Gibb, Andy

views updated

Gibb, Andy

Gibb, Andy, the Bee Gees’ baby brother who followed them to the top of the charts (b. Manchester, England, March 5, 1958; d. Oxford, England, March 10, 1988). As notorious as a teen idol as he was a pop singer, Andy Gibb’s short, tempestuous life earned him more ink in the tabloids than in Billboard. He was born into a musical family. His father, a big band leader and drummer, and his mother, a big band singer, kept the family moving around in search of gigs. They spent time in resorts such as Ibiza and the Isle of Man.

Shortly after Andy was born, the family moved to Australia. By the time he was four, his brothers were recording artists and performing on television. His brother Barry gave Andy his first guitar. By the time Andy was 13, he started performing. At 15, the family moved to the Isle of Man and Andy started playing out on a regular basis. A year later he was back in Australia, recording for the ATA label. His single “Words and Music” hit #5 on the Australian charts, and he started playing as an opening act for touring bands. His success in Australia came to the attention of his brother’s manager, and soon the younger Gibb was signed to RSO Records along with his brothers. His debut, flowing Rivers, spawned two gold, chart-topping hits, “I Just Want to Be Your Everything” and “(Love Is) Thicker Than Water.” In addition to frequent radio play, he earned substantial coverage in the teen magazines owing to his good looks and youth (he was still shy of his 20th birthday). The album went platinum, topping out at #19.

After a club tour, Andy went into the studio and recorded Shadow Dancing. The title track spent seven weeks on the top of the charts, going platinum. This made Gibb the first solo artist to have his first three singles got to #1. “An Everlasting Love” went gold and rose to #5, while “(Our Love) Don’t Throw it Away” hit #9 and also went gold.

Gibb married and had a daughter, but as his fame increased, family life seemed less appealing than jet-setting. He divorced his wife and took up with actress Victoria Principal, 14 years his senior. Hitting the road with his brothers on their Spirits Having Flown tour, he sang on their hits and did a spotlight on his own.

His third album, After Dark generated the #4 single “Desire,” and the #12 “I Can’t Help It.” The album, however, only went gold, topping off at #21. Suddenly, as far as pop music was concerned, Andy was yesterday’s news, to the point that, at 22, RSO released a greatest hits collection. Featuring a pair of previously unreleased duets with Olivia Newton John, ′′Time Is Time′′ (#11) and ′′Me (Without You)′′ (#40), the album sold disappointingly.

Gibb started exploring new frontiers. He took on the role of Frederic in the L.A. company of the revival of The Pirates of Penzance. This led to a co- hosting job on the syndicated music TV show Solid Gold. However, when his relationship with Principal faltered, he turned to cocaine and missed many tapings. He moved to N.Y., taking on the role of Joseph in the Broadway revival of Joseph and the Amazing Technicolor Dreamcoat in 1983. He was dismissed from this role for too many “sick days’’ as well. By 1985, his addiction caused him to seek help. Gibb checked into the Betty Ford Clinic. Cleaning up didn’t improve his professional fortunes, however, and by 1987 he declared personal bankruptcy, claiming assets of $50,000 against debts of over a million.

Gibb continued playing and writing, however, and by late 1987 he had signed with Island records. He never got the chance to make that record, however. While writing in England, he came down with viral myocarditis (a viral infection causing the heart to swell) and died just five days after his 30th birthday.


Flowing Rivers (1977); Shadow Dancing (1978); After Dark (1980).

—Hank Bordowitz