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Robin iperattivo: interviste a go-go
(di Enzo , 16/05/2008 @ 23:29:32, in Dal web, linkato 2709 volte)

Il "Times" e l' "Independent" pubblicano in questi giorni due interessanti interviste di Robin Gibb, in questi giorni più che mai attivo.
L'intervista del Times rivela tra l'altro che il primo ministro inglese Gordon Brown è un fan dei Bee Gees, mentre nell'intervista all'Independent Robin dichiara con forza di pretendere più rispetto per i Bee Gees e per le altre grandi star che contribuito alla grandezza della musica pop e rock inglese nel mondo. Interessante anche il commento (che sottoscrive le affermazioni di Robin) contenuto in un articolo dell'Indipendent , successivo all'intervista.
Inoltre in questi giorni Robin ha registrato una video intervista come testimonial di una campagna lanciata dal governo inglese per incoraggiare i padri separati a restare sempre vicini ai figli. Il sito web del "Times" riporta la sintesi e la trascrizione della video-intervista, che sarà disponibile sul sito a partire dalla fine di maggio.
(Fonti (Timesonline,

Leggi le interviste (in Inglese) :

Gordon Brown’s secret to stayin’ alive - listen to the Bee Gees
How is the Prime Minister surviving a grim period in office? By listening to the Bee Gees every day, the ever so well connected Robin Gibb reveals

Robin Gibb counts prime ministers past and present among his friends
Will Hodgkinson, (The Times 16-05-20089

Not everyone hates Gordon Brown. “He listens to our music every day,” says his friend, the Bee Gee Robin Gibb. “Gordon likes our music and I like Gordon. I was with him at a dinner recently” – Gibb says this with the air of a man for whom dining with the Prime Minister is all in a day’s work – “and he was asking: who is creating the big song catalogues of today? The answer is no one. Record companies today don’t see the need for creating big catalogues because that involves investing in careers, which they are no longer doing. But great songs are the backbone of music. They transcend the artist and the record and become part of the culture.”

It is not hard to see why Gibb is passionate about the craft of the pop song. The Bee Gees, the band he formed in his teens with his late twin Maurice and their elder brother Barry, are one of the most successful acts of all time. A fair chunk of the world’s population can sing along to Tragedy, Jive Talking and Stayin’ Alive.

The Bee Gees recently became the first band to be made fellows of the British Academy of Composers and Songwriters, for which the flagship event is the Ivor Novello Awards next Thursday. Since the ceremony is all about celebrating the art of the song, Gibb is one of its most vocal supporters.

“The Ivor Novellos [are] the beacon of the songwriting establishment in Britain,” says Gibb, a remarkably thin man with a gentle if slightly cadaverous air about him. “I come from an era when artists wrote their own songs, when people like Paul McCartney and Elton John created a huge body of work. We are in real danger of losing that tradition.”

Gibb lives in a 1,000-year-old former monastery in Oxfordshire with grounds equivalent to a reasonably proportioned London park. And he counts prime ministers past and present among his friends. “Tony Blair is a great friend,” Gibb says of our former leader, who took a holiday at Gibb’s Miami house in 2007. “I respect him tremendously. In this business you have friends from all backgrounds, including prime ministers and princes, and we get on like a house on fire.”

Brown likes the Bee Gees music, Gibb says, “because it talks about human relationships and experience, rather than specific events, and reaches out across the decades.” Brown has told Gibb: “Your music is absolutely timeless.”

Gibb is in fine form, talking rapidly in a Mancunian twang. Interviews have suggested that he feels the Bee Gees are not taken as seriously as they should be – there was the incident in 1998 when all three stormed off the set of Clive Anderson’s television show after the presenter made a joke about their once being called Les Tosseurs – but if this is still the case, he’s not showing it.

“We’re not just performers but also songwriters, which is the important thing,” he says. “I love Mozart because of his emphasis on melody, but in his time he wasn’t taken seriously at all. Now nobody listens to Mozart and says, ‘That’s so 1780s’. What you are left with is the music.”

