Friday 24th. July 2009 Part 2
Fans have sent their photos and stories of the event in Manchester to GSI.
We’ve made a selection for you to post in this part two of the Variety Club Silver Heart Tribute.
My week in England
Report by Anne Simpson
I spent a week in England, the first part of which was to attend the Manchester Variety Club Silver Heart Tribute dinner to the Bee Gees at the Palace Hotel and the second part of which was to visit my cousins in the UK. I arrived early on the Thursday morning before the dinner.
It was wonderful meeting friends from the Words mailing list. One very kindly agreed to show me around Manchester in my rented car (the first time I’ve driven in the UK). We went to Keppel Road, the school where Barry and Robin went (seen in the Keppel Rd video), the path they took from their house to the Gaumont theatre, the corner where Maurice broke the record, the funeral home that used to be the theatre, etc. – sites that were visited during the fan convention in 2003, which I missed.
Because my father, who passed away just a few months ago, grew up in nearby Stretford, we also went to the streets where he had lived as a child. A lady who knew him when he was 12 gave me a photo of his parents which she said was taken at her wedding, which turned out to be at the same church where Hugh and Barbara were married! So back we went to see that. A trip down memory lane, both as a fan and for me personally. On Thursday evening more UK fans arrived and a bunch of us went out to dinner.
Most of Friday was spent sitting in the lounge/bar area of the hotel watching the comings and goings of Gibb family members, who were usually found sitting nearby in the lounge. Linda was there, Barbara was usually there, the Gibb cousins Hazel and Justine were often there, and occasionally Barry or Robin would pass through. Barry and Robin were doing some events related to the documentary that is being made about them during the day. I was lucky to be in the hotel lobby when I realized that they were coming back in a taxi. Robin in a suit, Barry in his ratty Granddad sweater and with Derek the bodyguard ever at his side. I got a chance to speak briefly with each of them then. My impression was that Barry seemed a little uncomfortable with the fan attention and tried to avoid much of it, but Robin was not as reclusive. After coming back he went into the lounge and stood chatting with his Mum and other family members for a while, making them laugh. We didn’t approach them.
The dinner itself was a posh star-studded event. Many of the people paying tribute to the Gibbs were English celebrities I don’t know. First there were Variety Club fund-raisers and then there were film and live tributes to the Bee Gees, including musical tributes by the likes of Ronan Keating and other entertainers whom I, as a Canadian, am not familiar with. The Gibb family were seated at tables in front of the stage, and I had a direct line of sight to Robin’s table.
Barry Palace Hotel Manchester
I could see Dwina sitting beside Robin, taking pictures of all three of Robin’s grown children (Spencer, Melissa, and RJ) who were there, and filming much of what was happening on stage with her digital camera. (I personally didn’t see any of Barry’s kids, but I’m sure them were around.) Video tributes came from Robert Stigwood, Bill Wyman, and Neil Sedaka. There was a terrific 20-minute video retrospective of the Bee Gees’ careeer. I had the honour of meeting Sir Tim Rice who has always been a big supporter of theirs. Music writer Paul Gambaccini also did a great tribute. I noted that Robin got up and went over to shake hands with each person who spoke. But the highlight was Barry’s friend David English. I couldn’t tell if he was doing a comedy routine or a tribute to the bros! Then the awards were presented to Barry, Robin, and Yvonne and Adam. Barry and then Robin each spoke of their love for each other.
Barry then picked up a guitar and he and Robin performed! I did NOT expect that at all. So the dinner turned into a concert. They sang “To Love Somebody” (which Barry dedicated to the fans who had travelled far to see them), “New York Mining Disaster,” “Massachusetts,” “How Can You Mend A Broken Heart,” and a rousing version of “You Should Be Dancing.” We left the party worn out but happy.
Anne Simpson, Toronto, Canada
Transcripts speeches Barry and Robin by Anne Simpson.
Anne: As best as I could, I have transcribed Barry’s and Robin’s speech upon accepting the Variety Club award.
I don’t know – everything – I can’t think of anything to say. [chuckle]
Um, I know that’s where this is going to end up, so we may as well just get down to it.
Um, I think the first thing and the most fundamental – there’s a big word – the most fundamental thing is to thank our individual wives, and our Mum, and [applause] [inaudible] um, we love you all [inaudible].
So, so here we all are, it’s like the cast of a show, isn’t it really?
Um, thank you all so much for giving us this award – ah, the Variety Club, to allow us to accept such an illustrious, um, award – something that we never dreamed could ever come our way, or that we would ever earn. So you know, I’m just going to shut up, I’m gonna pick up the guitar… [applause] [inaudible]
AWARDS PRESENTED TO BARRY, ROBIN, YVONNE AND ADAM BY DAVID LEAF
We will treasure these awards as long as we live, and hopefully we can give you some kind of idea of what it is we do for a living. On top of this, we will try so – we will try to do that now. [applause]
[Inaudible] 50 years, there’s been all kinds of ups and downs, mainly ups, but before I pick up my machine (or my saddle as I call it), um, I want to say something about Robin. I want to say something about Mo. Um, Mo is, was, a delight. For those of you who didn’t know Mo, ah, Mo was the magician. Mo was the guy who did magic tricks for children. That’s the Mo we want you to know, and we’re not at all sure that you’re really all aware of that kind of person. And he was magic, he was mystical, and he was our brother. [applause]
Robin has always been a mystery [chuckle] [audience laughter] [inaudible] … but he’s always, we’ve always sort of mistaken each other for two brothers who weren’t *really* into each other as people. And I’m here to tell you tonight that that’s totally untrue. The real truth is that we love each other [inaudible]. [applause] We’re not great socializers, there’s something that comes to mind now is that something Robin and I never did was really party. You know, we just never did. We had our own ways of partying, but we never really partied together. Tonight, you lot here tonight have made this a lifetime experience. [applause] And these days, these days we look for lifetime experiences. We don’t just look for what’s going to happen tomorrow, or next week, we just look for lifetime experiences. And this is most definitively [inaudible]. We thank you all for coming.
For [inaudible] years I’ve had the responsibility and the privilege of working with Barry and writing, and of course Maurice, who’s no longer with us. But Barry and I are here tonight to accept this, ah award and, ah recognition and it [inaudible] took a long time to get.
Barry [aside to Robin]: Nearly 50 years.
I think Barry said it all and, ah, and I do love Barry very much. [applause] [Inaudible] and not just because he’s my brother, but because I love him. [applause]
[Barry and Robin speak as Barry gets his guitar]
And, ah, and talk amongst yourselves. But his is, um, from the very early days, into single digits, when we were six or seven years old when we lived in Keppel Road and Barry got the first guitar, ah, and he taught himself to play the guitar, which nobody else played. So everything was self-taught, and we [formed] this natural harmony at the beginnings, because we were just listening to the radio and [pretend] what you liked, songs that we hoped other maybe people would write, or we thought, imagined, that people would write for their new records. That’s how we played games. We had no friends because [they couldn’t relate to us]. We were a bit like the Brontës, only male. [laughter]
Um, he’s tuning his in the Hawaiian style. And so ah, it’s [inaudible] he still plays it that way to this day.
[Interjection by David Leaf talking with Robin and Barry about childhood days]
Toon’s travel to Manchester
(copyright photos: Toon de Rouw)
Dutch Bee Gees fan Toon de Rouw travelled to Manchester and got tickets for the Variety Club event by accident.
He happened to have a very nice meeting with famous photographer Harry Goodwin who provided Toon with the tickets for the event and then Toon and his family enjoyed a great Gibb experience in the Palace Hotel.