The story about The Bee Gees/Part 6 1971-1974
left: Barry walking with his Barnaby in the streets of London right: Welcome home from America. Barry's dog Barnaby says 'welcome' on Heathrow airport. Barry, Linda, Robin, 1971.
The Bee Gees had a big hit with Lonely Days in The States and by the end of January they left for America for a promo tour, not knowing what to expect of the American audiences. The Gibbs together with their hired drummer Geoff Bridgeford visited quite some US television shows and in February after a performance at the American Dick Cavett Show
They started a short concert tour through North America. The boys were rather nervous at the opening concert in Albany on February 11th. at the Palace Theater. Appearing with them on this tour were The Staple Singers. Other shows were done in New York, Baltimore, Chicago, Santa Monica (during rehearsals and show earth tremors shook the building), Vancouver (planned but cancelled) and it ended on the 21st. in Portland (during heavy thunder storms). After their arrival back in Britain, Geoff was asked in March to officially join the group. He is an Australian and former member of the group Steve and the Board. The next project which was released, was the soundtrack of the film SWALK (sealed with a loving kiss), a.k.a. Melody, featuring music by The Bee Gees. And there was the release of the single: How Can You Mend A Broken Heart of the new album Trafalgar. Their first number one record in The States! (Cashbox, Record World) It was taking more time than expected to regain confidence as group again in Britain they noticed. In July they returned back to Australia for a tour and were welcomed by family; sister Lesley.
The Bee Gees with new man Geoff Bridgeford `71
Nothing to worry as every show there was sold out. Their concert in Melbourne’s Festival Hall of July 15 was filmed for a huge TV special. In between touring they did appearances in Israel as well. August 28th. the group started another American Tour doing over 30 concerts and of course more American TV shows. It was a very tight schedule. Finally back in Britain in October to relax for some time. Their new album Trafalgar was released in 1971 as well and the tracks were recorded
in the first part of the year with Geoff as a 4th member and the first appearance of Alan Kendall, their lead guitarist. Alan so far has appeared on more Bee Gees recordings than anyone else besides the Gibb Brothers themselves. His previous band was Toe Fat. The album cover of Trafalgar shows the group in the Death Of Nelson scene. The Brothers Gibb had become interested in some more sunshine and decided to move to the sunny Spanish island Ibiza, like their parents already had done earlier. In November Barry’s fan club sends out a special fan club record to all of the members containing the songs: King Kathy, Summer Ends and I Can Bring Love. Another single from the Trafalgar album was released by the end of the year: Don’t Wanna Live Inside Myself. After their reunion as a group especially Maurice preferred also to do other production work next to his Bee Gees work like with Billy Lawrie, Lulu, Tin Tin, Jimmy Stevens, Norman Hitchcock etc. etc.
Geoff Bridgeford with his wife Carolyn and daughter Emma, 1972
January started with the release of the catchy song My World written back stage at the ITV studio, not for a special album. It still wasn’t easy for the group in Britain so why not touring elsewhere and they left for Australia, USA and Asia. In between all this touring they returned back to Europe to participate in the international gala show in The Netherlands: Grand Gala Du Disque on February 26th singing 5 of their hit songs.
left: Barry, Linda, Lulu, Maurice, Hugh and Robin in between filming in the center of Hoorn, 1972 right: A break during the filming of the Dutch Trafalgar TV special. The Gibb Family enjoys a Dutch lunch, 1972
They also did some TV promo work and a huge Dutch NCRV TV special filmed on location in many different parts of The Netherlands to promote their latest album. (this 40 minutes Bee Gees portrait was aired in Holland May 9th. 1972). On March 19th they had their first concert ever in Hong Kong for about 16 thousand screaming fans at the Government Football Stadium.
