Circus Magazine: August 17, 1978 by Stan Soocher
LITTLEST BEE GEE: Andy Gibb Is More Than Just a Clone of His Successful Siblings.
On his first headlining tour ever, Andy Gibb has a problem with his fans. It seems they've been screaming so loud he can't hear himself singing on stage and has had to add lots of extra power to his already one hundred and forty decibel sound system. Not surprising though, for a twenty-year-old brother of the world's ruling music aristocracy, the Bee Gees, who's managed to chalk up his own first three American pop singles as number one songs and his second and latest album, Shadow Dancing (RSO), a platter of seamless, melodic love songs and dance tunes, as platinum after only two weeks on the charts.
Waiting for Andy to wake up in his suite at the New York Hilton after a 4 am arrival from a show in Pittsburgh, his father, Hugh Gibb, formerly a drummer and the leader of a big band, and his mother, Barbara, once a singer, are learning to adjust to the most recent family phenomenon.
"I'm not all that surprised," well-tanned Hugh says. "I taught Andy and the Bee Gees their stage techniques: how to walk on, smile, bow, dress. And I arrange Andy's stage program and lighting. Once he walks out there he almost never stops moving. The sweat pours out, he shakes his head and sprays the first four rows."
"The Bee Gees are more casual," mother Barbara adds. "Hugh showed them how to amble out on stage relaxed, singing their harmonies like the Mills Brothers. Andy is basically very shy off stage, but he's learned how to make the audience respond and in such a short time. I don't think the fans' over-reaction is going to stop him, though. Andy is very stubborn."
Suddenly, a refreshed Andy Gibb bursts into the room in a flurry of activity. Skating over the carpet in yellow-tipped white socks, he takes a quick peek at the Manhattan skyline ("I see it's still the same"), he greets his parents, and plops himself down with a glass of Perrier water. He picks up a copy of Mark Twain's The Adventures of Huckleberry Finn.
"I ought to read this," he decides, tilting his freshly combed golden mane down on his white, open-necked nylon shirt. A gold medallion with a diamond in the center hangs around his neck. "Robert Stigwood, my manager, gave me this. It says, "Happy Gold Christmas." My brothers all have platinum ones. I'll be getting a new one soon".
Is Andy affected by stardom with a capital "S"?
"I grew up in a show business family, so we've always had a great sense of balance, being so close to my parents. I've always known what is and isn't reality. Even my older brothers' early success ten years ago didn't change me since there was such an age difference. I was moving about with my own gang, the skinheads, wearing steel-toed army boots and kicking in shop windows."
So rabid fans don't scare him easily. "Before I was terrified on stage," Andy admits. "I never moved, just stood there with my guitar. Now I'm running and jumping and I only play guitar during the acoustic songs. After a while, you can elicit certain responses from the crowd, like Elvis. The more I do bodywise, the more they react. I hope as I go along, the fans will realize I've got a good, hot band that can really play. Now I hear the screams ringing in my ears hours after the shows are over."
The hectic pace has affected his health. As soon as the new Shadow Dancing album was completed, Andy was rushed over to Europe for a promotional tour. For three weeks in England he worked from 6am until 2am, making personal appearances and doing interviews. He fell asleep at one radio station while he was on the air. Then in Amsterdam, he collapsed during a photo session.
Andy has been keeping his balance lately with a variety of sports. He learned to swim at age four, is a certified scuba diver, and loves to water-ski. He travels with a new Yamaha XS-11 motorcycle in his entourage that does up to one hundred and sixty miles an hour. ("I took my mother out on it," Andy laughs, "and drove her past one hundred.") He is also piloting a plane and flew a six-seater along the coast of Lake Michigan between gigs in Chicago and Milwaukee. "Andy's been a sports freak since he was a kid," father Hugh recalls. "He was into sports jumping with show horses, too. I've been taking home movies all along."
Born in the industrial town of Manchester, England, in 1958, Andy moved as a baby to Australia where the Bee Gees received their initial recognition for their unique vibrato harmonies. His parents constantly played records around the house, mostly their big band favorites like Count Basie and Benny Goodman. Hugh managed the Bee Gees from 1958 to 1967, when they returned to England and signed with Robert Stigwood. To escape the limelight, the Gibb family purchased a home on the island of Ibiza off the coast of Spain where Andy got his first taste of performing.
"Barry gave me a guitar" Andy remembers. "So I started singing in a tavern on Ibiza called Debbie's Bar on St. Patrick's Day when I was thirteen. I sang Paul Simon's "The Only Living Boy In New York" and "Feelin' Groovy", and the Bee Gees' "Words". In 1973 we moved to the British Isle of Man, and I put my first band together for one year, named Melody Fair after a song from my brothers' Odessa(Atco) album."
