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Bee Gees’ stardom began in Northam!
THE music world is in mourning with the news of Bee Gees member Robin Gibb’s death from cancer at the age of 62.
And it was from Southampton that the group actually started their incredible star studded pop journey.
Robin with his twin Maurice and elder brother Barry sailed into the city’s docks in 1967 from Australia where their family had settled after moving from Manchester.
Britain was in the grip of the Swinging Sixties pop revolution and the ambitious Gibb brothers knew that this was the place to be if they were going to break into the big time.
One of their first major television shows was in Southampton on the Time for Blackburn show. Presented by legendary disc jockey Tony Blackburn, it was recorded at what were then the Southern Television studios in Northam.
Producer Mike Mansfield devoted the whole show to the Bee Gees and their music.
At the time he said: “This is the first time we have devoted so much time to one particular set of artistes.
“But I think their music is fantastic and they are one of Britain’s top groups.”
Former Daily Echo journalist Duncan Eaton spent the day at the studios watching the band who were celebrating their first year in UK showbiz, rehearse and then record the show in front of a live audience.
Duncan said: “When they arrived at the studio they were mobbed by hordes of fans who had been waiting for hours outside.
“Robin was the quiet one in the band but his amazing voice made up for any shyness.”
The band were riding high in the charts. Massachusetts had sold throughout the world and had hit the number one spot in the charts.
Robin, who was then 18, explained to the Daily Echo why they had left Australia.
He said: “We wanted to get ahead and we felt that Britain was the place where we could progress as a group.
“It would be wrong to say there is no potential for pop artistes in Australia. However in this country there is more money to be earned and there is greater scope.
“We are refraining from doing the usual string of one night stands. A lot of over exposure can be a very bad thing for a group.
“We have recently introduced orchestral backing for our numbers. We feel we have an obligation to our fans to give them good music and the use of an orchestra has helped greatly in reproducing good sounds.”
When the Daily Echo interviewed the Bee Gees in the Sixties there were fears that the group would have to leave Britain.
Two Australians Colin Peterson and Vince Melonney, who were part of the backing band, had trouble over visas and for many weeks the Bee Gees’ clashes with the Home Office hit the headlines.
Never before in pop history had there been such demonstrations of loyalty and devotion triggered by the threat that the group might have to take up residence and citizenship rather than break up.
But the problems were ironed and the Bee Gees were able to take the UK by storm.
Robin Gibb’s first classical work was a tribute to the Titanic – a subject which fascinated him.
But his worsening health meant that he could not perform a new song, called Don’t Cry Alone, at the Titanic Requiem Concert.