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CNN LARRY KING WEEKEND

Interview With the Bee Gees

Aired February 2, 2002 - 21:00   ET

THIS IS A RUSH TRANSCRIPT. THIS COPY MAY NOT BE IN ITS FINAL FORM AND MAY BE UPDATED.


THIS IS A RUSH TRANSCRIPT. THIS COPY MAY NOT BE IN ITS FINAL FORM AND MAY BE UPDATED.
LARRY KING, HOST: Tonight, they sing the songs you can't get out of your head. One of the best-selling acts in musical history staying alive through nearly four decades of hits and heartbreaks, the amazing Bee Gees. Barry, Maurice and Robin Gibb are next on LARRY KING WEEKEND.

A great pleasure to welcome tonight -- we've been looking forward to this for a long time -- the Bee Gees. They're here. Barry Gibb, the senior member of the Bee Gees -- by the way, their new album is "This Is Where I Came In" -- Robin Gibb in the middle and Maurice Gibb on the outside. Robin and Maurice, as you probably know, are fraternal twins. They're not identical twins or this would be a riot and you'd be changing your television set.

How did this group -- is the Bee Gees named for you?

BARRY GIBB, MUSICIAN: No. No. Probably our mother first, Barbara Gibb. And then it just became Brothers Gibb. So that's really where it sort of started. And a guy that sort of heard us sing when we were kids, called Bill Gates (ph). So it was really his initials and he suggested -- there were so many B.G.s in the situation, he suggested (UNINTELLIGIBLE).

KING: So this were years ago, Robin, you would have sang with Benny Goodman.

ROBIN GIBB, MUSICIAN: Yes, indeed.

(CROSSTALK)

KING: B.G. has affected your life.

R. GIBB: But there was actually one more guy missing, a John Proctor (ph). And he said, "What about the J.P.s?" We said, "Right, get out of here."

KING: Where -- when did this start for the Gibb brothers? I mean, when did you know this is what -- this is a musical group?

MAURICE GIBB, MUSICIAN: Oh, I think when we were very young. When Robin and I were about 5, Barry was about 8.

B. GIBB: 1958.

M. GIBB: Yeah. It was just before...

KING: And you were in England?

M. GIBB: Living in Manchester, yeah. And we used to sing at home and stuff like that. And we used to do some of that lollipop and things like that, and just learned to harmonize. And we just sort of harmonized together automatically.

(MUSIC)

M. GIBB: But I remember when we'd walk down the street, Barry saying that one day we were going to be famous. We were going to do this.

KING: You really thought that?

B. GIBB: Well, you believe it. It's your dream. You know, you have a dream, and the three of us agreed that that was our dream. And hell or high water, we were going to be just like those groups in America. It was the Elvis Presley period, you know?

R. GIBB: We were fascinated by records. People making records. Radio and records was...

B. GIBB: We'd sing on street corners.

KING: And you would get American records like Presley's and others and listen to them? Did they affect the way you sang?

M. GIBB: Well it was Neil Sedaka, mostly in those days.

KING: Really?

M. GIBB: Yeah, because of three-part harmonies. He used to harmonized with himself. So, Neil, who's also a very good friend of ours today -- but it was ironic in those days that we used to hear these records or an Everly Brothers' record and have the third harmony ourselves. So we used to sing those songs.

KING: You had so many like ups and downs.

B. GIBB: Yeah.

KING: I mean, the Bee Gees -- we had Travolta here the other day, and he's had a career -- and you, of course, did the famous movie for him. But it's like yours in a sense.

B. GIBB: Yes.

R. GIBB: Yes.

KING: How do you explain that, Barry?

B. GIBB: I don't know if you can explain it. I think -- I don't think there's any such thing as someone who's constantly successful. So you just have to keep your head down, you know? Not everything you do works, and you have to accept that. Failure is part of it.

M. GIBB: I think if you're going to be around a long time or you want to be around a long time, it's inevitable that there's going to be things...

(CROSSTALK)

KING: So, therefore, when it is on top, you can't rest that easy and say, "This is it forever." You have to understand that or the fall will be terrible.

M. GIBB: Yes. That's the sad thing about first fame, is that the people that get first fame for the first time -- we call it first fame syndrome -- that they think everything is going to last forever. And when it doesn't -- that buzz of approval disappears -- they go elsewhere to find that buzz. And if they don't survive it and try again, they can die from drugs and alcohol and so forth.

KING: How, Barry, did the Bee Gees first get first fame?

B. GIBB: God...

KING: Well how old were you...

B. GIBB: Meeting Robert Stigwood. Meeting Robert Stigwood in London, in 1966 or '7. You know, we had been in England about two weeks and we were staying in a semi-detached house in Hammond (ph). We had been all around all the agencies and nobody -- in fact, they told us the groups were out. This is 1967.

KING: They said groups were out?

B. GIBB: Yeah.

M. GIBB: That's correct.

B. GIBB: "We're sorry, lads. You know, the records are OK, and you're sort of good, but groups are out, and we don't want to put the energy into groups anymore." You know?

KING: So...

B. GIBB: But Robert Stigwood found our home number -- and let me add, of course, that Robert was managing director of NEMS, Brian Epstein's partner. So this was the Beatles' stable, you know? And he called our house, and we thought it was Mr. Stickweed (ph). It's true. And could he -- could he have a meeting with us? And we went down to his office, and we walked into NEMS and it was like, you know...

KING: And that led to what?

R. GIBB: That led to our recording contract. We had been two weeks in England, and Stigwood signed us up and he...

KING: Did you get a hit right off the bat? R. GIBB: We got "New York Mine Disaster," which went top 20 in the states and top 20 in the U.K. And then "To Love Somebody" did the same thing. And then we had "Massachusetts," and we went on from strength to strength. And we stayed with...

R. GIBB: "Massachusetts" was the first number one we've had.

M. GIBB: Yeah.

B. GIBB: Yeah.

KING: Who brought you to the States?

B. GIBB: Robert.

R. GIBB: Yeah.

KING: He did -- he was active manager?

M. GIBB: He was (UNINTELLIGIBLE) here, which was NEMS equivalent of Brian...

(CROSSTALK)

M. GIBB: ... of Atlantic, the royal seal of the record industry.

KING: Now Paul McCartney said there's nothing like coming to the States the first time for the British act. True?

