The Bee Gees spent some time growing up at Redcliffe just north of Brisbane, Australia, just 5 minutes down the road from where I now live, and their first public performance was at the Redcliffe Speedway in 1958. Barry was 12 and the twins 9. The fans threw money on the speedway racetrack for them!
They had a great life growing up here as you’ll see later from what Barry says, and I can still remember watching their first appearance on a talent quest on Channel 9 (black and white tv) in 1959/60 when they harmonized beautifully with Barry playing guitar. They were the talk of the town and naturally won.
In 2013 after long discussions and extensive consultations with Barry, the local council opened the first half of the Bee Gees Way, which is a very impressive display which stretches about 100 metres between Redcliffe Parade and Sutton Street. Barry attended the official opening in 2013 as well as 2015 when the final half was completed. Barry personally selected the photos and wrote the captions, and provided much never before seen material.
The Bee Gees Way consists of an amazing outdoor display of 60 large photographs, specially commissioned sculptures, a 70 metre mural, and a large video screen with much footage never seen before. There is accompanying Bee Gees music and interviews with Barry. And all this just 100 metres from where he and his brothers used to dive off the Redcliffe jetty to collect lost coins, and fish for tiger sharks!
So here is the Bee Gees Way and the Bee Gees’ story. I hope you are a fan of their music like me.
The Gibbs family moved to Redcliffe in the late 50s and lived in a typical Queensland wooden weatherboard house which unfortunately was gutted by fire in late 2012, just 3 months before Barry arrived for the official opening of the BGW. I managed to find a picture taken in 2000.
The Gibbs brothers began singing together at an early age and here they look very young indeed.
The boys attended school at Scarborough (just down the road from me), and as Barry has written on the plaque at BGW, they enjoyed great times and he has unforgettable memories – ” sleeping under mozzie nets, picking fruit from the trees, diving for coins off the Redcliffe jetty, and singing and playing on the beach on those soft warm summer nights”.
Here are Barry’s words from the BGW – Click on picture to enlarge and read
At their appearance at Redcliffe Speedway in late 1958 they met Brisbane’s top radio DJ Bill Gates, who was also a racing car driver. He and Bill Goode (another BG), the speedway promoter and also top driver, became their managers in March 1959 when a contract was signed on the kitchen table by their mother. They then became the Bee Gees, and as Barry says, named after Bill Gates who became their excellent local promoter. It was he who arranged their first radio broadcast on his popular Rock and Roll program on station 4BH.
A copy of the contract can be seen at the BGW – Click on the picture to enlarge and read.
In later years they changed managers but they had a great reunion in 1991 on This is Your Life
A second statue depicts them in these younger years and behind the statue are listed the 37 songs written by the Bee Gees. Barry personally scripted the statue as “Bodding, Basser and Woggie” – their nicknames when kids.
After their appearance on the Channel 9 Brisbane talent show in 1959 or 1960, their career blossomed, and they began to have regular gigs and make regular tv appearances on Queensland television. Next was their appearance on Bandstand, the national weekly R and R show from Sydney, and then in 1966 they released their first single Spicks and Specs.
Here are some fascinating pictures from BGW of those early years in the 60s.
Following a succession of top ten Australian singles, including Spicks and Specks, the Bee Gees returned to England to pursue their musical dreams.
In mid-1967 the Bee Gees unveiled their first internationally released album – New York Mining Disaster 1941. The album made the Top 20 in England and America.
Among the other hit singles released by the Bee Gees during the 1960s were:
To Love Somebody in 1967
Words in 1968
I’ve Got to Get a Message to You in 1968
I Started a Joke in 1968
Don’t Forget to Remember in 1969
Moving to Miami – the 1970s
In 1975 the Bee Gees decided to move to Miami, Florida to work with super-producer Arif Mardin and take their career to the next level.
The Bee Gees were on top of the world as disco fever started to take hold in the late 70s. This is when the band would achieve mega-success.
Saturday Night Fever the movie hit cinemas in 1977. There were six Bee Gees songs on the Saturday Night Fever soundtrack.
Each song was a huge hit:
How Deep is Your Love
More Than a Woman
You Should Be Dancing
In 1979 the Bee Gees single “Love You Inside Out” became their ninth Number One single and six consecutive Number One hit – equalling a feat set by The Beatles.
Work with other artists
The songwriting talents of the Bee Gees can be found in countless hit songs recorded by other artists. Some examples include:
“Guilty” in 1980 with Barbra Streisand and Barry Gibb
“Heartbreaker” in 1982 with Dionne Warwick
“Islands in the Stream” in 1983 with Kenny Rogers and Dolly Parton
“Chain Reaction” in 1985 with Diana Ross and the Bee Gees; and
“Immortality” in 1998 with Celine Dion and the Bee Gees
Their legacy continues
The Bee Gees have sold more than 200 million records making them one of the best-selling music artists of all time.
In 1997 Barry, Robin and Maurice were inducted into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame.
The writing on their Rock and Roll Hall of Fame citations says:
Only Elvis Presley, the Beatles, Michael Jackson, Garth Brooks and Paul McCartney have outsold the Bee Gees.
Here are some more pictures from BGW of those years
Barry Gibb is second only to Paul McCartney in the Guinness Book of Records’ most successful songwriters in history.
And it all started at Redcliffe 59 years ago.
PS If you are a Bee Gees fan keep coming back – I’ll greatly improve this site including some video and sound from the Bee Gees Way.
This is my first attempt at this so stay with me!
PPS Go to Bee Gees Way website of the local council to read more https://www.moretonbay.qld.gov.au/beegeesway/