SOFT ROCK – SPECIAL FEATURE

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 I Just Want to Be Your Everything (B Gibb) 1977 and Shadow Dancing (B Gibb/ A Gibb/ R Gibb & M Gibb) – Andy Gibb 1978.

 

Andy was the youngest of the Gibb brothers and physically resembled his eldest brother Barry, he always regarded himself as a Bee Gees understudy and prepared himself to be summoned on high. He formed his first band, Melody Fayre (inspired by a Bee Gees song Melody Fair) and gigged at the Peveril Hotel on Loch Promenade on the Isle of Man where his parents had relocated and were running the local post office.

In 1974, at the suggestion of his brothers, Andy returned to live in Australia, where his older sister Lesley still lived. The Gibbs knew that that this would be a good place for Andy to complete his musical apprenticeship, his sister was there to provide family support and the Jacobsens, Col (Joye) and Keith, via their local recording label ATA, would provide the necessary professional support, as they had done for the three young Gibb brothers back in the 1960’s.

In 1974 Andy made his first recordings with ATA, but no singles were released, and his backing band returned to the Isle of Man, leaving Andy to get on with his solo career in Sydney. He gigged with his new group Zenta who also landed a support slot on a Bay City Rollers/Sweet tour of Australia in 1975.

His first single, the uninspiring ballad Words and Music, charted at #78 locally in October 1975, eight month later 18-year-old Andy, like his big brother Barry, would marry an Aussie girl, Kim Reeder, they honeymooned at Robert Stigwood’s Bahamas “beach shack”, later that year he was signed to a recording contract with Stigwood and RSO and summoned to join his brothers at the Criteria Studio in Florida, to cut his debut album – Flowing Rivers. Zenta band members found out indirectly that they had been disbanded, was young Andy as driven and ruthless as his big brother Barry?

 

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The influence of the Bee Gees on Flowing Rivers was obvious, Barry had written the two songs that would become hits when released as singles –I Just Want to Be Your Everything and (Love Is) Thicker Than Water– and he provided background and harmony vocals on both tracks, the Bee Gees arranger and engineer, Albhy Galuten and Karl Richardson respectively, co-produced the sessions.

The Bee Gees influence ensured that only the best musicians played on the record, this included Eagles guitarist Joe Walsh, who just happened to be recording Hotel California in the same studios and played on both the hit singles released from the album.

I Just Want to Be Your Everything is a dramatic love song filled with all the hooks, tropes and cadences that were so typical of Barry Gibb compositions. Andy, who was only 19 at the time, revealed that he was intimidated by the fact that Barry wrote this song in about twenty minutes and then went straight onto write (Love Is) Thicker Than Water – two US #1 hits in about an hour, a benevolent big brother did give Andy a co-credit on the latter song.

I Just Want to Be Your Everything was #1 in the US, Australia, Canada, Brazil, Chile and Austria and #2 in NZ and #26 in the UK, he would also take (Love Is) Thicker Than Water to #1 in the US and #13 in Aust.

 

Andy had kicked off his career in convincing style, two US #1 million-selling records, aided and abetted by big brother Barry, and he now looked to capitalize on his chart momentum, and went into the recording studio in late 1977 to record his second album – Shadow Dancing.

 

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By this time Andy was being labelled a teen idol, his toothy good looks and impressive voice reminded fans of a young Barry Gibb, no doubt, these comparisons became tiresome for Andy, but there was always going to be a price to pay, for enjoying the cache of being a Gibb and one of the most famous family of brothers in popular music.

Andy and his production team of Galuten and Richardson relocated to the Wally Heder Studios in Los Angeles and again assembled a group of crack session musicians. All four Gibb brothers have writing credits on the title track Shadow Dancing, and Barry wrote An Everlasting Love, the second hit single taken off the album, he also co-wrote (Our Love) Don’t Throw It All Away with regular Bee Gees collaborator Blue Weaver. When Shadow Dancing was lifted from the album it climbed to US #1 and stayed there for 7 weeks selling over two million copies in the US alone, brassy orchestration and funky keyboards contributed to Andy’s classiest record to date, he became the first solo artist in the history of US pop charts to have his first three singles hit #1.

 

An Everlasting Love and (Our Love) Don’t Throw It All Away, were all US top ten hits and million-sellers when lifted off the album, although they were not hits in Australia, and Andy Gibb would not chart here again or in the US after 1981.

 

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By this time Andy’s partying and bingeing had caused his wife Kim to relocate back to Australia in late 1977 to have their first child, Andy stayed in LA and started to date other women, particularly actress Victoria Principal, he filed for divorce from his estranged wife days before she gave birth to their little daughter Peta in 1978; he would not physically see his daughter until 1980, when she was two years old.

 

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Professionally Andy was peaking despite his toxic lifestyle, appearances on NBC’s Special Olivia! with expat Aussie Livvy and ABBA, as well as a Yuletide guest spot on Bob Hope’s All– Star Christmas Special, cemented Andy’s position in the superstar firmament, but by the early 80’s the cracks were beginning to appear. His next album, After Dark, released in 1980, was disrupted by his constant absences from sessions and poor vocal quality, both Barry and Olivia Newton-John provided support backing vocals, but the album flopped, Andy and ONJ duetted on I Can’t Help It for a US #12  but  by 1981 he had released his last top forty record, Me (Without You) and no more hit singles were forthcoming.

Andy sadly passed away due to drug-related heart failure in 1988, after years of cocaine and heroin addiction.

 

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