Mention of Robert Stigwood in yesterday’s post leads me to the disclosure that alongside Abba, another of my guilty pleasures has always been the music of his blue chip clients The Bee Gees, not so much the era defining disco stuff from the mid-seventies as the melodic Beatles-like pop from the sixties and some songs, occasionally recorded by others, that followed their Saturday Night Fever renaissance. My favourite from their early period is ‘Run To Me’, simply immaculate pop with a hook line to catch a wave, and it was good to see that Matthew Sweet and Susanna Hoofs chose to cover this song on the first of their Under The Covers compilations in 2006. Their taste throughout this series has been exquisite.
For a period in New York I was besotted with a model called Lisa, a slip of a thing with beautiful Bambi eyes whose favourite song was ‘Fanny (Be Tender With My Love)’ which she played repeatedly on the juke box at Ashley’s bar on Fifth Avenue and 13th Street where we both hung out after hours. Armed with this knowledge, I asked her to be my date at a swanky reception The Bee Gees hosted at the Waldorf Astoria Hotel to celebrate the success of Fever. She accepted and off we went, dressed to the nines, but at the bar I made the foolish mistake of introducing her to my friend Mick Rock, the photographer, who asked her to dance. She accepted and I never saw either of them again, well not for a few weeks anyway. Turned out they’d moved in together and they stayed that way for about eight years. I’ve since published Mick’s photo books and we laugh about it now. After retiring from modelling Lisa went back to college and is now an English Lit lecturer at a college in her home city of Chicago. She writes great short stories too.
I interviewed The Bee Gees twice for MM, once in London at a flat they shared in Eaton Square and again in New York, in a hotel room, and both times – hilariously – they simply argued amongst themselves over the answers to my questions. One would say one thing, another would disagree and a heated barney resulted, usually between Robin and Barry with Maurice trying to act as mediator. The biggest argument they had was about the doldrums era in the early seventies when they were reduced to playing chicken-in-a-basket cabaret venues in the north of England. Barry enjoyed the experience. Robin hated it. Maurice could take it or leave it – work was work to him. They always did seem a bit touchy around the media, probably the fallout from iffy reviews along the way, but it saddens me that Barry is now the only Gibb brother left standing.
I once went to a party at the New York home of Robert Stigwood, an unbelievably luxurious duplex apartment which in the 1940s was occupied by the Duke and Duchess of Windsor. It was a penthouse, on the corner of one of those huge mansion blocks on Central Park West, actually the building next to the Dakota where John Lennon lived. As I was walking down an endless dark corridor admiring the original artworks on the walls – Magritte, Matisse, Picasso etc – Stigwood crept up behind me and propositioned me. I explained as nicely as I could that I preferred girls, whereupon he introduced me to a statuesque redhead from among his staff with the implied suggestion that we get on with it while he watched, which we didn’t.