“Is Jackson Estate still there?” enquired the Brothers Gibb about their former home at Cribb Island during a press conference at Brisbane Airport prior to their 3 concert performances at Festival Hall in September 1974. Despite achieving international stardom, the Bee Gees had not forgotten their Queensland roots.
The Gibb brothers emigrated to Queensland as children in 1958, initially residing at Redcliffe and later relocating to Cribb Island, attending Humpybong State School and Northgate State School respectively. The brothers gave their first performance at the Redcliffe Speedway in 1959. So impressed was Speedway promoter Bill Goode, that he introduced the brothers to 4BH radio DJ Bill Gates.
Many years later Robin Gibb reflected on his early days in an interview with ABC TV –
“We met a disc jockey called Bill Gates in Brisbane when we first arrived there when I was about 9 or 10. He was very instrumental in guiding it in the right direction. He would invite us back to the 4BH studios in Brisbane and cut acetates of us in the auditorium, of the songs we had written. Songs like The Echo Of Your Love and Let Me Love You and Time Is Passing By, songs we would compose at the time and he’d record them and put them out on his show Platter Chatter… That was the kind of really the first minor record experience we’d ever had. You had to really leave Australia, either go to the UK or America to go any further. We knew by the time we left that whatever we were doing we could only go so far and then we had to get out.”
The Bee Gees did leave Australia, and a string of international hits followed, with songs such as To Love Somebody (1967); Massachusetts (1967); I Started A Joke (1968); Lonely Days (1970); Jive Talkin’ (1975); You Should Be Dancing (1976); Stayin’ Alive (1977); Night Fever (1978) and You Win Again (1987).
For years the State Library of Queensland has been tirelessly collecting materials documenting Queensland’s music history, preserving records, posters and other memorabilia. Recently the Library acquired Australia’s largest collection of Bee Gees recordings and memorabilia from a Melbourne collector Mark Crohan, who has been collecting Bee Gees material since he was 12 years old. The collection comprises vinyl LP’s, EP’s and singles as well as published sheet music, videos and multiple scrapbooks containing a myriad of newspaper and magazine articles, photos, brochures, tour books relating to the group.
The Bee Gees collection acquisition was made possible thanks to ongoing support by the Dowling Family through the Queensland Library Foundation.
Do you have any materials (old flyers, posters, stickers, reviews, tickets, recordings, films, videos, photos, letters and other memorabilia) from Queensland’s music scene gathering dust at home? This material has a valuable place in our music history and cultural heritage and should be looked after and preserved for current and future generations. Please contact specialist librarian Laurel Dingle, about any material you think should come to the library.
Myles Sinnamon – Project Coordinator, State Library of Queensland