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Tuesday, March 05, 2013

March 5, 1958

This is the first Tuesday Timeline for March 2013.  It’s the fifth of March, and as it so happens, a lot happened on this date throughout history.  Of course, we can only choose one event to spotlight in this space...but since there is so much to talk about, why don’t we begin with what else happened on March 5.

1496 – King Henry VII of England issues letters patent to John Cabot and his sons, authorising them to explore unknown lands

1616 – A book written by Nicolaus Copernicus, De revolutionibus orbium coelestium is banned by the Catholic Church

1766 – Antonio de Ulloa -  the first Spanish governor of Louisiana – arrives in New Orleans

1770 – Boston Massacre; five Americans are killed by British troops, which would inevitably be one of the main reasons for the outbreak of the American Revolutionary War

1824 – Britain declares war on Burma, setting forth the early beginnings of the First Anglo-Burmese War

1836 – The first production-model revolver, the .34-caliber, is made by Samuel Colt

1850 – The Britannia Bridge – spanning across the Menai Strait – is opened

1868 – Arrigo Boito’s opera, Mefistofele holds its premiere performance at La Scala

1872 – George Westinghouse patents the air brake

1910 – Momofuku Ando, inventor of instant noodles, is born in Kagi County, Taiwan

1912 – Italian forces are among the first to employ airships to be used for military purposes

1933 – Adolf Hitler’s Nazi Party receives almost 44% of the vote at the Reichstag elections, which allows the Nazis to pass the Enabling Act while establishing a dictatorship

1940 – Members of the Soviet politburo sign an order which calls for the execution of over twenty-five thousand Polish intelligentsia, in an event come to be known as the Katyn Massacre

1943 – The first flight of Gloster Meteor jet aircraft in the United Kingdom

1946 – The phrase “Iron Curtain” is used in a speech given by Winston Churchill at Westminster College, Missouri

1956 – The late singer Teena Marie (Square Biz, Lovergirl) is born in Santa Monica, California

1960 – Photographer Alberto Korda snaps the world-famous photograph of Marxist revolutionary Che Guevara

1963 – Country singer Patsy Cline is killed in a plane crash at the age of 30 along with Cowboy Copas and Hawkshaw Hawkins

1966 – 124 people are killed after BOAC Flight 911 crashes into Mount Fuji

1974 – Israeli forces retreat from west bank of the Suez Canal during the Yom Kippur War

1975 – The first meeting of the Homebrew Computer Club takes place

1979 – The Landsat 3 is launched from Vandenburg Air Force Base in California, while at the same time, Voyager 1 spacecraft has its closest approach to the planet Jupiter

1981 – The ZX81 home computer is launched in Britain by Sinclair Research

1982 – John Belushi dies of a drug overdose in Hollywood, California at just 33

1984 – Six thousand miners go on strike at Cortonwood Colliery in the United Kingdom

1999 – Paul Okalik is elected the first Premier of the newly created Canadian territory, Nunavut

2003 – The first case of SARS in Canada is discovered in the city of Toronto, Ontario

Some of those events are quite sad and depressing, aren’t they?  Hopefully we have some better news within the celebrity birthday section.  Happy birthday to Milt Schmidt, James Noble, Erik Carlsson, J.B. Lenoir, Del Crandall, James B. Sikking, Philip K. Chapman, Paul Sand, Dean Stockwell, Paul Evans, Fred Williamson, Samantha Eggar, Mike Resnick, Billy Backus, Murray Head, Michael Warren, Eddie Hodges, Tom Russell, Eddy Grant, Elaine Paige, Alan Clark (Dire Straits), Marsha Warfield, Penn Jillette, Ray Suarez, Jonathan Penner, Charlie & Craig Reid (The Proclaimers), Joel Osteen, Bob Halkidis, Michael Irvin, Paul Blackthorne, Danny King, John Frusciante (Red Hot Chili Peppers), Lisa Robin Kelly, Rome, Jeffrey Hammonds, Yuri Lowenthal, Brian Grant, Kevin Connolly, Matt Lucas, Eva Mendes, Jill Ritchie, Jolene Blalock, Niki Taylor, Kimberly McCullough, Sterling Knight, and Jake Lloyd.

Well, today’s subject would have also celebrated his birthday today had he lived.

He would have turned fifty-five years old today, making his birthdate March 5, 1958.

His road to stardom was such that he achieved teen idol status at a very young age.  Certainly, his career almost seemed destined to be in the music industry.  After all, his three older brothers formed one of the most successful groups of all time.  Throughout the late 1970s and early 1980s, he racked up several Top 10 singles, including a couple of #1 hits, and he embarked on a relationship with a prime time television starlet.  However, he also had a highly publicized addiction to drugs, and this addiction would not only end his career, but his life as well.

This is the story of pop star and teenage idol Andy Gibb, born fifty-five years ago today.

Andrew Roy Gibb was born in Manchester, England, and moved with his family to Australia when he was just six months old.  Andy was the youngest of five children, the kid brother to his older sister, Lesley, and three older brothers.

Those older brothers would be Barry, Maurice, and Robin Gibb, the three brothers who would form the Bee Gees in the 1960s. 

Andy lived in Australia until he was eight years old, before relocating back to the United Kingdom in January 1967, when the Bee Gees began to achieve popularity as a singing group.  During Andy’s teenage years, he worked at clubs and pubs around the island of Ibiza and the Isle of Man, and while he was in the United Kingdom, he formed his first band with John Alderson and John Stringer that was named after a Bee Gees song, Melody Fayre.  During this time, the band recorded a song that was written by Maurice Gibb entitled “My Father Was a Reb”, but it was never released on the charts.

