The first time I met the Bee Gees was in Los Angeles in the late 70’s during their U.S. tour. I was invited to come down to the hotel where they were staying by my former roommate and old friend from Criteria Studios, Karl Richardson. I had been living in Los Angeles for several years after moving there from Miami with a rock band. Both Karl and Albhy Galuten had become hugely successful after becoming acquainted with the Bee Gees and producing several of their albums. When I was an engineer at Criteria Studios in the late 60’s / early 70’s, Karl, Albhy, and I shared a house in North Miami. All 3 of us worked at Criteria; Karl and myself as engineers, and Albhy as a production assistant. I can only speculate as to where my career might have gone had I not moved to California.
I met Karl at the hotel bar where he introduced me to Robert Stigwood and Robin. After a cocktail and some conversation, Karl took me up to their suite where I was introduced to Barry and Maurice. I well remember the double doors of the suite opening up into a huge room with Barry seated on a couch facing a fireplace – indeed an elegant setting! I would have attended the concert that evening, but I had to perform at a club with my own band.
Chuck and The Bee Gees
Less than two years later, I would move back to Florida and return to my old job as an engineer at Criteria. The Bee Gees were there nearly everyday, working on their own projects and producing other artists. I was assigned to assist Dennis Hetzendorfer on a recording session for a singer named Jimmy Ruffin that was being produced by Robin and Maurice. I remember Robin being somewhat reserved at first, but when he started telling stories, he had us in stitches! I believe Robin could have been a very successful comedian had he chosen that route. Rob and Mo were both so easy and fun to work with, and I got one of my first real breaks when they let me play bass on the session. The hired studio bassist didn’t show up that day. Maurice could have easily done it himself, but he and Robin gave me a shot at it, and I got one of my first real session credits on a major label release.
I remember being invited to former drummer Dennis Bryon’s wedding at Barry’s house in Miami Beach. Upon arriving, who should I find at the front door greeting each and every guest and thanking them for coming but Barry himself. Barry tried so hard to be the perfect host and at the same time not draw any attention to himself for the sake of Dennis and his bride. Needless to say, Barry was surrounded most of the evening.
In 1980, Albhy Galuten asked me to play some slide guitar on a Bee Gees track at the studio. The song was “Livin’ Eyes” and it became chart hit. I wound up playing some rhythm guitar on a few more songs from the same album. I was invited to the album playback party and I took along my fiancee who was a huge fan of the Bee Gees. I will never forget her face when we walked into the party at Middle Ear and Barry said “‘Ello love….”. I thought she would faint.
In 1983, Karl Richardson hired me and my studio singing partner Johnne Sambataro to do some backround vocals on Barry’s solo album. Johnne and I had been doing quite a bit of session work together and had earned a reputation for working very quickly and singing very in-tune. There we were in the studio, sharing the microphone with Barry and singing harmony. Barry’s sense of timing and pitch were incredible – he didn’t let anything get by that wasn’t absolutely perfect. And, he was such a pleasure to work with.
Three years later, I was called by Peter Graves to play guitar with his orchestra at the 1986 Love and Hope festival at Turnberry Isle. I had just flown in from New York that day following a tour with Firefall, and I was late to the rehearsal. Imagine my embarrassment, walking in late on a 20 piece orchestra and Barry. The evening was spectacular with Barry and Andy performing to a screaming audience of fans that included my wife! She was very fortunate to get her picture taken with Barry that night, who after the picture was taken, thanked her! What a gentleman….
The last contact I had with any of the Bee Gees was Maurice. It was at Ace Music in North Miami, sometime in the late 80’s. I happened to see him in the store and walked over to ask him about the group’s latest recording activity. We somehow ended up talking about guitars for well over 20 minutes, with Maurice telling me about the guitar that John Lennon had given him.
Since that time, my wife and I have seen them perform live 3 times; once at Sunrise Music Theater, then at an in-store promotional concert for the release of “Size”, and lastly the New Years Eve Y2K show. The photo was taken at the in-store promo where the Bee Gees, after performing for well over an hour with just acoustic guitars – all this during a time when barry was suffering extreme arthritic pain in his hands -then signed autographs for every one of over 200 people in line. I know because I was the last one in the line when that photo was taken, and look at those faces!