Bee Gees’ Barry Gibb’s equals longevity with laughs 

In his extraordinary 55-year career, Bee Gees founder Barry Gibb has experienced both triumph -- like 1977's "Saturday Night Fever" soundtrack, which prominently featured his band, went platinum 15 times over and helped launch the disco craze -- and tragedy, as his brothers Andy, Maurice and Robin died in 1988, 2003 and 2012, respectively.

His survival secret: a good sense of humor.

"I don't feel you can really last as a pop artist if you don't see the funny side of everything. I started out with Mad and Cracked magazines as a kid in Australia, and I grew up laughing at the irony of life. And I still am, I hope," says Gibb, whose "Mythology: The Tour Live" hits Concord this weekend, with his son Stephen on guitar and Maurice's daughter Samantha on vocals.

That may explain the singer's participation last year in one installment of the long-running "Saturday Night Live" skit "The Barry Gibb Talk Show" in which Jimmy Fallon -- in a 1970s leisure suit and shaggy wig -- plays Gibb as a volatile, halting-falsettoed TV host opposite Justin Timberlake as his mousy sibling Robin.

"Years ago, I didn't know what to think of it," says Gibb, laughing. "I thought, 'Well, hang on! I don't behave like that!' And Robin was the absolute opposite of Justin's portrayal. But hey -- you've got to laugh at yourself."

Then Gibb, 67, was contacted by producers, asking if he would appear on an "SNL" episode that also featured Madonna and Paul McCartney. Eager to hobnob with his ex-Beatle hero, he agreed, yet they wouldn't divulge what he'd be doing.

"But the next thing that came was a request for my measurements, so I sort of knew where it was going," he says. "And Jimmy was fantastic -- it was like talking to yourself, 35 years ago. He promised to give me the wig afterwards, but he didn't."

In rehearsals, Timberlake buttonholed Gibb -- who has scored No. 1 hits in every decade since the 1960s -- for songwriting pointers: "He said, 'What do you do if you get a block?' and I said, 'Wait till tomorrow.' It's the only advice I know!"

When Gibb later announced his world tour on "Late Night With Jimmy Fallon," he and Fallon strummed impromptu covers of The Everly Brothers, a crucial Bee Gees influence.

"Around 1957, my sister brought 'Bye Bye Love' and 'Wake Up Little Susie' into the house, and that was it. That's how we were born as a group -- listening to them and thinking, 'Wow! We've got to do harmonies like that! We've got to figure this out,'" says Gibb, whose recent projects include a box-set reissue of later Bee Gees efforts "E.S.P.," "One," "High Civilization" and "One For All Concert."

If you go

Barry Gibb

Where: Concord Pavilion, 2000 Kirker Pass Road, Concord

When: 7:30 p.m. Saturday

Tickets: $38.50 to $184

Contact: (925) 676-8742, www.livenation.com

About The Author

Tom Lanham

Pin It
Favorite

More by Tom Lanham

Latest in Pop Music & Jazz

Monday, Aug 29, 2016

Videos

Readers also liked…

Most Popular Stories

© 2016 The San Francisco Examiner

Website powered by Foundation