Geoff by that time found it was time to leave The Bee Gees although Stigwood tried to change his mind. Geoff looked back on his Bee Gees years as being magical and interesting but for him it now was time to move on to something else because of several reasons. So when the group started their tour through Japan (Tokyo, March 23rd.) Chris Karon replaced Geoff on drums during their concerts. After Japan they moved on to Kuala Lumpur for 2 more shows and on to Singapore. Problem during these last few shows was their hair style as according to government policy you are not allowed to have long hair. They finally got permission to do their gigs and then leave the country. Another strange situation during their Far East tour certainly was around their Jakarta show where heavy rains made it hardly possible and very scary to work on stage and it looked as if the show would be cancelled but they finally did play for over 60.000 people. Also early in 1972 the group had been working on a new album and in April they’d finished the recordings at the IBC studio, with Clem Cattini helping them on drums. Different musicians would help the group in the studios the coming years. They’d done the last sessions with Bill Shepherd and their last album Geoff was involved in.
The Bee Gees in the typical old Dutch town of Hoorn, filming their TV special, 1972
The sleeve of their newest album To Whom It My Concern had pop-up figures of the brothers when opening and it contained many photos of people with whom the group had worked so far. The new album proved that the brothers finally really were working together again. Fine backing vocals and beautiful close harmonies were back. Run To Me then becomes the first single and was released 3 months before the album. One of their most unusual compositions ever was the album track Sweet Song Of Summer. The Brothers at this point in their career were seeking for new ways to move on. 1972 had again been hectic with lots of touring and another album and while coming back home from some gigs in America they were already busy writing new material to record.
The year had started for Robin and his wife Molly with the death of Molly’s young brother David, killed during a ship fire, but later in the year on September 21st. it were more happier times when their son Spencer was born, nearly a month early and while Robin was in L.A. recording with his brothers for their new album Life In A Tin Can. Robin left America for a while to be with Molly and their baby boy. Meanwhile on Ibiza another Gibb brother started in show business; Andy. He’d started writing songs and began to perform in bars and clubs on the island after he’d met Tony Messina a manager of one of Ibiza’s night clubs. Andy was determined to continue in show business specially after the advice of Barry to continue writing songs. For a short while Barry and Maurice had their own house on Ibiza too and Barry even had left his beautiful country home in Gerrards Cross for the Spanish island but this turned out to be a mistake and he was soon back in the U.K. again, in Ascot. Another Bee Gees single of their album was released in November: Alive.
left: Me, (Marion, GSI) visiting Maurice at home in England, 1973 right: Robin, Linda, Barry, Hugh in The London Royal Festival Hall, February 1973 1973
The year started with the single Saw A New Morning and yet another Bee Gees album release. Life In A Tin Can on Stigwoods’ new RSO label. February 19th. the group finally played a concert in Britain again with the complete London Symphony Orchestra at the London Royal Festival Hall. (see the special GSI Report) By this time the group had a new drummer Dennis Bryon from Cardiff, Wales. For me (Marion/GSI) it was a very special concert. It was the first one I ever attended and the first time I met the Gibb Family and it was around this time that I started my fan work involvements etc. The next American tour kicked off in Canada by the end of February.
left: Maurice together with friend Royal Nash in front of his new home, 1973
middle: Barry during the filming of Cucumber Castle. (a photo he sent to all his fan club members in 1973)
right: Barry and Linda expecting their first baby
Young Andy was with them to kind of observe his brothers during the tour. In the U.S. the group also performed during the famous TV shows called The Midnight Special. While returning to Britain in April, Lulu explained she wanted to divorce from Maurice. They both went their own ways but remained on good terms. Maurice tried to put all of his energy now in The Bee Gees and they were determined to get back in the U.K. charts as well. The following project recorded at the Hollywood Record Plant was called A Kick In The Head… with arranger Jim Haskell to work with them too.
The first single was Wouldn’t I Be Someone, released in June. The album itself was never officially released as around August the group explained not being satisfied enough with the results. June 24th. the group performed at the London Palladium and a British tour was cancelled. Instead they left for Japan for concerts in September. The Bee Gees needed a musical change and Stigwood asked Arif Mardin to be their producer and he said yes. Gibb Parents Hugh and Barbara had also lost interest in Ibiza and decided to leave the Spanish island with Andy and Berri to settle once again on The Isle Of Man where they moved in a nice house outside the center of Douglas: Rose Villa. By the end of the year another Gibb was born when Linda gave birth to Stephen on December 1st. Barry and Linda’s first child.
