Blood IS thicker than water,
even in the upside-down world
of pop music. Somehow one expects
groups to break up, now
and again, because it's hard to
keep different-type personalities,
tied together merely by a musical
aim, happy in off-stage moments.
So groups DO break up because
of clashes that come from something
as trivial as an odd personal
habit. Some, like the Hollies, stick
together because they realise that
each has to live his own personal
life off stage.
But when the Bee Gees, three
brothers- Barry, and twins Maurice
and Robin- decided they'd had
enough, the pop world positively
floated on rumours and counter rumours.
These brothers, each a
most likeable character, really went
at each other hammer and tongs.
Their parents were dragged into
the verbal punch-ups and, in the
end, the world got tired of hearing
about the latest row.
Groups of equal status had
split, mostly for reasons of musical
policy, and one story stating the
facts had been enough. But the
Bee Gees seemed to have a fresh
"sensation" every day of the week.
A bore. One long, dreary bore.
We reckoned that if they didn't
ever speak to each other again,
did speak, and eventually record
to think the fans would come
running and queuing up to buy
But the boys DID get together
and the fans instantly forgave
them, because their very first record
got into the charts. Fair
enough, we all thought, because
the Bee Gees had always tried
for an ambitious kind of pop that
reached way above the routine.
Like using massed trumpeters and
sixty musicians for an Albert Hall
concert. Like creating a sound that
was instantly recognisable. Like
. . . oh, like a lot of different
So it's a warm welcome back
to the trio. And time to re-cap on
just how it all started for these
Manchester lads who started the
road to fame in Australia. They'll
probably make a film of the story
one day, so this can act as a
trailer .. .
The boys' dad , Hugh Gibb, a
bandleader, gave Barry a special
Christmas present one year - a
guitar. He churned out the songs
of the day by the Stars of the
day, like Tommy Steele and Paul
Anka - and soon the twins joined
in. The year was 1956.
cinema, one Saturday morning,
planning to mime to the Everly
Brothers' hit single "Wake Up
Little Susie". Unfortunately Barry
broke that record - so the boys
had to sing it live. His six-year-old
twin brothers coped pretty well.
They earned a shilling each for
More important, they got a real
kick out of going up there on
stage. School-work was forgotten
as they planned towards their
Saturday morning appearances. But
out of the blue, it was decided
that the family would go to Australia.
They found a certain amount
of trouble because the local kids
weren't too keen on the English
kids. Barry left school at the age
of thirteen, determined that he'd
make his way in show-business.
Later still, they became the
Gibb Brothers and sang around
various halls and arenas. One was
a stock car-racing circuit - they'd
put on a show in the middle
between races. They were showered
with coins. As Barry says now:
"It was a VERY painful way to
receive your pay-packet." A discjockey
named Bill Gates encouraged
the boys - and it was from his
initials that the name Bee Gees was
But not before they'd also had
spells working as the Rattlesnakes
and Wee Johnny Hayes and the
Blue Cats. A top Australian singer
named Col Joye eventually helped
them along and they got a recording
contract which resulted in a
series of pretty disastrous flop
records. And then the Beatles
carne along. As far as Australia
was concerned, they just happened
out of nowhere, but as far as the
Bee Gees were concerned they
were regarded as a terrible menace.
"They thought we were copying
these new-boy Beatles", admitted
Barry. "And though the Beatles
hadn't even visited the country,
it was obvious it wasn't big enough
for both of us.
"Even so, we reckoned that if
Brian Epstein had so cleverly built
the Beatles, he could do the same
for us. So we sent him our records.
of them, but he sent them on to
Robert Stigwood, an Australian
agent, and we decided to follow
up our parcel by going back to
In fact, they landed at Southampton
and they had only a fiver
between the whole family. It was
disappointment all the way. Even
Robert Stigwood felt the group
scene was dead in Britain – every
body is copying the Beatles and
there are too many of them. It's
just about impossible for anybody
to break th rough nowadays."
"New York Mining Disaster"
broke through for the Bee Gees,
though. And their career went well
afterwards, with such as "World"
"I've Just Got To Get A Message
To You" and so on. Bold, imaginative
story-line pop. All blessed with
very full and expensive arrangements.
They had Colin Peterson and
Vince Melouney in the general
backing, the fourth and fifth Bee
Gees - and there were sounds of
uproar when the Home Office
decreed that these two genuine
Australians had to return home
"down under" because their work
permits had expired. "If they go,
we go", said Barry with determination.
