Bee Gees feud: Why did the Gibb brothers fall out?

The Bee Gees: How Can You Mend A Broken Heart trailer

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Barry Gibb is known to many as being the frontman and main singer in The Bee Gees. His prominence caused friction in the band, mainly with Barry’s brother Robin, and difficult moments over the years. Maurice and Robin both died in the 2000s, and according to Barry, some of those wounds did not heal in time.

The Bee Gees started out as a skiffle and folk band, much like many bands popping up in the 1950s and 1960s.

The band was formed in 1958 after the brothers had first been part of the skiffle band The Rattlesnakes which began in 1955.

By 1967, the boys’ harmonies had begun to take form and they went on to form Wee Johnny Hayes and the Blue Cats, with Barry becoming Johnny Hayes.

After the family emigrated to Australia, they were picked up by promoter Bill Goode, who along with DJ Bill Gates helped the band to find their new name as The Bee Gees.

They finally got signed with Polydor Records after 1967, and the band began to turn minor success into a big success, which is where the first issues arose.

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In 1969, Robin left the group after feeling their new manager, Robert Stigwood, favoured Barry as the frontman.

This was to become a recurring theme in their history, with Robin and Barry having a difficult relationship.

Speaking of this to the Irish Times in 2020, Barry said: “Before we ever became famous were the best times of our lives.

“There was no competition; it didn’t matter who sang what.

“When we had our first No 1, Massachusetts, Robin sang the lead, and I don’t think he ever got past that; he never felt that anyone else should sing lead after that.

“And that was not the nature of the group. We all brought songs in; whoever brings the idea in sings the song.”

Barry was an important songwriter in the band, but despite Robin’s departure, a trio of Barry, Maurice and another band member, Colin Petersen, continued to perform until Colin was reportedly fired from the band, and Maurice sought to release a solo album.

Robin released Robin’s Reign in 1970, with it entering the Top 20 in Germany, but otherwise receiving little notice.

Barry’s solo album, as well as Maurice’s, was not released, and given Robin’s had a small level of success, the band reformed in 1970.

Speaking of this moment, Barry told Stuff NZ in 2017: “I remember lots of intense arguments, not speaking to each other for weeks and then coming back together again.

“It doesn’t stop you being brothers. We broke up in 1969, and yet my brothers came to my wedding in 1970 and we started talking again – and suddenly we were back in the studio.”

This was the beginning of The Bee Gees’ disco era, which they became known for, as well as their strong falsetto voices.

However, even the good times were difficult, they had a new way of doing things this time around.

Barry added: “Everything had to be unanimous. If one of us was unhappy about anything, we wouldn’t do it.”

However, this was not the end of their fallings out, which came after Maurice died in 2003.

According to Barry, Robin was keen to continue the band as a duo, and Barry’s refusal caused a difficult rupture in their relationship.

Barry said: “We can’t just keep forcing ourselves on everyone, saying we’re the Bee Gees without Mo.

“He was very hyper about it, wanting us to remain the Bee Gees.

“I think he might have known that he was ill at least a couple of years before it became very serious.

“And I think, spiritually, he didn’t want to become an invalid.

“He just never wanted to be recognised as someone who had something wrong with him, so he hid it, from me anyway.

“And when I finally discovered what was wrong, I understood why he was so hyper, why he wanted to keep going, no matter what. I understood it then.”

Robin died in 2012, and at the end of both his brothers’ lives, Barry admitted they were not close, or even friends, let alone brothers.

He told The Times: “Maurice was gone in two days and we weren’t getting on very well.

“Robin and I functioned musically but we never functioned in any other way.

“We were brothers but we weren’t really friends.”

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