Annette Brown, Lifetime The story of June Carter Cash comes to life in the…
- Posted on May 2nd 2008 5:30PM by James Sullivan
His brothers were already international stars when young Andy, born in England but raised in Australia, was being chauffeured to school in a Rolls-Royce. Eight years younger than the twins Robin and Maurice, Andy was considered too young to join the group, though he didn't lack for talent. Living as a teen in Ibiza, Spain, he began performing in the nightclubs. His solo debut, 'Words and Music,' became a hit in Australia, and he shared stages with Sweet and the Bay City Rollers.
This quick start led to a deal with Robert Stigwood, the RSO Records guru whose guidance had transformed the Bee Gees from Beatlesque craftsmen to disco-era kingpins. The youngest Gibb moved to Miami Beach, where a production team led by his oldest brother, Barry, shaped the sound of his American debut.
\With a classic feathered 'do that would soon grace the walls of countless pubescent girls, the toothy heartthrob had immediate success. He hit No. 1 on the pop chart with his first single, 'I Just Want to Be Your Everything,' combining a slightly countrified pop tune with a disco sheen. His next single, '(Love Is) Thicker Than Water,' followed his brothers' smash, 'Stayin' Alive,' into the top spot, soon to be ousted by the Bee Gees' next release, 'Night Fever.' Incredibly, Andy Gibb's third single, 'Shadow Dancing,' also hit No. 1, making him the first male artist to score three straight No. 1's and the first act of any kind to top the chart with its first three singles. But this rocket-launch introduction left nowhere to go but down. After three more Top Ten singles, a duet with family friend Olivia Newton-John ('I Can't Help It') topped out at the 12th spot, and the slide was on.
By this time Gibb had developed a prodigious cocaine habit. Efforts to remake himself in other media -- as host of the TV show 'Solid Gold' and in well-received stage productions of 'Joseph and the Amazing Technicolor Dreamcoat' and 'The Pirates of Penzance' -- were marred by his increasing unreliability.
Gibb, who was romantically linked with figure skater Tai Babilonia and future Gary Hart mistress Donna Rice, had a long relationship with 'Dallas' star Victoria Principal (who today is training to become a civilian astronaut). When their partnership dissolved, Gibb hit bottom, checking into the Betty Ford Center and declaring bankruptcy.
The following year, however, he was preparing to make a comeback. Signed to Island Records in the U.K., he was working in the studio with his brothers when he began complaining of chest pains. Five days after his 30th birthday, Andy Gibb died of myocarditis -- an inflamed heart -- likely exacerbated by his years of drug abuse. For all of his wholesome, suntanned appeal, he was, as a posthumously released song would suggest, evidently a 'Man on Fire.'