The Bee Gees & Music History / Open Lines

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Date Host Ian Punnett
Guests Harvey Kubernik, Open Lines

Music writer Harvey Kubernik joined Ian Punnett (Twitter) in the first half to discuss the Bee Gees' career. Kubernik said "we think we know everything already" about our favorite bands, but any good documentary (especially the glut of features now being produced on musicians) offers us "a deeper understanding of the band" or musician. He observed that groups composed of family members (such as the Bee Gees) tend to make their best music when they are "healing and revealing" themselves after a fight or temporary breakup of the band. Kubernik interviewed the Bee Gees three times in the studio during the recording of some of their most iconic albums.

Kubernik recalled that the band got a break in 1966 when their musician father wrote to Brian Epstein (the Beatles manager) and were signed on with a junior agent named Robert Stigwood, who went on to run a fantastically successful music management business. Examining the story of "Jive Talkin'," one of their first huge hits, Kubernik described the famous guitar opening, how it was inspired by the sound of tires on a road, and resulted in the "birth of a new sound" that became the Bee Gees' iconic contribution to disco. The 1979 "Disco Demolition Night" at Comiskey Park in Chicago ended in a riot, which Kubernik said was "almost biblical," and showed that "everybody wanted a change" in popular music. Ian's friend, T.V. producer Dan Falato joined the program and described Barry Gibb's reaction to being asked to be part of a program on the riot's 20th anniversary. Gibb had replied, "why would I want to do a show that ruined our lives?"

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Open Lines followed in the latter half with Frank in Nevada talking about the effect of Andy Gibb's breakup with soap opera star Victoria Principal had on Gibb's life and the Bee Gees. Sean in North Carolina recalled the decade of the 1970s as a "great one" for music and also discussed his interest in the legendary rumor that Paul McCartney died during the height of Beatlemania. Norman in Texas classified disco music into two historical periods, defined by the use of "the high hat cymbal" in recordings. Doug in New Jersey expressed his enjoyment of the Bee Gees, while lamenting the "very phony atmosphere" he felt permeated the disco scene. Al in Utah asked why no one sees "ghosts of dinosaurs or neanderthals."

Glenn from Missouri commented on the disco era, expressing his opinion that "the problem with some of these people was that they couldn't play music." Rusty from Florida wondered what drove bands to record at the Mussel Shoals studio in Alabama. Ian responded that studios that produce hit records get a reputation, especially those with great house bands. Susan in Arkansas lamented that the 1970s band "Big Star" was never commercially successful. Matt in New York state said he is a fan of the folk singer Gordon Lightfoot and believes the musician "didn't get enough credit for what he did." Steve from California related a story about Axl Rose from Guns N' Roses and the account of a fellow limo driver who rushed him to the hospital for an overdose of heroin, from which he recovered and appeared the same night for a big concert date.

Above illustration: Getty Images

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