B. GIBB: Well, I think -- yeah, if we go back to '58 again, everyone our age, every boy our age wanted to be -- wanted to see America and wanted to go to America. So the British dream for young boys in the 50s, young kids, was to go to America, to see a Cadillac, to be like Elvis, to -- you know, America. And it's such a huge image worldwide for anyone, you know. So, yes, it's always been our dream to come here.

M. GIBB: Yeah.

KING: We'll be right back with the Bee Gees. Don't go away. By the way, the Bee Gees are the first and only songwriters to have had five songs in the top 10 at the same time. Don't go away.

(MUSIC)

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

(MUSIC)

KING: Between 1967 and '68, you have seven of the top ten hits. And yet, Robin, you quit.

R. GIBB: Oh, no, we didn't quit. Those two left.

(LAUGHTER)

KING: One day you came home and they moved and left no forwarding address.

(CROSSTALK)

R. GIBB: We arranged for a recording studio that day, I arrived and they weren't there. Now, what happened was...

KING: What did happen, Robin?

R. GIBB: What happened? There was a lot of -- it's (UNINTELLIGIBLE) we go back to...

B. GIBB: But it wasn't during that time of the charts. It wasn't that period. It was earlier than that when we split up.

R. GIBB: It was late '69 when we split up, yeah.

M. GIBB: Yes, before the fever.

B. GIBB: Oh, yeah, he's in late 60s. I'm in...

KING: All right, what split you up?

R. GIBB: Again, we were very young -- teenagers. And a lot of it was jealousy, envy...

KING: Of each other?

R. GIBB: Of each other, yeah.

B. GIBB: Rivalry.

R. GIBB: And we got to the point where to find out what were doing, we had to look in the trades. You know, what are we doing there?

B. GIBB: I think if you're in a pop group, you know, there's always that, "What about me? What about me," you know? And every pop group or every rock group can -- I'm sure can relate to that.

KING: Didn't your manager take strong hold of you, Maurice, though?

M. GIBB: Oh we always had that. But I don't want to talk about that. No, it's sort of -- actually, what he did with me was put me in a musical -- which was quite strange -- with, I don't know, there's a lady named -- called Barbara Windsor (ph), who is a very famous actress in England and she was the star of the show. And I played an Irish jockey, so...

KING: So you went on to do individual things?

M. GIBB: Yeah. But I didn't -- I hated it.

KING: What brought you back together?

B. GIBB: Love of each other. KING: Missed each other.

B. GIBB: Yes. Having said that -- Robin had a number one record with a song called "Saved By The Bell." And I remember his comment after we started to come back together again that it was no fun if you're on your own.

R. GIBB: And the only people you can share it with is lawyers, you know.

(MUSIC)

B. GIBB: I mean, we had done this all our lives together, so it was -- it was quite -- I thought it was just quite normal that we got back together again.

KING: So the thing that broke you up, the jealousy, that brought you back in together as...

M. GIBB: Yeah.

KING: ... blood is thicker than water?

M. GIBB: I've always -- together, we have sort of a magical fun thing. And separately it's OK, but it's not the same.

KING: And did "Saturday Night Fever" come right after that?

B. GIBB: No.

M. GIBB: No. Many years later.

B. GIBB: About 10 years after that. The early '70s was very quiet for us; we couldn't get a hit record.

R. GIBB: And we had to -- had our first two major number ones in the states in the early '70s, with "How Can You Mend A Broken Heart" and "Lonely Days."

(CROSSTALK)

KING: That's your voice, right, that goes...

B. GIBB: Yes. Robin does the verse and I do the chorus.

KING: How do you hit that note?

B. GIBB: Which one?

KING: You know the note.

(MUSIC)

(CROSSTALK)

KING: I thought you were going to sneeze or something. (CROSSTALK)

KING: That's a great -- that's a classic number.

(MUSIC)

KING: Do any of you read or write music?

B. GIBB: No. I wouldn't know a (UNINTELLIGIBLE) from a (UNINTELLIGIBLE).

KING: Neither would I.

(CROSSTALK)

M. GIBB: Larry, but a lot of us are like that.

KING: How do you do it then?

R. GIBB: It's all in the mind.

KING: I know. You all write?

B. GIBB: Yes.

M. GIBB: Yes.

R. GIBB: Well it's -- we say create, I think...

B. GIBB: We collaborate. We collaborate. One of us will have an idea, and if the other two get excited about it, we finish, we make it a song.

R. GIBB: You can hear everything you want. You can hear in your head. So we really are...

KING: All right. But you can't explain where it comes from, right?

R. GIBB: No.

M. GIBB: No.

KING: As Paul couldn't...

(CROSSTALK)

B. GIBB: It sort of arrives and that's where....

(CROSSTALK)

KING: Right. You just dreamed it there yesterday in a dream, right?

B. GIBB: Yes. He nearly woke me up at the time.

R. GIBB: You can dream that way.

(CROSSTALK)

KING: You can dream that way?

R. GIBB: Yeah.

B. GIBB: Well, you put a cassette next to your bed, you know? And you sing into it and you play it back later.

KING: Somebody has to write down the notes for you.

B. GIBB: Yeah.

M. GIBB: If we do arrangements -- for instance, we do our own backtracks, anyway, where we play our own instruments. But if we needed orchestra or things like that on it, we had a wonderful guy called Bill Shepperd (ph) for many years...

KING: Who would come in and arrange.

M. GIBB: And he would arrange all our music that we heard.

KING: Did any of you say to each other, "Maybe one of us ought to learn this?"

B. GIBB: No.

M. GIBB: No.

R. GIBB: No. We've actually seen -- as I say, we've actually seen sheet music of our music that's -- which I can't read.

(CROSSTALK)

B. GIBB: Is this in the right key? And it's like, we just don't know.

(MUSIC)

KING: Are you first writers who sing? You're first writers?

B. GIBB: Yeah. We're song writers period. If you haven't got the song, you can't perform, you can't record, you can't do it.

KING: So you happened to have performed well. You've also written for others.

M. GIBB: Yes. Yes, lots of others.

KING: Do you write on commission?

