'Ello then, Ducky, it's time to talk about the Bee Gees,
better known as the Beay Geays in Cockneyville.
Now you know that everyone tries to be Number One. Even a certain rent-a-car dealer, no
matter what they would have you believe. The plain facts are that there is only one Elvis
Presley and one Beatles. They were successful because they were the first to make it by
doing whatever they do. When Elvis was at his height, Frankie Avalon, Fabian and Bobby
Rydell tried everything they could to make it as big. The Beatles will forever be Number
One, and no matter how close you come to toppling them (Stones, Monkees), they were the
first and always will be.
Enter into this scene the Bee Gees, short for Brothers Gibb. Robin, Barry and Maurice Gibb
comprise the nucleus of the Bee Gees along with Colin Peterson and Vince Melouney. But
let's start at the beginning of the plot. The three Gibb boys started as a baby brother
act in 1956 in Manchester, England, where they were born (sic). At the time they
were singing Bill Haley and the Comets songs. You all remember the immortal "Rock
Around the Clock." They moved to Brisbane, Australia in 1958 and sang there for nine
unsuccessful years. They released 14 single records during those years and they all
bombed. Number 15 became a Number One record, "Spicks and 'Specks." They then
decided it was time to return to England. Brian Epstein's former partner, Robert Stigwood,
had sent for tapes of the boys, and when they came to England, he heard them and signed
them for five years.
Within a few weeks, "New York Mining Disaster 1941" came out. It was a hit and
all operations were gone. It is obvious that the Bee Gees are being managed by a very
clever organization and every move is thoroughly planned in advance. Yes, they want to
become Number One. Yes, another group is trying again. They always will. But why not? They
can be ambitious. They're not out to hurt the Beatles. Nobody can anyway, but at least the
Bee Gees are a good group.
"We're not trying to be the Beatles. We never pretended to be anything but the Bee
Gees," said Barry. "That's right," said Robin. "Why can't you be just
you? If you can't do it on your own name, then it's just wasting time. We want to be the
Bee Gees. If we can't do that, then it's no good going on."
Let us also say that the Beatles are not bugged by these groups. They don't care. They're
too secure. If the Beatles like a group, they'll just go down to a club and see them. It
doesn't make any difference to them that such a distinguished audience will probably help
the group's career. It just doesn't matter.
Musically speaking, the songs are written by Robin and Barry, with assistance by Maurice.
Their usual line is that Maurice "elaborates on the melody." He probably saves
it in many instances. Robin also says that sometimes they go into the recording studio
with no songs and then do their composing spending 10 to 15 minutes on each song. Should
he brag about this or hide it? The answer is both. While sometimes their melodies and
lyrics are not particularly intricate and occasionally boring, their arrangements are
magnificent. They are done in good taste and never hurt the ear. To insure this pleasing
sound on stage, the Bee Gees use a 30-piece symphony orchestra at all their concerts. It's
a very good idea.
Perhaps the most admirable quality of the Bee Gees is their honesty. They like music. They
want to make it, but they won't compromise in any way toward what their public wants to
hear opinion-wise. If they don't like something about another group, they will say it and
that's that. The thing they most dislike is mention of drugs and ridiculous sound effects
in songs. "I loved the cover of the Rolling Stones album but I disagree with the
songs. Not with what they say but with the sound effects," said Barry. Robin followed
with: "I don't know why they put belching noises on the end of tracks, or coughs or
snores. These things mean a lot to the Stones but not to anybody else. I think that it is
time this group and a lot of others realized this.
"What about the Beatles? "The early and middle Beatles are a lot more popular
than their new songs. 'I Am The Walrus' is all fight except for some of the off-colour
lyrics. The lyrics are nonsensical and very suggestive. I don't think the Beatles have to
do this because their music is good enough without it," said Robin. At this point
Barry chimed in with, "A lot of groups are putting things into their songs about sex
and drugs because they want their records to be banned. They think it will help them sell.
But that's not true now. I can't understand what 'Walrus' is all about." "If
you're going to take LSD and ruin your mind, you might as well take a dagger and kill
yourself. Big executives don't take LSD. We owe it to kids to keep on the right track. A
group can be as phoney as they can be as long as they keep the kids straight and then the
parents will like you," said Robin. It has been released in newspapers that the Bee
Gees don't smoke or drink. During our interview (poolside at the Beverly Hills Hotel in
Los Angeles) they smoked and drank - regular cigarettes and one beer. If that's all the
vices the Bee Gees have, then finally a group with a sense of responsibility to its public
has become popular.