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The tragic story of Andy Gibb, the Bee Gees' other brother

Jon O'Brien

BY Jon O'Brien

7th Mar 2023 Music

The tragic story of Andy Gibb, the Bee Gees' other brother

Andy Gibb was the youngest brother of the Bee Gees who looked set for international music stardom, until his life was tragically cut short by addiction

The younger brother of Barry, Maurice and Robin, Andy Gibb initially looked set to reach the iconic status of his falsetto-voiced siblings. At the same time that Saturday Night Fever was taking over the world, he was busy becoming the first ever solo male artist to score three consecutive US number ones.

Sadly, within a decade the "other" Bee Gee had succumbed to that lethal combination of believing his own hype, self-sabotage and rock star excess.

The other Bee Gee: Growing up with the Gibb brothers

Born nine years after twins Robin and Maurice, and 12 after Barry, Andy spent his early years in some slightly imposing shadows. By the time the nine-year-old returned to England from Queensland with the rest of his family in 1967, the Bee Gees had already scored a half-dozen Aussie chart hits.

Perhaps inevitably, Andy soon attempted to follow in their footsteps.

The “cheeky little lad with a heart of gold” left school aged just 13 and, after a stint performing on the Ibiza tourist scene, he formed his own outfit, Melody Fayre, on the Isle of Man.

"By the time the nine-year-old returned to England, the Bee Gees had already scored a half-dozen Aussie chart hits"

There was little attempt to distance himself from the family name though. The group were managed by mother Barbara and named after a Bee Gees track, while their first recording, “To a Girl,” featured Maurice on the organ.

But in a sign of things to come, Andy failed to commit fully to his musical endeavours, and the band soon broke up. A stint in Zenta, who’d later become his backing group, followed before the singer decided that going solo was the way forward.

Andy Gibb makes it big stateside

In 1976, the same year he married receptionist Kim Reeder, he released his first single, “Words and Music.” Robert Stigwood, his brothers’ manager, was so impressed with Andy’s early material he gave him a deal with his RSO Records label.

Again, keeping things in the family, Andy's 1977 debut album Flowing Rivers was co-produced by Barry, with the latter also writing and providing backing vocals to “I Just Want To Be Your Everything.”

Although the track missed the Top 20 in the UK, it reached number one in the USA. It was a similar story with follow-up “(Love Is) Thicker Than Water” enjoying two weeks atop the Hot 100—interestingly in-between the Bee Gees’ “Stayin’ Alive” and “Night Fever”—yet failing to even get a release the other side of the Atlantic.

By this point, Andy had started to get lost in all the trappings that come with being a chart-topping pin-up. His addiction to cocaine cut short his marriage after just two years, with Reeder later revealing how much the drug left him paranoid and depressed. Even the birth of daughter Peta soon after couldn’t quell his appetite for the white stuff.

"'An Everlasting Love' finally saw Andy break the UK Top 10"

While Andy’s personal life fell into disarray, his professional endeavours continued to thrive. His 1978 sophomore Shadow Dancing spawned a third stateside number one, its title track spending seven weeks in pole position to become the year’s biggest seller.

“An Everlasting Love” finally saw him break the UK Top 10, and he also received Grammy nods for Best New Artist and Best Pop Vocal Performance, Male.

The beginning of the end 

Although 1980's third album After Dark adhered to the law of diminishing returns, it still produced a further five US chart hits, including Olivia Newton-John duet “I Can’t Help It.” A stint as host on syndicated music show Solid Gold and contract-fulfilling Greatest Hits kept his name in the limelight.

However, frustrated by Andy's cocaine dependency and the troubles it caused, Stigwood dropped him from the RSO label soon after.

His drug addiction would later cost the star both his role in Joseph and the Amazing Technicolor Dreamcoat and his relationship with Dallas actress Victoria Principal, the actress he duetted with on final hit, a cover of The Everly Brothers’ “All I Have To Do Is Dream.”

Despite his star significantly waning, Andy still kept busy with guest spots on sitcoms Gimme a Break! and Punky Brewster and residencies in Las Vegas and San Francisco. But sadly, he still struggled to overcome his demons.

Time at the Betty Ford Clinic in 1985 failed to get him clean, and although a second rehab program two years later was said to be more successful, the star retained his ability to self-destruct. He bailed on a last-chance meeting with Island Records—organised by Barry—that could have resurrected his career and saved him from filing bankruptcy.

What happened to Andy Gibb

Although he was still battling with depression over his split from Principal, Andy appeared to be in much better physical health when he entered the recording studio in early 1988.

But a few months later, shortly after turning 30, he was submitted to Oxford’s John Radcliffe Hospital with chest pains. The singer subsequently fell unconscious and passed away from myocarditis, his years of substance abuse having finally taken their toll on his weakened heart.

"I don't think we were ever the same as three brothers, because we’d lost Andy"

Bee Gees would later pay tribute on their melancholic 1989 album One and a re-recording of Andy’s 1978 hit “(Our Love) Don’t Throw It All Away.

The only surviving member Barry—Maurice died in 2003, Robin in 2012—later told Piers Morgan Life’s Stories, “We were forever changed. I don't think we were ever the same as three brothers, because we’d lost Andy.”

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