Home 
Who is GSI 
History 
Family Tree 
Discography 
Newsletter 
Robin Gibb 
Andy Gibb 
Photo Album 
Links 







P Schavemaker
This interview, the contents, text and audio is the exclusive property of Peter Schavemaker. No part of the interview may be reproduced in any written, audio, photographic or electronic format without the express written permission of Peter Schavemaker, The Netherlands.
Via e-mail: peterschavemaker@yahoo.com
This interview is protected by all worldwide copyright laws.
Including article 10 of the Dutch copyright law of 1912.
The above mentioned copyright is represented by: NVJ Advocaten en Juristen (Dutch organization of journalists) in Amsterdam.

© 2002

Exclusive Interview with Maurice Gibb by Peter Schavemaker,
Radio 192, The Netherlands.
April 1, 2002.

After four shows devoted to the Brothers aired on RADIO 192 on February 4, 11, 18 and 25, 2002, Peter Schavemaker then interviewed Maurice, which the BGFC was thrilled to be able to arrange. The following is a complete transcript of the interview!

Peter Schavemaker doesn't work for Radio 192 anymore since October 18 - 2002.

© Photos in this article: G. Adriaensen - GSI



Peter Schavemaker (PS): Maurice, welcome at Radio 192.
Maurice Gibb (Maurice): Hi, Peter, thank you for having me.


P Schavemaker in the studio
PS: I just explained you're the most successful trio in rock and roll history, sold over 10 million records in 5 decades, 19 # 1 singles, and a lot of other success by other artists, but I want to discuss that later on. Are you modest about that title, "the most successful trio in rock and roll"?
Maurice: Well it's.. its.. em.. I would say only that the perception of us .. em.. We have of ourselves is not like that. We, we sort of.. actually, were three kids from Manchester who wanted to be like The Beatles. And uh, I think we're still trying (laughs).

PS: Yeah.. There's a little connection between you and the Beatles eh?
Maurice: There's a big connection, especially in the late sixties, when we came back to England and we got to know them very well.

PS: Yeah, it was also in that year, in 1967, when the release of "Sgt. Pepper", then you came to England, that was the...
Maurice: We came actually, in 1967, it was actually the, the year that "Pepper" was released...we came that year.

PS: Yeah... So it was the start of a nice connection, because you did a lot of Beatles' songs as well, some albums...
Maurice: Yes, and when we were in Australia, we used to get, you know, in the studio and just jam on them, and record them, and just have some fun.

PS: Yeah, em... The 110 million records you have sold, maybe there are more in between the date of (these) figures and the date we're speaking, can you just handle those huge figures?
Maurice: Well, I mean, I think it's very hard to imagine in fact the phenomenon of "Fever", for instance, when that was selling so much other record companies had to press it, to keep up the demand...

PS: Uh huh...
Maurice: So when you have those kinds of experiences, it's still quite, you know, incomprehensible, they're quite unbelievable ...

PS: Yeah, it's still..
Maurice: And when we spoke to Quincy Jones, and uh, after Michael Jackson's "Thriller" , you know, they only expected to sell about three million...

PS: It's still the most sold...
Maurice: And yet it happened...



PS: It's still the most sold soundtrack ever, eh?
Maurice: Yes, it's still number one.. we thought.. actually, David Foster told us he thought "Bodyguard" had beaten us, be he's a few mil out (laughs)

PS: Yeah, I want to talk with you about different subjects, especially the feeling behind the music you make, but first of all, congratulations with the CBE...
Maurice: Oh, thank you!

PS: Which you received last New Year's (2000/2001) from Queen Elizabeth II of England...
Maurice: Yes, we actually go, yeah, to get that pretty soon.

PS: when will that be?
Maurice: I think it's in May...(ed. Note: delayed after interview, receipt date not yet decided).

PS: For a private reception?
Maurice: I think it's actually, they give the awards, or they award the actual medallions, I think, six times a year, and those people who can make it up to the palace at those times, then they arrange it for that particular day.

PS: Yeah, but I think you'll make extra time off to go there...
Maurice: Oh, I'd like to have been there yesterday! (laughs)

PS: I read, you said, "I don't think there is a greater honor for someone who's British born, to have something like this happens to you, it's just beyond the realm of dreaming." Can you explain that more?
Maurice: Oh, it's something..yeah, 'cause it's something you don't really aim for, because it's beyond your reach. It's something like a Grammy, or a big award, or a European award, and all these things, the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame, and all that stuff, those are goals you can really try and strive for.

PS: Uh huh...
Maurice: But a CBE, or to be awarded an honor like that from the Queen of England is something this is beyond your imagination.

PS: Yeah, what was your first...
Maurice: And when it does happen, it's just unbelievable, you must, I can't believe that, that we're actually going to receive it.

PS: Now, what was your first reaction when you heard it, did you hear it via telephone or...
Maurice: Well, actually, Barry called me first, it was about 8:00 in the morning, and he, um, because the British ambassador would only talk to one of us, because he didn't want to get out. (laughs). He said he had to do the 'cloaks and daggers' thing, that we can't tell anybody...