This year started with the move of Barry, Linda and baby boy Stevie to Douglas (I.O.M.) where they moved in a house on Glencrutchery Road on the famous TT Motor race track and close to the home of Barry’s parents. Maurice would move to Man later on as well but now still lived in his home in Sussex while Robin and his family stayed in Virginia Waters, Britain. Another single was Mr. Natural. Also this year the group toured America and started in New York (March 4th.) shortly after recordings for their new album had finished. The live act had been changed. They did only partly play with the orchestra but the first part of the show looked more like a rock concert now. Back in Britain they started a club tour doing a number of performances in clubs in Northern England. They first appeared in the Batley Variety Club in Batley near Leeds on April 28th. This club tour was mentioned being the worst part of their career but still here their shows were done professionally. (at that time I was a young but already devoted BG fan myself, it was great to be there too, so close to the boys in such a small venue. Easy to get in touch with them after the shows and even taken back to the hotel by Dennis in the band bus, Marion/GSI.) The Bee Gees about these theatre shows: ‘this should never happen again…’ and after the club tour they were determined to change the situation they’d come in to. At this point things were not at the best in Britain for them however we should not forget that at this date the Bee Gees had a truly worldwide following that should not be overlooked.
Their records were popular in Japan and Australia, where they had sold out venues during their tours. One positive thing had come out of their club shows; In Batley Maurice found his new love: Yvonne Spenceley who was waitress in Batley and was introduced to Maurice. They started dating and after some months decided to live together.
In March and June they released two more singles (already of their new album): Mr. Natural and Throw A Penny and next it was time for the release of the album Mr. Natural in July, produced by Arif Mardin and recorded in a number of sessions from the end of 1973. The cover shows a restaurant instead of a photo of the group (Corner Bistro, Greenwich Village). A new sound was growing here with a mix of rock and ballads. The Brothers now worked together with a band consisting of Dennis Bryon on drums, Alan Kendall on lead guitar and on keyboards Geoff Westley. A third single from the album was: Charade, the big change had started but The Brothers admitted they could do better. In the summer Robin and Molly became proud parents of daughter Melissa Jane on June 17th and in August The Bee Gees hit the road once again beginning in Canada (Nova Scotia, August 21st). Now their shows opened with a rock set but the old tunes were not forgotten. The Canadian tour ended August 31st. after having played again for sold out halls. They from there moved to the US, New Zealand and Australia where they were welcomed this time by Andy who had moved to Down Under again.
Andy had formed his own group on the Isle Of Man earlier in the year: Melody Fayre and already had performed on the island and started recording songs. Barry helped Andy from time to time. Also old friend from Ibiza Tony Messina had joined Andy again being his roadie. Andy’s group did also Bee Gees compositions and they performed more and more on Man and in England. In September Andy had moved to Australia for his career and to try and grow and learn more over there. Later on his mum had come over as well for some time to support him in his career and Andy’s career was growing while he was performing and recording with his new group Zenta.-
The Bee Gees made another TV special Down Under and the tour continued to Asia. That part of the tour ended in Japan with a last show in Sapporo where the whole family was in a silly mood joking around during the show, including the wives!. Yvonne had joined Maurice during this tour for the first time. The last performance of this huge tour was in Alaska. The past few years had not been easy. They got back together after a split and the huge fame of the sixties but it took quite some time before they were a real musical team again, before people everywhere started to accept them again and before they had found themselves new musical ways to explore. All three brothers have had their personal problems the past few years and there had been pills involved that even brought Robin in to hospital at some point and Maurice had his drinking problem which would take quite some years to overcome. Arif Mardin believed in the group and wanted to work with them some more. Dennis Bryon suggested adding Blue Weaver, who had played keyboards with him in Amen Corner.
To be continued.
Part seven: History