Robin Gibb of Bee Gees fame reflects on his early years in
Australia. He talks about their early influences and their success in Australia before he
and his brothers achieved international stardom.
GEORGE NEGUS: Well, Phar Lap's four-legged attempt to make it overseas, of course,
ultimately proved fatal. But there are plenty of two-legged Australians who've gone off
overseas and really made it. Take Robin Gibb and his brothers, better known as the Bee
Gees. Perfect examples.
Spectacularly successful, the Bee Gees were -- in fact, still are -- giants in the world
of pop music. Here's Robin, one of the three brothers Gibb, to remind us how it all began
here in Australia.
ROBIN GIBB: Being on television kind of produced a lot of resentment, mostly at school
amongst the teachers, than the kids. Teachers kind of resented it. A particularly jealous
teacher was one teacher who shall remain nameless -- I think it was Mr Short -- and he
actually got me in a stranglehold one day and he said, "How dare you be on
television? How can I teach children when there's somebody in here that can actually --
" He actually expelled me from the choir.
Our first gig was the Sydney Stadium, sandwiched between the great artist at that time,
which was Johnny O'Keefe, and Chubby Checker, who had just come from America. And this was
his show, and we were sandwiched between the two of them.
And we had our first single with Festival but we were really a TV act more than a
recording act -- 'Bandstand', 'Sing Sing Sing' and 'Johnny O'Keefe Show', being regulars
on those shows, which went national. That was our big break and how we got known in
Australia. We wouldn't be doing what we're doing now if we hadn't been in Australia.
We had all our experience in our songwriting due to the Australian Ossie Byrne, our first
producer, who gave us his -- gave us 24-hour-a-day, unlimited use of his studio in --
Hurstville, which is just outside Sydney. And -- he often told us -- ..he really used the
studio to make money and he just opened it to us for nothing, and he produced us there. He
produced our first number one there, 'Spicks and Specks', and we developed our songwriting
there with him in those last two years of being in Australia to the point where we were
ready to come to the UK, and, indeed, he came with us.
(Sings) Spicks and specks Of the girls on my mind Where are the girls I left all behind
Spicks and specks Of the girls on my mind
We've had tremendous reactions in Australia. They've always kind of claimed us as their
own, which we're very proud of. There's always a special feeling that we have when we go
back there. It's always, you know, it's hard -- not to feel that way. Some of the greatest
emotional moments of our lives trying to achieve things have been spent in Australia, and
getting to where -- As I say, everything we know now was developed there in Australia.
GEORGE NEGUS: I have to admit, I'm a big Bee Gees fan, always have been. An amazing career
spanning decades and still going. If fame means anything, the Bee Gees have it, and
deservedly so. Pity about that jealous schoolteacher -- Robin said he'd remain nameless
and then named him.