left: Family reunion 1974, Australia: The Bee Gees with Andy, Lesley and some of her kids, Linda and Stevie, Hugh and Barbara. right: The Brothers on Douglas beach, Isle Of Man, 1976.
The story about The Bee Gees/Part 7 1975-1979
In the beginning of 1975 The Bee Gees moved to Miami, Florida to start working with Arif Mardin. They all stayed at 461 Ocean Boulevard and booked Criteria Studios to start working on their new project: Main Course. The band now consisted of the Gibb Brothers, Blue Weaver on keyboards, Alan Kendall on guitar, Dennis Bryon on drums, as well as Karl Richardson and later on Albhy Galuten. Country Lanes was born in the first few days of the sessions. Soon followed by Wind Of Change and more material. The group was still busy searching for another sound. Listening to lots of music on US radio and working in new surroundings finally began to affect the compositions. Having Arif Mardin as their producer helped a lot too. For the boys it was great working with him. The pressure started to fall off and it became more relaxed for the group to work. They felt their new compositions would give them a come back. On Songbird the Brothers for the first time collaborated with someone outside their family: Blue Weaver. With Nights On Broadway, Barry first did some falsetto.
Also in 1975 The Bee Gees recorded six Beatles songs for a film called: All This And World War II. The album was re-issued in 1977 with the title: ‘The Songs of John Lennon and Paul McCartney Performed by the World’s Greatest Rock Artists’.
Meanwhile in Australia Andy had met Kim Reeder who lived close to Andy in Rydalmere. The Reeders bred Staffordshire Bull Terriers like Andy’s sister Lesley and husband Keith Evans. Lesley introduced the two during a dog show.
Right after the recording of Main Course The Bee Gees came back to Europe. And while I (Marion, GSI) was visiting The Isle Of Man in Spring 1975 with my friends we were one of the first ones who got a chance to hear the new Bee Gees sound of Main Course.
I spent about 2 weeks on Man with my friends and visited The Gibbs almost daily. We were invited to their house many times, went out with Maurice several evenings for a chat and a drink. Most special was that The Brothers invited us to listen to their new tapes which they had just recorded in Miami. They wanted to know our opinion about Main Course before it was released!! We had a great time on Man and many times they picked us up at the hotel to spend the afternoon or evening together, Marion / GSI).
The Bee Gees rehearsing at the Douglas Bay Hotel
Jive Talkin, their first single of Main Course reached nr. 1 in the US on June 18. (5 in U.K.). A party was organized by Stigwood at Rockefeller Plaza and when Main Course was released no one believed this were The Bee Gees after hearing their new sound! Time for a next American Tour. The group had rehearsed on Man for their upcoming tour in Douglas Bay Hotel and May 30th. the tour started in Dayton, Ohio. It was not an immediate success as no one was aware yet of the change the group had made musically. After a couple of shows the situation changed and even more appearances were added as well as TV shows. The Bee Gees still had all their old fans but suddenly there were coming lots of new fans too. In June the album Main Course was released. Maurice and Lulu’s divorce became final August 21st, however Lulu would always stay friend of the family. In September there was the release of the second single: Nights On Broadway, the group started their Canada tour. Maurice announced his engagement to Yvonne Spenceley and Linda had a miscarriage. The Canadian tour ended in Halifax, Nova Scotia and the group returned to Europe. Barry and Linda then moved to their new house, also in Douglas; ‘Sherdley’ on Princess Rd. and Maurice and Yvonne decided to get married. The ceremony took place October 17th. at Haywards Heath. Barry was best man and walked on crutches and with his leg in plaster after a fall from the steps in front of his house.
Wedding of Maurice and Yvonne, Oct. 17. 1975
Barry on crutches during wedding of brother Maurice
A look into the personal photo book of Maurice and Yvonne
By the end of the year on the other side of the globe Andy Gibb released his first single : Words And Music managed by Col Joye and Kevin Jacobsen and for The Bee Gees a European promotion tour started.
