"IRONING SECRET TO BEE GEE SUCCESS"

(Manchester Online and South Manchester Reporter, April 14 2005)

Posted by James and Kelly Reed

 

The Bee Gees’ Barry Gibb may well be a woman’s man with no time to talk, but he was also a mummy’s boy with a lot of time to sing — according to his mother at least.

Visiting Chorlton High last week, Barbara Gibb revealed the world-famous mega-star put his inspiration down to listening to her singing as she ironed the boys’ clothes in their Chorlton home.

Barbara, 84, now lives in Miami but took time to visit the school between seeing relatives and friends from the area. She toured the Maurice Gibb Recording Studio and new ‘Starlites’ photo exhibition, by old friend Harry Goodwin, celebrity snapper.

The family lived at Keppel Road for several years in the fifties and the children attended nearby Oswald Primary School.

Barbara and husband Hughie worked in Brown’s grocers, she on the counter, he as a driver. Barbara later worked as a barmaid at the Royal Oak and the family spent a couple of months living in Northern Grove, Whalley Range.

Life was a financial struggle in those days. But now Barry has just bought the old house and Barbara arrived last Thursday in a black stretch limousine.

Delighted

A bad knee kept her from attending the opening of the recording studio, dedicated to her late son, last year, but she was delighted to be shown round with daughter-in-law Dwina, the wife of Robin – most recently seen judging on BBC1’s Celebrity Fame Academy. The arthritic joint is a little improved now and Barbara is assisted by a handsome dogs-head-handled walking stick bought for her by Barry from an auction of Bing Crosby’s affects.

He could have done with a similar walking aid himself after breaking his leg in the street one Christmas Eve when he was a young child.

“The boys were always playing on the cobbled road outside and one day my eldest daughter, Leslie, came in screaming that Barry had been hit. I rushed outside and he’d been knocked over by a car and was lying in the road – but he was still singing!” she said.

Barbara’s children were certainly ‘no angels’. “They could all be terrible and wild,” she said. “I remember one time £12 of mine went missing from the mantelpiece. I went straight over to the school at playtime and called to Robin through the gates. I asked him if he had taken any paper from the house and he said ‘erm... ask Woggy’ (The twins called each other Woggy and Bodding). I looked over and saw Maurice handing it all out to children in the playground. Luckily, I recovered it all – quite a lot in those days.”

Barbara also saw photos of her famous children she had never seen before, as Harry guided her round dozens of  celebrity pictures he has bequeathed to the school.

One of Maurice, in particular, bought tears to her eyes as the memories flooded back. “It really captures him. It almost talks to you. Harry has always taken wonderful pictures. He and the boys had a lot of time for each other,” she said.

Harry, who was among many friends Barbara treated to a meal at the Palace hotel, where she was staying, said: “Barbara is such a grounded, lovely person – she knows where she’s from. It was a delight to show her the studio and the photos.”

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