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"I've Never Paid My Dues!"
Why Andy Gibb is Scared of Success
"I don't have any degrees and I've had very little education really. I've gotten past the age where people said I was going to start wishing I'd gone back to school - and I still don’t' wish I had. My brothers and I only wanted to be musicians. We didn't want to be anything else, it's as simple as that. I wasn't interested in formal education, I was interested in learning only what I was interested in. I made it very hard on the school teachers … Actually, traveling has been a big education for me, more than anything else. It's important to find out what is going on in the world."
Now those are the words of a young man who seems to know exactly what he wants out of life, who's determined to seek his goal no matter how unconventional his methods are, whose driving ambition is his mainstay in life. Well, perhaps, that's one description of Andy Gibb, but there are those, even some close to him, who see an insecure, somewhat unsettle little boy. As a matter of fact, Andy's brothers, the Bee Gees, have become synonymous with Mom's home cooking and Sunday afternoon drives. Then Andy came on the scene, made it big with his first hit "Words and Music" and then hit the headlines with his marital woes with his Australian wife.
In an almost "fatherly" tone, Andy's brother Maurice explained it all: "He's taken up with the glamour of it all. He wouldn't be human if he didn't, but he'll get over it."
Even Andy, in moments of insight and honesty admits that just maybe he wasn't ready to handle all that has come his way in such a short time. Says the singing idol: "When people ask about my beginnings, I can't just answer them. It's weird. I have evolved totally from what the Bee Gees have done. I have no "roots" of any kind and I'm the first to admit I've not paid my dues musically speaking. My brothers certainly have and they handed it down to me … on a silver platter, I think the saying goes … I know that people try for years to break into even the lowest level of the music business, and I just stepped into the top level. I never even had to audition. So it doesn't bother me when people connect my break with my brothers, because I realize that, without them, I would not be where I am. But, as I said, it also makes me feel that I haven't paid my dues."
Actually, it seemed to be a double-edge sword for Andy - he felt somewhat guilty for "not paying his dues" and a little bit resentful for not really having an identity of his own. Why, when he first started, and even after he had made his first hit, he was often billed as "The Bee Gees Younger Brother!" At that time, Andy admits: "I had no say in it and it used to worry me: Will I ever have an identity of my own?"
Then real success came and Andy saw it wasn't so much of an "identity of his own" that was important, but a strength of character that can only be built by the long, hard climb to the top. His brothers had made that climb - and had their lumps along the way, too. There was a time the Bee Gees were just considered a mediocre rip-off of the Beatles and another time that drugs and family dissention almost destroyed the group completely.
Andy remembers those times, but then he was just on the outside looking in, he never really experienced them himself. That's why success has scared him so much - he had to wonder if he could handle it without the background, without the "root" his brothers have. After all, even they admit that if they hadn't gone through all they had, they would have never been able to be the hottest singing group in the world today. Trials and tribulations do tend to teach tough techniques - it may sound good, but it really is true!
Andy claims that in the beginning he was totally caught up in being a star, that "you want the excitement of needing security. You want to be well-off. You want to be famous. But after a while you start analyzing it and you almost feel like you don't have any more communication with the outside.
"It's a strange mental thing to walk down the street and have people you don't even know turn around and look at you. Or turn and whisper to each other. Or to come up and want to touch you. You think 'Gee, I never used to have that. I could go anywhere. Burger King, McDonald's.' No more. Privacy is an advantage you never know is an advantage until you don't have it anymore. Like anything else, the novelty wears off after a while."
And what should be there when the novelty wears off is an understanding that this is part of the "dues" you have to pay if you want the fame and fortune. Actually Andy is just now learning that lesson and though there have been moments when he's really questioned his entire "star trip," Andy knows that he'll get through it. Indeed, even though he had his place at the top handed to him on "a silver platter," it probably has been harder for him than most to really handle his success. At least he's been able to have the advice and love of his older brothers and they've been able to help him get through the rough spots. Hopefully there will be a day soon when Andy Gibb will be able to say proudly and loudly: "I am a man, then a star, and I intend to stay right here on my own!"