(I again saw the boys several times during this tour in their hotels and we mostly talked about their tour of course and the fan club I was involved in at that time already, Marion / GSI)
In the beginning of the year The Bee Gees left again for the US to record their following album. The third single from Main Course would become: Fanny, Be Tender. The group now couldn’t work any longer with Arif Mardin as he was with Atlantic Records and they were signed to Polydor. A sudden end of a great partnership this was, but a challenge for the future. The group first recorded in L.A. with producer Richard Perry but soon decided to return to Miami. There they again worked with Karl Richardson and also Albhy Galuten. A great team and lots of more hits followed. Their new project they would call: Children Of The World. For the first time since 1966, no strings were used, but a horn section was added (The Boneroo Horns) and a few guest players like Stephen Stills. Blue Weaver contributed a lot too. The first song which was created during the new sessions in Criteria was You Should Be Dancing and people like Joe Lala and George Perry became involved too. There was a break in February when Robin went home for a while and Maurice too for the birth of his son. Barry stayed behind in Miami to mix the new single. Maurice and Yvonne’s son Adam was born February 23rd. and shortly afterward Maurice and his family moved from Dane Hill, England to a small house at Stanley Terrace, Douglas I.O.M. The second half of March recordings continued again in Miami. The first single of the new album became You Should Be Dancing and the mixing of the album was done in Le Studio, Montreal, Canada.
Their parents Barbara and Hugh had again moved to Australia and plans were made for The Bee Gees to play in a film with Beatles songs. In June Andy had received a phone call from Barry who asked him to come to America to continue his career over there. Barry and Stigwood agreed Andy was ready for a next level in his career. So Andy decided he wanted to marry Kim before leaving for America. They married July 11th. 1976 at Wayside Chapel in Potts Point just outside Sydney. Honeymoon brought them to Stigwoods’ house on Bermuda where Barry would visit him to start making future plans etc. Andy signed with RSO in July and started working in the Miami studio and recorded material for an album.
(The second half of July I again spent a holiday on Man with my friends and we had many nice visits with the Gibb Family again at Barry’s and Maurice’s house, Marion / GSI). Maurice and Yvonne left for a belated honeymoon to Acapulco, July 18th and Maurice as well as Barry were again busy finding other houses.
In September Children Of The World was released as well as the second single of the album: Love So Right. Also this year the album All This And World War Two was released and by the end of the year the group started another tour across the USA. The Bee Gees did a huge charity concert in New York: Madison Square Garden on December 2nd. for the Police Athletic League. A charity to provide facilities for underprivileged children via police sponsored youth clubs. They received keys of the city of New York as well as New Orleans and San Francisco. The group became extremely popular again and RSO even let The Bee Gees open their own shop at New York’s 57th. Street, their ‘International Headquarters’ where one could buy their albums and lots of Bee Gees merchandising!! The last concert of their American Tour at the L.A. Forum , December 20th. was recorded for their planned live album.
Early in the year the boys left for France to work on yet another album in Château D’Herouville and there’s the release of another single: Boogie Child. The recorded songs in France would be used for a later project: the Saturday Night Fever film.
The first song which was born in the French castle was If I Can’t Have You. In France they also mixed their live album and next to that Robert Stigwood phoned them telling he was planning on making a film and he needed music for this project. The boys had no time to also write special compositions for this new film but offered some of their just composed new material without even knowing anything about the film. They sent Stigwood: Stayin’ Alive, Night Fever, How Deep Is Your Love and the one Yvonne Elliman would sing: If I Can’t Have You. Their live album: Here At Last, Bee Gees Live was finally released May 1977 and the single: Edge Of The Universe followed in July. How Deep Is Your Love would become the first single of the film music, released even before the film was ready and the second: Stayin Alive came close to the release of the film: Saturday Night Fever. The soundtrack of the film was released in October ( US) and 2 months later in the UK. No one realized it would be such a success, but S.N.F. with the Bee Gees music became huge and the group was more famous then ever before
After their work in France Barry and Linda decided to move to Miami Beach and most of the family followed, so did Dick Ashby. Andy already lived there with Kim and later on decided to move to California. Andy’s first album (Flowing Rivers) was released in September too. Robin and his family stayed behind in Britain. September 8th. Barry and Linda’s second boy was born: Ashley Robert Crompton Gibb in Miami’ Sinai Hospital. Ashley was born with a heart disorder and spent the first month of his life in hospital.
