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The Bee Gees auditioned for ‘Anything Goes’ and immediately signed a contract.
Robin, Barry and Maurice around 1960
Lots of other appearances followed like ‘Brisbane Tonight’, and ‘Strictly for Moderns’.
The television performances of The Bee Gees caught a lot of attention in Brisbane.
Their popularity was so big that they got a regular appearance in a program called Cottee’s Happy Hour’ which was financed by Cottee, a soft drink and jam manufacturer.
Because of their young age the boys had to ask permission from the head teacher to do this show every week.
Barbara or Hugh dropped them of for the performance and Hugh at that point decided to devote his full energies to the management of his sons’ careers.
With them he developed an adult floor show that was to play most of Australia’s top entertainment clubs.
They sang songs like:Dinah, Bye Bye Blackbird, Will You Love Me Tomorrowand ultimately songs from their own records.
In 1961 Barry got a publishing contract and the following few years he wrote a great number of tunes for various Australian artists of which one:‘Underneath The Starlight Of Love’was taken by Col Joye to a chart hit.
The BG`s play in Jack And The Beanstalk
They also sang in theatres where they played as a musical intermezzo on the stage.
They would sing while behind them the stage got changed for the next scene.
December 1960 they even appeared in Jack And The Beanstalk in the Rialto in Sydney.
Hugh rehearsed endlessly with the boys, thought them everything about show business and he would take place behind the drums as much as he could to support them with rhythm.
‘We had to perform for grown ups, so our dad would let us sing lots of songs of The Mills Brothers, which he was a great fan of also’said Robin.
When they had the chance they also sang their own favourites like songs from Ray Charles, Neil Sedaka and later Roy Orbison and Otis Redding.
The group started to form into a comic act with songs and this period was a great learning school.
In the beginning of the sixties The Bee Gees played a lot in Queensland, in night-clubs and hotels.
They had a reasonable income but they wanted to go to Sydney, they wanted to become real stars.
Their ambitions were high.
Eventually they started playing for 18 months in Surfer’s Paradise, a holiday resort on the east coast of Australia.
About 50 miles from Brisbane.
It’s called the Gold Coast and contains of about 20 miles of hotels and clubs.
The boys meet the Mills Brothers
They performed in places like for instance : The Palm Lounge Hotel, The Beachcomber and the Southport Hotel.
The Gibbs lived at Surfers Paradise while Col Joye was staying there too.
Col Joye was a famous Australian pop singer.
He was with his brother Kevin Jacobsen who managed him and played in the band.
Barry one day took a tape of the Bee Gees to Col and asked if there would be a chance he’d listen to these BG songs and Barry told he and his brothers just lived down the road.
Eventually Col, together with Kevin, listened to the boys at their home, not to a tape but live.
Col and Kevin went back to Sydney and after a while the brothers were asked to come over to Sydney and Kevin became their agent.
The boys smelled the success and got to know other famous artists.
Col Joye & The Joy Boys
This was exactly what they wanted.
In 1962 for Chubby Checkers’ concert in Sydney Stadium the Bee Gees were the support act.
Not a very big success yet, but a huge step for their future career.
At that period the Beatles weren’t known yet in Australia but The Bee Gees were already very busy building up their career.
They were writing lots of songs and their compositions were way ahead of their time!
The group was often accused of being Beatles copiers but this cannot be true as they were already very busy composing their own material before they even knew the Beatles!!
Barry:‘It didn’t really hurt that much, the accusing of being copiers of The Beatles.
I’m not bitter about that.
We knew it wasn’t true and I don’t like to look back that much.
In my opinion everything happened with a reason.
That’s how I got to where I am now and that includes the bad stuff as well as the good stuff.
You don’t look back and say: what if... or if I’d done that I’d be there.
It’s not true.
We didn’t do that and we’re not there’.
But there were influences in those early days for the young Bee Gees.
No Beatles but R & B stuff all the way from America.
Maurice:‘We were very much influenced by black artists in America. ‘cause that’s all you heard over there.
Sometimes you heard Beach Boys stuff but not really a lot of English stuff in those days.’
(After 1965 it changed, then everything was English, Beatles and that.)
It’s amazing that the writing of
the boys started at such a very young age.
Barry at the age of nine
Barry was just 9 when he wrote his first stuff which was called:Turtle Dove.
Barry;‘I have no memory of it so don’t ask me to sing it, the only thing I remember is the title.’
Where did all the writing ability came from, people wondered.
According to Barry:‘Probably from absorbing things in life around me, culture and the simple things of just loving music so much.
My own feeling is that great pain or a bad accident at a very young age can be one of the reasons you need to express yourself.
If you are a 2- year old child when suffering a great deal of pain and you don’t remember it.
I think that that in itself will turn you into a different person and you become very strong because of that.
