they should go over and see Andy. "We had heard stories he was not behaving himself. But I didn't realize just how much he was folding up inside."
"I'd always be telling him, "Andy, you look great. You look incredible. Let's go out". He'd say "Okay". Then five minutes later he'd ask, "Are you sure that I look alright?" He never knew how much talent he had and the more I told him, the less he seemed to believe it."
Barry himself has suffered some devastating knocks. After the Bee Gees success in the 60's, selling 30 million singles and six million albums, they went out of fashion. "The downfall did not make it any easier to take when it happened again in the 70's - after the "Saturday Night Fever" craze ended.
But now the Gibb Brothers are trying for chart success the third time around. Their new album and single are high on the international charts. "A lot of people look at our lifestyle and wonder why we need it," admits Barry. "It's not the money but the self-respect and wanting to create good music."
"The real sense of achievement in having a film out last year and an album out this year is enormous," he says. "I only wish Andy could have been some part of it.
Thursday, June 14, 2001
Bee Gees Rekindle the Fever
The brothers Gibb are back--again--with a new album and a spot in KIIS' Wango Tango.
By RANDY LEWIS, Times Staff Writer
The Bee Gees may have been born in England, but they clearly picked up a key character trait during their childhood years in Australia--these guys come back more often than a boomerang.
This weekend they share the stage at KIIS-FM's Wango Tango 2001 with such hot young pop acts as Ricky Martin, the Backstreet Boys, Jessica Simpson and host Britney Spears--performers who weren't born when the Bee Gees got their first taste of success. Or, in some cases, their third.
Brothers Barry, Maurice and Robin Gibb, however, simply refuse to stay down for the count.
After an initial blast of seven Top 10 pop hits in 1967 and '68, Robin quit and, shortly thereafter, Barry left. The trio reunited in 1970 and came back with "Lonely Days," followed by their first No. 1 record, "How Can You Mend a Broken Heart." That was six months before Ricky Martin was born.
Another career downturn followed, as did another revival, this time to stratospheric heights. "Saturday Night Fever" so dominated late '70s pop that it seemed impossible to turn on a radio without hearing Barry Gibb's falsetto riding atop the signature harmonies and disco beats.
Now they're back again, with a new album, "This Is Where I Came In," which entered Billboard's Top 200 chart at No. 16 in April.
That makes five decades running the group has posted hit albums. At the same time, their music is featured in the stage version of "Saturday Night Fever--The Musical," now playing in Southern California as part of a national tour.
As for the group's presence at Wango Tango, the Bee Gees find that, like Tom Jones and Tony Bennett, they're hip once more.
"I never played a Beatles record in my house, yet my kids got turned on to them all by themselves when they were very young," says Maurice, 51. "It's really hard to predict when things will come around again."
Certainly "Saturday Night Fever" has, giving the last laugh to John Travolta and the Bee Gees, both written off two decades back by the death-to-disco crowd.
"We just love what we're doing, so we keep doing it," says Maurice, who with twin brother Robin is two years younger than Barry. "Some people said after 'Fever,' 'Why are you making another album?'
"This is what we love to do. If you're a writer and you win a Pulitzer Prize, you don't stop writing. If you're a scientist and you win the Nobel Prize, you don't say, 'Now I don't have to science anymore.' It's born in us, we've done it all our lives."
They haven't made records the same way all their lives, but for "This Is Where I Came In" they revisited the way they worked back when they started singing in the mid-1950s and made their first records in the '60s.
Instead of relying on studio technology, they largely used acoustic instruments and sang with all three clustered around a single microphone.
"We like to approach every album differently," Maurice says. "We started with the (title) track, and we did it the way the Beatles did 'You're Gonna Lose That Girl' in the movie 'Help.' I also was using the guitar I was given by John Lennon for my 21st birthday, so that was inspirational too.
"What I loved about it was the simplicity," he adds. "Honestly, it was the most energizing thing I've ever experienced .... It was a lot more creative because we had total freedom."
The Gibbs settled in Miami Beach after recording there on the recommendation of Eric Clapton, and Gibb finds it ironic that they're living in what has become the boy-band capital of the world.
He's a little worried, though, given his own bouts with alcohol abuse and the death of younger brother Andy Gibb in 1988 of heart failure after many years of hard living.
"I think it's great fun for them," Maurice says, "but I feel a little nervous for them. If the buzz of first fame is removed, where do they go? "My advice is just don't take (fame) for granted, because it can be taken away as quickly as you got it."
That, strangely, may have helped the Bee Gees hang onto theirs for close to 35 years.
"That's one reason I admire the Stones," he says. "They're still a band, and they love to play. They can't stay off the road. That's like us. We love to play.
"As long as we've got an audience, we'll keep doing it. To go out now and still have respectability, it's beyond our wildest dreams. That's why we've never taken it for granted since the first time."
Copyright 2001 Los Angeles Times