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It's Singles Time for Bee Gee Baby Andy Gibb: He's Got 1977's No. 1 Hit and a Marital Split

11/14/1977

At a time when other British kids would have killed to become the fifth Beatle, Andy Gibb had a simpler fantasy: to wind up the fourth Bee Gee. Bee Gee, of course, stands for Brothers Gibb, the folk-harmony turned white-soul group founded by the three older boys in the family. "I always figured I'd join them onstage someday," says Andy, "but I didn't want to walk into automatic fame I never worked for." Now, at 19, to Bee Gee or not to Bee Gee is no longer Andy's question. His bouncily danceable I Just Want to Be Your Everything has hung on in the U.S. Top Ten longer than any single since the late Bobby Darin's Mack the Knife back in 1959.

Admittedly, Andy got a little help from his kin. The strong, expressive nasality of his voice echoes the Gibbs' cosmopolitan upbringing (the Isle of Man, England, Ibiza, Australia). More important, I Just Want was composed at the latest family home base—Miami—by eldest brother Barry, 30. But Andy co-wrote with Barry his upcoming 45, (Love Is) Thicker than Water, and his concern over proving himself solo has been eased by a commercial LP, Flowing Rivers, which includes eight of his own compositions, plus a smash U.S. debut tour. At earlier stops he opened for Neil Sedaka, but by the end was headlining prestige gigs from L.A.'s Roxy to Manhattan's Other End.

The Gibbs have not always been role models of brotherly love. Barry and the middle boys, twins Robin and Maurice, cut their first record at ages 15 and 13 and in the late '60s created their classics like Words and To Love Somebody. Several fratricidal near splits followed, but for the past three years they've come together again with a new Florida R&B sound. None of the kids ever let education get in the way of music. Andy, born in Manchester and raised in Brisbane, dropped out of school at 13 after the family fetched up in Ibiza. His parents, who had been a drummer and songstress in the old big-band days, were by then full-time managers of the Bee Gees. Andy describes himself as "a rebel. Everybody said I'd regret leaving school so young, but there was nothing else I would rather have done." In those salade Ni├žoise days, his substitute tutors were local club musicians (he played guitar) and the resort's Nordic clientele. "There's something about Swedish girls," he reflects. "Their skin...ooohhh."

But Andy married an Aussie receptionist, Kim Reeder, and resettled with the family in the Miami area. He bought an 80-foot houseboat with, says Andy, "great vibes and an interesting history" (a previous owner, rumored to be a mobster, was murdered in the mirrored master stateroom). What may have drawn the extended Gibbs family back toward togetherness are the kids' domestic problems: two of Andy's brothers have been divorced, and Andy's own marriage is in trouble. Kim, pregnant with twins due next month, has returned to live with her folks in Sydney. She claims to be dependent on $51.70 weekly Australian welfare and has retained a lawyer.

"We're discussing a separation agreement," contends Andy. "Funds have been and are still available for her use." He admits that "the groupie situation gets stronger every show," but he's never visualized himself as "a teenybopper idol. I write lyrics more for older people. I don't even like to dance," he adds, "unless I want to get a bit crazy after a concert. I'm a tea-and-television man myself and like to hang out with my parents and brothers." Maybe Andy's going to end up the fourth Bee Gee after all.

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Music History #8: "New York Mining Disaster 1941"By Bill De Main september 2012
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Image credit:  Getty Images
“New York Mining Disaster 1941 (Have You Seen My Wife, Mr. Jones)”
Written by Barry and Robin Gibb (1967)
Performed by Bee Gees


The MusicWhen the Bee Gees debut US single was released in April 1967, a lot of people thought it was The Beatles masquerading as another band. Even the name Bee Gees was read as code for “Beatles Group.” But within a year, brothers Barry, Robin and Maurice Gibb established themselves not only as hit makers in their own right, but as chart rivals to the Fabs. “New York Mining Disaster 1941,” the first of thirty-some hits, is one of those rare pop songs in which the title never appears in the lyrics. Most people still refer to it by its subtitle “Have you seen my wife, Mr. Jones.” Inspired by the Aberfan mining disas…