The Fairsky 1967
March 6, 2021, GSI brings you…….
Memories of a boat trip / On the Fairsky back to England. Including special news from GSI about…. an exclusive audio tape found of The Young Bee Gees performing on the Fairsky!!
Marion:”There are several stories of people who travelled together with our Bee Gees on that boat back to England in the late 60ties.
Here are some memories of that voyage by those people, together with some more information about the travel of the young Bee Gees and their family back in 1967, from several other written sources like:
The site of Joe Brennan,
The David Leaf biography and
Tales Of The Brothers Gibb.
Last but not least, there’s also unique recorded material found of the Young Bee Gees performing on the ship!! GSI has the complete tape.
Recently a tape was found back of one of the shows the brothers gave on their journey back to England and it was transcribed to CD.
The quality of course is not -studio- but a family I came in touch with, recorded the boys during one of their several performances.
The show included:
a Peter Paul and Mary tribute, You Can’t Do That, Norwegian Wood, Unchained Melody , Feel Alright, their first big hit, Spicks and Specks and more…. almost half an hour.
The young Bee Gees’ scheduled live performances usually started in the evening at 11.30 pm. In the ship’s Grand Social Hall.
The family who recorded all this, contacted GSI some time ago!!
I believe they were the only ones on the ship who had a recorder to tape it and we decided that I should forward a CD with the recording to Barry, as well as a note of the family with some more memories they’d like to share with Barry of this trip.
I could keep the other CD.
So I was happy to forward this special audio memory to all 3 Gibb families recently!!
A nice memory of the old days.
A part of the story that family, who also travelled as passengers on the Fairsky, told me:
“As far as I know I am the only person who had a recorder onboard and recorded this performance.
You are the first and only person I have contacted.
I am happy to offer a copy to Barry if he’s interested. It was recorded sometime in early January on board the Fairsky.
The ship was full of mostly young people heading to Europe like today’s backpackers. Flying was too expensive in those days.
The ship stopped at Singapore and Colombo before heading to Port Said and through the Suez Canal to England.
We got off in Egypt and continued overland through the Middle East to Germany where we bought a car and travelled in it for 6 months before going to England.
I lost track of the tape till last week ( fall 2020) when I found it in a box with 8mm films.
A local studio was able to transcribe it onto CD.
My husband and I in our very early 20s were at the beginning of a journey away from Australia which lasted almost 5 years.
The drummer on the tape was the boys’ dad. I remember I guess Barry’s first wife wearing a leopard print sundress.
We often saw the family and they seemed very close. I don’t have much memory of the twins but I do remember Barry who must have been in his 20’s at this time.
I think the band only performed a few times and I am happy that they played Spicks and Specks as it’s a popular tune even now in Australia as we have a musical quiz show of the same name.
We loved the performances of the young Bee Gees.
Lovely to see that you have had this ongoing relationship with the family – that’s true devotion and I’m sure they value that as well.
I also found my diary from the trip and in it I said – we heard the Bee Gees on guitar and one of them on sitar and their father Hugh was on drums.
It was after we stopped in Singapore and before Columbo, now Sri Lanka.”
The journey started on January 3, 1967 when the Bee Gees brothers, Barry including first wife Maureen, together with their parents as well as Andy, Bernice and Ossie Byrne left Sydney, Australia for England on the Fairsky hoping their father Hugh’s letters and acetates found their way to NEMS, the Beatles’ management company.
They reached Southampton on February 6 and during the journey the boys performed on board in exchange for passage.
They didn’t leave Australia with big announcements but very quietly. Hardly anybody knew they were leaving for England. Lesley and husband Keith stayed behind and came over to England a while later.
At the first stop of the ship, at Thursday Island, the Gibb boys bought a number of picture postcards to send to the DJ’s in Australia telling that they were on their way to England.
The money they had from Spicks and Specks wasn’t enough to pay the trip for everyone so a deal was made that Hugh and the boys would play regularly on the ship to pay for their voyage to England. While on the way to England they heard Spicks and Specks was going up in the Australian charts.
On January 7 the boys gave their first performance. The ship was full with young Australians who knew the group and they got a fantastic reception.
Several people who were on the ship that time mentioned about the Gibb performances later on.
The boys still performed their nightclub act of original material and covers, at the end Maurice would take his electric guitar and they played some rock and roll.
Also Maurice had bought himself a sitar when they were in Ceylon which he used sometimes as well. (A sitar is a stringed instrument from North India with a very typical sound).
Maurice studied to play the Beatle song Norwegian Wood on the sitar too.
On the original audio you can hear Maurice play this sitar while the boys are singing Norwegian Wood!
Another thing which kept the boys busy during the journey was their hobby of making up stories.
For instance on the information board of the ship there were each day mysterious poems and short stories from an unknown writer…..
Nobody knew who that was but it was young Robin who was each day busy writing them in the cabin on a typewriter.
(one of these little write ups: The little house on the hill, where it was all red, with a lovely red fence all around it, and it blew up….).
Robin was looking from a distance each day and watched the people read his little poems and stories while wondering who this phantom of the Fairsky was!!!
Also the boys seemed to have written a book with short stories on their journey back to England. They gave it the title: On The Other Hand, one of the projects that would be shelved.
People also mentioned a young blond girl who was with the family and did some magical disappearing act.
This must have been Maureen I guess, Barry’s first wife.
During the voyage of about 5 weeks the Gibb family got of the ship in Suez and followed their way by land to Cairo.
By bus they travelled through the Sahara desert and saw the old pyramids and followed their journey to the ruins of Pompeii and the city of Napels in Italy to go back on board of the Fairsky to continue the journey to England.
They reached Southampton on the evening of February 6 and disembarked the ship February 7.
The boys decided to go off the ship already that night to find their first fish and ships shop in a long time!
They met a group of young boys dressed like The Beatles who told them: go back, go back, groups are out here, but The Gibb brothers didn’t go back…. and the rest is history.
Video footage from 1967 with song I Can’t See Nobody.
Source Wikipedia.: This song was written by Barry and Robin Gibb in 1966 towards the end of the family’s time living in Australia.
Maurice Gibb has sometimes been listed as a co-writer for the song, most notably on the compilation Bee Gees Gold.
According to Nat Kipner (Spin Records Australia), the song was recorded at St. Clair Studios.
Robin has said that it was written in Brisbane, Australia, where the band toured in November 1966, but that the first version was not released.
At the Bee Gees’ 1st sessions, this song was recorded on 7 March, with remixing and overdubbing on 13 March.
Robin sang lead on the verses while all three brothers featured on the chorus.
Robin’s voice on this track was higher than the other songs on the album, especially on the line “Don’t ask me why”.
Marion / GSI