“The music” has been Gibb’s saviour. He grew up in a poor family in Manchester until he was nine, when the family moved to Australia. The Bee Gees formed soon after, inspired by the broad variety of music they heard on Australian radio. “We didn’t have a pot to piss in when we were growing up – my dad couldn’t hold down a job – but we didn’t feel we were missing out because we had a lot of fun writing songs. We would hear our favourite bands on the radio and then try and write in their style, pretending that we were coming up with their next hit. We never thought about fame or anything like that.”

Does it bother him that the pop song is frequently dismissed as teenage trash? “That’s just an attitude and it doesn’t impact on the quality of the music,” he replies. “Writing a simple melody that people remember and that can be interpreted in different styles is one of the hardest things to do. Look at Islands in the Stream. We wrote that as an R&B tune but Dolly Parton and Kenny Rogers turned it into pure country. A lot of classical composers worked in the same way. It’s rumoured that Beethoven sat in Bavarian taverns and stole melodies from travelling folk singers, so concepts of what is high or low art are irrelevant.”

The Bee Gees were writing songs at a farmhouse in France in 1976 when their manager, Robert Stigwood, approached them to provide music for an adaptation of a short story by Nik Cohn called Tribal Rites of the New Saturday Night. “We weren’t at all sure about it,” Gibb says. “It’s a dark film about what was really going on in New York at the time, and it has gang rape, suicide . . . Robert Stigwood came over to listen to our new songs while crickets chirped and cows mooed in the background, and he talked about this thing called disco we had never heard of, and between us we came up with this marriage of film and music that eclipsed everything. It was a low-budget film with no marketing at all and yet it captured imaginations.”

At the height of their powers the Bee Gees couldn’t help but write smash hits. “We wrote Tragedy and How Can You Mend a Broken Heart? in one afternoon at our house in Addison Road in Kensington. Both went to No 1, so that wasn’t a bad afternoon’s work,” he says. “We would sit around with a tape recorder and a keyboard and bash out ideas, and I think it worked because we had fun. If you think too hard about what you want from a situation it never works. The secret is to enjoy it.”

Since Maurice died in 2003 a return to that golden age of fraternal hitmaking is impossible. But Robin and Barry are in talks about writing a musical based on their back catalogue, and there are always mainstream pop stars ready to look to a Gibb brothers composition for material – Barbra Streisand, Diana Ross and Destiny’s Child are a few that have already done so.

Gibb’s main concern for the future is that the songwriting culture is in danger of dying out. “Programmes like The X Factor turn the song into a vehicle for celebrity rather than the other way round,” he says. “Our whole lives have been made up of projects that went into creating a catalogue of songs that the world has embraced. I just wish that the world today [was] more like the world we started out in.”


"Jive talkin': Why Robin Gibb wants more respect for the Bee Gees "  - Tim Walker meets a famously prickly musician (The Indipendent, 12-5-2008)

Gibb says the Bee Gees should be celebrated for what they've achieved

 Interviewing a Bee Gee can be a tricky business. There was the notorious incident on Clive Anderson's talk show when all three brothers Gibb strode off after tiring of their host's wisecracks. And there was the time Robin Gibb, invited on to Radio 4's Front Row to discuss his last solo album with the probing but hardly combative Mark Lawson, peeled off his mic in mid-conversation.

The Gibbs would have made good guests for Graham Norton, but the comedian scuppered that prospect by making a tasteless joke about the death of Robin's twin brother Maurice in 2003. At the time, Robin, perhaps understandably, expressed a wish to rip the presenter's head off.

It's no surprise, then, when our first appointment, due to take place at the star's converted monastery in Oxfordshire, is broken. A second meeting is cancelled, too. Third time lucky: we meet at a private members' club in Cavendish Square in London.

In March, Gibb, 58, was made President of the Heritage Foundation. The organisation, he explains, is devoted to "the recognition of achievement by people across the spectrum of British cultural life", with activities including tribute events, concerts and the unveiling of blue plaques.

Now, Gibb is heading the foundation's Bomber Command campaign. "It's 63 years since the end of the Second World War," he says. "We want the 56,000 guys who lost their lives protecting the freedoms of all of Europe to be honoured with a statue in the centre of London."

Gibb is bothered by Britons' lack of pride in their history. "We whinge about our past, but we're a greatly admired culture. We're the country that produced Shakespeare, for Christ's sake, the Brontës, Winston Churchill."

