Wednesday, October 15, 2014

Andy Gibb, The #86 Artist of the Seventies*

Gibb was the younger brother of the Bee Gees, having emigrated with his family from England to Australia at the age of six months.  Andy returned to the U.K. in 1967, and began playing at clubs around Ibiza and the Isle of Man, where his parents lived. 

Andy formed the group Melody Favre, and recorded a song brother Maurice had written, "My Father Was A Reb", although it was not released.  Gibb returned to Australia in 1974 along with other members of the group.  But the group broke up soon, and Andy recorded his first solo single, "Words and Music" on ATA Records.  It was a Top 20 song in Australia in 1976.

Gibb then joined the group Zenta, which opened for artists such as Sweet and the Bay City Rollers in Australia.  Robert Stigwood, who was the manager of the Bee Gees, was also impressed with Andy, and signed him to RSO Records.  Andy moved to Miami Beach, Florida, to begin collaborating with his brother Barry and co-producers Albhy Galuten and Karl Richardson.

The result of the work was Andy's debut album Flowing Rivers.  The single "I Just Want To Be Your Everything" went to #1 in the U.S., Canada, and Australia, selling over one million singles and taking the album to Platinum status.

Andy's brothers were instrumental in his career, as Barry co-wrote both "I Just Want To Be Your Everything" and Andy's next single, "(Love Is) Thicker Than Water".  The latter, which also went Gold, took over at #1 from "Stayin' Alive" by the Bee Gees, and was replaced by another Bee Gees smash, "Night Fever".

With Andy already a star, he began working on the album Shadow Dancing, which Gibb released in 1978.  All four Gibb brothers co-wrote the title song, which landed at #1 for seven weeks, holding off the great "Baker Street" by Gerry Rafferty.  "Shadow Dancing" quickly sold over two million copies.  

"Shadow Dancing" also hit #1 in Canada--Gibb became the first male solo artist to achieve three consecutive #1 songs, and all were within a year's time.  The follow-up was "An Everlasting Love", a #3 smash in Canada that also reached #5 in the United States and #10 in the U.K.

"(Our Love) Don't Throw It All Away" gave Gibb five consecutive Top 10 songs to open his career, achieving #9 in the U.S. and #2 on the Adult Contemporary chart.  It is the song that the Bee Gees later dedicated to him during their concerts.

Both "An Everlasting Love" and "..Don't Throw It All Away" went Gold, and the album Shadow Dancing also sold over one million copies.  Andy performed "Rest Your Love On Me" with Olivia Newton-John at the Music for UNICEF Concert at the United Nations General Assembly before a worldwide broadcast.  Gibb then began work on the album After Dark in 1980.  The single "Desire", another featuring songwriting contributions from all four brothers, reached #4.

Andy's streak of six consecutive Top 10's ended when another duet with Newton-John, "I Can't Help It", stalled at #12, although it did reach #8 on the more-important Adult Contemporary chart.  Gibb just missed making The Top Artists Out of the Gate*.    

Then things went south.  Stigwood released Gibb because of his addiction to cocaine and the problems it brought about.  He became involved with Victoria Principal, and began work as an actor, starring in Joseph and the Amazing Technicolor Dreamcoat on Broadway, and The Pirates of Penzance in Los Angeles.  Gibb also co-hosted Solid Gold on television from 1980 to 1982.

But Gibb was fired from both Dreamcoat and Solid Gold because of his cocaine use.  Broadway producer Zev Bufman said of Gibb:

When Andy was at the theater, he was a joy.  But he wasn't there enough.  We'd lose him over long weekends.  He'd come back on Tuesday, and he'd look beat.  He was like a little puppy – so ashamed when he did something wrong.

Bufman said that of the five actors to play Joseph to that point, Gibb was the best.  Such a waste, but then so are drugs.  And of course there was more fallout.  Gibb & Principal recorded a remake of "All I Have To Do Is Dream" in 1981, Gibb's last charting entry.  But Principal broke off the relationship, as Andy could not stop his cocaine habit.

Gibb's family persuaded him to enter the Betty Ford Clinic in the mid-80's.  Andy began touring small concert halls, and appeared on several sitcoms on television.   He also toured East Asia, and was a regular at Las Vegas and Lake Tahoe in Nevada.

Andy began working with brothers Barry and Maurice again, and Island Records planned to release two singles from the collaboration, "Man On Fire" and "Arrow Through The Heart".  They were the final songs Andy ever recorded.

On March 5, 1988, Gibb celebrated his 30th birthday in London while working on the new album.  But he began to experience chest pains and entered John Radcliffe Hospital in Oxford.  Gibb died five days later, on March 10, from myocarditis, an inflammation of the heart muscle caused by a recent viral infection.  According to cardiologist William Shell, the condition was exacerbated by his years of cocaine abuse.

Gibb had ten career hits, with the six Top 10 songs and three #1's.  Five of the six Top 10's were in the decade, making Andy The #86 Artist of the Seventies*.

Join us tomorrow on Inside The Rock Era as we reveal #85*.   

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