Rows were all about now - Maurice

Bee Gees 'covers' sell 6,000,000 in U.S.

(New Musical Express, November 14th 1970)

Transcript by Anne Marie

Question: what have Barbra Streisand and Elvis Presley got in common with Sergio Mendes, Tom Jones, Brenda Lee, Frank Sinatra, Vicki Carr, Janis Joplin and Engelbert Humperdinck?

Give up? The answer is in the pen of composers Robin, Barry and Maurice Gibb. For that impressive roll call of the top names of the recording world is just a starting point of a list of the singers who have ‘covered’ Bee Gee compositions in the last twelve months.

For not content with being one of the world’s leading singing group, the Bee Gees are probably only just behind the Beatles in the number of artists who have recorded their compositions.

In the United States alone, reported publishing chief Norman Rubin last week, there have been over eighty cover versions of songs from the Gibbs in the past year.

Englebert Humperdinck’s version of “Sweetheart” is at the moment high in the charts, and it has also recently been recorded by Dean Martin, and American ‘heartthrob’ Robert Goulet.

‘To Love Somebody’ one of the Bee Gees rare failures as their own release, heads the field in sheer numbers of cover versions. To date the figure is approaching 150.

Close behind are ‘Let there Be Love’ recently recorded by Tom Jones and ‘Words’ covered by Elvis Presley, Tom Jones and Florence Henderson.

One odd spot is the number of people who have covered ‘Morning Of My Life’ which the Bee Gees have never recorded under their own name. Yet the number of versions of this one song by other artists runs into three figures.

Another early song by the Bee Gees ‘Give A Hand, Take A Hand’ has just been recorded by the American gospel harmony group, the Staples Singers, just signed to a management agreement with the Robert Stigwood Organisation.

In all Bee Gee tunes have been a feature of 11 gold albums from the United States in the past year.

Barry Gibb said “It is always an honour when someone else regards one of your songs as worth covering. Obviously we were particularly pleased when Elvis recorded ‘Words’, as he has been one of our heroes for a long, long time.

“Several other big names have cut tracks of ours, and at least two are under consideration as singles. But it would not be right to say who, as that is something that they should announce for themselves”

Norman Rubin, Professional manager with United Artists before becoming General manager of the R.S.O. Publishing Division in the U.S.A. commented “The Bee Gees material has been responsible for a large part of the success of the Publishing Division since I came here just over a year ago.

“In all I suppose there have been about 6,000,000 of their songs bought by the public from cover versions in that time.

“But the important thing is that they are being covered by artists at such extreme ends of the musical spectrum and getting through to such a wide range of the public.

Totalling up the Bee Gees output is like trying to catch Niagara Falls in a bucket, but Maurice Gibb claims to have kept a running total of their compositions

“I made it 1,567 songs when I totted up the score that I have been keeping. But that is over the past ten years” he said

“We never write songs in the literal sense. One of us will have an idea and maybe play it to the others. He plays a few notes and I maybe add a few, we work out the words together, and then finish it off when we get to the studio

“Of course, in the past year or so, we have been spending more time writing solo songs, and those combinations of the three of us alone and together, will be reflected in the tracks on the album

“But both sides of our single release ‘Lonely Days’ and ‘Man For All Seasons’, were written by the three of us.”

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