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09 June 2012

Stayin’ Alive – dead: I look in on Robin Gibb's funeral

Sir Tim “Evita” Rice was there too. But why
did his Dad, who was a Temporary Officer in the War,
and therefore a Temporary Gentleman, never tell his son that
it is not cool to wear striped shirts at funerals?
I wasn’t entirely surprised to see neither Vladimir Putin nor Muammar Gaddafi at Robin Gibb’s funeral in Oxfordshire yesterday afternoon—the latter because he is dead and former because he seems to prefer sending his deputy, a young law professor and shadow politician called Dmitri Medvedev, to such events. What good enough for the G8 is good enough for a BG—or Bee Gee as they used to call themselves in the pre-Twitter age.
     Older readers will remember the Bee Gees getting their teeth round Massachusetts and other croon-worthy lerv songs in the late 1960s, before they morphed into disco favourites with the sound-track to Saturday Night Fever, which included the signature track Stayin’ Alive, as well as Night Fever and Jive Talkin’. Their final ascent into stellar celebrity status resulted from their appearance on the Kenny Everett Show. They were so popular that Everett decided to show how any normal person like himself could, with the aid of a few pills, become a Bee Gee.
     I always admired the Bee Gees for never doing things the sensible, straight-forward way. Like his brothers Maurice and Barry, Robin went from the Isle of Man, where he was born, to Oxfordshire, where he died, via Australia of all places, which is miles off the direct route. But maybe that's how they got that famous tan.
     I left the funeral early because I saw Mike Read there, the odious DJ and moralist who was responsible for getting the flash gay band, Frankie Goes to Hollywood, boycotted by the BBC because their epic song Relax appeared to discourage what used to be called “Hunnish practices”, something which Obertoßer Read presumably thought, au contraire, ought to be encouraged. But it was nice to touch base with Uri Geller, and also Paul Gambaccini, the music historian who famously said that Robin had “one of the best white soul voices ever”.
     Having missed Maurice’s funeral (after he died, in 2003, from a convoluted volvulus) I cannot compare the guest lists. But I look forward to seeing who shows up to Barry’s event—long may it be delayed. At least I hope to be there, along with Uri, Paul and the gang, unless of course he lives forever, in which case we will all be Stayin’ Alive in our respective coffins.

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