TODAY

TODAY   |  January 30, 2014

Barry Gibb on Bee Gees: ‘It was life in a tin can’

The last surviving member of the Bee Gees joins TODAY to open up about life, loss and legacy. He says when they were starting out, people told him and his brothers they’ll never make it. “Some people told us to never leave Australia,” he says. Gibb is going on tour and continues to raise money for diabetes research.

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This content comes from Closed Captioning that was broadcast along with this program.

>> creative leader of one of the biggest musical groups of all time. the bee gees have sold more than 200 million records world wide. now its last surviving member barry gibb is about to launch a new tour. but first, the cultural phenomenon that was the brothers gibb . they are icons of the 70s, three harmonizing brothers whose sound helped define an era.

>> if you were alive in the 70s,s bee gees were a very, very big deal . they were the sound of the radio, they were part of what made disco such a huge phenomenon.

>> barry, robin and morris broke through the charts in 1967 . within a year they'd racked up more than 20 number one hits in 15 different countries. but it was the smash hit movie, "saturday night fever " that would change music and seal their legacy. the bee gees music has proven to be timeless. they still inspire hugely popular skits on "saturday night live." and popular music even today.

>> look at contemporary music today. you turn on the radio last summer you hear "blurred lines," you hear "get lucky." you're hearing the sound of the 70s and in some sense the bee gees .

>> morris died too early from complications of intestinal surgery, robin died too early from cancer two years ago and now barry carries the torch, and their enduring legacy more than four decades later. barry gibb , good morning.

>> good morning, matt.

>> have you ever been able to get your arms around the fact that your music makes so many people happy and moved?

>> of course i love it, but we went through a long period of time where we didn't have no knowledge what people thought of us. i doubt that we ever did. we were always just let's keep making records.

>> for me i hear the bee gees and i just think of the music , i can reel of songs. but i was reminded that while there were fantastic times for your you and brothers, there were tough times, too. there were issues with health and addiction and estrangement. there were times you say you were not friends.

>> that's true.

>> was it life at a celebrity or --

>> it was life in a tin can. i've always thought the odds were always against us.

>> why?

>> don't know. maybe because we were brothers and we were kids on australian television so there was maybe some people thought we were precocious, but we were just kids. when we came to england, they told us don't bother to leave australia, you'll never make it.

>> you're the oldest brother and you're the last surviving brother.

>> that's right.

>> did you ever imagine that could be possible?

>> no, no. it's been quite a shock to my whole family, yvonne and dorina, their wives and my mother. and for her, she blames herself. you really can't blame yourself.

>> was there a time after the death of robin and morris that you couldn't bear to hear the music of your band?

>> no, that's not true. that's a myth. i always loved playings musouss the music , i always love the music and i always got a kick out of someone else singing our song.

>> let's get in the shower together.

>> okay.

>> what are you singing?

>> a proposal like that --

>> what one of your songs is going to come flying out of those famous --

>> the only time i sing is in the shower.

>> which one is your go-to shower song?

>> there's so many i love. i love and now the purple dust of twilight time always flows across the meadow of my mind

>> i love all the old songs.

>> you know what's amazing, i heard you on snl not long ago, you still have the ability -- i'm not going to say your age -- you did it there, to go into that falsetto, they sound like they swallowed sand paper .

>> and i do, too. that's part of the sound, staying alive . i love people who do that, frankie valley . i've never felt uncomfortable doing that.

>> you've done solo things in the past.

>> yes.

>> go ahead. you were going to say something.

>> i always do a show for diabetes research institute every couple of years. it keeps my chops up, the people are wonderful and it raises money.

>> you want to pay tribute to your brothers on tour but you made the decision not to sending songs that robin sang lead on.

>> i don't.

>> wouldn't that be a tribute to him?

>> you have to see the show. the show resolves around all of us. i have my oldest son steven on lead guitar , i have morris 's daughter, sally, who feels so emotionally connected to it because of her dad and she sings great.

>> thinking about your family as i was reading some of these notes last night, was trying to see if there was some sort of advice you could offer to a young justin bieber.

>> "saturday night bieber."

>> just because he's going through what seems to be a tough time. you guys were young when this all started for you in the 60s and 70s. what's the lesson?

>> things don't change much. if you're a teen-age idol, you can lose it pretty quick.

>> lose perspective?

>> perspective and you can lose them in the long run if you're not a role model. there's a lot of intelligent young ladies out there and they need to go out with somebody intelligent. well, i'm sure he is and hopefully what he does on stage and the way he dances and the way he sings, he will apply that to his real life . there's a discipline to what he's doing and apply that discipline to how he ought to behave.

>> i think the best way to end this is just to say thanks. thanks and sorry. because if you saw some of the dances i did to your music , i would need to apologize.

>> i never could dance.

>> mythology, the tour, kicks off in boston on may 16th .