M. GIBB: No.

B. GIBB: No, usually on a Sunday.

(CROSSTALK)

B. GIBB: No, we write ours -- we write if it's someone that requests a song and we're fans of that person, we find it quite easy to relate to other singers. So we like to use other singers to sing our songs, not just our own voices. That gets a bit boring. So if you've got -- if other people with great voices want you to write a song, you do. You know? Because we're basically fans. You know, we love a lot of different singers.

KING: What kept you going during the down period?

M. GIBB: I think our passionate writing. I think the songs have always kept us up there.

KING: Is it called going dry? Do you feel like " We're awful. They're not -- they're not into us?"

M. GIBB: No, we didn't go dry. I think the record company went dry.

B. GIBB: Yes.

M. GIBB: And a lot of people around us went dry on us. Not us.

R. GIBB: Oh, yeah. You go out of vogue.

M. GIBB: You go out of vogue, you see. If it's a new decade, you're out.

KING: So it's kind of weird, right? You don't hear yourself on the radio.

B. GIBB: Right. No.

KING: Wouldn't that bug you?

B. GIBB: We never watch ourselves on television. We never read our own articles.

M. GIBB: No he was talking about the period...

(CROSSTALK)

B. GIBB: Well even then, certainly.

KING: Even then you didn't -- in other words, you never let it get you?

B. GIBB: No.

M. GIBB: No, you know the fact that we weren't on the radio in those periods.

B. GIBB: That's true.

(MUSIC) KING: Tragedy occurred to the Bee Gees. Your young brother Andy dies, by his own hand, right?

B. GIBB: Well, we think so.

KING: Is that the general thinking?

B. GIBB: We think so. You know, if you're an addict -- which Andy was -- you can only really help yourself. Other people are just -- wring their hands and parents can't do anything. He eventually came here to escape from us trying to stop him from doing the things that were bad for him.

KING: He was baby brother, though, wasn't he?

B. GIBB: Yeah.

R. GIBB: Yeah. He was 30 years old when he died. He actually just had his 30th birthday when he died. And he actually died in my home in England. And he had come over for a couple of weeks, and he was in a bad way. And it was -- it effected his heart, the drugs and everything and years of abuse.

KING: Well what's the name of the disease?

R. GIBB: Micarditis (ph) he had.

(CROSSTALK)

KING: But what he had, that's virus of the heart.

R. GIBB: He had a condition...

(CROSSTALK)

R. GIBB: It's an inflammation and a virus of the muscle around the heart.

KING: Around the heart, yeah.

R. GIBB: But apparently, it was a condition that you often see in people who do abuse themselves, in a way. They drink a lot, they don't eat, they don't sleep and they run themselves...

KING: Was he a talent?

B. GIBB: Oh, yeah.

R. GIBB: Yeah.

KING: Did he sing with you?

R. GIBB: Yeah. I mean, the door was open for him. But we were hoping that he (UNINTELLIGIBLE).

KING: Had he been singing with you? B. GIBB: Yeah.

M. GIBB: Yes.

KING: In and out?

R. GIBB: But we all worked together anyway on his records and his songs...

KING: Did he write too?

M. GIBB: Yes. He was quite a good writer. He was really developing. And I think for about 10 years -- there was always that 10-year difference. We were always 10 years older than him. So it was never right for Andy to be in the band, and Andy never felt right about being in the band. He wanted to be, but he was never quite old enough.

KING: Did you want him eventually to be a Bee Gee?

M. GIBB: Yes.

B. GIBB: Yes. The one album, actually, was going to be the album of the four of us together.

M. GIBB: That was '89.

B. GIBB: Yeah.

KING: Where were you when he died, guys?

M. GIBB: We were in Miami, Barry and I.

R. GIBB: I was in England where -- where he died. And he actually died in John Riker (ph) Hospital in Oxford, which is about 10 minutes from my house. But he actually collapsed in my house.

B. GIBB: And dad called me about 6:00 in the morning.

M. GIBB: And they irony about this disease -- you know, of alcoholism, addiction and drug addiction is just the weirdest things come out. What he said to mom in the ambulance on the way was, "You can't die from this, can you, mom?" And three days later he died. And my mom is still stuck with that. And to see the grief that the parents have for the youngest child, our grief for the youngest brother.

B. GIBB: Yeah, a parent's grief.

M. GIBB: We learned a hell of a lot about each other and my mom and dad.

KING: Mom is still alive?

M. GIBB: Yes.

R. GIBB: Yes, she's in Vegas. She lives in Vegas and loves it.

KING: Dad passed away?

R. GIBB: Yes.

KING: Do you often think about him?

M. GIBB: I love -- the loveliest thing about dad passing away -- which is a funny thing to say -- but he was much older, but he wanted to be with Andy so much.

B. GIBB: Because Andy was the youngest child for him.

(CROSSTALK)

M. GIBB: Dad literally died when Andy died.

(CROSSTALK)

R. GIBB: It was a guilt -- it was a guilt thing.

M. GIBB: Yeah.

R. GIBB: He was very bitter for three years after that. And then when he passed away, I felt real good that he was there with Andy. In fact, at his funeral, the people that were there that he had met in this business over the years from -- the Mills Brothers was his favorite group, and Donald Mills was at his funeral.

So you can imagine how he'd -- as I said to them, "If he was here now, he'd be filming this." Because that's the way he was.

KING: Did you continue to work or take some time off? What did you do after that?

B. GIBB: After our father died?

KING: After his death or Andy's death?

B. GIBB: After Andy's death, we went straight -- we were always in the studio, and that album really became Andy's album to us -- the one album, which features songs like "Wish You Were Here" or "Tears." And so there's quite a few songs on that album that reflected our feelings for Andy. And it was -- yeah, very sad.

KING: Was it hard to work?

B. GIBB: Yes.

R. GIBB: Yeah, it was a little bit. But I think we found some kind of comfort in work. I think when things like that happen, you have to throw yourself into work.

KING: Did you try to help him with his affliction?

(CROSSTALK) R. GIBB: It's very, very difficult.

KING: Now you had a problem yourself with alcohol. Have either of you?

M. GIBB: Well, I was sober then.

B. GIBB: I never had a problem with alcohol as such. With smoking, yes.

KING: Nicotine?

B. GIBB: Oh, yeah. Yeah.

KING: Have you stopped now?

B. GIBB: I stopped about 10, five -- no, maybe seven years ago.

KING: Robin?

