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Bluegrass and the Bee Gees

Ricky Skaggs' new album released last week features a special guest — Barry Gibb, the last surviving brother of the Bee Gees — and the progressive bluegrass pioneer recalls some special times with him.
Skaggs, who will perform with his band Kentucky Thunder at 7 p.m. Sunday at the Majestic Theatre, loved a song Gibb wrote, “Soldier's Son,” which laments poor soldiers dying for human folly.
Gibb, known for disco hits such as “Stayin' Alive” and “Night Fever,” jumped at the invitation to join him on the song, chartering a plane and refusing Skaggs' offer to pay his expenses.
“I'm sure he doesn't just hop on Southwest like I do,” Skaggs said. “While he was here (in Nashville) recording, I mentioned I would love for him to come out and do a guest appearance we do every year at the Ryman Auditorium.”
 
A couple of weeks later, Gibb called to say he would, and Skaggs asked him what he thought about appearing the next night at the Grand Ole Opry.
“I didn't hear anything on the other end of the phone,” Skaggs recalled. “He finally came on and said, ‘You're blowing my mind.'”
Gibbs related that he was a 12-year-old in Australia when he was taken by watching the likes of Marty Robbins on the Opry TV show.
“Barry said, ‘I wanted to be on that stage standing behind that microphone that says WSM Grand Ole Opry. You'll never know what that means to me,'” Skaggs said.
They worked up four songs to do together, including “Soldier's Son” and a bluegrass take on the Bee Gees' megahit “How Can You Mend a Broken Heart.” It brought the house down at the Ryman and the Opry.

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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…