That problem was resolved, but
not before many girl fans had
chained themselves to the railings
at Buckingham Palace by way of
But trouble was never to be far
away from the Bee Gees. First,
Vince Melouney left. Then Colin
Peterson. Then Robin, left in his
own brand of high dudgeon. It
looked as if the Bee Gees would
end up just as a duo - Maurice and
Barry. But even they split.
Now the arguments are over.
The three brothers are back together.
Each is married; Maurice
to top popper Lulu and they
have their own lives, their own
bases, to act as a sort of antidote
to the on-stage performances.
AU the same, when brother turns
against brother, the noise can be
heard a long way off. There aren't
too many "family" units in pop
.music, and the Bee Gees were big
enough to merit all the headlines.
Now, with a hit single and a
magnificent album arriving out of
the re-union, the Bee Gees realise
just where they went wrong before.
Says Robin: "We didn't talk to
each other. That was the trouble.
We'd tum up for work and have
our own grievances against the
others and just keep it all bottled
up. Eventually there had to be a
terrible explosion. It was never as
bad as some of the stories suggested,
but no matter- it was bad
enough that it was a family turned
upside-down against itself.
"Now, if anything is getting us
down, we talk about it. I guess you
could say that it was due to the
strain of trying to stay at the top
-because, deep down, we all like
to look for perfection. But it must
have been tough for the fans - it
was almost as if we were expecting
them to take sides in what was a
Castle" was shown a few months
back on television and underlined
the talent for improvisation and
comedy within the group. Actually
all the brothers are serious minded.
They smile easily enough,
but they take life very seriously.
One thing now is certain.
They've stopped offering advice to
each other in the way they did
before. For example, Barry claiming
that Maurice shouldn't marry
Lulu because he was "too young
and immature" was hardly calculated
to bring about peace and
harmony. Now they work together-
but they also work separately
on their own special interests in show business.
Said Maurice: "Just one thing,
though. Tell the fans we're going
to work together for them ... it's
the fans who really matter in the
long run. Some of their letters
over the past year or so have really
touched' us- they've been so obviously
keen on all of us getting
together and working again."
Yet there were people who
thought the whole family feud
built up solely for publicity. You
should ask Mr. and Mrs. Gibb
senior about that- they were completely
heartbroken a t the way
the boys grew apart and even refused
to speak to each other.
Maybe it isn't easy even for
brothers who sing in harmony to
live in harmony.
But the Gibb brothers, Barry
and Maurice and Robin , are trying
very hard indeed. And that's a personal
promise from them.
Forrest Bess (October 5, 1911 – November 10, 1977) Painter, fisherman, visionary, eccentric - Forrest Bess was one of the most original American artists of his generation. Born in Bay City, Texas, Bess picked up his love of art from his mother. His father worked in the oil fields and ran a bait fishing camp of the Texas coast in Chinquapin. After a short stint in the army where he suffered a slight breakdown related to a head injury, Bess moved to this isolated bait camp and began painting his uncontrollable visions. During his most creative period, 1949 through 1967, Bess showed at Betty Parsons Gallery in New York City, along with artists like Jackson Pollock and Mark Rothko. In the 1950s, he also began a lifelong correspondence with art professor and author Meyer Schapiro, and sexologist John Money. In these and other letters (which were donated to the Smithsonian Archives of American Art) Bess makes it clear that his paintings were only part of a grander theory, based on alchemy, the philosophy of Carl Jung, and the rituals of Australian aborigines, which proposed that becoming a hermaphrodite was the key to immortality. In 1960, Bess operated on himself to become a pseudo-hermaphrodite. This physical manifestation of his theory never achieved the results he had hoped for and, ironically, this quest for immortality was the beginning of a slow decline in both his health and his creative output. In 1977, he died in a nursing home in Bay City, Texas after a long battle with alcoholism. Throughout his career, Bess admired the work of Albert Pinkham Ryder and Arthur Dove, but the best of his paintings stand alone as truly original works of art. His best art consists of only about 100 small paintings, many with simple driftwood frames that he built himself. The majority of these paintings are in private collections, although the Menil Collection, Houston, the Museum of Contemporary Art, Chicago, Museum of Modern Art in New York, and The Whitney Museum in New York have Bess paintings in their collections.