(Steve Dougherty & Don Sider, People
Magazine, July 2, 2001, p.134-6)
Once Feverish, now coolly 50ish, the Bee Gees resurface
with a new album and sweet family harmonies.
"My new baby," coos Maurice Gibb, cradling his
shiny, deluxe-model paintball gun. "Isn't it gorgeous?" He and the eight
ninja-clad friends who make up Gibb's Royal Rat Rangers then proceed to stalk and splatter
a rival team of Sunday warriors in mock combat at an Opa Locka, Fla., sports complex.
Three hours later, Gibb himself gets slimed when a paint cartridge explodes harmlessly on
his Plexiglass facemask in a bright pink blob. "Thanks, Robby," he hollers
good-naturedly at the shooter. "Bummer!...Ah, it was a good game!"
With a similar aplomb, Maurice, 51, his twin brother, Robin, and their brother, Barry, 54,
have weathered the occasional splats and letdowns that have come with being the Bee Gees.
True, the British-born trio may be, according to Guiness, the most successful family vocal
group in pop history, having sold more than 110 million albums over the past 35 years.
(Only Elvis, the Beatles, Michael Jackson and Paul McCartney have done better.) And as
songwriters they have helped Dionne Warwick, Kenny Rogers, Dolly Parton and Barbra
Streisand all go Platinum. ("Barry particularly made it a thoroughly joyful
experience," says Streisand of 1980's Guilty.)
But the brothers' own 40 million-selling megahit, the soundtrack to 1977's Saturday Night
Fever, was quickly followed by a 1978 stinker, a Bee Gees-starring film musical of the
Beatles' Sgt. Pepper's Lonely Hearts Club Band. And when, at decade's end, the disco craze
fizzled, the brothers suddenly found themselves passé. Deejays began declaring Bee
Gee-free weekends. "I think it was an unfair rap," says Barry. "There's a
lot of wonderful music from that period that we should all be proud of."
What the band learned from the spotty years that followed, adds Barry, is "that
you've got to dust yourself off." That they have. On their latest album, This Is
Where I Came In, a tribute to idols ranging from Noel Coward to the Beatles, the Bee
Gees' voices seem richer now," says Billboard editor Timothy White.
Their public appearances, though, are rarer. A recent weekend found the Gibbs in Los
Angeles. On Friday they taped an interview with Larry King. On Saturday Maurice attended
the stage version of Saturday Night Fever. Then, on Sunday, he joined his brothers in a
performance at Dodger Stadium, their only concert this year.
And one of the few times they'll actually be together. "All three of us have pretty
much our own lives," says Robin. "We have our own circle of friends. I think you
have to. You can't live in each other's pocket's."
But you can, apparently, dwell in the same neighborhood. Since the late 70's, Miami
Beach has been home to the brothers, all of whom have divorced and are enjoying second
marriages with children. Robin and Dwina, 48, live just down the block from Barry and
Linda, 51, while Maurice and Yvonne, 50, reside on a luxury island in nearby Biscayne Bay.
The Gibb families also maintain houses in England, where Robin, a voracious reader of
military and political histories, spends at least half the year with Dwina in a converted
10th-century monastery near Oxford. "I can feel quite creative over there," he
Not so brother Barry, who "keeps mostly to himself," says Steve, 27, the oldest
of his five children. "My mom's really his best friend." And when they do
socialize, says Steve, it's "mostly with entrepreneur types" rather than
don't take the show business part of my life seriously at all," says Barry,
"because I know what it does to people." He's referring, of course, to his
youngest brother, Andy, who died at 30 of a heart ailment - a death others feel was
hastened by alcohol and drug abuse. "He's with us everywhere," says Maurice,
including the Gibbs' Miami recording studio, where photos of Andy adorn the lobby walls.
Maurice, himself a recovering alcoholic for the past 10 years, says, "I just wanted
to stop. Andy wasn't quite ready."
At least a few of the Gibb clan's offspring appear ready to follow in their fathers'
tracks. With the blessing of Las Vegas-based grandmother Barbara, 80, a onetime British
band singer (whose band-leader husband, Hugh, died at 73 in 1993), Barry and Linda's son
Steve plays guitar in various L.A. hard-rock bands. Maurice and Yvonne's daughter Sami,
20, who fronts her Miami band Skylla, often collaborates on songs with her brother Adam,
25. But the kids may soon find themselves competing with their fathers and Uncle Robin -
Rock and Roll Hall of Fame inductees in 1997
"Young kids," notes Barry of vintage Bee Gees
album sales, "are starting to get into the very early music."
And why not? After all, no one could be younger at heart than paintball king Maurice.
Playing the game, he says, "you relieve yourself totally of stress. I get home and I
go to my AA meeting at night, come home totally wiped out. Sleep like a baby. It starts
your whole week off."
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