Poem's stories and comments

Obituary by Brian May
Published on the web site of this member of the popgroup Queen.

Obituary written by Brian May (Queen)

MAURICE GIBB 1949-2003

Very sad to hear of the passing of Maurice Gibb.
It’s so shocking to realise he was only 53.
Deepest sympathies to his family and to his brothers.
It must of course be a devastating blow for them.

I’m starting to dread seeing the news and wondering who will be taken next.

Of course I was, and am a huge fan of the Bee Gees creations in music.
Undoubtedly at the pinnacle of song-writing considered over the last – 30 years, is it?!
My fondest recollections are not of the “Saturday Night Fever” days, which were really a re-birth in the Bee Gees popularity, but the early ground-breaking songs –
“New York Mining Disaster”, “Massachusetts,” “To Love Somebody,” “Words,” “World” and “I Started a Joke” were all great favourites of mine – I remember singing these with my pal Tim Staffell and Freddie in the REAL old days!!!…
Their performances on record as well as the writing were always immaculate – and of course their vocal harmonies are a text-book for anyone wishing to study vocal arrangements in Pop Music.

Strangely enough, though, one of my moments of “Gasp!” was when I first heard a much later work, “You Win Again”.
To me it’s a modern masterpiece of production – devastating simplicity executed with devastating subtlety.
What a wonderful wall of sound, yet what sensitivity!

Around that time I got my only chance to meet with the Bee Gees and work with them, just briefly.
It was at a concert at the Albert Hall for the Prince’s Trust.
I was part of the “House Band” MD’d by Midge Ure for the night, so we were the back-up for various artists, including the Bee Gees, who were to sing this very song.
I was very excited, and had a nice conversation with them about this song, and my appreciation for their history.

Actually Maurice was by far the most friendly and forthcoming – very modest and down-to-earth.
And of course he was the only one of the Brothers who was to play as part of the band as well as sing.
He played Bass guitar, and very excellently too.
He also watched us sound-checking with another artist and commented on how much he liked my guitar tone – it turned out they knew a lot about Queen anyway.

Anyway the rest of the story isn’t so glorious!
I had already given the song some thought, and was all ready to give it a big kick, to go with the wall of sound effect I’d heard on the record.
But when we sound-checked we discovered that the Bee Gees vocal sound was only achievable live with them singing very quietly.
Now this means that their microphones have to be turned up very loud, and become very sensitive to picking up every other sound on stage.
They were standing more or less in front of my amplifiers, so it was immediately a BIG problem !!!

My guitar only sounds good with the amps turned up to 10, so a decision had to be made.
The decision was that I rethought my part completely and became a very passive part of the arrangement, a bit of a disappointment for me, but much better than messing up the famous Bee Gees vocals!

The World will miss him, but forever enjoy his work.

Brian May.