R. GIBB: Never had a problem with alcohol. Whereas with twins, you'd think that would be the case. But Maurice did.

M. GIBB: Call me lucky.

(CROSSTALK)

KING: Did you work while drinking?

M. GIBB: Yes. Oh, yes. Funny enough, after I sobered up I couldn't drive. It was the weirdest thing. Because I lost all my confidence, because it robs you of your self-confidence, your respect.

KING: How long have you been sober?

M. GIBB: Oh, a long time. And I don't like to mention dates because I've only -- I've only got now. I've only got today, and I like to live like that. It doesn't matter how long you've got it as long as you've got it.

KING: Were there nights you went on -- the two of you -- knowing he was bombed?

B. GIBB: Oh, there were nights.

R. GIBB: There were nights when he was horizontal on the stage.

(CROSSTALK)

KING: So you had to cover for him?

B. GIBB: Yeah, well we all...

R. GIBB: We did cover for him, we threw a blanket over him.

KING: We'll be right back with the incredible up and down lives of a tremendous act that effected so many millions of people around the world, the Bee Gees. Don't go away.

By the way, the Bee Gees are the only musical artists to have written and produced six number one songs in a row. And they've sold a total of 110 million albums. Other than that, nothing. Don't go away.

(MUSIC)

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

(MUSIC)

KING: We're back with the Gibbs. How did you able to approach your problem, Maurice? In other words, how did you beat it?

M. GIBB: Yeah. Well, first of all, I mean, I had to give up. I had to just give up the way I was doing my life. It was being effected so badly. So I went into rehabilitation, I went into treatment for three months. And then I attend AA everyday. I have two meetings a day and I still make them everyday, especially...

KING: Never miss them, no matter where you are in the world?

M. GIBB: No. In fact, those meetings here, yes, because of work sometimes I'll make, you know, allowances. But in Miami where I live -- so I have a regular home group called the little river rats and we all go meet there. And you cannot -- and I don't care what anybody says -- you cannot do this alone.

KING: Really?

M. GIBB: You cannot do any of this alone.

KING: Did John Lennon start you drinking? Is that true?

M. GIBB: Actually, yes. Well, no, he actually started me on scotch and Coke, which I didn't know was...

KING: Scotch and Coke?

M. GIBB: Yeah, that was the drink at the time in England in the late '60s. So I was in a club and I didn't know who was sitting next to me, because I was talking to my future wife, actually, at that time, which was Lulu. And I was talking to her and I felt a tap on my shoulders. And then he just said, "Scotch and Coke, isn't it?" And I went, "Boy, if he had said cyanide, I would have taken it." But yeah, so that was my first scotch and Coke.

KING: And then you -- did you actually go crazy enough to pull a gun once?

M. GIBB: Yes. Oh, yes. I've done all that stuff, yeah.

KING: How did you guys take that?

R. GIBB: We didn't leave, we just put our hands up like this. KING: You know what I mean. As a fraternal brother, do you feel any connection with it or not?

R. GIBB: Well, I connected immediately with him. I put my foot up his ass.

KING: You had to get mad.

B. GIBB: Well, yeah, we did get mad. We told Maurice it was the Bee Gees -- it was the -- it was, you know, booze or the Bee Gees, you know. And he chose the booze. He said, "I'm thinking. I'm thinking."

R. GIBB: It was completely clear.

M. GIBB: That's what it is. It's total surrender. You just have to give it up.

R. GIBB: And at some point you had an Aketa (ph), right? The dog. Got back one night, fell over the dog, and the dog nearly bit his head off.

KING: Did you ever think that when you were drinking you were a better performer? A lot of people on drugs think they're better because of the drug.

M. GIBB: Well, it would be fine up until the age of 25. I was just drinking like everybody else in the pubs in England, nobody thought about it. But after 25, I crossed the line. I can remember it was August...

(CROSSTALK)

M. GIBB: Yes. August of '75, I remember it. My drinking changed totally after that. I had an anxiety attack in the car and I wanted to get back home real quick. Did the greatest thing anybody could do, took two Valiums and a large scotch and Coke and felt much better.

KING: Your health?

B. GIBB: My health? Oh, yeah, well I'm...

KING: Arthritis?

B. GIBB: Yeah, I'm arthritic. It pretty well...

(CROSSTALK)

B. GIBB: Yes, it does. My right thumb is out of its socket. And I just deal with that. It's a day to day thing, you know. Sometimes you feel great. You never -- never -- yes, it does affect you mentally because it causes stress.

KING: Have pain on stage?

B. GIBB: Yeah. Yeah.

KING: What do you do with it?

B. GIBB: I scream in agony afterward.

M. GIBB: He's a trooper, a real trooper.

KING: In other words, there are times -- are there times you can't hit a chord?

B. GIBB: There are times when I will stop playing because I can't grip. I can't grip, you know.

KING: And you both sense it?

M. GIBB: Oh, the times we've been on stage -- especially in the German tour one time, he was on stage and I looked over and he'd just looked back at me and go -- and he looked so much in pain that I could see. But he looked back in the audience again and smiled.

(CROSSTALK)

B. GIBB: You see, arthritis, or whatever we call arthritis, it can be caused by other things. I had back -- I was a great -- no, I wasn't a great tennis player, I was a good tennis player -- let's be honest.

R. GIBB: All right.

B. GIBB: And my back got bad and I found out I need a lamonectomy (ph), so I had back surgery. And from then on...

KING: And you, Robin, have been...

R. GIBB: I'm in fantastic health, Larry. I can't complain.

KING: You've always been OK?

R. GIBB: I've always been OK, touch wood.

M. GIBB: Told you.

R. GIBB: Well, I wake up sometimes pretty miserable. But apart from that, I do...

KING: Do you feel like -- do you feel like the stable element of the Bee Gees?

R. GIBB: I don't feel that -- I feel like I'm sometimes living in a stable.

KING: No, I mean do you feel like "God has blessed me? "Nothing's ever wrong with me?"

R. GIBB: Compared to these two, yes.

KING: That's what I mean. So you have no comparisons to deal with.

M. GIBB: I've seen his back out. I've seen it...

R. GIBB: Oh, yeah, I've had my back out, but what -- but the good thing about that is that it's temporary. But I actually have -- I actually have an insight into what he goes through sometimes on the level of which...