Also this year Barry did more and more producing work for other artists like Network, Samantha Sang etc. and by the end of the summer the boys recorded a Special in Miami for TV. A short week after the birth of Ashley Barry flew to L.A. where Robin and Maurice already were for some final mixing work and the recordings at Cherokee Studio for The Sgt. Pepper film. Their success was unbelievable and awards and gold and platinum records came their way. The film shooting of Sgt. Pepper started October 10th with all the activity around S.N.F. the timing for shooting this film at this time was not the best. December 24th. The Gibbs left L.A. to spend the Holidays at home with the families.
Right after the New Year The Bee Gees continued filming Sgt. Pepper in L.A. On January 25th. Andy’s wife gave birth to a baby girl named Peta Jaye and in April the divorce of Andy and his wife Kim became final. Andy was very busy doing a tour through Europe.
(I met Andy of course when he visited the Netherlands. I went with him to the TV studios and was present during his radio interviews etc. The next day Andy collapsed in Amsterdam and had to fly home to Miami right away, Marion / GSI).
Later on he’d continue doing TV shows, interviews and touring and received gold and platinum records like his brothers. His Shadow Dancing tour ended September 1st.
It was unbelievable for the Bee Gees as well as Stigwood to hear that Saturday Night Fever (the best selling album sound track of all time) wasn’t even nominated for an Academy Award. In February they did get a Grammy Award for: How Deep Is Your Love. Their next single to be released became Night Fever and Samantha Sang released the Gibb song Emotion. Through the years there have been countless artists who covered Bee Gees songs and also many artists who released material The Gibbs had never used themselves. No one really knows how many Gibb compositions there have been written since the start of their musical career!!
Linda and Barry at house with new born baby Ashley, Jan. 1978
In the first part of 1978 it were all Gibb compositions which dominated the US charts. In March there were five songs simultaneously in the top ten: Night Fever, Stayin’ Alive, Emotion, (Love Is) Thicker Than Water and How Deep Is Your Love. Finally there came recognition for Saturday Night Fever too when May 12th. The boys received the Ivor Novello Award (How Deep Is Your Love, Best Pop Song, Best Film Movie Song) and a 3rd. Ampex Golden Reel Award also for S.N.F. More awards would follow. Another release came in April: If I Can’t Have You.
Barry was asked by Stigwood to write a song for yet another project. The song should be called: Grease. It sounded difficult but it again worked and Barry wrote another smash hit – Grease- for the film with the same name. (Released in May).
Different it would turn out with the project Sgt. Pepper, a film with Beatles songs. The whole project became some kind of battle for The Brothers; not having major roles and not really getting a chance to act. The script was not good. However working with Beatles producer George Martin was a great thing for the Gibbs. In March the group would start working for the next album in Criteria Studios and they finished it after the Summer holidays. There was some pressure on their shoulders; how were they going to live up to the public’s expectations after all the recent successes!! Also the boys would work for another Andy album and Barry and his good friend David English wrote material this year for a movie which was never released after all. English, the first president of RSO Records, would do some more projects with Barry in the years to come. One of the other projects this year: Maurice produced an album for The Osmonds.
In May 1978 a press conference was announced with The Bee Gees, Robert Stigwood and David Frost at the U.N. Building in New York to tell about their plans to do something for children in need and the proceeds of a next single they’d decided to donate to Unicef. July 18th. was the premiere of Sgt. Pepper’s Lonely Hearts Club Band at the L.A. Palladium, 3 days later the East Coast premiere took place at Radio City Music Hall in New York. One expected another great success as RSO already dominated the charts in the US Billboard Top 100 at that time with 6 Gibb hits in the period of 1977-1978, however Sgt. Pepper didn’t become that big hit film everyone thought it would become. Only 2 songs charted (Earth, Wind and Fire and Robin with Oh, Darling) In August Molly Gibb travelled to Germany to receive more awards for The Bee Gees. She also flew to Robin in New York together with the kids: Spencer and Melissa to visit the studio of Sesame Street, the fave show of Robin’s children. Robin had agreed in recording for The Sesame Street Fever album. His song Trash was released in October.The first single of Spirits was released in November: Too Much Heaven and the proceeds would all be going to Unicef. The B side: Rest Your Love On Me, also became a hit in the US Country Charts. The horn section from the US band Chicago played on Too Much Heaven as well and in return The Brothers appeared on a Chicago song: Little Miss Lovin’ (The band Chicago were recording their new album in Criteria at the same time the Bee Gees recorded there).