His home in Oxfordshire is "a microcosm of British history. It's 1,000 years old – older than Westminster Abbey. It survived the dissolution, and during the Civil War it was used by both Royalists and Parliamentarians. In the Second World War, the American army had a base there."

Gibb and his twin Maurice were born on the Isle of Man in December 1949; Barry, the other surviving sibling, was three years their senior. The trio were brought up in relative poverty in Manchester until 1958, when their youngest brother Andy was born, and the family relocated to Australia, where the Bee Gees first found fame.

"As a teenager growing up in Australia," Gibb says, "I realised that the Australians value British history more than the British do. Tony Blair spent a few years growing up in Adelaide and I had the same conversation with him."

Blair, "a good friend", holidayed at Gibb's mansion in Florida last year, sending the tabloids into a tizz. In 1992, Gibb's wife Dwina had been inaugurated as patroness of the Order of Bards, Ovates and Druids, a British neo-druidic order. She and Gibb were also candid about the openness of their marriage, a mistake he learnt from. "I don't understand why the press went crazy over that," he says. "They made very unnecessary jibes at my wife. It was a personal attack on her."

Unnecessary jibes are what have riled the band in past interviews: Anderson making the obvious joke about their former moniker, "Les Tosseurs", and Lawson asking Gibb how he felt about the lack of respect afforded the band. The Bee Gees are often treated without seriousness, mocked for the big hair, dismissed as men of the Seventies.

"Nobody ever says, 'Mozart? That's so 1780s!' I think we should see people for what they've achieved. Mozart was a womaniser and a drunk, but we evaluate him on his works," Gibb says. "We've got one of the biggest catalogues in the world. There are songs we wrote in 1968 that people are still singing. Ronan Keating did 'Words', Destiny's Child did 'Emotion'. There's very few artists with that kind of history."

The Bee Gees' record sales top 220 million. The only people who have outsold them are Elvis, The Beatles, Michael Jackson and Garth Brooks. Their compositions have shifted more units than The Rolling Stones, Abba, Elton John or U2. It's unlikely that the Bee Gees will ever be toppled from that top five, even now that the name has – probably – been retired.

Since Maurice's death in January 2003, Barry and Robin have performed together only a handful of times at charity events. The old tales of animosity between the pair are quickly dismissed. "Retiring the name is an emotional decision. We'll decide what we want to do in the next couple of years. We are planning to work together, but what shape or form that will take, it's too early to tell."

The album Gibb is recording for release later this year will, inevitably, be infused with the experience of losing his twin. "In many ways I don't accept that he's gone," he says. "I miss his presence, but it's something I have to live with."

Maurice wasn't the first family member to die unexpectedly. Andy, the youngest Gibb, was a Seventies star in his own right with a string of US solo No 1s. During the Eighties, the prospect of Andy joining the Bee Gees was much discussed, but in March 1988, he died from a heart condition. He was 30. His brothers didn't hide the fact that past abuse of drugs and alcohol had probably contributed. "Losing two brothers at a very early age is one thing, but the fact that both their deaths were unnecessary only compounds it," says Gibb.

Thirty years after its release, Saturday Night Fever is still the best-selling soundtrack of all time. Until then, the Gibbs were best known for their late 1960s ballads, like "Massachusetts". But, says Gibb: "We were dying to get into our soul influences. We wanted to do more than just ballads."

In 1976, they released Children of the World, complete with the No 1 blue-eyed soul single "You Should Be Dancing". They were working on new songs at a farmhouse in France when they got a call from Robert Stigwood. "He called from LA," Gibb recalls, "and said, 'We're making a film with this new guy John Travolta, and we're rehearsing to 'You Should Be Dancing'. Do you have any more songs?'" The rest is history.

"All those songs – 'Night Fever', 'How Deep Is Your Love', 'More Than a Woman', 'If I Can't Have You' – were written in a three-week period at five o'clock in the morning, with the only view from the window being of the cows that needed milking. They were the first to hear 'Stayin' Alive'."

Saturday Night Fever still overshadows the Bee Gees' long career. "Fever was a very important project, but the Gibb brothers were responsible for a wide range of songs," Gibb says, "from 'Islands In the Stream' for Kenny Rogers and Dolly Parton, to 'Chain Reaction' for Diana Ross, to 'Heartbreaker' for Dionne Warwick, to 'Woman In Love' for Barbra Streisand. There's only a handful of people with catalogues like ours – the Stones, Elton, Abba and The Beatles.

