Together With The Brothers until “Odessa”
Original interview by Claudia Seeger for “GoodTimes Magazine”, Germany
Translated by GSI.
Their first world hit “New York Mining Disaster 1941” was celebrated by The Bee Gees as a quintet in 1967. Until 1969 guitarist Vince Melouney (born 1945) and drummer Colin Peterson were the Bee Gees band members and always played with Barry, Robin and Maurice Gibb during studio sessions, TV and live performances. After “First Of May” and “I Started A Joke” both musicians left The Brothers. Peterson works for a radio station in Sydney these days and Vince Melouney remained active in the music business and released his first solo album “Here At Last” in 2003. That album is like his second solo album “Covers” for sale through the German company: Starcluster Verlag. Vince, the old beat music veteran, was asked about the past and his times with the Bee Gees as well as his activities after he’d left the group.
You have played in Australian bands like The Vibratones and The Aztecs and released material with them since 1963. Colin Peterson didn’t play with you in any of these bands. Did you know him already before you joined The Bee Gees?
Vince; Yes superficially. He played with Steve And The Board. We sometimes saw each other during gigs and TV shows.
Your last name is written in different ways on your website: Malouney, Melouney and in 1966 there was a solo-single release mentioning the name: Vince Maloney Sect (‘She’s A Yum-Yum’). What should it be?
Vince: The right name is Melouney. Due to the some what unusual name I have it often happened that it was written wrong. Finally I gave up and decided for the name: Maloney until I left for England.
Barry, Robin, Maurice, Colin and Vince 'The Bee Gees'
When did you first meet The Gibb Brothers? And who decided you’d become part of their Band?
Vince: I was friends with the Gibb Brothers in Australia and had played the guitar in one of their early compositions, however I cannot remember which song, and they did backing and harmony singing on some songs I recorded in those days. I saw them last shortly before I left for England and then they told me they’d also plans of moving to England. After my arrival in England I contacted friends of my in Australia: The Easybeats. They then told me that The Bee Gees had also arrived in England. The Easybeats had their phone number and so I phoned Maurice Gibb. Maurice told me they’d just signed a contract with Robert Stigwood and they’d go into the record studio in a few days. Maurice asked me if I would like to play the guitar on one of their songs. I went there and that night we recorded ‘New York Mining Disaster 1941’ in the London IBC Studios. After that The Gibbs asked me to join their Band. Colin Peterson had joined the group one week before. The rest is history…
Billy Thorpe And The Aztecs 'Long Way To The Top' Sydney 2002
The name Bee Gees was because of the ‘B’ and ‘G’ standing for ‘Brothers Gibb’ or had it also to do with the names of the organizer and the DJ in Australia: Bill Goode and Bill Gates?
Vince: I believe the name was born some how automatic from a mixture of all the B and G names in their life including the ones you’ve just mentioned.
Did you and Colin had any influence and did you take part in writing the Bee Gees lyrics and music?
Vince: Except for my song ‘Such A Shame’ we had nothing to do with the melodies and the words. However together with Maurice we used to work on arrangements to many of the songs.
You play a wonderful guitar solo on ‘The Change Is Made’ of the Horizontal album. These guitar solos we had hardly ever heard before on Bee Gees recordings. Didn’t you get a chance to do this more often?
Vince: Horizontal was the most guitar orientated Bee Gees album ever recorded and I loved to do it. Afterwards the Bee Gees albums became more dominated by violins and my guitar work was limited from that moment on.
Who played the bass on al the early hits? Was this really Maurice Gibb or did the band hire some session musicians for these recordings?
Vince: Maurice played bass on all the songs where I was involved in.
You were very popular especially with the girls but Rock fans often didn’t take the band serious. What do you think of the criticism in those days that Bee Gees music was too soft and too sweet? Didn’t you prefer then to play in a Rhythm and Blues band.
Vince: Right yes, about the girls and the criticism and especially after the guitars and synthesizer were replaced by violin orchestras. I didn’t mind that musical change myself. The Bee Gees and Robert Stigwood just wanted to go into that musical direction. I loved the new type of songs very much but unfortunately there wasn’t much left to do for me as guitarist.
Why did you leave The Bee Gees after the Idea album? The rumour goes that Colin and you were fired. What really happened?
Vince: I left The Bee Gees because of the conflicts within the Robert Stigwood Organisation that were going on but I was always good friends with The Brothers and we still are. And next to that like I mentioned before: there was only little left to do in the group for me, so I quit. I wasn’t fired and I left the Band in good harmony and as a friend.
After your departure you still did some work for Odessa, for which songs?
Vince: I haven’t heard Odessa for quite some time but I still remember the song: ‘Marley Purt Drive’.
How did you later on get in touch with Ashton Gardner & Dyke? And what did you produce for them?
Vince: I saw Ashton at a party and then he introduced me to Kim Gardner and Roy Dyke. They invited me to come to one of their rehearsals and then I heard how good they were! I produced an album for them on Apple Records but I believe it was never released.
What did you do after that?
Vince: Around 1969 – 1970 I saw my old friend Teddy Toi again in England, a great bass player and a Maori from New Zealand. We planned to form a band. Ted suggested we should ask two Australian musicians: singer Doug Parkinson and drummer Johnny Dick. I brought both of them to England and then we recorded an album together for MCA in 1970. We called each other Fanny Adams and we were a Riff orientated band. The album was re- released in Germany not too long ago. We liked to go touring through Australia but there were problems with the promoter and the group split finally. I then came back again to England but had become a bit frustrated by the whole music business. In 1982 I returned to Australia where I started to record with the singer John Paul Young and we did live shows too. Afterwards I worked free lance in the advertisement business. Since 1996 I tour again through Australia, mostly solo and sometimes with a band. I hope to come to Europe this summer.
On your solo album Covers, you perform famous songs of other artists. A variety of different type of songs from RufusThomas, Steve Miller, Billy Joel…
Vince: I orientated a bit and tried to find out the wishes of my audiences. They liked me to perform some of the songs I recorded on Covers. I’m very satisfied with the result and the fans like it too.
In 1997 it were only the Gibb Brothers who became inducted into the Rock ‘n Roll Hall Of Fame didn’t that annoy you and Colin?
Vince: It would have been great also to have been inducted there and yes I was a little disappointed although the Bee Gees have released an unbelievable amount of material without us as well and in fact my contribution to The Bee Gees hasn’t been that much.
See also: www.vincemelouney.com www.starclustermusic.de
WE’LL TRY TO PUBLISH SOME RECENT PHOTO MATERIAL OF VINCE SOON.
(Marion / GSI) also with thanks Regina Seipp