By the time Andy was seventeen, he was encouraged by his brothers to move back to Australia.  Alderson and Stringer followed him, and together they tried to make a go of it as a band.  But due to the band’s sporadic periods of work, as well as Andy taking off for long periods of time, Alderson and Stringer returned to the United Kingdom.

Andy Gibb began his solo career with the release of the single “Words and Music”, which was released under the ATA label.  Shortly after that, he joined another band Zenta, who would later tour alongside acts such as the Bay City Rollers and Sweet when both bands visited Australia for a tour.

It was also around this time that Andy crossed paths with Bee Gees’ manager, Robert Stigwood, who was impressed by Andy’s talent based on demo tapes that he had listened to.  He immediately signed Andy to his record label, RSO Records in 1976, and relocated to Miami Beach, Florida to record songs for his debut album.  Older brother Barry worked with Andy on the songwriting.

That album, 1976’s “Flowing Rivers” would end up being a huge success globally - in particular, within the United States, where two of the singles would become #1.  One was (Love Is) Thicker Than Water.  And the second was this one...

ARTIST:  Andy Gibb
SONG:  I Just Want To Be Your Everything
ALBUM:  Flowing Rivers

TRIVIA:  Those four weeks that song was on the top of the charts weren’t consecutive ones.  It initially peaked at the top for three weeks during the summer of 1977, was dethroned by the Emotions single “Best of My Love”, and went back to the top of the charts the week of September 12, 1977!

This song, which was written by Barry Gibb, also topped the charts in Australia, and was the first of three #1 hits in a row by Andy Gibb.  When Andy’s second album, “Shadow Dancing” was released in 1978, the title track also hit the top of the charts, and the next two singles, (“An Everlasting Love” and “(Our Love) Don’t Throw It Away”) made it into the Top 10.  By the early 1980s, Gibb had released a third album, “After Dark”, had one more top 10 hit with “Desire” (a song that was written by Barry, Robin, Maurice, and Andy Gibb in a four-way collaboration), and performed a duet with Olivia Newton-John (“I Can’t Help It”).

By 1981, his popularity was beginning to fade in the music scene, so he decided to try his hand at acting in musicals.  He had landed a gig in the Andrew Lloyd Webber production, “Joseph and the Amazing Technicolor Dreamcoat”, and secured a co-hosting job on the television series “Solid Gold” in 1980.  He even began a relationship with Dallas starlet Victoria Principal in the early 1980s, which also spawned the unlikely musical collaboration below.

(That song was a cover version of the Everly Brothers single, “All I Have To Do Is Dream”, which just missed hitting the Top 50, peaking at #51 in 1981.)

Now, you might think that Andy Gibb was doing fantastic around this time.  But by 1982, he was struggling.  He had developed a serious addiction to cocaine, which included several instances where he binged on the substance.  These incidents caused Gibb to miss several performances of “Joseph and the Amazing Technicolor Dreamcoat”, as well as several tapings of “Solid Gold”.  While the producers and co-workers were initially patient at first, his chronic absenteeism eventually led to his being dismissed by both shows.  His relationship with Victoria Principal also suffered, and the relationship ended after Principal issued an ultimatum where he had to choose between the drugs and her.

By the mid-1980s, Andy was deep into his addiction to drugs, and his family stepped in to try and intervene.  Andy checked into the Betty Ford Clinic, and reinvented himself in the process.  During the period between 1984 and 1987, Andy began to appear in guest-starring roles on sitcoms such as “Gimme A Break” and “Punky Brewster”.  He also launched a series of stage shows and performed concerts in San Francisco, Las Vegas, and Lake Tahoe.

By the time 1988 rolled around, Andy was in a very good place in his life.  He had turned thirty years old on March 5, 1988, and he had plans for his future.  He was determined to live the rest of his life drug free, and he even had plans to get back into the recording studio to release what would have been his first new album in eight years.

Sadly, the rest of his life would last less than a week.  Within hours of his thirtieth birthday, Gibb had started feeling sick.  After a recording session in London, England, he was admitted to a hospital complaining of chest pains.  On March 10, 1988, Gibb was pronounced dead, five days after he turned thirty.

The cause of death was myocarditis, which was an inflammation of the heart muscle caused by a viral infection.  Because Andy’s heart had been weakened from years of drug abuse, it was too weak to fight the infection, and it ultimately killed him.  Although the Gibb family (as well as all of Andy’s fans) were saddened by the loss, nobody took it harder than Barry.  Not only was Barry the closest family member to Andy at the time of his death, but Barry later admitted that before Andy died, the brothers had gotten into a really terrible fight, and that was the very last conversation that Barry had with Andy.

He was survived by a daughter, Peta, who was born in 1978 from a brief marriage to Kim Reeder.  At the time of his death, Gibb had only reportedly visited Peta just once, in the early 1980s.

You know, it’s been twenty-five years since Andy Gibb passed away.  A lot has happened in those twenty-five years.  Barry Gibb is the only surviving Gibb brother (Maurice died in 2003, Robin passed away last year), and Andy’s daughter is now thirty-five years old. 

Andy Gibb was a man who achieved success at a ridiculously young age, and unfortunately seemed to be unable to keep up with it.  It’s a shame to see such a talented young man be completely under the influence of drugs and alcohol to the point where it nearly destroyed his career completely.  Perhaps the biggest tragedy of Andy’s short life was the fact that when he died, he was well on his way to staging a comeback.  He had seen how destructive his choices were in the past, and was hoping to make a fresh start as a clean and sober performer.  It’s a shame that time simply wasn’t on his side, and that the damage he had done to his body was too great.  I sometimes think that had he lived, he could have been a real force to be reckoned with.

Sadly, we’ll never know.

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