From Redcliffe with love – the Bee Gees

Wednesday, 12th April, 2017

BOYS TO MEN – The young Bee Gees as they were in Redcliffe so many years ago and (right) at the height of their careers. Photos: John Piggott

IF YOU see folk in Redcliffe busting disco moves like John Travolta in Saturday Night Fever, don’t think there's something funny in the water.

Far more likely they've just been to Bee Gees Way, the Brisbane suburb’s tribute to its most famous musical sons.

It was in Redcliffe that former British migrants Barry, Robin and Maurice Gibb took their first steps in a career that would span 50 years and make them a cultural phenomenon.

In all, they sold an estimated 220 million hugely memorable records, ranging from the soaring Massachusetts and I Started a Joke to the high-energy Tragedy and Stayin’ Alive.

While the lads left Redcliffe for fame and fortune decades ago, the community still cherishes their memory.

Among the sights are a copy of the recording contract the brothers signed with Bill Goode and Bill Gates in 1959, a life-size statue of the boys in bare feet boys in Redcliffe and more than 60 captioned photographs and 13 album covers.

And, of course, there are the songs to make you feel you should be dancing (yeah). Light shows set to music take place every half hour from 7pm-9.30pm.

Especially touching are personal stories and reflections by Barry via a 5.3-sq m video screen that also shows previously unseen home movie footage.

Given that Florida-based Barry is the last surviving brother – twins Maurice and Robin died in 2003 and 2012, while youngest sibling Andy, who had a separate career in music, died in 1988 – his memories are poignant. Returning to open the second stage of the multi-media site in in 2015, he waxed nostalgic about the place he called “paradise”.

“I can tell you that we were never as happy as we were before we got famous,” he said, admitting the siblings weren’t always close.

The thoroughfare is lined with a series of panels dedicated to each brother: Robin (Rob), “the funniest man I ever knew”; Maurice (Mo), “A magnetic personality” and Andy (he “seemed to know life was going to be short”).

And a few more things about the famous Brothers Gibb... 

  • In 1997 Barry, Robin and Maurice were inducted into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame. Their citation notes: “Only Elvis Presley, the Beatles, Michael Jackson,Garth Brooks and Paul McCartney have outsold the Bee Gees.”
  • Barry Gibb is second only to Paul McCartney in the Guinness Book of Records’ most successful songwriters in history.
  • Mum Barbara Gibb died in Miami, Florida, aged 95, last year.
  • Sister Lesley Evans avoided showbiz, stayed inAustralia and, at last report, breeds Staffordshire terriers.
  • Colin Peterson, who played young Smiley in the Australian movies of the same name, became the Bee Gees' drummer.

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