Andrew Roy “Andy” Gibb (5 March 1958 – 10 March 1988) was an English singer, musician, performer and teen idol who was the younger brother of Barry, Robin and Maurice Gibb. Andy came to international prominence in the late 1970s with three singles that reached #1 in the United States: “I Just Want to Be Your Everything”, “(Love Is) Thicker Than Water”, and “Shadow Dancing”. Andy’s success was brief, as he battled drug addiction and depression and died just five days after turning 30.
Andrew Roy Gibb was born in Manchester, England, to Barbara (b. 1920) and Hugh Gibb (1916–92). At the age of six months, Gibb emigrated with his family to Queensland, Australia, settling on Cribb Island just north of Brisbane. He was the youngest of five children, having a sister, Lesley Evans (b. 1945), and three brothers, Barry (b. 1946) and fraternal twins Robin (1949–2012) and Maurice (1949–2003). After moving several times around Brisbane and Sydney, Andy returned to the United Kingdom in January 1967 as his three older brothers began to gain international fame as the Bee Gees.
As a young teenager, Andy began playing at tourist clubs around Ibiza, and later in the Isle of Man, his brothers’ birthplace, where his parents were living at the time. Andy formed his first group, Melody Fayre (named after a Bee Gees song), which included Isle of Man musicians John Alderson (guitar) and John Stringer (drums). The group was managed by Andy’s mother, Barbara, and had regular bookings on the small island’s hotel circuit. Andy’s first recording, in early 1974, was a Maurice Gibb composition, “My Father Was a Reb”, which Maurice also produced and played on. It was not released.
At the urging of his brother Barry, Andy returned to Australia in 1974. Barry believed that as Australia had been a good training ground for the Bee Gees it would also help his youngest brother. Lesley Gibb had remained in Australia, where she raised a family with her husband. Both Alderson and Stringer followed Andy to Australia with the hope of forming a band there. With Col Joye producing, Andy, Alderson and Stringer recorded a number of Andy’s compositions. What may have detracted from the “training ground” aspect of Australia for Andy compared to his brothers was that Andy was relatively independent financially, mainly because of his brothers’ support and their largesse, hence the group’s sporadic work rate. Andy would disappear for periods of time, leaving Alderson and Stringer out of work with no income. Despondent, Alderson and Stringer returned to the UK.
Andy’s first single was the ballad “Words and Music” on the ATA label, owned by Joye. The single, backed by another Andy Gibb composition “Westfield Mansions”, would eventually reach the Top Twenty on the Sydney music charts in 1976. Then Andy joined the band Zenta which included Trevor Norton as the drummer. Zenta supported international artists Sweet and the Bay City Rollers on the Sydney leg of their Australian tours. The planned follow-up single “Can’t Stop Dancing” (a Ray Stevens song, later a US hit for The Captain and Tennille in May 1977) was not released, although Andy did perform it on television at least once on the revitalised Bandstand show hosted by Daryl Somers.
Robert Stigwood, who at the time was the Bee Gees’ manager, signed Andy to his label, RSO Records in early 1976, after he had heard some of Andy’s demo tapes. Andy soon moved to Miami Beach, Florida, to begin working on songs with his brother Barry and co-producers Albhy Galuten and Karl Richardson.
While in Australia, Andy married his girlfriend, Kim Reeder. On 25 January 1978 she had a daughter, Peta Jaye, but the couple had already separated before Reeder discovered she was pregnant. They divorced later that year.
In late 1976 in Miami, Andy, with older brother Barry producing and recording in the famed Criteria Studios, set about making his first album, Flowing Rivers. The first release from the album, and Andy’s first single released outside Australia, was “I Just Want to Be Your Everything” which was written by Barry, who also provided backup vocals. It reached number one in the United States and Australia and was the most played record of the year. In Britain it was a lesser hit, just scraping into the Top 30. Eight of the ten tracks on the album were Andy Gibb compositions, mostly songs written during his time in Australia. These included a re-recording of “Words and Music”.
In September 1977 Flowing Rivers, with another number one single “(Love Is) Thicker Than Water” (co-written by Andy and Barry Gibb) to support it, quickly became a million selling album. That single broke in early 1978 during the time that the Bee Gees’ contributions to the Saturday Night Fever soundtrack were dominating the world charts. In the United States it replaced “Stayin’ Alive” at the top of the charts, and then was surpassed by “Night Fever” at number one in mid-March.
Andy then began work with the Gibb-Galuten-Richardson production team on his second album, Shadow Dancing, which was released in April 1978. The title track, written by all four Gibb brothers, was released as a single in the United States in April 1978. In mid-June it began a seven-week run at number one, achieving platinum status and the honor of being Billboard’s number one song of 1978. In the United States, Andy became the first male solo artist to have three consecutive number one singles on the Billboard Hot 100, with all of the weeks at #1 from those singles just barely inside a year, from 30 July 1977 through 29 July 1978. Two further Top Ten singles, “An Everlasting Love” (which reached number five) and “(Our Love) Don’t Throw It All Away” (which reached number nine), were released from the album, which became another million seller.
In 1979, Andy performed along with Bee Gees, ABBA, and Olivia Newton-John (duet with “Rest Your Love On Me”), at the Music for UNICEF Concert at the United Nations General Assembly which was broadcast worldwide.
He returned to the studio to begin recording sessions for his final full studio album, After Dark. In March 1980, the last of Gibb’s Top Ten singles charted just ahead of the album’s release. “Desire” (written by all four Gibb brothers), was recorded for Bee Gees’ 1979 album Spirits Having Flown, and featured their original track complete with Andy’s original “guest vocal” track. A second single, “I Can’t Help It”, a duet with family friend and fellow British and Australian expat Olivia Newton-John, reached the top 20.
