Thursday, September 10, 2009

Speaking of resurrections...Barry and Robin Gibb!

Public Image Ltd. isn't the only old band that's resurrecting. The Bee Gees are also re-forming...but they're not reforming as the Bee Gees. Bang, in the Inquisitr:

Robin and Barry Gibb are “getting back together” six years after the death of their brother, Maurice, who died of a heart attack following surgery for an intestinal blockage in 2003....

Robin and Barry...announced shortly after Maurice’s death they would not use the Bee Gees name anymore when performing, although Robin wouldn’t rule out the possibility last summer.

He said: “We decided that on an emotional level. Whether or not that will change, we don’t know. It’s a personal thing and we’ll do it when the time is right”.

I had always figured that they had formed as a band just before NEMS employee Robert Stigwood found them, but their history as a band goes back to the 1950s:

The trio made their performing debut in 1955 as the Blue Cats, performing a brief set of Lonnie Donegan and Tommy Steele covers at the Manchester club where their father's group was playing. In 1958 the Gibb family emigrated to Brisbane, Australia. There the boys regularly played at area talent shows and other amateur showcases, occasionally performing songs composed by Barry. They changed the name to 'The Brothers Gibb' but soon shortened this to simply 'the Bee Gees'. In 1959 they were spotted by disc jockey Bill Gates, who soon became the group's manager and played their demo tapes on his radio show. An 18-month residency as the house band at the Beachcomber Nightclub in Surfers Paradise allowed the group to hone a set of original material composed by Barry, and in 1962 they signed to Festival Records.

But I was aware that the band, shortly after hitting it big after returning to England, broke up:

Internal friction and problems with drugs and alcohol were, however, tearing the Bee Gees apart, and in the middle of 1969 Robin left to begin a solo career. He had a major hit with 'Saved By the Bell'. In the meantime, Barry and Maurice, the latter of whom had recently married singer Lulu, continued alone, working on film Cucumber Castle and the country single "Don't Forget to Remember". Drummer Peterson left also and filed a lawsuit claiming rights to the Bee Gees name. The year-long court battle which followed prevented the Bee Gees name being used and the group lost virtually all of its chart momentum.

Both Barry and Maurice issued solo singles, neither being a hit.

Eventually Robin returned, and the Bee Gees released one of their best songs, "Lonely Days." Then they got bigger, with "Jive Talkin."

Then, in case you didn't know, they got really, really big with "Saturday Night Fever." This clip of "Stayin Alive" doesn't include John Travolta, but it certainly shows the Bee Gees' image during the peak of their fame.

While Rick Dees was an RSO artist, and there were other RSO artists (such as younger Gibb brother Andy), the Bee Gees were clearly the largest stars on RSO.

While their super-fame passed, as super-fame always does, they still hold a place in musical history, not only for their massive disco hits, but for their work before and after, which was often of high quality.

With one exception. Every band releases a clunker, and I have a personal distaste for the song "I Started a Joke." And the joke is on you if you dare to listen:

OK, I'm going to share one more Gibb-related video - one in which the Gibbs don't appear, and one which wasn't an RSO release. Here are Kenny Rogers and Dolly Parton:

And you have to admit that Dolly looks better in a high-slit dress than Maurice ever did.

See Songfacts for the Gibb connection.
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