M. GIBB: But, you see, he's trim. You see, he's got -- everybody has five lower vertebrates. I've got four, he's got six.

KING: Really?

M. GIBB: I was ripped off as soon as I was born.

(CROSSTALK)

KING: All right. Before we get to discuss "Saturday Night Fever" and the incredible success of that, this thing which Paul talked about the other night -- this thinking in your head where songs come from...

M. GIBB: Right?

KING: All three of you write and all three of you write lyrics?

B. GIBB: That's correct.

R. GIBB: Yes.

KING: So you might get an idea for one line of a song and you might add the second?

B. GIBB: Yeah.

R. GIBB: Yeah.

B. GIBB: Well you -- yes, that's how we...

KING: I'm trying to go through the process of a song.

(CROSSTALK)

R. GIBB: Well, yeah, it is -- it's hit and miss as that. And not all of the lines are taken and used, but you just bring it out anyway.

B. GIBB: (UNINTELLIGIBLE) saying that there is not necessarily lyrics or music, but the whole thing can...

KING: Comes together.

R. GIBB: Right.

B. GIBB: To a point I disagree -- to a point. Because I think what happens is you get a great idea, and it comes with about two or three great melody lines that go with the idea and a title. And once -- and those things can just flood into your head, and you're absolutely right about that. But then I think you've got to go to work with your craft and form the song.

KING: The Bee Gees rank fifth on the list of all time best- selling recording artists. Behind Elvis, the Beatles, Michael Jackson and Paul McCartney, they're number five. We'll be right back.

(MUSIC)

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

KING: We're back with the Bee Gees: Barry Gibb, Robin Gibb and Maurice Gibb.

Your name is spelled Maurice. Why are you called Morris?

M. GIBB: Yes. It's a French name. I was named after a piano tuner at Harrods.

KING: OK. I thought it's a desire to be Jewish.

(CROSSTALK)

KING: Could be, that's not a bad wish.

M. GIBB: But I am called Moshe sometimes.

KING: Moshe?

M. GIBB: Or Mauricio, especially in Miami.

KING: All right. How did "Saturday Night Fever" come about? By the way, were you having hits then? Were you in an up period?

B. GIBB: Yeah.

R. GIBB: Yeah, good period then.

KING: How did you get that? How did that come...

R. GIBB: We were mixing a live album in France and Robert called and said...

KING: Stigwood?

R. GIBB: Stigwood. Robert Stigwood called and said that he had seen an article in "The New York Times" called "Tribal Rites of Saturday Night" written by Nick Cohen (ph), and he wanted to turn it into a movie and was turning it into a film at that time with John Travolta. But they hadn't -- they hadn't had the music at that point, and wants to know if we could take time out from mixing the live album and sit down and write some songs.

And we said, "Well we can't do that, because we're writing our new album. We've written five songs already, you can listen to those if you want." We had written "Staying Alive," "Night Fever," "How Deep Is Your Love," "If I Can't Have You"...

B. GIBB: "More Than a Woman."

R. GIBB: And "More Than a Woman." So we've got those written...

KING: So all those were written without "Saturday Night" in mind?

R. GIBB: Yes. So we asked him "If you're going to fly in, have a listen and bring in some of other people involved in the film and listen to it and see if these would work." So they came in and they liked the music, and took it back. And they made -- and we didn't see the film for another six months after that when it came out.

B. GIBB: But that was the reason they worked, is because they made the movie to the music.

(MUSIC)

KING: John Travolta told us that they didn't expect that to be a big movie.

B. GIBB: No.

KING: In fact, they thought it would be a low key...

B. GIBB: We did too.

KING: Well he wasn't a major, major star.

(CROSSTALK)

M. GIBB: The script was OK. It was a nice story and all that sort of thing. It wasn't a blockbuster. I mean, it wasn't really (UNINTELLIGIBLE).

KING: But, boy, it caught on.

R. GIBB: But you see those were the days without the big hype. You see, this was a total word-of-mouth film. And it came out and it was a genuine hit in the first degree.

KING: No front page color ads. All right. Where were you when you saw it and what did you -- how did you feel?

M. GIBB: In L.A. with John.

B. GIBB: Yeah, at the "Grease" wrap party. There was a wrap party for "Grease," and when we wanted to...

(CROSSTALK)

B. GIBB: No, but it was a wrap party for "Grease."

KING: Oh they filmed -- they filmed -- stopped shooting "Grease" and then had the wrap party. (CROSSTALK)

KING: Then you went to see "Saturday Night Fever."

(CROSSTALK)

M. GIBB: This is the first time I had seen it without anything finished. So we went to a stage where they showed the rough cut.

KING: What did you think?

M. GIBB: I thought it was very nice.

B. GIBB: We went to the premiere, and we stood at the back of the theater with John. And the first thing that we -- it was at a preview, it wasn't a premier.

M. GIBB: Yeah.

B. GIBB: And we stood at the back. And the first thing we noticed that wasn't happening for us was that the music wasn't as loud as the people were dancing. You could hear the feet on the floor louder than the music.

KING: That bugged you?

B. GIBB: No, well, that's a typical movie. You see, they think the feet on the floor is more important than the music. And we just suggested to Robert, "Turn the music up."

M. GIBB: Because in a club you wouldn't hear people...

B. GIBB: You can't hear people dancing.

KING: Did he change it?

B. GIBB: Yeah. But I'll tell you, not many directors know anything about music. It's very strange. It's very strange.

R. GIBB: Steven Spielberg.

(CROSSTALK)

KING: Do you think Steven Spielberg does?

B. GIBB: Steven, yes.

M. GIBB: Oh, yes.

KING: What did that movie do for you?

B. GIBB: Well, it made us wealthy young men. It put food on our tables.

KING: Did it (UNINTELLIGIBLE)? Did it... B. GIBB: Oh, yeah. Well, we had do everything. I mean, we suddenly just became larger than life. We weren't just the Bee Gees anymore, we were the Bee Gees. It's a different thing.

KING: The Bee Gees?

B. GIBB: Yeah.

R. GIBB: And the thing about "Saturday Night Fever" was it became, people that bought "Saturday Night Fever" -- the album -- were people that probably never bought albums. It was thing to have, you see. And judges would go out and buy it. Maybe the -- I'm not saying the judges (UNINTELLIGIBLE).

