It is a more contented Barry Gibb that can be found these
days sustained by an endless stream of tea at his penthouse flat. Gone are the
frustrations of a few months back when Barry made the prophecy that the Bee Gees might
cease to exist as a group in two years time.
Still dominating the Gibb household is Barnaby, Barry's Pyrannean mountain hound, who at
only seven months old is the size of a generously endowed lion and still growing.
Thankfully he is still tame.
A new addition and the source of the endless stream of tea is Barry's white-jacketed
French manservant, Jean, who never speaks unless spoken to and is a chef, former marine
and black belt at judo - a sort of house-trained Oddjob who dispenses cups of tea instead
of karate chops.
"This guy's incredible," exclaimed Barry as his fifth cup of tea arrived and
Jean removed the one he had let go cold. "He just never stops..."
On the Bee Gees front, a more enlightened outlook has now replaced Barry's doomy view of
the group scene of a few months back. His view then was that the Bee Gees would be
together for two more years; that then they would have a long hard look at themselves,
with a split up being the probable result.
"When I said that, we were going through a period of frustration," said Barry.
"It was just after the failure of 'Jumbo' and it was a very frustrating time. I was
getting paranoic and I thought that maybe it was the end of groups. This is not a dig but
I found I would listen to a group and find it difficult to tell who it was. They all
sounded alike. I thought the time had come when we should make some kind of move... not
leaving pop entirely but by going into films. That way you can stay with the kids but be
seen by more people.
"I had the offers and I thought why the hell not - why not for me, why not for the
brothers and Colin. Instead of us doing this we have found a more sensible way. We have
found that we can get to the kids in different ways and still stay together. Like Maurice
was on Lulu's show playing the piano with an orchestra. None of the kids would have
expected to see him there without the Bee Gees. Another time it may be Robin on his
At that point was an arrival at the lift which Barnaby leapt away to see, almost taking my
arm with him. The visitors were Barry's girlfriend Linda Gray and her mother.
Since Robin's wedding and Maurice's engagement, were the brothers Gibb still as close now
as they had been in the past?
"If he hadn't fallen in love with Lulu we would be together more. And Robin is
now married so it cannot be like it was. But one thing I'd like to point out is that we
are still good friends with Vince, contrary to some rumours. He comes to our sessions and
I have been to his."
Does marriage for him and Linda figure in Barry's future plans?
"I think it will be a long time before we do it," he answered. "I don't
want to get married for a good couple of years. At the moment I stand alone on the
marriage scene. I am the only one who is not tied for life and I want to keep it that way.
Perhaps 'tied' is the wrong word, but I am the only one who is free at the moment and that
is something I want to keep for a while."
Other acquisitions to the Gibb empire of late include 2,000 acres of Australian land and a
motel on the coast. Both are results of Barry and Linda's recent holiday in Australia
when, as you may recall, local criminals made off with a haul of valuable jewellery
from their hotel rooms. A happier feature of the visit lies in Barry's 'discovery' there
of a four girl singing group he plans to bring to England later this month. The four girls
- all sisters- are British emmigrants from Lancashire.
"In my opinion they are the best girl group I have seen in my life," says Barry
enthusiastically, as a fresh cup of tea arrived. "They came to see me at my hotel in
Sydney. I had heard the record they made and sent me and I didn't need to hear any more,
but they insisted on singing the song and did it without any backing at all in my hotel
Did he go out of his way to look for new talent, I asked?
"Yes, beacuse in the 11 years that we were trying it taught me an awful lot - and
that was never to ignore other talent. I will listen to anybody, to anybody's tapes,
because there's a million quids worth of talent floating around out there."
Without further ado, I abandoned pen and notebook and broke into my inimitable rendering
of 'Oh Sole Mio' -- it goes down so well at parties. Mr Gibb looked on with frozen glance
and a hint of pity. How about a soft shoe shuffle then? Card tricks? Juggling? Fighting
back the tears of disappointment, I asked Barry when we could expect to see the Bee Gees
on a British tour again.
"I'd hope to do a tour definitely within the next six months," he replied.
"We'd have a completely new act, but the orchestra would remain because that is
our symbol. But we'd have a lot more artists on the show. The mistake that artists have
made, and we ourselves have made, is that you cannot tour alone or with just two
supporting artists. In one way it is cheating the kids. Secondly if you have a good varied
bill you have more people interested in going out to see a variety show instead of just
two groups or artists."
Barry mentioned Marbles as one of the groups he'd like to tour with and I asked him if the
recent differences between him and the group had been smoothed out.
"Yes," he affirmed. "At the moment we are recording their new single 'The
walls fell down,' which I wrote. We've patched up all our differences. If our association
is helping Marbles get a foothold in the business then it is good because that is a
difficult thing to do. But we went to school together in Australia and we made a pact that
if we made it first we would help them and vice versa. If they had made it first
they would be now helping us."
We ended on the subject of Bee Gee Robin, and Barry said that his brother was still
refusing to have his hair cut. "He won't talk about it," said Barry. "He's
just got this mental block on the whole subject. Yet he's conservative in other ways. He
wouldn't dream of stepping out of his front door without a suit and tie and the whole bit.
Yet he WILL NOT get his hair cut, and I don't think anyone in the business should
criticise him for it."
Barry, who said he was trying to fix himself for a haircut, offered the interesting theory
that long hair weakens the brain and saps the strength. "Frank Zappa and Tiny Tim
must be going through hell," he cracked.