published: 12 /
Lisa Torem examines a new book 'The Bee Gees in the 1960s’ which examines their early career.
The first of four books in the Decades series about the Australian/British group, ‘The Bee Gees in the 1960s’ was written by three authors with extensive knowledge about the brothers Gibb – Barry, and twins Robin and Maurice. The lads took the world by storm in 1967 with ‘New York Mining Disaster 1941’ and proceeded to chart in multiple genres throughout their lengthy career.
But the uphill climb to achieve success required much stamina. Fortunately, that was the least of the family’s worries. Even as young boys, the Gibb brothers exhibited boundless energy and a natural gift for constructing bright harmonies. Their singing often led to later-than-normal bedtimes. For instance, when the young family boarded an ocean liner from Australia to the UK (they were to move frequently), they were found performing in their pyjamas, to the delight of other passengers.
The Gibbs had to field frequent criticisms from their father, Hugh; Barry recalled how difficult it was to meet his approval. They’d be more likely to hear: “You messed it up again, didn’t you?” than any compliments.
Yet their father’s disapproval didn’t affect their work ethic. “Our objective became to please dad,” Barry also said. The lads pooled together artistically, determined to exceed their father’s demanding expectations. Fortunately, their own bonds were unbreakable.
Tommy Steele, widely regarded as Britain’s first teen idol, was an early influence, looming large in the early 1960s. Unlike Steele, The Gibb brothers had few flashy instruments to call their own. Instead, they made do with stringed instruments constructed from tea chests and drums made from ‘old oil tins.’ Nevertheless, it was their warm vocal approach and songwriting that attracted agents and recording engineers, who marvelled at their natural abilities.
A lot is given to the Bee Gees’ recording history and their many pop and blues influences. Robert Stigwood, who worked with Brian Epstein’s company, NEMS, figured prominently as a mentor. He was looking for an act comparable to The Beatles and offered the group a rare and unprecedented five-year contract.
When guitarist Vince Melouney came aboard as lead guitarist, he added another exciting dimension to the vocal-driven group. Despite changing industry trends, The Bee Gees would land on top, winning many awards for records and film scores.
The writers have done an excellent job of researching the groups’ challenges and triumphs. As a bonus, Robin Gibb’s son Spencer, and Vince Melouney, wrote a detailed foreword, along with a series of glossy historical images. The story moves along at a fast clip.
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