Love And Hope Ball Barry at the Ball 2016 - Part 2
Barry at the Ball…..just a force of nature even if he didn’t want to be. So here’s what I observed.
I attended the Love and Hope Ball for the Diabetes Research Institute Foundation as a writer working on a story. My job was twofold: to write about the DRIF event and its importance in the fundraising it would provide for research to stop Type I diabetes and secondly, to observe Barry Gibb and the Gibb family and friends so I could pass on the details to Bee Gee fans around the world. Well, I’ve written my DRIF story, but writing about Barry is different every time I am with him. Each encounter is a unique and unusual experience. There’s a woozy haze of some ethereal doings surrounding him, as though a team of angels are protecting him along the way, keeping him just a step or two ahead of the rest of us. Arriving half way into the 6-8 p.m. cocktail hour event with Linda on his arm in a stunning white gown adorned with intricate beading, he was dressed down all in black, simple and imposing as usual. He greeted staff members of the DRIF warmly and proceeded without fanfare to the stage area of the nightclub, which was set off from the hundreds of guests. That didn’t stop them, however, from hovering and asking for photos. Watching Barry be gracious and sincere to the fans is like eating a bowl of fresh chicken soup when I have a brutal chest cold. That sounds like a crazy analogy, but those same feelings come over me as I watch him. It’s soothing, comforting and calming to observe him smile and pose, chatting and accepting hugs and the occasional woman’s touch from those who can’t resist patting his hair.
Yes, it’s entertaining to watch.
His sons, by the way, are equally fun to be around. Ashley’s smile alone radiates a positive energy. Michael is movie star handsome and friendly to all, and Travis, more low key and laid back but never turning down a request for a pose and good photo opp. Steve was absent tonight (nicest guy you could ever meet), but Ali was there as were all the lovely wives, posing for me as we chatted. I’ve taken almost 2000 photos of Barry in the past three years, but I’ve never shared a shot with him. I decided this night to get one, and Aimee Siegel Harris took a quick photo of us, amid the gathering of fans in the ballroom, flocking to his table like baby chicks needing to be close to their mama. Before that moment occurred, I was in the background watching him stand up from the table and laugh and joke with the young and not so young, who all seemed to turn into instant groupies when they got near him.
He seems taller than his six feet, his complexion ruddy and healthy, and demeanor mellow and relaxed. After our photo was taken, we chatted for a few moments, mostly about the new album and tour next year. I always want to know about his health and jump right in with my questions, which he responded to without hesitation. When I’m talking with Barry, it seems as though I’m with an old friend, and I have no need of a filter. I just say what comes to mind, and he answers me without pausing, as though we were getting together to catch up on things after a long separation. His non-verbal behavior is telling. He gives his total focus to whomever he’s interacting with at the moment–eye contact, vocal energy and listening intently, as though what’s being said to him sincerely matters, and I’ve no doubt that it does.
He didn’t run out of patience with fans, was never arrogant or aloof; and for a man whose share of painful losses has scarred him deeply, he embraces his life and looks to the excitement and possibilities the future holds. His family is his strength “we don’t ever fight”. He’s looking forward to singing for the fans again. “I’ll be making appearances on TV to promote the album”, and “there will be a tour”. I reminded him how much I’d like to cover the tour “behind the scenes” for fans and how much they want to hear stories about him “backstage”. As I hugged him goodbye and resumed my observation distance, I whispered to him, “Now don’t forget”, and he replied, “I never will”. Yes, I thought, he’s like honey to the soul, simply warming me with that genuineness of his. It’s a fool who speculates about future events; but as a dreamer, I don’t give up on my fantasies. So far, Barry Gibb has lived up to every one. He’s a family man with normal family challenges; believe it or not, he’s a regular guy. He’s also a humble man in a musical world full of megalomaniacs, he’s generous in his charitable endeavors, and he possesses an amazing voice that God has decided will continue to be shared with the world. To add the cherry on top of this Barry super sundae, he possesses a cheeky sense of humor. I like that in my musical icon; somehow he is the conqueror of all challenges.