Bee Gees' Barry Gibb admits band couldn't function without drink and drugs during 1970s in new tell-all documentary

THEY were the original band of brothers who crumbled in front of the world.

Barry, Maurice and Robin Gibb rose to stardom as teens but then a battle with drink and drugs fractured the bond and led to the siblings being estranged. Tragically, all but Barry, 74, have since died.


Now for the first time, the eldest of the brood reveals the boys were so broken when they reformed in 1970 that they couldn't function without chemical help.

He also tells how he’d take all their success back if it meant he’d still have his brothers with him.

Speaking about the band in new Sky documentary The Bee Gees: How Can You Mend a Broken Heart, Barry says: “We were not really that good at anything without a pill or without a drink. It was destroying us. That became the battle, the fight to survive being a pop group."

Robin’s struggles with amphetamines and other drugs are well documented, with his former manager Chris Gibson admitting the late star was “always seeking treatment for his drug addiction".

Similarly, Maurice’s alcoholism was widely known. He went on to spend his life from 1991 teetotal after struggling with the death of his youngest brother Andy Gibb – who died due to drug-related problems.

However, Barry was always thought to be the most stable of the group as he was only known to smoke weed – although his statement in the new documentary suggests otherwise.

'If we hadn't been brothers we wouldn't have lasted'

The Tragedy singers' careers started out golden as they took the UK and then the USA by storm with their debut album New York Mining Disaster, which many stations initially thought was by The Beatles.


But by the late 1960s the three boys from the Isle of Man were no longer speaking and the chances of them reforming seemed to be a pipe dream for fans.

Their fracture is one the music industry has seen over again and again in the form of feuding Oasis and The Jonas Brothers – who recently reformed.

And it is something Barry squarely blames on their success – and he now admits he wishes they’d never skyrocketed to fame when they were in their teens.

Barry told The Guardian recently: “There’s fame and there’s ultra-fame and it can destroy. You lose your perspective, you’re in the eye of a hurricane and you don’t know you’re there.



"And you don’t know what tomorrow is, you don’t know if what you’re recording will be a hit or not. And we were kids, don’t forget.”

Looking back at their initial split, it is clear the brothers weren’t able to handle being permanently in the spotlight.

“If you've never been famous it is really hard to handle. We were all very selfish. The testosterone kicked in. All of us wanted to be individual performers . . . and therein lies the issue," he says in the documentary.

"We stopped looking inwards to each other and started looking outwards to what we could do individually. 'To hell with my brothers' is what we all thought."

'I preferred him as Maurice, not being a Bee Gee'

After regrouping they went on to have a string of hits with disco classics You Should Be Dancing, Saturday Night Fever and Jive Talking.

But their resurgence was short lived as a backlash against that kind of music led to the FBI and secret service having to be present every time their jet landed due to bomb threats.

Recounting the threats in the documentary, Robin’s wife says: "They suddenly realised they were in a different position. Robin went through a kind of, it wasn't a breakdown, it was just something where he felt very shy of being in public and doing things for a while."

Barry adds: "It wasn't just the Bee Gees, it was the idea of dance in that period. It was no longer acceptable for this kind of music to carry the weight, to carry the industry.

"Everybody was at that point in their lives where they began to look for other things to do… Andy was having problems."

It is clear from the testimonies from family and friends that the brothers never managed to stay happy when they were performing.

Maurice’s wife Yvonne adds: "They were crazy days. I preferred Maurice not being a Bee Gee if that makes sense."

'I'd rather have them back here and no hits at all'

And it’s clear she’s not the only one who now thinks like that as Barry would trade everything to have his brothers back.

When Maurice died in 2003 from a heart attack, he and Barry had drifted apart once again.



The same happened in 2012 when Robin passed away from cancer.

He says: “When I think about it now. I think about how it all sort of started. We just had this dream and we thought ‘what do we want to be famous for'.

"It turns out it was the songwriting. I think everything we set out to do we did against all odds. I can’t honestly come to terms with the fact they’re not here any more.

"I’ve never been able to do that. I’m always reliving it. It’s always, what would Robin think or what would Morris think? And Andy.

"It never goes away. What I wanted to say earlier is I'd rather have them back here and no hits at all."

'Brothers in general it's a very complicated thing'

Nick Jonas, one third of the Jonas brothers knows first hand just how hard it is to work with those closest to you.

He says: “Brothers in general it's a very complicated thing. Emotions are heightened and there's things that go back to childhood about, you know, if one kid got more attention than the others.


"All these things play out in front of a small group of friends but when you magnify that with the whole world it changes the game a little bit."

He adds: “There is something about entering the world from the same place, it has an affect on your ability to sing together, your creative awareness and your artistic voice."

And another musician who knows just how damaging huge fame can be is Noel Gallagher.

He and brother Liam, who made up Oasis, are still famously feuding and it seems unlikely they’ll ever reconcile like the Bee Gees.

Noel says: “I always say making music with your family is equally the greatest strength and greatest weakness you could ever have in a musical partnership.

"To get to the top or near the top you have to be extremely driven and what drives you is your ego. When you get there everybody has got an ego about it, it can be tricky to stay there.”

As it stands, it looks like Liam and Noel are heading towards the same fate as the Gibbs brothers – especially as there is no reconciliation in sight.

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