PS: Mmmm - hmmm
Maurice: But that we'd received the CBE. 'Cause Barry kept calling me "Commander", and I was saying, "Why are you calling me "Commander"?" and he said, 'Well, you'll never guess what just happened." And then he told me. And he said: "Now I'm going to call Robin and tell him." I went "Jesus... " You know, I went back to bed and I thought, 'That's funny. Did this really happen, or am I just waking up again?"

PS: Yeah, I somewhere read that you all three were very speechless at that moment.
Maurice: Totally, I mean, once again, it's an honor that, uh, you just don't believe, you don't really sort of go out and get, you know, and if you are... I mean this is by the Queen's choice herself, the New Year's Honors list, so it's even more, you know, impressive to us to have such an honor.

PS: Yeah, Although it was a very big honor, and you had such a huge career, starting in 1967, um it's such a huge career - we hardly can put it in this interview. Can you tell me the highlights - 'course, maybe that's a difficult question, but...
Maurice: Well, the highlights, I mean, obviously, is the CBE is an incredible highlight, of our lives, and even as brothers. And then this is the first time, also in history, or in British history, that three brothers have been awarded this, all together, at the same time - from one family. So it's an even higher honor again. So this is really definitely the highest part. The best, most incredible moment I remember, is being in the North of England on the stage when Dick Ashby, our personal manager, told us that "Massachusetts" had gone to number one.

PS: Ummm, hmmm
Maurice: And when we found that out, that was one of the greatest moments, because we'd always as kids in Australia growing up, we wanted to come back to England, we wanted to have the number one at home. And when it actually happened, then it happened in Europe, and Holland of course, and Germany, and all the other countries in Europe, we were like blown, and that was the most incredible moment of my life.

PS: And then it spread, around the world?
Maurice: Yes, it didn't make America then, but yes, then all over Europe...

PS: But later on America was also captured, eh?
Maurice: Yes, yeah, it's sort of like, in those days, not many records crossed over to America, or backwards and forwards, in fact, I think actually in those days England was dictating what was going to be in the Top 40...



PS: Mmm, hmmm
Maurice: Eh, in America later on, you know, so - there was quite a lot of imports coming in and stuff, backwards and forwards, but now, of course, it's totally different.

PS: Yeah, Do you see that as as an influence on the pop culture during the last four decades? Can I say that with those words, or...
Maurice: Well, obviously, I guess the "Fever" period made a lot of big impression on everybody, and it was like a, it was like a movement...

PS: Mmmm..hmm
Maurice: You know, the music and so forth and, em, I don't... I'm not... I wasn't too mad about the clothes, but that's another story (laughs), but, ah yeah, it was... I think that a lot of people think "Stayin' Alive" was like the national anthem for the seventies, you know, so it's, it's obviously affected a lot of people' lives, and people have grown up with our music...

PS: Yeah...
Maurice: People have married... Or split up

PS: So you made a standard with that song, especially with "Saturday Night Fever", which caused a cultural phenomenon, eh?
Maurice: Yes, that was exactly it. When something dictates what people do in their lives to have fun and, and eh, dancing, everybody just wanted to dance at that time. The whole world wanted to dance. And it was a good, fun period for those people who took it, you know, easy.

PS: How did the song come together? Can you, can you explain which...
Maurice: You mean "Stayin' Alive"?

PS: Yeah, which point...
Maurice: Well, "Stayin' Alive" actually was written in, eh... Bits of it were written in England, some of it was written in Bermuda, and, uh, in fact I remember our manager at the time was, wanted us to change it to "Saturday Night, Saturday Night", and we said "No, no, no, no - No, we don't like that". Because there were a lot of 'Saturday nights' out at that time and he was making this film., called "Tribal Nights of a Saturday Night"( ed. Note: actually 'Tribal Rights of a Saturday Night') and, uh, he was producing it, so down the road, after we finished it in France, actually, we were at the Chateau in France when we finished the song, and, em, that's when he came over and he heard these, the four songs that we had, which was, em, "If I Can't Have You", "How Deep Is Your Love", "Night Fever", and "Stayin'Alive", and he said "Can I take these?" for his film. And this was supposed to be our new album. But "Stayin'Alive" was really born, I think, more in Bermuda than anywhere else. We finished it off in France.

PS: It was recorded in Chateau d'Herouville...
Maurice: Yes, ...yeah...

PS: Also known as "Honky Chateau" from Elton John...
Maurice: Yes, Elton... Yeah, that's how we found out about it, through Elton...

PS: okay, 'cause you're...
Maurice: But it was a desolate place, I can tell you...(laughs)

PS: So it helped making the song go rightly...
Maurice: Well, in those days, yeah, 'cause we didn't have, you didn't have satellite, you had the video machines, which were just new on the market, and the Philips big cartridge things, so we had a few American tapes of stuff, and a couple of albums, so during the day there was nothing to do except write and record...

