Unbeknownst to the residents of 1950s Redcliffe in South East Queensland, the peninsula would prove to be the launching pad of one of the world’s most beloved pop groups. The young Gibb brothers’ humble musical beginnings playing the local gig circuit would set them on a path reaching the pinnacle of international stardom.
The Bee Gees, Redcliffe childhood stomping grounds saw the Gibb brothers create many happy memories during their formative years and thanks to Barry Gibb, we are privy to a few fond Redcliffe recollections:
“My memories of my time in Redcliffe are as vivid today as when I was running around barefoot with my brothers exploring its many treasures. As children we spent a lot of time on the jetty at night, looking into the waters of Moreton Bay. It was just like meditating,” reminisced Barry.
During late 1952 Barry, Robin and Maurice moved with their family from their father Hugh's home town - Chorlton-cum-Hardy in Manchester, to Redcliffe.
In 1958 the Gibb brothers played their first gig at the Redcliffe speedway, performing during race intervals on the back of a truck to a crowd of money-throwing spectators. At just 14 years of age Barry was the eldest.
“We sang through the PA system and people threw money onto the track,” recalled Barry.
Barry Gibb and his mother Barbara Gibb went on to sign the band’s first music contract with speedway promoter Bill Goode and radio announcer Bill Gates on the family’s kitchen table in Redcliffe.
It was Bill Gates who renamed the band Bee Gees, after the ‘Bills’ – Barbara’s and Barry’s initials.
“Redcliffe became the birthplace of our name – The Bee Gees,” confirmed Barry.
The Bee Gees went on to receive their first airplay on radio 4BH.
In the early 1960s The Bee Gees began booking gigs and appearing on local Queensland television shows, performing songs written by Barry Gibb.
In 1966, The Bee Gees released their first big single, Spick and Specks.
Following a succession of Top 10 Australian singles, including Spick and Specks, The Bee Gees returned to England to pursue their musical dreams.
Like many other young bands emerging from Britain including The Beatles, The Animals, The Moody Blues, The Byrds and The Yardbirds – their music was heavily influenced by the country, R&B and blues recordings which were coming out of America at the time.
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 are:
The Bee Gees Redcliffe stint came to an end in 1975 when the brothers decided to move to Miami, Florida to take their career to the next level by working with super-producer Arif Mardin.
The Bee Gees were on top of the world as disco fever started to take hold in the late 70s – the musical era in which the band achieved mega-success.
In 1977, ‘Saturday Night Fever’ hit cinemas featuring 6 Bee Gees songs, each become a huge hit:
In 1979, The Bee Gees single Love You Inside Out became their ninth #1 single and sixth consecutive #1 hit – equalling a feat set by The Beatles.
The song writing talents of The Bee Gees can be found in countless hit songs recorded collaboratively with other artists.
Some examples include:
The Bee Gees have sold more than 200 million records making them one of the best-selling bands of all time.
The accolades heaped on the band include a star on the Hollywood Walk of Fame, awards from the American Music Awards, The Grammys, a BRIT award for outstanding contribution to music and an Order of the British Empire, the latter presented posthumously to Maurice Gibb by Prince Charles at Buckingham Palace.
In 1977 Barry, Robin and Maurice were inducted into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame.
The writing on their Rock and Roll Hall of Fame citation reads: “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 in the category of most successful songwriters in history.
Maurice Gibb died in 2003. Robin Gibb passed away in 2012.
Want to experience more Bee Gees tributes? Visit Redcliffe Museum for the permanent Bee Gees display including a letter penned by Barry Gibb.
Can’t get enough Bee Gees fun? Don’t miss the Saturday Night Fever 40th Anniversary Tour August 2017 in Redcliffe.