Welcome to morobinbarrystories.com! Please join me on twitter @morobinbarry. This site is for Bee Gee fans everywhere who would like to share and read stories of fun, joy, love and inspiration for Barry, Robin and Maurice Gibb. (Andy is not forgotten and is included at times). If you’d like to share a story, please email it to me at firstname.lastname@example.org. Stories will be posted often and some will appear in my book, which is slowly being edited. At times, I will write articles about Gibb events that I hope the fans will enjoy.
On February 14 at 4:30, I attended a portion of the rehearsal for the Recording Academy Bee Gee tribute concert. A few hours before the actual concert was to begin I sat and watched the activity, and here’s how it went!
As I waited with the rest of the small group who were fortunate enough to be headed into the Microsoft Theater, I wished I had the powers of Samantha the witch from Bewitched or our favorite genie who complicated Major Nelson’s life on I Dream of Jeannie. How I wanted to transport all the fans and bring them there with me so everyone could experience the fun of seeing what goes on behind the scenes when a rehearsal is in progress.
So let me explain how this works. Much more complicated than a sound check, security was tight as we stood in the bowels of garage Gate G, where we soon were to see artists entering. Smelling of motor oil and flanked by large black SUV’s we awaited our entrance into the theater.
As Nick and Joe Jonas passed by, it was clear that everyone present had been born under that lucky star we often hear about. Gathered in a small circle, some chatted and whispered, while others seemed nervous with anticipation.
The Magic Wristband
Now, I’ve been to the White House, and I don’t remember security this tight. Being on THE LIST was #1. Then the ID had to be checked, and green wristbands were attached. I was soon signing my life away, or so it seemed. There were guidelines. (I hate the word RULES). Cell phone off. No cameras or photos of any kind allowed (all the photos you see here were taken separately). Lining us up in alphabetical order by first name (hurrah for me) we were ushered (in single file) by staff to a side entrance, where we could hear the unmistakable voice of Keith Urban rehearsing “To Love Somebody”. Silently we listened until he had completed his rehearsal.
As our guide gestured for us to move, we walked swiftly and quietly to an assigned section about a third of the way back in the Microsoft Theater. The burgundy seats were plush, the room warm. The unmistakable silhouettes of Barry, Robin and Maurice Gibb, colored in hues of deep orange, loomed large over center stage. Chills went through us all as special effects of thousands of rising stars rose upward. Glittering photos in a collage of all the Bee Gee albums shone from the ceiling downward. (see photo at top of article).
The special effects were glorious, as the lighting crew was working on tweaking the cues as the rehearsal went on. The orchestra was seated on both stage left and stage right behind the performers. Most of them wore jeans and t-shirts and seemed relaxed but focused.
We watched the intro medley first, which included Stayin’ Alive, Tragedy, How Deep is Your Love, Night Fever and then the Stayin’ Alive group segment. This was a complicated section of the show, since so many artists and dancers were involved. The director gave instructions through his microphone, and the segment began with a video of the Bee Gees as their harmonies blended so beautifully on the last note of Stayin’ Alive.
As Demi Lovato and the other artists came out to sing at their designated times, the dancers worked through glitches and their “blocking” (movement on stage). As this number progressed, hundreds of images of the brothers (Andy, too) filled the background. Everything from the early years, (Robin with a beard), those famous open chest silvery jacket shots, Mo with his hat and round glasses, and Barry and Andy together, were flashed on the screen.
I could feel those around me getting fidgety with excitement in their seats as they spotted Barry sitting down front with his ever-present bottle of water in hand.
As the number ended, the stage director headed on stage. Dancers in small groups rehearsed their steps, and the choreographer patiently gave instructions. The orchestra, too, was being given direction as the musicians laughed and made notes to their music.
As with any last rehearsal, care was given to every detail as the lights and cameras were adjusted and readjusted. I felt as though the scores of technicians looked like ants scurrying around as the director announced, “From the top once again.”
And so it went. There were camera cuts to the large screens on the let and right sides of the theater walls, and then again the cameras cut to where Barry and John Travolta would be seated during the show.
On the third go around, a voice testing the microphone levels said, “1, 2, 3, 4…….1,2,……1,2……..1,2,3,4. Then from the director, “Once again, please, everyone, from the top”. The huge sound boom moved slowly back and forth. Ah, the joy of being a musician and performer!
At this point in the proceedings, I got an emotional jolt of nostalgia, thinking how much fun the other three brothers would be having if they had been sitting in that audience with us. I just kept thinking of Maurice Gibb at every turn, picturing his wide smile as he tweaked his nose with his thumb and forefinger. The grin undoubtedly would never leave his face. He would be so proud.
When the opening number was completed, the big man himself headed for center stage and warmed up his voice, heating up the falsetto as he stood with his blue guitar. He waved a quick hello in our direction and got busy. Yes, we were treated to Jive Talkin’ and those around me stood and started singing and dancing in place, caught up in the excitement of the moment. Stage floor lights glowed red, then blue, then green. Barry continued to rehearse for about 20 minutes until everyone was happy with the outcome.
Until that back wall flashed the album covers once again, (and even though I knew the facts) it didn’t sink in how extensive and overwhelming the Gibb brothers’ body of work truly is. Very impressive indeed, I thought, that the world will see this when the special event is broadcast on April 16!
When Barry finished up, he had some last words with the production staff and then he headed in our direction. Accompanied by a photographer who was taking candid shots, he patiently walked up the aisle and down the line of seats to say hello to each person. Dressed in black jeans, black shirt, silvery belt buckle and a patterned black jacket vest, he looked imposing (as always!).
He also seemed somewhat tired and obviously had experienced a long day (still with the concert to begin in less than 90 minutes) but he accepted hugs and words of love and admiration and smiled at everyone. He was patient and gentle, and it brought me to tears to see him bear the Bee Gee legacy alone, even though the accolades certainly must boost his spirits and are like a shot of adrenaline for his psyche.
Each person wanted to express that one personal message he or she had been waiting to communicate to him, and his affable charm brought broad grins to all the faces. I watched as he walked from person to person, as he made a personal comment to each, as he shook hands, as he grinned after the kisses.
His eyes it up, and he was the legend, the icon, the talent they all worshiped. I glanced to my left and saw Ali Gibb leaning against the row of seats in the aisle, watching her father interact with the fans. Her face was soft and full of love, and I was happy for her. These memories will serve her well in years to come whenever anyone talks with her about her dad.
He waved goodbye and walked down the aisle to head backstage, and his presence hung in the air like a light summer breeze.
“It takes a village” doesn’t come close to describing the amount of work involved in creating a production of this nature. At any given time, dozens of people filled the stage and many more were behind the scenes. No doubt, assistant directors, stage managers, camera crew members, the stage hands, and choreographers were just a few of the hundreds who pooled their collective talents to complete this project.
As we started to walk back down the aisle, the voices of Barry, Robin and Maurice Gibb came through the speakers and we heard, “Love me please, just a little bit longer.”
I smiled as I thought for a moment and then said under my breath, “I don’ think that will be a problem for any Bee Gee fan, boys. Not a problem at all.”