"I get together with Paul [McCartney] a lot," he continues. "We talk about how we used to record. When we and The Beatles were recording we had no reference points. We just went into the studio and did what came into our minds. Many artists today just go into the studio and try to copy what's in the charts. We saw what was in the charts and said, 'Let's try to do something different.'" 

Terence Blacker:  These elderly pop stars have a right to feel miffed (The Indipendent, 13-05-2008)

The prejudice has less to do with the music than the way its performer looks, or his views

On the face of it, there are few sillier or unseemly sights in public life than a pop billionaire stroppily complaining that he is not taken seriously enough. Sir Cliff Richard does it every other week. Sir Paul McCartney seems to exude dissatisfaction with his lot. And that high-pitched, perfectly harmonised sound you can hear in the background almost certainly comes from one of the Bee Gees, those perennial chart-toppers in the moaners' hit parade.

A few years ago, they walked when Clive Anderson made a disrespectful, unfunny joke about them. A Mark Lawson interview with one of them, Robin Gibb, on Radio 4 was also terminated abruptly. This week, in The Independent, Gibb complained that it was odd that a group whose records have sold over 220 million and whose compositions exceed the sales of the Rolling Stones, U2, Elton John and Abba (and, he might have added, have suffered their share of misfortune) are still a byword for jokes about hair, teeth and the 1970s. "Nobody ever says, 'Mozart?' That's so 1780s!' I think we should see people for what they have achieved."

He is right to be miffed. By the simplest and most persuasive criteria of artistic success – how much lasting pleasure a work has given – pop musicians like the Gibb brothers deserve respect and gratitude, perhaps even from those who are not particularly fans of their music. The music that they wrote is in the bloodstream of a generation. People grew up, fell in love, married and had children to it. Their songs were taken for granted precisely because they were so ubiquitous.

Music is probably more vulnerable to snobbery than any other art form. For every talented pop composer, there are a thousand Clive Andersons, waiting on the sidelines to say how naff they are. More often than not, the prejudice has less to do with the music than the way its composer or performer looks, or his clothes, hair, views or sexuality. Almost always, the popular success of a musician confirms his lack of coolness to more sophisticated people.

Judgements as to which musicians are culturally acceptable are utterly subjective and, in the long term, meaningless. In the 1950s, when Gerry Goffin and Carole King were writing hits for Bobby Vee and The Drifters, the songs were dismissed as bubble-gum music for kids; a few years later, by some strange alchemical process which only rock journalists will understand, the same songs had become pop classics. A couple of decades later, Abba were seen to be the height of musical vulgarity. Only after they stopped writing and performing was it decided that, in fact, they were rather innovative and ahead of their time.

It must be annoying for someone like Robin Gibb, who has contributed so much to national life, not to mention to the national exchequer, to find that he is still a joke for the usual gang of scoffers. The state now and then attempts to recognise the work of pop musicians by handing out baubles and honours but, as poor old Sir Cliff and Sir Paul have discovered, a knighthood can often merely confirm a person's naffness.

Yet there is something which could be done to strike a significant blow against musical snobbery. Last year the Government announced that a national songbook would be introduced to encourage the nation's children to share and enjoy music. There would be 30 songs which would be the focus of a campaign called "Sing-Up". The project is now in all sorts of trouble. The list was thought to be too short and too prescriptive. Songs from different cultures were introduced in response to accusations of cultural imperialism. When last counted, there were about 600 songs in what has now become the National Song Bank.

Yet the idea was good. If the list had been increased to 50 songs and revised once every two years with the help of teachers and children, it could have engaged schools in understanding what made songs last. Because music has the power to unify, there would surely have been a case for putting the emphasis on songs from the main culture.

The list, as it stands, is dull: too many nursery rhymes and traditional songs. The national songbook should include the best popular songs of the past, whether they are naff or not. The Beatles' "Yellow Submarine" should be there, and so should Ralph McTell's "Streets of London" and Cliff Richards' "Congratulations". Something by the Bee Gees – "Stayin' Alive", perhaps – would certainly be a contender.