You don’t remember it but you survived it
That kind of pain what that must have been for a child I cannot even imagine.
So I think such an experience for a child does something to you which may make you a writer and make you see things a little deeper than other people look.’
It was 1963 when in Sydney the brothers signed a contract with Fred Marks of Festival Records
That was really the beginning of the recording career of the group.
‘That’s how we got to make our first records which was actually more of a flop: The Battle Of The Blue And The Grey en Three Kisses Of Love,according to Robin.
It was released on the Leedon Label ( named for impresario Lee Gordon), one of the labels of Festival Records.
The wildly different nature of the two songs was an early indication of the capacity for variety that the Gibbs were going to display right up to present.
They were singing all types of songs in their live shows, and that they assimilated these divergent influences is evident in their writing and recording.
Keeping this great flexibility in mind, you won’t be surprised by the Bee Gees’ current and astounding success with R & B.
Barry, Maurice and Robin
And another change in their lives: again they moved, this time from Surfer’s Paradise to Lakemba a suburb of Sydney.
Despite their record deal the brothers still weren’t big stars but they were a top act in the larger clubs etc.
A new era in their career had started which meant they had to work very hard.
Their often too busy schedule made it impossible for The Beegees to keep attending school.
Barry already left school in 1961, he just turned 15 then and the twins followed his example in December 1963.
Because every one of them knew: this is going to be our career from now on.
Their first record had actually reached the top 20 in Sydney and got reasonable airplay, but it wasn’t an overwhelming success.
The predecessor in the summer of 1963 was:Timber and Take Hold Of That Star.
Timber is an up tempo song carrying the warning of: Timber, baby ‘cause I’m falling for you...
Primitive maybe?! But this is an example of the Gibbs’ somewhat strange way of saying things, a characteristic of their writing that, when it matured, imparted a unique charm to their songs.
Then it was back in the studio for more songs to record like for instancePeace Of Mind / Don’t Say GoodbyeandClaustrophobia / Could It Be,but this weren’t huge hits.
The Beatles started to break through in Australia and The Bee Gees weren’t even taken serious enough yet.
Barry, Robin and Noeleen Batley
They weren’t as old as The Beatles but already had lots of stage experience.
This period at Festival Records certainly wasn’t the easiest one but the boys got too little time to work on their own and their material in the recording studio.
All the recordings had to be done too fast.
Even though it wasn’t going well with their records, the live performances were successful and the group got a regular appearance in programs like Bandstand, Six O’Clock Rock and the Tonight Show.
And in the Spring of 1964 they even had their own TV-show with Nat Kipner as producer.
Also Barry’s publishing company changes from Joye Music to Belinda Music: this means lots of cover versions produced by Robert Ardale.
In these early sixties it was not only just Starlight Of Love which was recorded
by Col Joye but many different artists recorded about 50 Gibb songs around that period.
The Bee Gees with Trevor Gordon
Like for instance: Noeleen Batley, Bryan Davies and Tony Brady.
Maurice wrote about 8 songs together with producer Nat Kipner and Barry together with Johnny Devlin wrote Tony Brady’s:Let’s Stomp Australia Wayand with Tony Brady the Bryan Davies song:It’s A Surfing Worldwhile all three brothers did four more songs together.
Mostly it were simple love songs but also other types likeTown Of Tuxley Toymaker Part OneorLittle Miss Rhythm And Bluesor the more religiousOne Roadby Jimmy Little.
On records of many other artists the boys started to appear as backing vocals etc. etc.
Then there was the single:Turn Around Look At Mewith the tune of the TV series:The Travels Of Jamie McPheeters.And then there also wasEvery Day I Have To Cryby Steve Alaimo which they recorded withYou Wouldn’t Knowby Barry on the flip side.
In between all of this they also recorded material with Trevor Gordon.
All of this didn’t make much of an impression, but there was someone who was interested.
Bill Shepherd, an English arranger, who emigrated to Australia.
Barry receives the price for composer of the year
Wine And Women / Follow The Windgot recorded and after Robin got to the bottom of what to do to reach the hit lists, they asked fans and friends to buy the single which resulted in reaching the top 40.
Now the record automatically got a lot more attention.
This action proved to be a success.
The record kept climbing the charts and The Bee Gees got their hit.
The next single was another difficult one:I Was A Lover A Leader Of Men / And The Children Laughing.But it kept the people’s interest because in 1965 Barry received the price for composer of the year from Radio 5KA in Adelaide.
Around this time their first songs were exported to America.
First album of The Bee Gees
Bee Gees songs were recorded by American artists like Jimmy Boyd:That’s What I’ll Give To Youand Wayne Newton:They’ll Never Know.
They still had three years to go on the five year contract at Festival records and at the end of 1965 they released their first album:The Bee Gees Sing And Play 14 Barry Gibb Songs.
To be continued.
Part four: History, starting in 1966.