(AAP, May 28, 2004)

Posted by Juan Cristobal Guzman

Pop kings the Bee Gees have credited Australia for their success on the world stage and promised to return home in the not too distant future.

The two surviving Bee Gees - Barry and Robin Gibb - said they've always thought of themselves as Australians. They said if they hadn't spent their childhood years Down Under learning the tricks of the music trade they would never have reached the dizzying heights of stardom. "If it wasn't for Australia, we wouldn't be here today," Robin said. "That's where we learned our craft."

Barry said he had been influenced by the three countries he's lived in but Australia, still home to their sister Lesley who lives in the Blue Mountains, would always be home. "I look at everything as having grown up in three cultures," he said. "The first being the Isle of Man of England and secondly Australia and the third being the United States."

The Gibb brothers - Barry, 56, and twins Robin, 54, and Maurice - were born in England, moved to Australia as children in 1958 and eventually settled in the United States.

The famous trio was honoured today for their services to music and entertainment when they were made Commanders of the Order of the British Empire (CBE) at Buckingham Palace.They were named as recipients for the award in the Queen's 2002 New Year's Honours List, before Maurice died of from heart attack last year. But Barry's fear of flying after the September 11, 2001 terrorist attacks on the US stopped the brothers from making the trip to England to receive their award earlier.

"I have a dreadful flying phobia and after 9/11 I really couldn't get on a plane," he said. "It didn't matter what was happening, I just couldn't get on a plane."

Maurice's son Adam, 28, collected the award on behalf of his father, while his widow Yvonne broke down in tears when asked about the ceremony. "It's very emotional. I was very proud of my son," she said.

Barry and Robin said the day should have been one of the happiest of their lives but it was tinged with sadness because Maurice wasn't there to share it with them. "It's bitter sweet," Barry said. "It would have been wonderful for all three of us to be here. We have mixed feelings. We'll all drink a toast to Mo and we know he's watching, we're wishing he was here but we'll be thinking of him."

The Gibbs had a lengthy chat and a laugh with Prince Charles as they received their awards in the ballroom of Buckingham Palace. "I said don't mess my hair up," said Barry, sporting a long mane of grey hair. Adam said Prince Charles spoke to him about the passing of his father. "He said he hoped this was a little something to remember him by," he said.

Maurice died unexpectedly in the US last year after suffering a heart attack during emergency surgery for an intestinal blockage. Robin was at his bedside.

The brothers, who were responsible for disco classics such as Stayin' Alive and Night Fever, are the fifth biggest selling pop group of all time, shifting more than 110 million copies of their vast array of albums over 40 years. As well as carving out their own success, they have helped other stars including Dionne Warwick, Diana Ross and Barbara Streisand.

And they promised they'd be back writing, and perhaps performing, in the future. "You're stuck with us folks," Robin said.

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