There will be discussions and rows but the songbook would be a great, self-renewing celebration of the power of music. It would also be the best way to pass on to future generations songs that have brought us pleasure – however unfashionably – in the past. 




"Stayin’ in touch: Bee Gee tips for absent fathers " (The Times , 6-5-2008)

The government has enlisted Robin Gibb, the Bee Gees singer, and Gary Lineker, the sports presenter, to encourage fathers separated from their children to stay close to them.

In an interview to be shown at a launch event this week by Ed Balls, the children’s secretary, Gibb, 58, speaks of having been “very, very nervous” and “horrified” at the prospect of seeing his children, Spencer and Melissa, for the first time after he divorced his first wife, Molly Hullis, in 1980. “‘Out of control’ is the first emotion alienated parents feel when they’re separated from their kids,” says Gibb. “They feel threatened. They feel as if they are not dictating events.”

Gibb says that one of the most difficult parts of reestablishing the relationship with children is knowing there might be another man in their home. “That’s what a lot of fathers can’t deal with,” he says.

The singer, whose interview was filmed for the website, which has received funding from Balls’s Parent Know How programme, has long had links to the government. He lent his Florida mansion to the former prime minister Tony Blair after noticing he looked “haggard” following the invasion of Iraq.

Transcript of an interview with Robin Gibb
This is a transcript of an interview with Robin Gibb conducted by, a service helping separated fathers communicate with their children. The full interview will be uploaded on to this website this month.

Quotes from interview with Robin Gibb on Dads Space

Emotionally, you tend to feel like swings and roundabouts; you don’t know what you want to do. You want to take action. You want to take action on your own, you want to take action with lawyers, you want to do this, you want to do that; you feel out of control.

I think that “out of control” is the first emotion that alienated parents feel when they’re separated from their kids. They feel threatened. They feel as if they are not dictating the course of events, someone else is, so it is very, very hard.

Related Links
Stayin’ in touch: Bee Gee tips for absent fathers
This is a very emotional period and this takes a while to settle down and see the wood for the trees. I think that once you let go of that emotional thing, things happen that become positive.

I became a father at a very early age by comparison to a lot of men – I was 22 years old when Spencer my first boy was born and I was in LA at the time, because in… this was about 1972 – it wasn’t always the thing… it was just… at the dawn of the time when men were supposed to be in surgery watching the child being born. But I was on the plane straight back… and he was premature. He was in an incubator …

I remember seeing him for the first time. It’s an incredible feeling actually producing life and having a child for the first time. And at 22 – I was still a bit of a kid myself. It kinda made me grow up a bit.

I think what you have to do… is that you’ve got to be a friend to your kids and you’ve got to be always there for them and I think more so when you are separated. I think you become more valuable as a father and friend once you’ve been separated. Because there are other people who come into the family structure that may be seen as father-figures – and so therefore you’re competing with that as well.

I think that’s what a lot of fathers can’t deal with as well – that there might be someone else at home who might be a father to the kids, who may spend more time with them and might replace them. In my case that did not happen. I feared it – but it didn’t happen. I’ve always been dad and we’ve always had a very close relationship.

And I think you’ve got to be first and foremost got to be a friend, a confidante to your kids. And not say… dictating too much, disciplinarian and always on their back… but a friend and a confidante – that’s the most important thing.

When I first saw my children afterwards I took them to pantomimes and things like that in Windsor, the usual quality moments, museums, all the things that parents do with kids to try and look for quality bonding moments.

The feeling I had when I first knew I was going to see them was great anticipation, very, very nervous; what would they think of me? Would they see me as Dad and how would their views be formed of me and what’s my role with them. You’re starting from a different reference point. I think a lot of parents go through this; you feel like a stranger with your own kids.

With those nerves that I had about seeing them, I turned them into “well, why don’t I just treat myself as a guy who’s getting to know some other people, like a friend and turn them into friends?” which is what I did, and I think, after a while I gained their respect and their friendship, which is probably something maybe I wouldn’t have had if we’d stayed together.

I think it developed into something more meaningful. All I know is that I was horrified at the time because I hadn’t seen them for a while. I think that any parent who’s going to see their kids after a long, long time is going to feel this, and it’s quite normal. You get over it. It’s just a moment in time but it is very, very nerve wracking.

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