KING: No, but it was a -- it was a hit beyond hit.

(CROSSTALK)

M. GIBB: The whole world wanted to dance.

KING: And "Staying Alive" was the hit from it?

M. GIBB: That's like the national anthem.

(MUSIC)

M. GIBB: But it seems today to have a life of its own today, you know.

KING: Why did disco -- and that was disco, was it not -- create such hostility in people? Why do people get mad at...

(CROSSTALK)

KING: (UNINTELLIGIBLE) get mad at disco.

M. GIBB: But disco -- you see, disco, it was K.C. and Donna Summer and Village People. That kind of thing was to us -- it was party music, good fun. You know, so our stuff we never regarded as that until the film came out.

KING: But that film was regarded as a disco classic.

M. GIBB: Yes, exactly.

B. GIBB: But if you go back 10 years. I mean, we all have our own opinions about it. But if you back 10 years, to me, it was the culture changing, not us or the music. The culture had been through the peace movement, and it was time to do something -- time to have some fun.

I think everyone had been so serious with the kaftans (ph) and the beads and the peace. And that seemed to evaporate. And then suddenly there was a void where nothing was going on. So four years later, this film comes out and it wasn't that film, it was people taking dancing lessons. There were people who had never done that before in their lives. And elderly people taking dancing lessons.

So it was -- for us, it was a culture thing. It wasn't necessarily (UNINTELLIGIBLE).

R. GIBB: And we had never even heard of the word disco until the media. You know, we didn't go to -- just people started using the word disco, it was kind of alien to us. But what we were doing at the time, we were describing this progressive R&B blue-eyed soul.

KING: It led to a friendship with Lennon, did it not? I mean, it led to a friendship with John Travolta that goes to this day, right?

R. GIBB: That's correct, yes.

KING: You did not know him when the movie was being made, right?

M. GIBB: No. The first time I met him is when we went to the -- after the wrap party, we went to a little sound room -- or a little screening room and watched the preview.

KING: Did a success like that put pressure on you to top it?

(CROSSTALK)

R. GIBB: I think Michael Jackson spoke to us about the pressure he had after the "Thriller" album. It, indeed, does create -- anything landmark like that you have in your career, you definitely are competing with.

B. GIBB: We always wish that, you know, that artists or recording artists could be treated like actors. You know, if an actor has a film that doesn't work, it's OK, the next one will. But if a recording artist has a record that doesn't work, then the industry will turn on the recording artist.

M. GIBB: Or, I think films -- actors get better as they get older.

B. GIBB: Yeah.

M. GIBB: But in film -- I mean in pop music, you don't.

B. GIBB: You're not supposed to, you know. So you're not supposed to get any better.

KING: But all songwriters -- I used the term earlier -- do run dry at times.

B. GIBB: Sometimes.

KING: ... were just -- when you're working as a threesome where nothing's coming.

B. GIBB: Threesome where no one's coming, that's...

(CROSSTALK)

KING: Does it happen less when -- might you be down a little and you will come up with (UNINTELLIGIBLE)?

R. GIBB: Well, yes.

B. GIBB: Well we don't write. If one of us doesn't write, we don't write.

R. GIBB: There's definitely a feel in the music. When you're writing music, there has to be a love for it, an enthusiasm, an excitement.

(CROSSTALK)

M. GIBB: It's like one mind becomes one. Or three minds become one. If one of us is a little off and we don't feel well or a bit tired, we say, we'll write tomorrow.

KING: Was either parent musically inclined?

B. GIBB: Oh, yeah.

R. GIBB: Yes.

M. GIBB: My father was a drummer for 30 years and my mom sang with a band sometimes.

B. GIBB: Well, our father played the Mecca (ph) circuit in England during the war.

M. GIBB: He did the soundtrack to World War II, actually.

(CROSSTALK)

R. GIBB: I always say he accompanied the war.

KING: And it was in all the papers, that war.

R. GIBB: It was.

B. GIBB: It was.

KING: We'll be right back with the Bee Gees, who by the way, this year, the 2001 is the 25th anniversary of "Saturday Night Live" and the soundtrack is -- of "Saturday Night Fever." "Saturday Night Live."

(CROSSTALK)

M. GIBB: We always get it mixed up. People say it to us all the time.

KING: Oh, yeah. It's easy to mix it up. The soundtrack album from "Saturday Night Fever" is the best selling soundtrack album of all time. We'll be right back. (MUSIC)

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

(MUSIC)

KING: All the Bee Gees are married with children. Barry is married to Linda for 30 years, right.

B. GIBB: Wow, 1970.

KING: Yeah, 31.

B. GIBB: Thirty-one.

KING: You're the veteran of the group. Maurice is married to his second wife, Yvonne for 24 years.

M. GIBB: Twenty-five years, actually.

KING: That's successful. And Robin is married to Edwina (ph) for about 16 years. Was she known on U.S. radio as the lesbian druid?

R. GIBB: Got to love that one.

KING: Was she a druid?

(CROSSTALK)

R. GIBB: Now, what happened was -- that happened on the Howard Stern show. I went on the Howard Stern show and he brought that up.

KING: Proving intellect...

(CROSSTALK)

R. GIBB: Yeah, but she brought that up -- he brought that up, and it was a kind of a spirit -- because Howard loves that kind of stuff.

KING: No kidding.

R. GIBB: He talks about that all the time. And it was in the spirit of that kind of thing, what he was saying. And it started out like that, and there wasn't a lot of truth in it, but there was a lot of spirit of adventure about the whole interview.

B. GIBB: Yes, it was possible.

(CROSSTALK)

R. GIBB: And he made more minced meat out of it. Of course, the press took it very seriously and...

KING: Howard will one day discover he's over 50. Times are changing. And you were married to Lulu... M. GIBB: Yes.

KING: ... who recorded "To Sir With Love."

M. GIBB: Yes.

KING: One of the great...

M. GIBB: It was a great song, yeah.

KING: ... song from a movie.

M. GIBB: That was -- in fact, that was the time when we were just going out when she did the film "To Sir With Love." She also played a small role in the film and (UNINTELLIGIBLE).

KING: Now you've written for others. You've written for Presley...

