So last Thursday was pretty much the most fun I’ve had on the job in my three years here. Barry Gibb (the eldest Bee Gee) visited Redcliffe for the unveiling of a statue and walkway dedicated to him and his brothers, who lived on the Peninsula for a while when they were young.
There had been whispers and rumors of a visit since Robin Gibb passed away last year, as this was the place they were first scouted by a local radio DJ and where they signed their first contract. It was all confirmed late last month, coinciding with my time as acting editor. We had a great front page when the announcement was made, followed by three weeks of local stories with people who knew the boys when they lived here (including Barry’s first love Carol).
Our paper comes out on a Wednesday so it worked quite well to have a special edition the day before the official event, including an awesome poster of the Bee Gees (see below, it rocked). Shops decorated their windows, council cleaned up all the gardens and beaches and buzz began to build. Barry’s sister Lesley quietly visited Redcliffe on Wednesday to visit her old houses and stop by the local pub where the boys had a regular gig.
We were all in the office bright and early (6am) Thursday, pretty excited to see how things would unfold. It started with a waterfront breakfast hosted by 7 News at 5.30am and lots of coffee. There was even an impromptu (and totally corny) Bee Gees dance party, which you can check out here.
I love a busy day, when there are photos to be taken, interviews to be done and copy to be filed. It’s not that I’ve ever been a massive Bee Gees fan, but there was an amazing atmosphere in the office and such a fun, fast pace that lasted all day. I spoke to so many Bee Gees fans, including some that had traveled from the UK, Japan and Holland all just to catch a glimpse of Gibb. That’s got to make you feel good.
The opening was on Thursday and I got the chance to interview Barry on Monday when he was back in town for a private visit of his old school. He and his family were very obliging to allow three young journos to trail around behind their little group. Here’s what we talked about.
BG: I loved the paper and all the stories, it brought back memories and familiar faces. So thank you for that.
Me: How did you feel about the reception Redcliffe gave you on Thursday?
I absolutely loved it. It was more than I expected, it was so humbling.
How much input did you have into the walkway and statue?
Well I had a lot of input, I’ve been working for months along with Allan (Sutherland) and his team, toing and froing over which photos to use and what to write underneath each one in the caption. I went through hundreds and hundreds of photos. I tried to get a real mix, the not-too-serious ones… It’s very personal.
Were you happy with the result?
Of course, more than happy. It was great to be able to show my family and to see it all together.
We noticed you whispered something into your statue’s ear, what did you say?
That you will never know, it will remain a mystery (laughs). There are some things in the works, but you’ll have to wait and see.
Have you had a chance to show your family around Redcliffe?
That’s what we’re doing today. I really wanted to show them the school and then along the front. The jetty and the water. That’s where we spent so much of our time and it’s a really special place for me to come back to now.
Do you remember your time here (at Scarborough State School) well?
I do, I do. I remember the room and where I sat. When we lived on Oxley Avenue we used to come in that back entrance and I remember that tree, it’s still there.
What is it about Redcliffe that is so special when you have lived in so many different places?
It’s the time we spent here, the memories we made and of course, it’s where we first became the Bee Gees.