Later in the year, Andy Gibb’s Greatest Hits was released as a finale to his contract with RSO Records, with two new songs: “Time Is Time” (number 15 in January 1981) and “Me (Without You)” (Gibb’s last top 40 chart entry) shipped as singles, before RSO founder Robert Stigwood had to let him go due to his cocaine addiction and behavioral problems. “After Dark” and “Will You Still Love Me Tomorrow” were non-single songs added to the album, the latter of which was a duet with P. P. Arnold, who had previously worked with Barry Gibb, including singing uncredited backups on “Bury Me Down by the River” from Cucumber Castle.
During his relationship with actress Victoria Principal, Gibb worked on several projects outside the recording studio including performances in Andrew Lloyd Webber’s Joseph and the Amazing Technicolor Dreamcoat on Broadway and Gilbert & Sullivan’s The Pirates of Penzance in Los Angeles, California. He also co-hosted the television music show, Solid Gold, from 1980 to 1982.
Gibb was ultimately fired from both Dreamcoat and Solid Gold because of absenteeism caused by cocaine binges. Broadway producer Zev Bufman who financed Joseph and the Amazing Technicolor Dreamcoat said this of Gibb, “When Andy was at the theater, he was a joy. But he wasn’t there enough”, adding that of the five people to play Joseph up to that point, Gibb was the best actor. He also said after Gibb’s death, “We’d lose him over long weekends. He’d come back on Tuesday, and he’d look beat. He was like a little puppy – so ashamed when he did something wrong. He was all heart, but he didn’t have enough muscle to carry through.” An unnamed co-star in Dreamcoat was quoted as saying, “I hear he spent most of his time in his hotel room in front of the TV. I guess he was frightened and insecure. That’s what happens when you’re the baby brother of the Bee Gees.” Commenting after Gibb’s death, Solid Gold producer Brad Lachman stated, “…[Andy] was a very charming, vulnerable and charismatic performer. He clearly meant well. He wasn’t being difficult. He was going through problems he couldn’t deal with. He wanted everyone to love him. He had so much going for him, and he just couldn’t believe it.”
His romance with Principal also ended shortly thereafter when she gave him an ultimatum to choose between her or drugs, but not before they recorded and released a duet of the Everly Brothers’ “All I Have to Do Is Dream” in the summer of 1981. He reportedly heard her singing in the shower and convinced her to go into the studio with him. This would be Gibb’s last official single, and his last US chart entry, peaking at number 51. In 1984 and 1985 Gibb did finish two successful contracts at the Riviera Hotel in Las Vegas.
His family convinced him to seek treatment for his drug addiction which included a stay at the Betty Ford Clinic in the mid-1980s. It was during this time that Gibb began touring small venues with a stage show featuring his hits as well as covers. He also appeared in guest-starring roles on several television sitcoms including Gimme a Break! and Punky Brewster. Following an extensive tour of East Asia, he regularly performed shows in Las Vegas and Lake Tahoe. In 1984, he was the headline performer at the Viña del Mar Festival in Chile, performing two nights in a row. He also held a two-week engagement at San Francisco’s historic Fairmont Hotel in March 1986.
Andy returned to work alongside his brothers Barry and Maurice. Their demo recordings with engineer Scott Glasel were heard by Clive Banks from the UK branch of Island Records. Gibb never formally signed a contract but the record label planned to release a single in Europe that Spring, followed by another single that summer with the album to follow.
One of the demo tracks, “Man on Fire”, was released posthumously in 1991 on a Polydor Records anthology. Another track, “Arrow Through the Heart”, was the final song Andy would ever record and was featured on an episode of VH1’s series, Behind the Music, and released on Bee Gees Mythology 4-disc box set in November 2010.
Death and legacy
In an early February 1988 interview, Robin Gibb said Andy was healthy and ready to begin recording again. Three weeks before Andy died, Robin said “he just went downhill so fast”, saying “he was in a terrible state of depression”. He got over the drugs but the depression remained. On 5 March 1988, Andy Gibb celebrated his 30th birthday in London, while working on the new album. Soon after, he entered John Radcliffe Hospital in Oxford complaining of chest pains and died five days after his birthday, on 10 March 1988, as a result of myocarditis, an inflammation of the heart muscle caused by a recent viral infection (a diagnosis supported by William Shell a cardiologist who had previously treated Gibb) which was exacerbated by his years of cocaine abuse. Robin Gibb said “he was also not eating properly and the lack of nutrition also damaged his heart”, adding that the paranoia associated with cocaine abuse “shattered his confidence and he became scared of people.”
The Gibb family would also maintain it was not an overdose that killed Andy—as some papers suggested—but natural causes after years of drug and alcohol abuse.
Gibb’s body was returned to the United States where he was interred at Forest Lawn Memorial Park in Hollywood Hills, Los Angeles. The headstone reads Andy Gibb / March 5, 1958 – March 10, 1988 / “An Everlasting Love”.
The Andy Gibb Memorial Foundation was established to keep his name and memory alive by contributing to the charities that Gibb supported, such as the American Heart Association, the American Cancer Society, and the Diabetes Research Institute. Following the 2003 death of brother Maurice Gibb at Mount Sinai Medical Center & Miami Heart Institute in Miami Beach, Florida, the family asked that donations be made in lieu of flowers to the Andy Gibb Memorial Foundation.
- March, 05, 1958
- Manchester, England
- March, 10, 1988
- Oxford, England
Cause of Death
- as a result of myocarditis, an inflammation of the heart muscle caused by a recent viral infection, which was exacerbated by his years of cocaine abuse
- Forest Lawn Memorial Park
- Los Angeles, California