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Bill Goode and Bill Gates, The ones who discovered the brothers Gibb’s talent for music

I could see the talent straight away,” said Bill Goode (owner of the raceway where the Gibbs started their singing in Australia), despite the fact Barry was just 12 and twins Maurice and Robin were nine. “The boys played a bass fiddle made out of an old tea chest and a guitar fashioned from a wooden fruitcase and some lengths of fishing line.The band’s “drum kit” was a couple of old oil tins”.

Despite the home-made instruments, Mr Goode was immediately impressed and enlisted Radio 4BH disc jockey Bill Gates and 4BH sales consultant John Proctor to the cause. Together, the businessmen signed the young band up to their first contract and set about recording and promoting them. “They were little bastards,” Mr Goode laughed, recalling their antics in the recording studios.

Mr Gates also described the Gibb brothers fondly as “little bastards with unique harmonies. You could tell them to sing the death notices in the paper and it would come out sounding beautiful,” he said. Mr Gates said he would always remember Maurice and Robin when they were youngsters as “irrepressible characters. “They were always up to something. They were uncontrollable in the studio, playing soccer with waste paper bins – they just wanted to have fun,” he said.

Mr Gates said he last met Maurice while visiting Barry’s home during a holiday to Miami two years ago.”They have their own recording studio just a few metres from where they live in Miami and they work there consistently, they are workaholics, but as far as their live appearances are concerned, I don’t see how that can possibly continue,” he said. His sudden death heralded the end of an era in the music world. “It’s a very sad day,” Mr Gates said.”These guys were the great survivors of the music industry.”

Kevin Jacobsen, Concert promoter

Col Joye’s brother and sometime bandmate Kevin Jacobsen was also lamenting the Maurice’s passing. “He was always up, he was always ready for a joke or a quip – he always wore a smile,” Jacobsen said. He rated the Bee Gees as “one of the phenomenons of show business of all times”, ahead of The Beatles, and certainly “Australia’s greatest international talent”. He had spoken to Barry Gibb by telephone and said the oldest brother in the close Gibb family was “devastated”.

“Maurice was a pretty free-for-all sort of guy. As he said, there were two things he didn’t really worry about – yesterday and tomorrow. He was a good talent, good co-writer … he was a good musical arranger, a good bass player, a good keyboard player, a good piano player and of course a great vocalist. It’s a sad loss, a very sad loss for the world, for the music business and those who knew him”

Col Joye, Australian rocker

The rise of the Bee Gees might not have been as steep if Barry had not fronted up to a Joye concert in Surfers Paradise in 1962. Joye was one the biggest stars of Australia’s fledgling rock scene and after meeting and listening to the brothers he brought them to Sydney and introduced them to Festival Records. Joye became lifelong friends with the family and was devastated yesterday by the news of Maurice’s unexpected death. “We are all quite distraught – this was completely out of the blue,” he said. “It’s a loss to the world, the Bee Gees were quite unique – musically, as performers, as song-writers.” Maurice was “a good arranger, a good musician, a good person.” The loss will be felt keenly in Australia because “they started off here, they did their apprenticeship here”.

Ian “Molly” Meldrun Australian Music guru

Music guru Molly Meldrum paid tribute to Maurice, twin brother Robin and older brother Barry, saying there was no doubt that the Bee Gees were one of the world’s biggest acts in the 1970s. “From a musical point of view these guys were and are huge, so it is a blow. And from a personal view as well, because they are all family friends, this is like affecting a part of my family. When these things happen, they just throw you for a six.”

Meldrum said the Gibb brothers managed to become one of the biggest bands in the world but remained the same likeable boys they were when they started their careers in Brisbane in the 1960s. “They were one of the major bands in the world with major, major hits. They had a lull and then Saturday Night Fever happened – they were alive again and have been ever since,” he said. “And they never forgot how they were brought up in Australia and that is a credit to all of them.” But Meldrum said Maurice’s death may mark the end of the band: “I don’t think the Bee Gees would go on without Maurice.” He added: “Maurice was the wit. He was again like John Lennon was to the Beatles. He could fire you with the one liners, and it would just break you up and the family as well.”