|The Bee Gees with their Mum Barbara in 1997.|
What a lady. 95 years on this planet, five children, four sons, one who’d become the only solo artist to have his first three singles go to US#1, three others who’d sell 220 million records and write no less than 21 different US and UK#1 hits. Barbara Gibb, the beloved Mum of one-time teen-idol Andy Gibb and pop superstars the Bee Gees (not to mention their sister Lesley), has died in her adopted home of Miami.
The best and most detailed article I’ve read about the original BG – Barbara Gibb – was by Howard Cohen in the Miami Herald – click here for the link. I always thought with Barbara about the great paradox of her life: On the one hand, raising children who’d have such stratospheric success they would be famous in every corner of the globe. And on the other, outliving not just her husband Hugh (who died in 1992) but three of her boys: Andy (1988), Maurice (2003) and Robin (2012). Only Barry remains of the brothers Gibb, plus the eldest of Barbara’s offspring, her daughter Lesley.
|Barbara and Andy, circa 1978.|
For more on Barbara, do have a read of the piece in the Miami Herald. In the meantime, I’m going to take a leaf from the Bee Gees and Andy 2009 box set Mythology. Across four CDs and 81 tracks, Mythology attempted to gather the favourite songs by each of the brothers and divvy them up according to whoever the dominant performer or writer was. Barry and Robin chose their playlists, Maurice’s widow Yvonne selected his songs and Andy’s daughter Peta was in charge of her late father’s CD. So as a tribute to Barbara for raising four men whose music has made so many millions of people happy, here are four beautiful and poignant songs with one each from Barry, Robin, Maurice and Andy Gibb. And as I have a tendency to do, I’ve gone for lesser known works that I think deserve a wider audience.
Barry Gibb – Tears
From the Bee Gees 1989 album One, Barry told me in 2014 this is a particularly cherished track of his and something he’d one day love to perform live. Not mentioned as frequently as One’s other tribute to the then recently departed Andy, Wish You Were Here, Tears is similarly devastating. Both songs have direct, repeated lyrics that hammer home their naked emotion. In Wish You Were Here it’s the repetition of “they were good times and I wish you were here” that gets me every time. As for Tears, it’s the same songwriting tool used for “I will not sleep tonight, there will be tears tonight.” Both songs could’ve been hits and indeed Wish You Were Here was, though only in South America (going unreleased in most of the world).
Robin Gibb – Love Me
A US top 20 for Yvonne Elliman, the Bee Gees wrote and recorded this for their 1976 album Children Of The World. A soul song with a huge, melodic chorus and a Robin lead, it’s a shame this wasn’t the LP’s third single after You Should Be Dancing and Love So Right. The group weren’t to know at the time, but a Robin-sung lead on a late-70s Gibb song was soon to be a rarity and given this would’ve been an almost surefire hit, it’s a shame it’s not the modern day radio staple it should be.
Maurice Gibb – Railroad
“I’m glad somebody liked it!” This is what Maurice laughingly said to me in 1999 when I let him know this 1970 solo single was one of my most-played Gibb songs. His response typifies both the good-natured self-deprecation of the Gibbs as well as their occasional tendency to be retrospectively too dismissive of their less-commercially successful projects. This gentle, country-tinged ballad has a warm Maurice vocal and a killer violin hook in the chorus. Had it been a Bee Gees single and not a solo Maurice release I believe it would’ve been a hit (though it did reach the top 10 in both Malaysia and Singapore).
Andy Gibb – Good Feeling
Alongside Why and I Go For You, Good Feeling is the third in a trio of great singles that never were from his bestselling Shadow Dancing album (1978). With the album’s title track a US#1 (and the biggest US hit of 1978) and both An Everlasting Love and (Our Love) Don’t Throw It All Away sailing into the top 10, it’s a surprise more singles weren’t mined from Shadow Dancing. Good Feeling may not be especially deep, but as a melodic, upbeat piece of expertly produced pop, it would’ve been perfect fodder for Andy’s young fan base. The “ooh hoo!” that announces the falsetto chorus is the key hook in a song not lacking in them.
Instead of flowers, donations in Barbara Gibb’s name can be made to Diabetes Research Institute.
Don’t forget that Barry Gibb’s second solo album In The Now will be released October 7th – for details including how to download the title track and to pre-order the deluxe edition of the album, please visit barrygibb.com.