The Sad Ballad of the Gibb Brothers
The rise and fall of the brothers Gibb is perhaps the greatest saga in Australian, even world, music history. As ubiquitous as the falsetto harmonies, flares and multi-platinum record sales were the tragedies: the highs, the lows, the highs again. And then the brothers fell, one by one.
Not long before his death, Robin made it clear that he believed the Gibbs had been forced to pay the highest possible cost for their success. ‘All the tragedies my family has suffered . . . is a kind of karmic price we are paying for all the fame and fortune we’ve had.’
This is the story of all four brothers’ incredible careers, lives and influence. It captures the incredible highs, and the terrible lows: divorce, drunkenness and death.
It is a beautifully drawn examination of the Gibb ‘curse’ and an all-too-human look at the rollercoaster ride of fame.
What an incredible story! Did I even realise when I was in primary school and we were singing “Words” with Mr Dickinson, music teacher and piano player that we were singing a Bee Gees hit? No. I had little knowledge of the Bee Gees early days. I am amazed to discover how young these musicians were when they first sampled success; they were barely our out their teens. Astonishing really.
When I was a teenager and listening to the sounds of the Saturday Night Fever (yes I admit to it I did have the album) I still wasn’t really away of the Gibb’s early days or their more narrative (ballad style) earlier music – like New York Mining Disaster, I’ve Gotta Get a Message to You, Lonely Days Lonely Nights…these I “discovered” later and they still remain firm favourites today. In fact I have been playing these songs not stop – in my head and on my mp3 player all the time I was reading this biography. What a talent – I don’t think I have reflected on the body of work these guys produced before – it is amazing – thank you Jeff Apter for alerting me to this.
And what terribly tragic story the Bee Gees life was. More than a few times I had tears in my eyes. It is even sadder to think that Robin Gibb believed the family deserved to pay such a high price for their success and fame. I don’t believe he was right – they were just unfortunate and maybe a little too young and inexperienced when fame initially found them. Barry Gibb I wish you joy and peace and hope that you are still sharing your talent by writing and producing music for others.
A moving, memorable and well researched story.