Brother Barry explains, "We talked Andy into going to Australia for his performing apprenticeship like we did ten years before. He needed to get his legwork in without the rest of the world knowing exactly what he was doing. When he was ready Robert Stigwood and I talked him into coming to America to record and develop fully as an artist."
Andy's band in Australia was called Zenta. But he reached the charts as a solo artist when "Words And Music" which appears on his first album, Flowing Rivers(RSO), went top five in Canberra, the capital of Australia.
"At one point, Ray Stevens came to Australia with my manager's promoter," Andy continues. "I met him and wanted to record a song of his, "Can't Stop Dancing," which the Captain and Tenille later hit with. I tried it with two producers, didn't like it, and ended up producing the session myself. I played all guitars and keyboards, but it was never really finished and I don't know where the tapes are."
Andy's Flowing Rivers was recorded in Miami at Criteria Studios with Barry Gibb, Albhy Galuten, and Karl Richardson as producers and released in 1977. Andy wrote all the songs except "I Just Want To Be Your Everything," which Barry wrote, and "(Love Is) Thicker Than Water," which Andy co-wrote with Barry. Both songs went to number one in America and Flowing Rivers stayed on the charts for over a year. Does Andy feel he is competing with his Bee Gee brothers?
"No. I've never felt in competition with them. We've always tried to help each other. I'm writing songs with them now, like "Shadow Dancing," which we wrote in a lounge in Los Angeles while they were working on the Sgt. Pepper's film. I also helped write and sing on a song from their next album, "Where Do I Go." And our personalities are different. Maurice is everybody's mate, always ready to go out for a drink. Robin is funny, but sensitive and highly underrated as an individual songwriter. Barry is a family man who's happiest with kids. His home life inspires his creativity, and he can sit there and write songs all day long between ironing and kids screaming. But again, to compete with my brothers, I can't say I would, but I can always say I might"
Shadow Dancing showcases Andy's lyrical and musical maturity as well as his vocal ability to increasingly emote and zero in on the feeling of a song. He wrote or co-wrote eight of the album's ten songs on his Martin D-18 or D-41 acoustic guitars.
Co-producer Albhy Galuten, who is responsible along with Karl Richardson and Barry Gibb for breaking the Beatles' record with six number one singles in five months, sees Shadow Dancing as a quantum leap in Andy Gibb's musical development.
"I think there's a big change in Andy," Albhy says. "Shadow Dancing represent the Americanization of Andy. Most of the songs on Flowing Rivers were written while he was in Australia. They were views of America from an outsider. On "Come Home For The Winter," for example, he wrote: "I got tired of all the summers down in Denver." Andy didn't know that it's cold in Denver, not hot. Flowing Rivers is scattered, and Andy did whatever we thought was best because he didn't have much experience with veteran musicians and technicians. Now we're only starting to tap Andy's potential, and Shadow Dancing is the tip of the iceberg."
On Flowing Rivers many of the songs maintain an Eagles-like country flavor. Shadow Dancing offers a glimpse at Andy after he has begun listening to the black sounds his brothers have studied for years. There is also a marked difference between the songs Andy works on with and without Barry Gibb's help.
"On 'Fool For A Night,' 'I Go For You', and 'I'm Waiting For You,' which were written just before they were recorded," Albhy adds, "Andy achieves direct interplay between his voice, the songs, and the band. 'Everlasting Love' has the group falsettos in the traditional Bee Gees style while 'Melody', which is sonically like an Eagles or early Bee Gees record, has few overdubs with one vocal pass and no repairs on the instrumental tracks."
What makes recording Andy Gibb different from recording the Bee Gees?
"With the Bee Gees' strings, for example," Albhy answers, "we do a full set of chords and a full set of lines. Barry and I sing the string lines at each other, and the tracks don't breath as much because they are just a straight-away bed for the vocals and strings which are layered to fill in the spaces. With Andy, the rhythm section is more than a pad for the song; it's integral to the lead vocal."
On his first American tour last year, Andy opened for Neil Sedaka, who greatly influenced his brothers' style. Andy was married then and has since divorced Kim Reeder who now lives in Australia with their daughter, Peta. Andy lives in his own house in a residential section of Miami along with Barry and Maurice and their parents, and he doesn't have any special relationships at the present time. he does encounter a lot of women on the road though. "But most of them are fans," Andy argues, "who want to throw themselves at me. I want the privilege of chasing a girl."
Things could be worse, however. The Gibb entourage were almost barred from checking into the New York Hilton. "The desk manager told us we didn't have a reservation," Andy grumbles. "At four in the morning that's a bit hard to handle. He didn't believe who we were. He told us, 'Mr. Gibb checked out yesterday.' Right now I just want to go out and catch Jaws II."
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