Tribute album for Maurice, musical set to group's music in works
NEW YORK - When "How Deep Is Your
Love" comes on the radio or plays over the loud speakers at a
party, the Bee Gees song may remind some of their first kiss or first
heartbreak. Others might remember seeing the group in concert, or the
1977 film "Saturday Night Fever." Robin Gibb thinks of his
fraternal twin brother Maurice, who died suddenly in 2003, aged 53.
"It's different," Gibb says.
"Losing someone that you love so much and never knowing when you
are going to hear their voice. It's amazing and wonderful and
It has been more than 40 years since Robin,
Maurice and their older brother Barry formed the Bee Gees, renowned for
their vocal harmonies. Gibb has taken it upon himself to turn grief into
rejoicing with an extensive plan to keep Maurice's memory and the Bee
Gees' music alive.
Gibb's co-manager John Campbell says a slate of
Bee Gees events begins next year. In the works are a Maurice Gibb
tribute album, a free summer concert in Central Park, a prime-time
special, a Broadway musical, a film and a book.
The timing could not be better. The Bee Gees
get back the rights to their entire catalog in 2006, from Universal.
"It is one of the most successful catalogs of all time,"
Gibb hopes the legacy of his brother and the
band they shared will get new life through these projects.
A project close to Robin's heart
The tribute album, which is being produced by Kenneth
"Babyface" Edmonds, is especially close to Robin's heart.
"We've asked artists of every generation to express our songs in
their own way," Gibb says.
So far, Paul McCartney, Wyclef Jean, Jagged
Edge, Rascal Flatts, Snoop Dogg and Sheryl Crow are working on tracks. A
portion of the proceeds from the sale of the album will go to charity.
"I'm a major Bee Gees fan," Edmonds
says. "They are great songs, we just re-did them and flipped them a
Gibb and his team are in negotiations to find a
label to release the tribute album next year. EMI and Universal Music
Group are currently in the running. Gibb consciously chose to start
recording without signing a deal. "We wanted to make the album
without external pressure from a label," he says.
Along with the album, an outdoor tribute
concert is tentatively scheduled for July Fourth weekend in 2007 in New
York's Central Park. Clear Channel has signed on to produce the concert
and partner on all TV rights.
Steve Sterling, senior VP of Clear Channel
Entertainment Television, says the tribute concert is a multimedia
project that includes a network broadcast, a live DVD and a four- to
six-episode "making of" series featuring tribute artists in
the recording studio.
Bee Gees — the musical
The Bee Gees stage musical, named after their song "You Win
Again," is using hit shows like ABBA's "Mama Mia!" and
Queen's "We Will Rock You" for its model. It goes into
preproduction in the fall, and will debut on Broadway and London's West
End toward the end of next year.
Campbell says the story, written by Maurice and
Sidney Greenberg, centers on a fashion designer and the model he falls
in love with, and is, of course, all set to Bee Gees hits. Talks are
under way for Clear Channel to partner on that project as well. Numerous
labels are said to be interested in releasing the soundtrack.
A brand-new generation may also get to discover
"Saturday Night Fever." Industry sources say advanced talks
are continuing with a major film studio to invest $30 million into a
remake. A Bee Gees book is also being discussed. Campbell declined to
comment on the film and book deals.
Barry Gibb has given his blessing on all these
projects, but is on the sidelines for now. "We've worked together
all our lives," Robin says. "We need some emotional
After Maurice's death, Robin and Barry decided
to cease performing as the Bee Gees. Maurice died of cardiac arrest
while receiving treatment for an intestinal blockage.
"It was a needless death," Gibb says.
"He was too young."