David Leaf (Bee Gees biographer)
"At a time like this, here is nothing one can say that will help. Nothing that one can write that will ease the terrible hurt. The Gibb family's loss is being felt my millions of people over the world, but I know that doesn't even begin to assuage their pain. There is an empty place in the universe, a sense that the Brothers Gibb, have been suddenly, prematurely and unnecessarily torn asunder.
In addition to the work I've done with the Bee Gees, ... in addition to the great fortune I've had in getting to know them as little bit as people... I've also worked closely with another artist whose group whas buit around the harmony of three brothers.
Only last week my wife and I were having dinner with Brian Wilson. When we asked him to choose dinner music, he asked for the Bee Gees . While one of the Cds played, I asked him where he ranked the group in his personal top ten. Very softly but definitively, he said "Number One." We said, "Ahead of the Beatles? He said, "Yes." We said, "Ahead of the Beach Boys?" Again he said, "Yes."
Because of the work I've done with the Bee Gees through the years, I've received a few phone calls asking me for a quote or to write something. In those interviews, the one thing that I've been emphasizing is that Maurice shouldn't be overlooked, that there were major contributions he made to the records and the live performances that will be sorely missed. First of all, whether it was on-stage or on television or in an interview situation, Barry is often the frontman and spokesperson ... Robin is a magical presence on stage, the fans eagerly anticipating his next vocal... but Maurice always gave the audience... even if it was just one reporter... a great show.
As you know, the brothers came from a showbusiness, more than a rock'n'roll, tradition, a philosophy in which you always gave the audience your best, and that was taught to them by their father. When they first started performing, they were, in essence miniature Mills Brothers and I think Maurice best personified that ethic.
From what I saw, while he was a down to earth guy, he always had a real presence about him. He was really great with fans, signing autographs, talking to them. He always had time for people. He was an extremely kind person, very outgoing. To use a colloquiallism, he was a "great mate." Maurice had a wonderful sense of humor, He could have fit in with the Goons or Monty Phyton... The brothers had so much fun together. Writing, recording, rehearsing, touring... they'd really laugh a lot. Sadly, Maurice's laughter will never be heard again at Middle Ear.
For those of us, like me, who were lucky enough to spend time with him, both alone and when the brothers were together, I can only remember that constant laughter. I know that someday, Barry and Robin too will be able to smile again at the thought of all the great times hey shared. The brothers taught us a how can you mend a broken heart. This is different, and as with Andy, while their hearts will mend, the heartbreak will never go away.
In terms of record making , Maurice was a key member of the band. I hink it's fair to say that he was the techno whiz of the Bee Gees. He was the guy who always got the latest piece of gear first; in the early 1970s, he was probably the one playing with the synthesizers. And that love of gadgets and electronics never waned. Whatever the latest thing that came along, Maurice got it and figured out how it could help make the records better. I think his embracing technology was one big reason why Bee Gees records always sounded contemporary. When it came to the instrumental sound, the rhythms, the beats, I think Maurice played a major role in all of that, had a big hand in the sound of Bee Gees records.
And, as you know, on records like the autobiographical "Man in The Middle," Maurice had a realy distinctive lead vocal sound. You get the sense listening to him of a unique artist who had musical interests that might not be defined as typically Bee Gees.
Permit me one personal favorite moment...I few years ago, I was n Las Vegas, assigned by a television magazine show to cover the "One Night Only" concert, get some "behind-the scenes" footage of the guys, and interviews with people like Celine Dion. A friend of mine.. the guy with whom I produced "This Is Where I Came In... was there with me that day. He'd volunteered to work as my production assistant, just for the opportunity to hear and see the Bee Gees. He, like all of us, is a big fan. That day, we entered the MGM Grand Arena from the rear (I can hear Maurice cracking a joke right about now), and walked towards the stage. The brothers were in mid-rehearsal mode. Looking up Maurice spotted me and turned to his brothers and said, "There is David Leaf." And then proceeded to play a symphonic fanfare on his keyboard rig. What a welcome that was. Typical Mo... always glad to see you, always generous, with his time and attention. In my career, I've been privileged to meet quite a few of my heroes. I can assure that there was nobody sweeter than Maurice Gibb.
On Sunday as I watched the repeat of Larry King Show, I couldn't help but shed a tear .... for the brothers and their families,.... of course for Yvonne and their children, for their mother, for their devoted friend Dick Ashby, and for all the Gibbs who lost a loved one.
But we have lost a treasure too. There are few people who can always make us smile, and Maurice could do it just by walking into a room. He was a funny man, even though, like Barry and Robin, he was quite serious about Bee Gees music. It's self-evident hat Maurice was an integral part of the Bee Gees trademark three-part harmony. While we have an enormous body of Bee Gees music... both from the studio and in concert... to listen to, sadly, we´ll never hear that magical blend again. Nor see the three brothers acting like modern day Marx Brothers. What a loss.
And with those thoughts, I shed another tear. No doubt, Barry and Robin will make great music together sometime in the future. No doubt, it will sound like Bee Gees music. But, no doubt, no matter how great the records are, we will always feel the void that has been left by Maurice's passing. His physical presence is gone, but he has left us so much of his spirit that we will never really be without him.
There is little one can say to comfort anybody when a brother is taken so unexpectedly. I can only offer the thoughts and prayers of brothers everywhere who dread the moment when that special bond is permanently broken. And of music lovers around the world... Sunday was a very sad day for harmony. ...And words are all I have... and, unfortunately, right now they feel almost completely inadequate. Be certain that I join all of you in saying a prayer... and pledging to keep Maurice's memory alive, bright and shining. All who were touched by him feel his loss deeply.
We love you, Mo. God bless you.