The story about the Bee Gees 1969-1970
The group had released their double album which came in special red velvet cover: Odessa. All of the songs were written with lush arrangements and orchestrations. By now they all had found partners in private life, however the pressures of the first and huge fame of the past few years including the many wild fans, girlfriends, people telling each brother that he didn’t need the other two for success, and the lots and lots of earned money, combined with what Maurice stated those days – the lack of immaturity- , this all drove the brothers apart., while Barry at that time was only 22 and the twins 19!! Odessa was the last album of the 60ties and you recognize some spirituality in it. Barry: “I’ve always been interested in philosophy and ancient civilization etc. We’ve all been interested in the unexplained things and loved to visit places like the pyramids in Egypt. We’ve been there on our way to Australia when we were kids and later on been there again on our way back when we explored some more of the country, very interesting”. Maurice: “I think it’s something Manx in us. We also had many other experiences when we felt something had happened to one of us. In our music we actually never really tried to bring messages between the lines. We just wrote the way we felt. While working on Odessa we were fantasizing a lot”.
Robin, Barry, Maurice at the end of the sixties
So meanwhile Robin had left the group and the others tried to go on working in the studio which wasn’t easy. The group performed during the Lulu TV show, without Robin. Then Maurice takes a vacation with Lulu before she sings during the Eurovision Song Contest that year. April 27th there are recordings for the TV show Talk Of The Town but Robin definitely doesn’t participate anymore and Barry, Maurice and Colin appear on the show with another Gibb: sister Lesley sings along with them that day.
Maurice, Colin and Barry with Lesley
Lesley Gibb sings with the Bee Gees during one performance after Robin had left the group, 1969
Robin went into the studio working on a solo album: writing, producing, singing and arranging his solo project: Robin’s Reign. The single: Saved By The Bell is quite a success in Europe. Meanwhile Barry and Maurice work as The Bee Gees releasing the album Cucumber Castle. The single “Tomorrow, Tomorrow” was recorded right after Robin quit the group and Barry and Maurice also appeared with comedian Frankie Howard, Lulu and others in the British TV special: Cucumber Castle. A TV project with typical British humor with Barry playing the King of Cucumber and Maurice as King of Jelly all was filmed in medieval costumes. Cucumber Castle was filmed in August 1969 and featured five new Bee Gees songs as well as Lulu singing “In the morning” (Barry Gibb) and “Mrs Robinson” (Paul Simon), Blind Faith performing “Well all right” in a concert clip, and instrumentals of “Cucumber Castle” and “Holiday”. The film script is credited to Barry and Maurice, although they have claimed the director made them change it, and they have mentioned an earlier version as being by Barry and Robin.
It was re-edited several times and was finally shown to the public on BBC TV in 1971.
Also in 1969 Maurice and Billy Lawrie, his brother-in-law, had begun their production company Moby and would go on to write songs together over the next few years.
Barry and Maurice with Lulu in the Cucumber Castle TV Special
Barry and Maurice had hardly really finished the songs for the album “Cucumber Castle” before Barry and Maurice split up as well in December 1969. According to Maurice some of the late recordings have unfinished vocals, like “I. O. I. O.” and “Sweetheart”.
Colin had played drums on the Cucumber film songs, but was cut from film scenes when he had to leave the group in August 1969. The group was then down to two members. After Colin had left the group in the summer Barry and Maurice finally parted company as well ultimately in December 1969. Just before that there had been plans in October for a Bee Gee record label. The split of the 3 brothers was to last for 15 months. During their split the Brothers gain maturity and a better understanding of themselves.
1969 / 1970: solo period
Robin’s solo period: included his solo album and some singles and ended when he began working again with Maurice in June 1970 and these sessions eventually led to a reunion with Barry as well. Robin called Barry and suggested they should try to work things out and start working together again as group. Robin recorded enough songs even for a second solo album early in 1970 “Sing Slowly Sisters” but not even a single was released anymore. He joined up with Maurice again and the rebirth of The Bee Gees began.
Maurice started his solo period with a series of sessions with Billy Lawrie and soon produced among other things a complete (but unreleased) solo album to be called: “The Loner”, on which he played many instruments, sang all the lead and backing vocals and produced the sessions with beautiful arrangements, also he made demo’s for other artists. Maurice tried stage acting in the spring of 1970 and produced the cast album of the show: “Sing a rude song”, but he was back in the studio
writing and recording songs within a month of the opening on the West End. Of his solo work in 1970, only a single and the cast album were released. “The Loner” material was scrapped more permanently once the Bee Gees reunited. Four of the songs appeared in 1976 on a Dutch fan club record of the fan club: Bee Gees Information. (one of the earlier Bee Gees fan projects Marion of GSI worked for).
Maurice in the musical Sing A Rude Song
Barry began recording a solo album in his solo months of 1970, and recorded a few more songs with P P Arnold besides. It’s not known whether songs were selected from this material and sequenced for an album, but the only record release was a single in England and Europe. The months-delayed album project seemed to come alive again around the time Barry joined Robin and Maurice for a reunion Bee Gees album, but any plans for a dual solo and Bee Gees career were dropped quickly. Barry had written a large number of songs during the solo months of 1970, some were country songs, bluesy and pop numbers and even fine harmonies and he already began to record them. A not released solo project is known as: “The Kid’s No Good”. Also a number of songs were published in the so called: Barry Gibb Poetry Anthology sent out by The Barry Gibb Fan Club in 1971 (see special page of this GSI web site!). This book also included a number of already recorded songs.
Maurice and Lulu
1970: Back Together Again
The Brothers became involved in the fact that Robert Stigwood, their manager, was taking the RSO Record Label to the stock exchange. Lots of talks followed with lawyers and financial people something the brothers didn’t like much. They preferred to write music. By the time they came together again as group and also as brothers and family they began working on a new project. First Robin and Maurice started to record again in June and August 1970 then shortly afterwards Barry followed to join the sessions again halfway August. He had lived in Spain for a while. Lots of songs were written and recorded although in the beginning they had to get used on working together again. Of all these new recorded material they made their reunion album as The Bee Gees : “Two Years On” with amongst others the hit single “Lonely Days” which became the first number one hit for the group in America. Barry: “Yes and it was written the day we came back together and “How Can You Mend A Broken Heart” even was written at the same session. The song is really about how we felt about being apart and ‘How Can You Mend…”in fact was how we felt about coming back together”. Maurice: “On Lonely Days even the wives were clapping along”.
left: 'You may now kiss the bride', Barry and Linda married. right: Happily married with their 'kids' at the time: Snoopy and Barnaby
Barry had divorced his first wife Maureen with whom he married back in Australia. For the past three years he’d been happy with Linda already and now was the time for them to get married too. So on Barry’s 24th birthday he married Linda Ann Gray in Caxton Hall, London. Linda’s dress was white, floor length with a lace cover-slip and Barry’s suit was in light blue, single-breasted with a waistcoat. (Barry, by the way, was famous those days for the way he used to get dressed and in the summer of 1970 he had been awarded with the title: Best Dressed Pop Star!) Their wedding cake was in the shape of a horse shoe. No time for a honey moon as there was a lot of TV and radio work to do after the release of “Two Years On” and there was a preparation to do for the tour to America early 1971. Their first single of the new album: ‘Lonely Days’ reaches the number one spot at the U.S. charts before the end of 1970. The Bee Gees were back and ready for international touring again.
To be continued.
Part six: History