PS: Yeah...
Maurice: So we had nothing to distract us, and it all came from that, and things just built. "How Deep Is Your Love" was written in the kitchen of the place we were living in. And we went upstairs to the studio, and we started laying it down. So, it was just, came from that - we were just making our new album in France.

PS: Yeah, will there be a chance that all those very nice stories, that songs were written and thought of in kitchens, ever be planned in a book?
Maurice: Well, there have been talks, and we've had a lot of offers for books and things, you know - there's some authorized ones out there, and some unauthorized ones, but it's eh - we always look at a book like - I mean, I've always kept a journal, but there's lots of people, you know, we've all kept different things and stuff from our whole career, but, you know, we always think of a biography, or a book as, I mean, after you've gone, you, know, not when you're alive, 'cause it means, like, you're finished. ( laughs)

PS: Yeah, and it's not finished yet, eh?
Maurice: Well, it's sort of... An autobiography to me is like a termination, it's like "No more after this", you know...

PS: No... but...
Maurice: But with us, we keep going on, and we're persistent little buggers..(laughs) We just love to write, we love to do the things that we're doing, so it's, you know, it's something that the brothers have always done.



PS: Yeah... I can imagine, three different brothers, with three different ways of thinking of songs, how do you write songs? Who starts first, or does it start together, or...?
Maurice: We set a mood...em, it can be from the keyboards, em, it can be from, eh, the guitars... One of us usually comes in with an idea, we all have ideas when we go in, and, eh, we'll just start, really, just jamming. And we'll get the idea - the idea just comes, and we'll just go, whether we're going to go to an up-temp, or, em, sometimes when we have an artist to write for, if we picture that artist with her or him in mind or them in mind, and, and we say to ourselves, "How can we write a song that no one will ever forget for this group or for this person?"

PS: No, but I can imagine...
Maurice: "How can we make the best album for a person?"

PS: Maurice I can imagine, it's different than writing a song for you three, than for writing, for example, for Celine Dion, for other artists...
Maurice: Exactly. Well, there, an example with the song "Immortality" for Celine Dion was, ah, we needed a song for - the stage show for "Saturday Night Fever" was starting up, and they needed one song for like a climax-type of song, so we wrote this song "Immortality", and as we were doing it, we were saying. `wouldn't it be great if Celine Dion could do this`? We imagined Celine when we wrote it. And then even though... 'cause we were told at that time a girl singer was going to do it in the show, which eventually ended up as a guy singing it. But Celine heard it and loved it so much, it was so ironic that we imagined her singing it, and then she wanted to do it.

PS: Yea., And then...
Maurice: And it was like, eh, out of the blue that René (ed. Note: René Angelil, Celine Dion's husband/manager) called us and said that, "Do you guys have any songs for Celine?" So we sent the demo tape, and uh, which is the exact tape that we sent which is on the Best of, the 2-CD set. That was the tape we sent her, and she called back and said: "It was absolutely gorgeous. Can I do it?"

PS: Yeah, but that's the direction of writing for somebody else.
Maurice: Yeah, but we were writing actually for the "Saturday Night Fever" show, yet we always wrote with Celine in mind, not knowing that she was going to record it.

PS: No. And the other way, the other way, most of your songs have been covered by - now, let's name some enormously big names - Elvis Presley, Tom Jones, The Animals, Janis Joplin, Billy Royal, Percy Sledge - more recently, N'Sync, Destiny's Child, a lot of other different cover versions...
Maurice: Yeah...

PS: From a new group, 15-16-17, they recorded "Emotion"...
Maurice: Yes...

PS: Do you like all these covers?
Maurice: Absolutely. I mean it's, em, you know, I remember when I was younger and I'd hear people doing Beatles' covers, and I'd hear people doing Henry Mancini covers and Burt Bacharach and Hal David songs, and I always thought, "God, that must be so cool , to have people do your song, 'cause otherwise they wouldn't do it, unless it was good, or it had some substantial chance of becoming a very successful it. So they re-record something, years later, and it's a hit again, to us, the most, em, once again I think one of these greatest accolades that any writers could have. You know, it's that people still think the songs are worthy twenty years later, and re-record them, and still have a success with it.

PS: You see it as a recognition as well?
Maurice: Absolutely, aw yeah...

PS: Yes.
Maurice: I mean it would be different if people were doing them just to take the mickey out of you.

PS: Yeah.
Maurice: But, you know, no one can change our lyrics, no one can change the melody line, and, and we just don't allow that to happen.

PS: And no one can change the meaning behind the songs as well, yeah?
Maurice: Exactly. Exactly. And if it were... sometimes we've had great people like Wyclef, um, and the rap artists and stuff, who wanted to sample stuff, because of ... out of respect, not out of, you know, just having fun with it. So, when that happens, yeah, we agree to that, because... And, they always send us the tapes and the finished record, before it goes out, for our approval. Things like that, so there's a lot of respect involved.

PS: Um-hmm
Maurice: And, and to us, that's... it's a wonderful way to be treated, and to think our songs had stood up the test of time, and still have credibility today.

Go to Part 2