Article 30

Rock On

Tales from the Brothers Gibb : The Bee Gees

(Published in Times of India, Pune on 26th January, 2002)

I f there were any period in history when the music liked by the father, was also liked by the son, and that too with the same intensity, it would have to be the 21st century! I am talking about the situation in my very house. My 12-year-old son, Akshay is an avid music fan and the showing of live music concerts on TV has greatly improved his knowledge about the best in music abroad. It was last year when, with much fanfare, one of the greatest music acts of the sixties, seventies and the eighties appeared on a TV special. It was the brothers' team of the Bee Gees and I remember being very excited that I was to get the chance to see one of the finest composers/singers in Pop music perform live. I could never have expected the reaction that my son would have to this concert. For the next six months, the only music that could be played in my home was the "Best of Bee Gees" album that I was forced to buy the very next day!

The Bee Gees have always conjured up visions of excellent singing, meticulous harmony and great songwriting, a combination that was rare to find in any one band. The Bee Gees have exceeded everybody's expectation in all these departments and as a result, their career has stretched over three decades. With every new album, they have extended their hold over their fans and even today, they command healthy respect from all the artistes of today. In fact, there would hardly be any present day Boy band that has not covered their songs and their duets and songs for great singers like Celine Dion, Barbara Streisand, Dolly Parton, Kenny Rogers, Diana Ross, Olivia Newton John etc. are legendary. Even the great Janis Joplin covered the second Bee Gees UK single "To love somebody"!

When we started our band "Velvette Fogg" in the late sixties, the Beatles were reigning supreme. The English Mersey Beat revolution had spawned hundreds of bands thereafter but a lot of them were unfortunately just one hit wonders. When the Bee Gees arrived on the scene, it was great to have a group that not only sang so well, they even wrote great songs. There were many bands in Bombay in those days that did those great love ballads of theirs and had the girls screaming for more. It took a lot to perfect that fabulous harmony and I still remember the Mystics doing a great version of "I just gotta get a message to you" when I was just a schoolboy! I guess the comparison to the Beatles was unavoidable and the Bee Gees too have always acknowledged their devotion to the genius of the Beatles. Yet they somehow never got the recognition and critical acclaim that the fellow groups of their times managed to obtain. I feel that this was definitely due to their squeaky-clean "boy next-door" reputation and the beautiful love songs they wrote. It was fashionable to be anti-establishment and the good middle class British/Australian values of the Bee Gees just could not convince the press and the society folk 'who mattered' that the Bee Gees were an incredible music phenomenon.

Naturally the people knew differently and their career took off almost as soon as they landed from Australia, thanks to the great management skills of Robert Stigwood. Stigwood, a colleague of Brian Epstein, the manager of the Beatles and manager to zillions of legendary Rock acts including the 'Cream', had the foresight to see the potential of the three brothers. He guided their skyrocketing career for many years and saw them through their numerous ups and downs as they traversed a mind boggling, successful career on both sides of the Atlantic.

I have always felt that the Disco era resulted in the Bee Gees being treated rather unfairly by the press. The enormous success of "Saturday Night Fever" and the immediate identification of the Bee Gees with the rise of Disco in the music scene all over the world made the Bee Gees appear to be just pandering to the superficial needs of market forces. The Bee Gees wrote great songs and the fact that they were great dance songs was an added advantage. Unlike in the present age where there is special dance music like techno, trance etc. created just for the dance floor, we always danced to all the great Rock songs of our time. Movement always played a great role in the enjoyment of any song and even the metal heads of today need to head bang to feel great!

The Bee Gees, I'm sure did not mind as it signaled their second coming into the world of Pop stardom. It was great for their bank balances too and the Bee Gees now have the world record for the biggest selling soundtrack album of all times. They are also the only group that has had six consecutive albums in the Top Ten. Today, their music from the sixties, seventies, eighties and the nineties enthrall audiences from kids to grandfathers. We even have Indian Bee Gees cover bands as was demonstrated recently in Pune's 'Grease', the retro club, by the excellent Goan band, a few days back. If that is not proof that today, they are one of the finest songwriters and performers of the century, I wonder what is!

Rock on!

Nandu Bhende











What's New