In September and October I visited The Gibbs in Miami Beach. Barry organised a soccer match for family and friends on Yvonne’s birthday, September 24th and invited me and my friends too: the nicest soccer game I ever saw, Marion / GSI).
The boys enjoyed the rest of the year and the Holidays with their families. Maurice in Britain, Robin in New York and Barry with his family in Miami Beach. The Bee Gees received more awards this year amongst others a number of Billboard Music Awards. Fans received at the end of the year a special disc with Bee Gees Christmas Wishes.
January 9th. The Music For Unicef concert was held at the General Assembly Hall of the U.N. The Bee Gees, Andy Gibb, Olivia Newton John, Abba and many more artists performed for Unicef. With the recording of the concert: A Gift Of Song – The Music For Unicef, money was raised for children in need in 100 developing countries. January 12th. the boys received a star in the Hollywood Walk Of Fame. Also this year more awards came their way and they released their new album in January too: Spirits Having Flown. February 15th. they were the big winners at the Grammy Awards and collected 4 for Saturday Night Fever. In the same month the single Tragedy was released. Meanwhile next to all the Bee Gees work The Brothers continued to do all sorts of other projects, like with Andy’s career and album plans were there for starting to work with amongst others Barbra Streisand, working with Jimmy Ruffin, composing film music etc.etc. In March The Osmonds released their album: Steppin’ Out which was produced by Maurice. The third single of their album was released in April: Love You Inside Out. Rumors started to be published in the press about problems within the group now that they had become so popular and successful but they denied all. In Spring they received 11 Billboard Awards and preparations and rehearsals started for their upcoming Spirits Tour through the U.S. and Canada. The boys were very busy and extremely nervous at the start of the huge tour. Security had never been so extreme. The Brothers, their musicians and the families used a special plane as well during this tour to travel around, a Boeing 707 designed with a beautiful Spirits Having Flown tour logo. A film team made a 90 minutes special for NBC TV of the group during the tour, during rehearsals and relaxing with their families. Tickets for this Spirits tour were sold in front of the venues on the black market and people paid sometimes 700 instead of 15 U.S. Dollars for a ticket. It was crazy and everyone wanted to see them on stage. The tour started in Texas: Fort Worth, June 28 and in August the group took a 3 weeks break to continue again August 27th. in New Haven. After the New York concerts there was a huge party organized at the St Regis Hotel.
(I was lucky enough to be invited too with my friends, as I was touring to many of their concerts for one and a half month: see the special report of the Spirits Tour on the GSI Memory Lane page!, Marion / GSIl).
In September the Bee Gees were invited to the White House and President Carter congratulated them for their Unicef work. The final concert of this amazing tour took place at the Miami Baseball Stadium. It had been hard work and the group needed some time off. It had been a stressful time, doing all these shows and Maurice still suffered from his drinking problem which had made his brothers sometimes wonder if he’d be able to perform. Anyway when NBC showed the Spirits Tour Special on TV in November it looked perfect. The Bee Gees had done a very successful concert tour and thousands of fans had seen them all over the U.S. and Canada. Now it was time to relax a bit at home with the families. In December Spirits, Having Flown, the single was released. Barry continued working with Andy for his new album. Also The Brothers had started to write material for a Barbra Streisand album. Between December 1977 and June 1979 the Bee Gees got 6 consecutive number ones in the USA: How deep is your love (77), Stayin alive (78), Night fever (78), Too much heaven (79), Tragedy (79) and Love you inside out (79).
T. de Bont
To be continued.
Part eight: History