Transcript by Anne Marie
“So many arguments just not true”
Off the country road in rural Middlesex, under the arch entrance and
past the iron gates, down the winding gravel roadway flanked by
Rhododendron bushes until round the last bend the imposing 16th Century
Manor House home of Bee Gees manager Robert Stigwood comes into view.
Barry Gibb and girlfriend Linda Gray are spending a few days here as a
temporary retreat from the hustle of city life.
A friendly Dalmatian comes up to greet me as I stand before the
towering and unfriendly wooden door, not knowing whether to use the heavy
metal knocker or make myself scarce before the giant steps out and eats me
for breakfast. I knock.
Inside it is a different age, an age of minstrels and costumed
splendour. Everything is of ancient wood with the staircase, balcony
supports and the towering fireplace all magnificently hand-carved. The
sound of a hoover at work is one of the rare concessions to 1969. Another
strange contrast is provided by a life-size toy camel against one wall –
a present to Stigwood from Eric Clapton.
While Barry is raised, I’m shown into a living room more cosy than
the hallway due to the bright coloured fitted carpet. This and the
Monopoly set add the modern touches here. A tray of tea arrives shortly
There are 34 acres of land surrounding the home and Barry had been out
Go-Karting and hunting
“There is a forest over the back,” he said “and it’s like a
jungle in there. You can easily get lost. I’ve been shooting there but
only with air rifles; I’m not allowed to use guns”.
When they were young, he once shot Brother Robin in the leg, he says,
and the slug went clean through. Paradoxically, he thinks it is cruel to
shoot animals but acquits himself by explaining that they are too clever
for him to actually catch any.
Barry nowadays can be remarkably frank and honest. The three brothers
now very rarely write songs together, he tells me. They mostly write on
their own, though all songs are credited to the three of them for
“I see myself as an outsider now,” says Barry by way of
explanation. "Like Colin thinks he is. He doesn’t say it but I know
he feels that way.
“But the brothers’ scene is different now that two are married. It
makes me a lone ranger. They are both married, so is Colin, and I am on my
way out of a marriage.
“In about seven months my divorce will be through and I will be
single again. I have always believed that kids don’t really like the
idea of stars being married. It still does make a difference.
I am not sacrificing myself because I want to stay single for a while,
but there should be at least one bachelor in the group. And in that way I
feel an outsider.
“I cannot see my brothers any more as much as I would like to. When
we work we are together, but rarely otherwise.
“I have very, very big regrets about it. It hurts a lot but I have to
face that my brothers are married. Now we are all basically outsiders”
Could this have a damaging effect on the group?
“It could have a damaging affect; it could have a good affect. We
might now be more happy when we are together
“We’ve had arguments and aggravations in the past but you have got
to have those things. There is no such thing as the perfect group. We used
to argue about little things. We’d make big mountains out of nothing.
“For example, I might hear that Colin was supposed to have said
something about me and it might be nothing at all. We’d argue; then we’d
get over it
“Over the past two years there have been so many arguments that it is
just not true.
“But then, judging by the way other groups carry on, maybe we don’t
argue as much as most”.
We were interrupted by frantic female screams in the distance of “Bar-ree
Bar-ree”. We both looked up in apprehension.
The explanation was soon to arrive when a white-faced Linda burst
through the door, blurting out “The bat’s in the dining room again!”
Barry sighed “Is that all. I thought someone had had a heart attack.
Calm down woman”.
One of the house staff was dispatched with a rapier to dispose of the
intruder and returned with his catch, which was small enough to put into
an ash tray and that is what he ha done.
“But it was much bigger than that” protested Linda “It got in my
hair. It was at least that big” and she spread out her hands to
“He’ll be putting all this in the NME you know” said Barry
wisely, nodding towards me. He was right.
There was then a short break while Barry did a photo session in the
hallway on the staircase against the huge leaden stained glass windows. He
pointed out the magnificent carved figures, lions and unicorns, on the
banister, the intricate carving on the walls, the secret panel now
transformed into a bar and the door under the stairs through which you can
walk right under the house. Would I like to look? No thanks.
Back in the living room, Barry confesses that there was some
disagreement between Robert Stigwood and Robin Gibb over the release of
“First Of May” Robin wanted “Lamplight” to be the A-side. Barry
“I had thoughts that it might be ‘Melody Fair’ from the ‘Odessa’
album bit if Robert says ‘First Of May’ then ‘First Of May’ it is,
whether it is a flop or a hit. Because I never try and pick our singles. I
can’t; I always leave that to Robert,
“I can pick other people’s’ singles; like I picked the two for
“You know that guy Graham Bonnet has got the most powerful voice I
have ever heard
“He has to stand six foot from the microphone in the studio. There is
a metal plate in the mike itself which can be bent if the voice is
powerful enough and his voice can bend it. The engineers tell me they have
never known it happen before.
“I am complimenting him when I say he is a freak, that he has a freak
voice. Tom Jones is a freak and he has a marvellous voice. Proby is a
freak too. He doesn’t need a microphone”
We break off again because Barry’s Bentley Convertible has just been
returned with rare end repairs needed after a recent accident with a taxi.
Barry is obviously pleased to have it back.
The man who brought it waits to take away the Mercedes Barry has hired
in its place and just happens to have two autograph books in his pocket
and would Barry oblige – Barry would.
We resume talking and Barry gets on to one of his favourite themes
which in a way, is a knock against the knockers.
He believes that there is too much back biting and knocking going on in
British pop and it is causing the home pop scene to destroy itself.
“Everybody is knocking everybody else and I admit to doing the same
in the early days.
“It ought to be like one big happy family because the pop scene here
leads the world. It is so good that it ought to be like Christmas all the
As I leave and he sees me to the front door, Barry noticed a small
black smear on the door of his Bentley and leaps forward to wipe it away.
I watch him in my rear mirror as I drive off in my dirty blue mini.