(Nick Logan & Alec Byrne, New Musical Express, October 12, 1968)

Transcript by Chis

Up the road from a place called Amen Corner and sandwiched between thos twin pillars of the establishment, St Paul's and the Old Bailey -like a wedge for the new order of things driven into the heart of the old- lives what his neighbours of the bowler, briefcase and umbrella brigade would no doubt refer to as "one of those long-haired beat people"

The particular "long-haired beat person" in question is Barry Gibb of the Bee Gees, whose 80 guinea a week City of London penthouse was my destination on a journey last week to get the final episode of that long running showbiz serial -"Is He Or Isn't He Leaving The Bee Gees"- a bit of straight talking on that particular subject being long overdue.

First there was a warm welcome from what happened to be a furry carpet on legs and turned out to be Barnaby, Barry's dog. Drinks were fixed by Barry's friendly road manager while the photo session took place and finally Mr Gibb joined us to get down to the business of the afternoon.

'I'm leaving'

"Sure I'm leaving the Bee Gees. I'm going into films," he said "But it will be at least two years before it happens. What we will do is work out our contract for another three years, but we are going to talk about it again in two years."

A king-sized cigarette was lit from one of the several packets lying around and Barry continued: "I had the film offers about four weeks back when we came home from America. I can't be specific but they were strong, attractive offers. All my life I had wanted to go into films so when the actual situation arose I decided yes I would. I don't want to do it now, but today is the right time to think about it."

Barry said he had talked it over with Robert Stigwood, the group's manager, who was against the group splitting. How did the other borthers feel?

"They know that no group lasts forever. Can you see us like we are now when we are all thirty? But pop has changed anyway because the fans look on groups as individuals. They pick out an individual and follow him -that makes it easier to revert back to being individuals. The pop scene is going to be a lot different in two years anyway. Now there is a new group every week; it seems like everybody and anybody can get into the charts."

He revealed that there was already a film lined up for him after the group's "Lord Kitchener's Little Drummer Boys." But he wouldn't be drawn into details except to say that it would be a western (as reported in NME last week).

"I'll be a skinny cowboy," he joked. "I think they are grooming me as another Gary Cooper."

As for the future of the others in the group, Barry said he could see both Robin and Maurice going into recording and arranging, although the brothers would always write together. And he could see Vince and Colin going off together into the blues field."

Can't understand

"I like blues but it is music I am too ignorant to understand," said Barry. "The only thing that exists to me is commercial pop music. It is commercial pop that the majority of people understand. A working man's daughter would not understand blues."

What were the possibilities of this coming to be? "They are very strong at the moment," was the reply.

Still looking into the future, Barry also revealed that he wants to produce records fro the Atlantic company in the States. "There are a lot of new American artists, soul artists, that I want to get into the studio," and said that if he did leave, he'd still probably make records on his own. "I could not leave pop music altogether. I love making records; I love making music; I love writing songs. It's like the sex force. I like every part of the pop business - though I'm sick and tired of back-biters. There is just no point in it.

"If you knock another artist it can only be through jealousy. Every new group that suddenly bursts onto the scene is wide open to criticism. They should stop the griping and stop the knocking."

How had the knockers got at them? "The Beatle bit," Barry replied. "But we expected that in a way because Robert was going round saying we were the musical talent of 1967. This was the publicity and we were wide open to it. And we were a bit green. We were just the Australian group at the time."

Still get knocks

"But we took the knocks hard. You are never really prepared for criticism. There is always somebody having a go and we still get the knocks. When we first came out, Jimi Hendrix said we were two-year-old Beatles. But we are very good friends with Jimi Hendrix now. He was just giving an opinion at the time. People just like to have a go at other artists. Five years ago everyone was for everyone - when the Beatles were at their heyday. Now everybody is trying to destroy everybody else. I think it comes from insecurity. The feeling that it is not going to last. I cannot really explain it. I think the whole scene is very weary. Everybody is a teenage idol," he joked.

Will get worse

Did he see any glimmer of improvement? "It always gets worse before it gets better. Something new will happen but I would not like to prophecy what. But it will be a totally new thing: something that doesn't exist now. Like when the Beatles came there was no one else like them."

We returned to the subject of the split. Would it not have been possible for the group to stay together with its five members doing their own separate things within that framework, like the Beatles do?

"No, because the Beatles did it and that was that," said Barry. "I'm not saying it cannot be done by someone else. But as long as the Beatles exist everyone who does it again will be called Beatles' followers. You can sell as many records as the Beatles but it will never be recreated what the Beatles did."

Round the penthouse

With a devious enough mind, you could interpret the fact that Barry Gibb lives in the heart of London's officeland as a symbolic gesture of defiance by one who has so magnificently managed to rise above a nine-to-five existence. You could interpret it that way. Barry, however, chose his luxury penthouse flat because he liked it.

So it is here, in the place thousands are only too pleased to escape from each evening, that Barry finds his escape from the strains and turmoil of pop. The price to live in style: 80 guineas a week - and that buys an awful lot of style!

A lift takes you to the top floor, where it emits a hight pitched buzzing noise that stops when the flat occupant deems you fit to enter. Having been deemed fit, you emerge into a wood-lined hall, which is the very centre of the flat.

On entering the living room, the first thing that catches your eye is the open marble staircase at the far end which rises above a fountain spraying coloured water. On the ceiling above the staircase is, believe it or not, a yellow foam rubber odel of New York hanging upside down.

If you can pull yourself away from that mind boggler, there is much else of magnificence in the room. Like the hall, the walls are mainly wood-lined and there is a parquet floor Barry has partly covered with blue carpet for protection.

The nearst wall has built-in cupboards and shelves on which the Bee Gees trophies are on display and also contained in this unit is the bar. Against the wall is a huge colour television set Barry had just bought and wasn't too pleased with. I generously offered to take it off his hands!

There are a couple of easy chairs with carved wood armrests but the main seating is provided by several brown leather backless seats placed together in an L shape. Other furniture includes a large table coffee, a mirror like the one on the front of the Bee Gees' second LP, a hi fi system and a film projector and screen on which Barry entertains guests with hired movies.

The living room itself is L-shaped, leading round to a small study with a couple of leather chairs and then through to the kitchen. That in turn leads through to the dining room which has high backed cream leather chairs round a circular table. Above the table hangs a magnificent glass chandelier.

Pass through another door and you are back in the hall, the doors to your right leading off into the bedroom and bathroom areas.

The spiralling staircase out of the living room takes you up to an over-hanging platform which is used as the breakfast area. Leading off this are two sun patios -both win cane chairs- one of which gives a view of St Paul's, the other a view of the lady with the scales of justice on the dome of the old Bailey.

And all that is what you call living in style!

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