Colin Peterson talks to David Griffiths…

(David Griffiths, Record Mirror, May 17, 1969)

Transcript by Anne Marie

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 was nine.

“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 records”

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.”

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