Who was Andy Gibb? The untold story of the lesser-known Bee Gees brother who never made it into the band

'All of a sudden, he was the big thing. There was a period when we lived in the shadow of Andy's band,' said Bee Gees lead guitarist Alan Kendall


                            Who was Andy Gibb? The untold story of the lesser-known Bee Gees brother who never made it into the band
Andy Gibb (Getty Images)

There's much to be explored on the topic of The Bee Gees, and with all the buzz surrounding the upcoming documentary 'The Bee Gees: How Can You Mend A Broken Heart', there is a ton of content for fans to enjoy and learn about "The Kings of Disco."

The documentary gathers never-before-seen archival footage and interviews and chronicles the triumphs and hurdles of brothers Barry, Maurice, and Robin Gibb. The film also features heartfelt moments between The Bee Gees and their shared love as brothers and fellow members, but what about Andy Gibb?

From left, Barry Gibb, Robin Gibb (1949-2012) and Maurice Gibb (1949-2003) of pop group Bee Gees posed together in London on 4th September 1970. (Photo by Evening Standard/Hulton Archive/Getty Images)

As we're taken down the road of their rise to fame and success, one of the thought-provoking elements in the documentary is the story of their youngest brother, presented in brief and lengthier segments between the band's history. The documentary opens in quick succession of their youth and the initial stage of their careers. Andy Gibb is then introduced for the first time in the feature by Barry: "Mum and Dad had their own place, and of course, Andy lived with them. He was just like us, and he was always tagging along, hoping that one day he would do this too, he would like to sing."

The short-lived success of Andy Gibb's career

Move on to the second half of the film, and associated Bee Gees members/contributors revealed some further insight into Andy and the fruition of his own career and why he never became an official band member. When The Bee Gees were a formidable force in the industry and enjoying their success, Andy then joined his brothers in Miami and began to step into music. Studio engineer Karl Richardson who worked with The Bee Gees on production said, "Andy was a gift out of left field. But I never knew he existed until one day he shows up fresh from Australia."

Barry describes Andy as a "great kid" who "could do anything he set his mind to." He adds, "We were very much alike. We looked alike, we had the same birthmarks. I would say we were as much like twins as Maurice and Robin," after Linda Gibb notes in her interview: "Barry was Andy's idol. They were almost like twins." 

Andy then explains that he decided to move to Australia as his brothers first did in 1958 when he was only five months old to get started on recording music. "I was there for two years. Out of the blue, phone call came from my brother Barry and he said, 'I want to produce you.' And I think it was like two weeks or something, I was in studio to do a new album in Miami. I didn't think I was ready."

"Barry was there and helped him through and guided him with lyrics," says Richardson, adding, "And it didn't take him long to find another groove." "It was a process of building him up, getting him to play live, getting him to be an artist," notes Barry. "And then suddenly out of nowhere, Andy had three number-ones in a row. He was a teen idol."

Record producer Albhy Galuten shares, "The Bee Gees point of view was about having hit records and being on the radio, and so, the greatest gift that you could give to your younger brother would be to give him that success, to write songs with him, to teach him to be a star." 

Bill Oakes, the former CEO of RSO Records, then revealed that Andy had already built up a loyal fanbase of younger audiences, which led band manager Robert Stigwood to keep him as a solo artist. "There was talk about him becoming a Bee Gee. I think Robert [Stigwood] saw he had a younger audience - smart to keep him on his own." Furthermore, The Bee Gees lead guitarist Alan Kendall also noted, "All of a sudden, he was the big thing. There was a period when we lived in the shadow of Andy's band."

Death

Andy would go on to gain international prominence in the late 1970s with six singles that reached the Top 10 in the United States, starting with 'I Just Want to Be Your Everything' (1977), followed by three other top 20 singles. 'The Bee Gees: How Can You Mend A Broken Heart' also discusses his brief success due to drug addiction and depression. He died five days after his 30th birthday in 1988 while attempting to make a comeback, and after his passing, Maurice Gibb dedicated himself to a life of sobriety before his own death in 2003 from complications following surgery. Andy Gibb's death was a result of myocarditis, an inflammation of the heart muscle caused by years of cocaine abuse that fatally weakened his heart.

Find out all you need to know about the upcoming documentary releasing on Saturday here.

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