M. GIBB: Yes.

KING: ... Streisand, Kenny Rogers, Dolly Parton, Tina Turner, Johnny Mathis, Janis Joplin, Cher, 'N Sync.

M. GIBB: Yeah.

KING: Now that was a wide swath.

B. GIBB: Yeah, but we don't write for all of them. They just take your songs. Sometimes you write for somebody in particular, like Barbra Streisand or...

KING: What did you write for her?

B. GIBB: "Guilty."

R. GIBB: The "Guilty" album.

(CROSSTALK)

B. GIBB: We did the whole album for Barbra.

R. GIBB: There was "Woman In Love," "Guilty" and...

B. GIBB: Her biggest selling album, in fact.

KING: Was it tough to write for her because she's so particular?

B. GIBB: Well, actually, no.

(CROSSTALK)

KING: That's funny, because Robin thought yes.

R. GIBB: Well, there's two sides to it, because we -- when we started -- when we were writing, we were discussing the fact that we shouldn't go the route that she would normally go.

(MUSIC)

R. GIBB: That we should write songs that -- write songs that she would...

B. GIBB: That we want to hear her sing.

R. GIBB: Yeah. And that would sound good on the radio. And not the typical show business Broadway type of songs that she likes to do.

M. GIBB: And when you have a voice like Barbra Streisand's and you're -- and you're writing songs and you know you have that instrument to write to -- besides being overwhelmed that you've been asked to do it anyway. So, you know, when you actually do it, she was one of the most beautiful people we ever worked there.

B. GIBB: Yeah, she has that reputation of being tough. But, in fact...

KING: She's a perfectionist.

B. GIBB: Yes. But the very opposite -- very opposite.

KING: What did Kenny Rogers do?

B. GIBB: Oh, a lot of things.

R. GIBB: He did it with Dolly Parton, "Islands in the Stream."

(CROSSTALK)

KING: So you do country too, then?

M. GIBB: We do all sorts. In fact, "Islands" is actually (UNINTELLIGIBLE) as the successful country song of all time. So "Islands in the Stream" is not country -- which actually was R&B when we wrote it.

B. GIBB: Actually, the most performed country song, to be fair.

M. GIBB: Yeah.

(MUSIC)

KING: Therefore, there's no way we can type you.

M. GIBB: We love writing all kinds of songs, really.

(CROSSTALK)

R. GIBB: You see, we started writing.

B. GIBB: I think it's too late for that.

KING: Johnny Mathis records you. B. GIBB: Yeah.

M. GIBB: Well he could do "Too Much Heaven" or a song like that...

B. GIBB: He did "How Can You Mend a Broken Heart."

M. GIBB: And "How Can You Mend a Broken Heart."

B. GIBB: Then Peter Williams (ph) did "How Can You Mend a Broken Heart."

M. GIBB: Al Green did it as well.

B. GIBB: Al Green did -- to us, the best one.

KING: Al Green, what a voice.

B. GIBB: Oh, yeah.

M. GIBB: And we've got people who now -- like Destiny's Child with "Just an Emotion" (ph), which was from 1978.

KING: Is it as much of a kick when someone else has a hit?

M. GIBB: Oh, yeah. I think if you're a songwriter, you can't actually go, "Oh, that's all right," because...

B. GIBB: I know. It's a great honor no matter what it is.

M. GIBB: Yeah, it's out of respect.

KING: In a "BillBoard" tribute to the Bee Gees, U-2's Bono says of their composing talents: "It makes me feel ill with envy. The Bee Gees are right up there with the Beatles." In 1994, they were inducted into the Songwriters Hall of Fame. What keeps you going when you have this much fame?

B. GIBB: Well, first of all, I don't think we know about it.

KING: But what drives you?

B. GIBB: We don't know about it.

M. GIBB: We have a great passion for what we do.

B. GIBB: Yeah.

M. GIBB: We've got a great love for what we do. That's why I don't think we could ever stop until we sort of fall over or there's no audience anymore.

M. GIBB: More likely fall over.

B. GIBB: But it's more like we can't perceive what other people think of us. R. GIBB: But I think it's added to the fact that when you've been doing this all your life, you're just doing what you like to do all your life. It's like you, you've been doing what you've wanted to do all your life.

KING: Correct.

R. GIBB: I mean, just doing what you're doing, and it's just hoping that people like it. And...

(CROSSTALK)

R. GIBB: But can you perceive what other people think of you?

KING: No, you can't.

R. GIBB: Not always.

KING: All you do is all you can do.

R. GIBB: And listen to what people say, but that's the only mirror you have.

M. GIBB: I can't -- I feel uncomfortable when people say, "Well, how does it feel like to be like a legend or an icon or that stuff." That doesn't sit with me at all.

KING: Well it has to be then, going back to your parents, something genealogical here.

M. GIBB: It's funny, but the things we used to do when we were kids, our dad would always play Benny Goodman or Mills Brothers and things around the house, and I always said I'd never do that if I had kids. But when I grew up I never played Beatles stuff or anything around the house, but the kids discovered this, like it was a big secret. They discovered the Beatles and things like that. And they're big fans of all that stuff now.

B. GIBB: Well, when I take Ally (ph) to school, that's what I started to do. And the "One" album -- the Beatles' "One" album came out a month after I started getting back into the Beatles. And I would play Beatles' songs on the way to school for Ally (ph). And the ones that hit here immediately were "Michelle." And it was interesting for a 9-year-old child to see which ones happen. And "Hello Goodbye."

KING: What did the Beatles do?

(CROSSTALK)

R. GIBB: The Beatles actually influenced us because they were the first group -- because they came up before us and they were a great influence to us because they were songwriters, they broke a lot of rules. They became...

KING: They broke rules, right? R. GIBB: They broke a lot of rules, and they created an artistic credibility in the pop music business, which was never there before. Because before that, you had like -- and they're all good artists, but you had Bobby Vee (ph) and Bobby Rydell (ph) and all...

KING: And they didn't write their own songs.

R. GIBB: And they didn't write -- and they didn't go into the artistic zones that the Beatles did. The Beatles broke those walls down and started selling a lot of albums, which pop artists didn't do before them. You had Bobby Rydell (ph) at number one, and on the album charts you had Mitch Miller (ph). And that's the difference. But then when the Beatles came on they changed all that. And pop music started.

