(Woman Mag, February, 1982)

You worry about your kids whether they're 14 or 40", say Barbara and Hughie Gibb and, let's fact it, their famous chart-busting sons have given them plenty of problems. One son nearly hooked on booze, another playing with pills.... and now there's young Andy's on-off romance with an older woman. Even if she is Dallas's Pam, his parents can't say they're too happy about that. But, as Donald McLachlan discovered when he talked to them, crises that would have torn other families apart have brought the Gibbs closer together.

Mrs Barbara Gibb, neat and trim and still with an accent straight out of Stretford, Lancashire, says of her famous Bee Gee sons: "Ooh... I knew our boys were going to be big stars that day in Australia -only a year after we emigrated from Manchester- when Barry came home and stuck a piece of paper in my hand and said, "Here, Mum, you've got to phone that man right away; he's going to pay us �00 to make a record." Well, �00 was a lot of money in those days; still is! So I knew they were going places, all right."

The rambling house in California is furnished like some wealthy rancher's; all Western carvings, wagon wheels and firelight dancing on brass. It's in a star-studded woodsy suburb, 20 minutes from the heart of Los Angeles. But there's always a nice pot of tea on the go for neighbours like Martin Sheen (Apocalypse Now), George Hamilton (Love at First Bite) and Victoria Principal of Dallas fame, who drop in whenever they feel like it.

Hughie Gibb, lean, dapper and looking easily 10 years younger than his 66, leans back on the blue and white patterned sofa and reminisces fondly:"I was always ambitious myself, you know. I had my own band -Hughie Gibb and his Music- nothing fancy. I always thought it would be great to make records or get on the wireless. Everybody wants to make a mark, don't they?"

He shakes his head in amazement. "Funny I didn't make it, but you look at the boys. Just amazing. The three of them with the biggest record ever; that Saturday Night Fever. And young Andy out there on his own doing just famously. In my day the going rate for a musician was 25 bob a night! I can't get over it sometimes."

They're not short of a bob or two now.

The boys' road to fame, of course, has not all been easy. The broken marriages, the rows, the bust-up when Robin broke from the other boys and went off with his wife Molly -now another messy divorce- and all the drink and the drugs.

"Maurice had an awful time with drink, you know. Oh, he was done for drunk driving two or three times, at least. I remember he had a Rolls Royce in London and he could barely see over the steering wheel," Barbara recalls, pouring the tea. "Well, he hasn't had a drink in over a year now. Oh, he'd tell you himself he was a chronic alcoholic. He was a social drinker first, when he was in his teens in London. I suppose that's how it all starts, isn't it? Then when he and Lulu got divorced it upset him so much that he drank more and more. He had a terrible problem at that time. Well, a year ago he went into a clinic in Santa Barbara for two months. then he came out to have an operation on his back - he had two discs removed - and went straight back into the alcoholic treatment again. He says himself now that he was an alcoholic, and he goes to the Alcoholic Anonymous meetings and everything. He's just wonderful now.

"And of course Yvonne, his wife, is so pleased about it, she's much happier now. It wasn't that he was always falling down drunk you understand. It was just that he was always at it. Hughie and I think that the drinking was a big part of Lulu and Maurice breaking up. Lu -that's what we always call her- was a bit too independent to put up with that -doesn't have the patience- whereas Yvonne is a very calm, patient person.

"We still see Lu, and think the world of her. I thought Maurice was pulling me leg when he told us they were getting divorced. They were so close, she couldn't walk down the street without both her arms round his neck. But that's past history and he's very, very happy with Yvonne. She's a lovely girl."

The teacups are refilled and family snapshots are proudly passed round. Barbara's 83-year old mother, Mrs Norah Pass, has come over from Australia for her annual holiday -paid for by the boys. Bernice, 17 (something of a Gibb afterthought), who is waiting for her big chance, as an actress, comes in from the cottage garden which she has made her own. There is a fascinating closeness about the Gibbs that fame and fortune has only heightened.

For years Hughie, as the Bee Gees' manager, received 10 per cent of all royalties. Then they moved from Australia back to England and signed up with Robert Stigwood. Now Hughie and Barbara have "a very generous allowance" from Barry, who runs the whole operation.

Barbara smiles fondly. "He's the boss and no one minds at all. He pushed us to leave Australia and try London; he has a very strong personality and he's got stronger as he's got older. Everyone looks to Barry for guidance; they've always idolised him. He's the guvernor; if there's a problem we all pick up the telephone and call Barry. He lives in Miami, like Maurice and Robin, although he's got six or seven houses of his own all around the world. Some in Florida, some in England, this one here that he gave us and Gran's in Australia. Drink? Oh, he's a tea addict! Everywhere he goes his teapot and kettle go with him. We always have to laugh when the boys are touring; the reporters all come inexpecting to see lots of drinking and partying and all that going on,and there are the boys sitting down and the wives are making tea! We're very, very happy for Linda and Barry because they're so happy with each other.

"It's nice for a mother to look at her children and see them happy and we hope in time things will work out all right for Robin, too, although he's very, very unhappy about his personal life just now, and you can't blame him, can you? He's had one or two bad times, has Robin. When the boys broke up they all had a rough time of it. There was Stigwood in Barry's ear, and Molly in Robin's ear, and Maurice on his own -he had nobody's ear! He just didn't know what on earth was going on. It's really terrible when brothers don't get on. And we didn't either, from one day to the next. Well the result was that we didn't even see Robin for two years. Molly just more or less kept him away from us. He was fairly successful but he didn't like performing by himself.

"I was in a shop in Wardour Street one day and there he was! So I said, "Hello, son," and he spoke to me.  Well you can't not speak to your own mother, can you? We threw our arms round each other and had a little weep and he said "How can I get in touch with Barry?" So we were all one big happy family again.

"He'd had a right bad rime too with pills. He was taking some kind of pills when he was on his own and it all just got out of hand and they had to put him into a hospital more or less to keep him out of the public eye. So he watches what he takes now. He'll have a brandy in the evening but never before eight o'clock which we think is very very sensible.

"Of course Barry and Andy both smoke grass sometimes -marijuana- which we don't approve of at all. But they're both grown men now. Barry's 35 and Andy's 24 and we just don't say anything. It would upset everybody."

Andy, with his hit record show, Solid Gold, is also the toast of the gossip columns because of his on-off affair with Victoria Principal, the Dallas TV star, 14 years his senior. Recently the relationship is off. But "It happened last week so it could be back on again next week. We don't know what went wrong, you never get to the bottom of it, do you? They never tell you.

"They've fallen out before, but it's never been as long as this. He's moved his stuff out of her place in Beverly Hills to his own house in Malibu and, as far as we know, he's not seeing her any more. In a way, it's a relief. We like Victoria, don't say we don't, but that's a big age difference, isn't it, 14 years? We don't like to see him upset though."

Outside the shadows lengthen over the open-air swimming pool, chilled now by the spring cold snap. Barbara Gibb helps Hughie clear the tea things away and settles back down by the fire. "You know, people think we've changed, that maybe we think of different things now that we're better off than we ever dreamed. But when you're a mother nothing changes really. Or a Dad, like Hughie. You still worry about your kids whether they're 14 or 40. You never stop thinking how they're doing, what they're doing." She grins suddenly,"or who they're doing what with..."

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