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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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