M. GIBB: But you never knew what label the pop people were on. You never knew who produced them. You never knew the names of the people in the band.

(CROSSTALK)

B. GIBB: ... shouldn't be the unsung hero either. (UNINTELLIGIBLE) changed the music business.

(CROSSTALK)

B. GIBB: Oh, yes.

M. GIBB: But you see in those days, I used to think like Sinatra and Elvis and all of them used to write their own songs and do their own thing.

KING: Never did. Never did.

M. GIBB: But the Beatles brought out something like -- I mean, how could you compare two records from "Love Me Do" to "Eleanor Rigby?" And to write with such a broad spectrum from "I Am a Walrus" to "Yesterday." So, I mean, today, they'd be classed as adult contemporary, and they wouldn't be in class as pop today.

KING: We'll be back with our remaining moments with the Bee Gees. Among the people who've sung their songs, we told you, Presley and Janis Joplin. They were inducted into the Songwriters Hall of Fame and into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame in 1997. We'll be back with our remaining moments with the Bee Gees. Don't go away.

(MUSIC)

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

KING: You guys always sing falsetto?

R. GIBB: Not necessarily.

B. GIBB: That's me. I'm the one that stuck with that one.

KING: It just came -- came to you...

B. GIBB: It came...

R. GIBB: In a dream.

B. GIBB: It came to me in a dream. There was a request by Reef Mardain (ph) -- who was like an uncle to us, he was a great record producer -- during the song "Nights On Broadway," for the "Main Course" album, which is previous to the "Fever" syndrome. And he said, "Can any of you scream -- scream in falsetto?"

(CROSSTALK)

B. GIBB: So, you know, give us an ad lib or a scream at the end. So it turned into -- from screaming, it turned into things like "Blaming it all..."

KING: Now do you guys chime in? You all sing?

M. GIBB: But in harmonies we do -- yeah, things like that.

KING: And is harmony -- do you teach yourself harmony? Since you don't read music, harmony is natural to you? Can you give me an example of something together.

(CROSSTALK)

B. GIBB: (UNINTELLIGIBLE) "How Deep."

KING: OK, "How Deep."

(MUSIC)

KING: All right. You're singing melody, right?

B. GIBB: Yes.

KING: Who was doing...

R. GIBB: I was in the middle.

KING: Now what is the...

M. GIBB: I was singing the high.

KING: High?

M. GIBB: Yeah.

KING: Now middle is what?

(CROSSTALK)

R. GIBB: I don't know. It's harmony.

KING: That's right, you don't know. M. GIBB: It's a second harmony. So there's only two harmonies. He's singing the melody, so there's only two harmonies.

R. GIBB: You see, we sing -- as the Beatles found out when they first started, we sing what you call natural harmony. And that is, you just break into a harmony that fits. And you just find where it is, and then you actually sing the corresponding melody to the melody.

KING: Did any of the American groups of the '50s impress -- like the Four Freshmen and those...

B. GIBB: Yes, yes.

(CROSSTALK)

KING: ... the jazz...

M. GIBB: Mills Brothers.

R. GIBB: But they were doing -- yes, they were doing...

(CROSSTALK)

B. GIBB: I think it was the beginning of that whole era with the Beach Boys and people -- where experimentation with harmony became interesting. And other groups started to hook into that -- into that, you know. But you can do things that other people haven't done.

KING: Has recorded changed, though, hasn't it? I mean...

M. GIBB: Technology, yes. But, really, the way we write and the way we record and everything, we still record and write the same way as we did in the late '60s.

KING: You don't have three things done, lay down tracks?

M. GIBB: We do them ourselves. And the thing about technology today -- because it's digital -- you can sample things and do all that stuff. And synthesizers can give you these sounds that we would break a studio apart to try to find something that would do that sound.

KING: Do you use musicians from South Florida?

R. GIBB: We use -- sometimes, but we use musicians from England and New York...

B. GIBB: We have our own band, yeah.

KING: You have your own band?

B. GIBB: Yeah. But, I mean, our favorite is live music. Our favorite music is people who perform, you know. If you program something, the process is not the same thing.

R. GIBB: It's not like you think as an artist, it's... KING: So in other words, you like your backup artists to be people who are not necessarily studio artists, but who go out and perform in a band.

(CROSSTALK)

M. GIBB: If it's live -- and we have a band, but we mostly do our own backtracks with one of the members or two of the members of the band. But the live stuff -- playing live that we like to record is so we can play live, so that the sound just like...

KING: Where did you learn to play instruments?

R. GIBB: Just taught. Self taught.

B. GIBB: Just pick it up along the way. I think the Beatles probably started that with us, because Maurice was very much a George Harrison fan and began to play lead...

(CROSSTALK)

R. GIBB: But we mention them a lot, because they were a big influence when we were teenagers, because they were the only real heroes we had doing what we were doing -- going what we were going to do in our lives.

M. GIBB: Especially when we lived in Australia at that time. They were so far away, and we wanted to be a part of that whole scene.

KING: This count is unexplainable then?

B. GIBB: Yeah, I don't know how to explain it.

M. GIBB: I mean, I would try things on the piano and I didn't know what the chords I was playing were, but they sounded nice. And I would do the same with the guitar, which I learned from Barry, because Barry tunes to an open D, which is different tuning to me (ph).

KING: Why did you live in Australia?

B. GIBB: We emigrated to Australia in about 1958. Our parents -- work was tough, it was 10 years after the war.

R. GIBB: Dad was broke.

B. GIBB: And dad -- yeah, we were -- unfortunately, that was the case. We went and our father didn't have a very good job. But, you know, there was thing called a new life. You could emigrate to Australia and start all over again.

R. GIBB: It's called running away.

B. GIBB: And you could be -- you could be a new Australian, that was what it was.

M. GIBB: Yeah, a new Australian, yeah. They were trying to populate Australia in those days, and each parent traveled for 10 pound per parent and the kids traveled free...

(CROSSTALK)

KING: Fellows, this has been terrific. I thank you very much.

B. GIBB: Thank you, Larry.

R. GIBB: Thank you, Larry.

M. GIBB: Thank you, Larry.

KING: Barry Gibb, Robin Gibb, Maurice Gibb -- Moshe -- The Bee Gees. Thanks very much for joining us, we hope you enjoyed it as much as I did. Good night.

(MUSIC)

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