BARRY GIBB TORMENTED BY HIS
(Guy Phillips, Woman's Day, September 1989)
The handsome Bee Gee candidly admits he will always wonder
if he could have done more to prevent his baby brother's tragic death.
Mega-rich rock star Barry Gibb has known personal heartache as his group, the Bee Gees,
has swerved in and out of fashion. But his troubles have been nothing compared with the
agony he feels over his brother Andy. Tragic Andy was just 30 when he died a year ago of a
massive heart attack - brought on by drink and drugs.
Now Barry, who's on the verge of yet another Bee Gees comeback, is haunted by the belief
that maybe he could have done something to save his brother.
"That has to be the saddest, most desperate moment of my life, when I heard he had
gone," admits Barry. "Since then, I've asked myself a thousand times, could I
have done more or said more to help him?"
The 42-year-old star certainly did his best when Andy was still alive, giving him constant
encouragement and help. But it did seem nothing could rescue Andy: he was never able to
believe he could match his brothers' success, and gradually he spiralled downward into
Now the Bee Gees have relaunched their career with a new album "One", dedicated
to Andy, and a single, "Ordinary Lives".
Stunning-looking Andy's life was never ordinary. A former boyfriend of
ex-"Dallas" beauty Victoria Principal, and a pop star in his own right with a
string of solo hits in the 1970's, Andy was always the odd-Gibb out. Too young to share in
the Bee Gees first wave of success in the 60's, he never joined brothers Barry, Maurice
and Robin in the band.
"And because of that, Andy was always a bit of a loner," says Barry. "But
six months before his death, I campaigned to get him included. It was put to the vote and
I'm afraid I was outvoted two to one."
Barry wonders if that blow might have contributed to Andy's sad death.
"But I don't really think so. Andy's attitude was 'Well, I'd like to have some more
hits on my own before I join anyway!' The biggest thing on his mind was 'Can I make it
back to the top?' That's what he really wanted to do-and under all the pressure his mind
and heart gave way."
On the face of it, Andy Gibb was blessed with everything-looks, hits, and beautiful girls.
He was romantically linked with beauties like Marie Osmond, Susan George and Olivia
Newton-John after his divorce from his wife, Kim, in 1978. But Barry saw another side and
worried about Andy's bingeing on drugs and alcohol.
Andy blew a fortune on cocaine and, six months before he died, was made bankrupt in
Florida, owing some $2 million. Friends say he finally did kick the habit, but after his
death his mother Dorothy (sic), found a huge hoard of more than 20 vodka bottles under his
This is how Barry now explains his brother's reliance on booze and on drugs, "He
always seemed to have a zest for life. But beneath all that fun was an incredible sadness
that only a few of us could see. He was the most insecure man in the world and even when
he had hit records, he felt it was still not good enough. Whatever I'd say to reassure
him, he would still go away and hide in the depths of depression."
Barry says the only way he could keep his baby brother's spirits up was to constantly tell
him how well he was doing. "I was either on the phone or seeing him -giving him
encouragement. I would say to him, 'Just get up and sing. Do what you do best. No one does
it better.' I would tell him this everyday."
Yet when Andy did get back to the recording studio, all his confidence went right out of
the window, says Barry. He turned into a recluse- just at the time when Barry himself was
tied up working on a new film. He and writing partner David English were developing their
own idea about two terminally ill young men having a last wild fling, which became the
major movie "Hawks", and starred the James Bond actor, Timothy Dalton.
Ironically, Andy saw two previews of it before his death, which came after he'd been
admitted to hospital in Oxford, U.K. suffering from crippling stomach cramps. "Andy
had been staying at Robin's house in Oxfordshire for around a month, working on the album.
Those previews were virtually the only times he went out," says Barry.
A few days before he died, Barry said his partner David suggested they should go over and
see Andy. "We had heard stories he was not behaving himself. But I didn't realize
just how much he was folding up inside."
"I'd always be telling him, 'Andy, you look great. You look incredible. Let's go
out'. He's say 'Okay'. The five minutes later he'd ask, 'Are you sure that I look all
right?' He never knew how much talent he had and the more I told him, the less he seemed
to believe it."
Barry himself has suffered some devastating knocks. After the Bee Gees success in the
60's, selling 30 million singles and six million albums, they went out of fashion.
"The downfall did not make it any easier to take when it happened again in the 70's -
after the "Saturday Night Fever" craze ended.
But now the Gibb Brothers are trying for chart success the third time around. Their new
album and single are high on the international charts. "A lot of people look at our
lifestyle and wonder why we need it," admits Barry. "It is not the money but the
self-respect and wanting to create good music."
"The real sense of achievement in having a film out last year and an album out this
year is enormous," he says. "I only wish Andy could have been some part of
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