(Nick Logan, New Musical Express, August 24 1968)

Transcript by Anne Marie

Yes, folks, Engelbert Humperdinck wants to go back to the blues, Solomon King is to play the lead in a revival of ‘Oliver!’ and Eric Clapton is joining the Rolling Stones!! As was pointed out on the NME news pages last week, the music business is currently cavorting its way through its annual silly season with rumours flying like wasps. One that has been on the buzz for quite some time now is the whisper that Colin Petersen and Vince Melouney are quitting the Bee Gees.

The more outrageous the rumour the more juicy a morsel it makes but some do convert to fact, Cream split, Herd management disputes, for example. So I put the rumours to Bee Gee Colin, Vince having left earlier to see his wife Diane, when I met the group at their manager’s Mayfair office before they departed for their current US tour.

“Are there rumours?” replied Colin blandly, wearing his best innocent “Smiley” face

“Are you leaving Colin?” asked Maurice Gibb

“Yes” was the answer, “about 4 o clock”

So there you go!

We were talking around a conference table in the basement of the Stigwood Organisation where on entering I had found an impromptu Bee Gees Comedy Show in full swing. Barry, Robin and Maurice were hurling verbal inanities back and forth; with the acid tongue of Mr Petersen thrown in for good measure.

It fell upon yours truly to be a “rotten spoilsport” and bring order to the proceedings so that sensible talk could be elucidated.

When some degree of sanity had been effected, I asked them what they had been doing since “Jumbo” and their British Tour.

“We’ve been recording a new LP” said Colin “and we’ve done fifteen new versions of Jumbo’”

“Reverse the tape and we’ve got our new single” cracked Maurice

Robin hair getting longer and stringing his words together in a bewildering rapid flow, came in with “We’ve been working very hard on our new album and we’ve just finished it. And of course our new single. After ‘Jumbo’ we went on holiday to different parts of the globe and met up again unfortunately in different parts of the globe”

Barry slowed things down. "Strangely enough none of us knew where the others were going. I went to Los Angeles and got a bit fed up with the scene there. A few people I knew there I found to be phoney and I wasn’t enjoying myself”

“So I came home and then went to Rome and when I got at the airport Robin was standing there. And it was a strange thing because I had just decided to go there on the spur of the moment. It was very weird considering that I could have gone anywhere.

Telepathy thing again

“I thought Robin was in India but apparently he got fed up with it and decided to go to Rome as well. It’s a telepathy thing again. It crops up all the time between us”.

We talked about the current single “It’s not about death although a lot of people will think it is,” said Barry, “It’s about a person who is about to die. He’s going to his death because he’s committed a murder.”

“But it doesn’t mention the circumstances of his death or how he’s going to die” added Robin. “It just tells that he is talking to a preacher and he wants to get a message to his girl friend or wife that he is sorta sorry and wants to apologise. He’s killed a man who’s been carrying on with his wife and he wants to get a message to her before he dies.”

“It’s quite sick” quoth Maurice

“It’s not sick at all” returned Robin “It doesn’t mention death and doesn’t mention about how he’s going to sit there and the guy who pulls down the thing.”

“You have to be careful about things like that” said Barry. “Now you take for example ‘Honey’. There wasn’t one mention of death in that song but it was obvious to everyone that she was dead. If he’d mentioned death it wouldn’t have been a good song”

“I’ve Gotta Get A Message” was actually written by the Gibb Brothers some three months ago and just as he did with “Massachusetts” manager Robert Stigwood kept on at them to record it.

We talked at length about the failure of “Jumbo”, which I reported in the last article on the Bee Gees, and about the loyalty of their fans. They hadn’t, I pointed out, had many personal appearances to stand in for their lack of Chart success since “Words”.

“No we haven’t. But I don’t think that is important” answered Barry “It’s better to make your appearances less because it makes your demand more. We won’t go onto a stage unless we can do something that is really worth getting on stage for.

“If we are sure we can handle a crowd of four to five thousand kids and make them happy and please them, then it is worth while going on stage. It is not worth while doing gigs because … this is not being silly or funny but it is not basically the money we want … it is to see five thousand kids appreciate what we are doing.”

Colin joined in “And as far as TV is concerned we have just done an hour long show with Frankie Howerd which is full of comedy skits and I think this is far more important to us than being on “Top Of The Pops” every week."

“Take the Albert Hall for instance” said Robin, as a gentleman bearing a tray of cokes entered the room and discharged his load on the table. “Say you get a big group who we shall call the Strack” sounds of coke tops popping off as his three colleagues make a dash for the drinks.

Clatter continues

He tries again “They appear at the Albert Hall”. The clatter continues “The Strack” screams Robin desperately “A bi group, here for one night only and all that. The kids will say ah yes the Strack. I saw them at Bolton last night at the IN Club.”

He sighs with contentment that part of what he had said had got over and let Barry, back with coke in hand, take over.

“You can work at Bolton, you can work at Slough, you can work every night, but when you want to make a big appearance you will be down the bill because you’ve been seen everywhere by everybody and they are not going to gather round to see you topping the bill

“In the States our fee is forty thousand dollars a night. Where as if we were working in the States, in the clubs and in every city, it would be five thousand a night. That’s true and it’s the same here”

What of their British tour then? Did they regard it now as a mistake? “It was a successful tour” replied Barry “I can’t say we made a lot of money out of it because we didn’t, but it was a fantastic experience for us. We learnt a heck of a lot … stage sense, how to feel an audience (which brought the jokes you would expect), how loud we should be on stage. We discussed everything every night that went wrong”.

Stony silence

Robin broke in with a joke “What did the last ram on earth sing?” Answer “There will never be another you”. It met with stony silence “Why is a kettle always happy? Because it whistles while it works”. Stony silence.  “I got them from a wham book” Robin offered apologetically

Over to Colin “Speaking of the Big Pink album” which we weren’t “I think it’s too much. Big Pink too much” he added to underline his point. One more time now, Big pink too much. Okay Colin?

Meanwhile the brothers Gibb were having a go at an article stating that Jim Webb was a threat to the Beatles. Nobody could be a threat to anybody was the consensus of opinion. All songwriters should admire other songwriters.

Colin tried to interest me in looking after his two dogs while he was away in Germany for the weekend, no luck, and first Robin, then Barry and Maurice left us, screaming headlines: Bee Gees Leave Colin Petersen! Which is where we came in. Big Pink too much!

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