The Bee Gees’ Barry Gibb: ‘There’s fame and there’s ultra-fame – it can destroy you’December 7, 2020
The band’s last surviving member talks about falling out with his brothers before they died, how his wife saved him from drugs – and why he had to ask Michael Jackson to leave his house
From underneath a black Stetson hat, Barry Gibb stares out of my laptop screen. He is in Miami, where he has lived since 1974 when the Bee Gees’ career was in the doldrums and Eric Clapton suggested a change of scenery might do them good. They relocated en masse, moving into the house Clapton immortalised in the title of his album 461 Ocean Boulevard. Gibb never really left, although he still has a home in England. He liked Miami, he says, because it reminded him of Australia, where his parents emigrated when he was 11.
He lives in a waterfront mansion in an exclusive country club, which is clearly a long way from the penury the Gibb family experienced in Australia – of which more later – but that’s what comes of selling between 120m and 220m records, depending on whose estimate you believe. His late brother Robin used to own a house a couple of doors down – Tony Blair caused rather a fuss by holidaying there when he was prime minister – and, as he puts it, “multiple Gibbs” live nearby: five children, seven grandchildren. There are clearly worse places in the world to be holed up during a pandemic. “We’ve been trying to self-isolate and do everything we’re supposed to do,” he says. “As you’ve seen on the news, [coronavirus] is pretty rampant in Miami.”