I was a pimply teenager when the Bee Gees' first hit record "Spicks and Specks" hit Brisbane's radio waves. Then it barely seemed an instant before they were talking to Molly Meldrum on Countdown and in a further second they were off to England to pursue their dreams. We all know what happened after that.
In the way that communities adopt successful people, the Bee Gees were often referred to as Queenslanders, Brisbaneites, or even "the group from Redcliffe". This despite the fact that they were born in the UK and returned there before any real success found them.
The Bee Gees arrived in Brisbane in 1958 and went north to live on the Redcliffe peninsula. Recently a house that they once lived in caught fire and was badly damaged - the incident made news throughout the country. This is the damaged house, and below that is a photograph of the trio Gibbs from back in those days.
Brisbane, and especially Redcliffe, have been in a state of excitement for the past few weeks as news spread that the sole remaining member of the Bee Gees, eldest brother Barry, would be coming back to unveil a statue of them and open a laneway commemorating their musical achievements. Prior to the actual event (that occurred on 14 February), anything Bee Gees related was newsworthy. We saw another house that the Gibbs family had lived in (below) and interviews with primary and high school acquaintances. One lady claimed to have been Barry's high school girlfriend until she dumped him! Would that count as 15 minutes of fame, I wonder?
Hundreds of people gathered at Redcliffe for the celebrations. There was full coverage by the television networks and the other news media. I wasn't able to get there myself, but I certainly followed the events on TV. Here is a photograph of Barry Gibb (in the white panama) with his mother, older sister and other family members admiring the statue and surrounding memorabilia.
Barry Gibb admitted that he and his brothers were tearaways as kids, and that music turned out to be their salvation from a potential life of crime. Obviously emotional as he referred to his twin brothers who have both passed away, he said that he expected to shed a few tears later. The sculptor, Phillip Piperides, was delighted with the finished statue portraying the brothers when Barry was 12 and the twins were 9.
Bee Gees Way runs between Sutton St and Redcliffe Parade right near the jetty, and should become one of the area's major tourist attractions.
Click here for a Google Map.