What with all the internal strife going on among the Gibb Brothers you
might imagine that, while Barry is away and incommunicado, the lovable
Bee Gees left are resting, relaxing and generally laying about. Not so.
Though whittled down to a trio (Maurice and Barry, plus Colin Petersen)
they have been working hard on a new album. In addition, Colin has been
setting up with wife Joanne - a record company and artiste management
agency. Never busier in fact.
“Still we are in a twilight zone as Bee Gees,” Colin told me “We
don’t know what to do about the future. Personally I can’t see the
group continuing without Robin. He’s got such a strong voice. But I
have nothing to do with the quarrel, it’s a family matter to be
decided among the brothers”
Colin has known the Gibb Brothers – and their sister Lesley who
appeared in place of Robin on their Talk Of The Town TV show (which,
according to Colin, worked rather well) – for years. In the days
before they had a group, Colin used to sit in on drums with them –
thought it seems they never knew Colin in the days when he regarded
himself at his drumming peak. That was when he was nine
“Yes. My father bought me my first kit when I was four. Not sure
why, I think I was annoying him banging knife and form on a plate so he
thought he’d get me some drums to take it out on. He also tried to get
me to learn piano but I didn’t like it. I took drum lessons for three
years and I could read drum music and play pretty technical stuff when I
“Then I became a film actor and threw my drumming technique away. I
couldn’t possibly play as well as I did at nine. But in those days I
was on jazz drummers and a great technique isn’t all that necessary
for a commercial pop group”
All the same, Colin, good technique is becoming increasingly
important is pop isn’t it?
“Oh certainly. When the skiffle thing happened everyone was in a
group – all of a sudden music was filled with amateurs. If you knew
three chords you were good. If you owned an instrument you were a
musician. We’re getting away from that now. Even five years ago there
were plenty of ‘pop stars’ who could hardly play their instruments.
It’s getting narrowed down more and more, and really excellent
players, such as Eric Clapton, are emerging from pop, not just jazz.
“Well, pop couldn’t go on playing Bill Haley forever. In the
search for new forms it is taking from every sphere of music – from
classical, jazz and folk”.
Suddenly aspects of the jazz approach are back in favour and gaining
popsters’ respectful attention. We’ve been through the John Lennon
bit (he said something to the effect that jazz musicians keep on
endlessly repeating the same old things, true enough, but in order to
survive at all with young people jazz is broadening and assimilating pop
values, a two way process) and there’s a need to know music properly,
to love your instrument, to FEEL the blues.
“The jam session idea is around,” Colin pointed out. “This is
often very difficult for contractual reasons but a lot of pop musicians
are sitting in with each other for sessions and concerts. The trouble
is, there’s always a possibility of quarrels over artistes tied to
certain groups and record labels. There’s rows over royalties on
Yes, but obviously the richer popster doesn’t need to bother about
petty matters do they. A Beatle can play on a Stones session, if he
feels like it without wanting any money.
“Sure. And they can say to each other ‘I will sit in on your
session and be quiet about it, then you can sit in on mine’ but it is
sad that it is necessary to be quiet, for contractual reasons, so the
record buyers don’t know what they’re hearing. For instance, The
Beatles were unable to credit Eric Clapton’s playing with George on
‘While My Guitar Gently Weeps’ on their last album. So people are
misled into thinking that its all George’s groovy guitar”.
Now Colin is – besides his recordings with the Bee Gees –
supervising record sessions himself “I’ve got an artiste but until
we’ve decided which to release as his first single, and set a firm
date. I’d rather not talk about him – the publicity would be
premature. Tell you all about it in a few weeks.”