45 years ago today – Bee Gees first ever Japanese dates

Bee Gees in Tokyo (March 1972)
<Click to enlarge>


45 years ago today, March 23, 1972, the Bee Gees did their very first concert in Japan, playing to a capacity audience in Tokyo.

On the right is the first page from a 3-page article on the Bee Gees in Tokyo from the May 1972 issue of  "Monthly Stereo."  The other two pages are about their Tokyo press conference, March 22, and a full page shot of the three brothers singing around one microphone during their first Tokyo concert respectively. 

The photos on the right shows Barry on March 24 at Budokan, and Robin and Maurice both from the first concert on March 23.  You can barely see the back of Robin prancing in his grey vest behind Maurice.

After the Bee Gees went home, the April/May issues of music papers and magazines here came out with feature articles and photos from their first Japanese tour.  A near exhaustive list of such is available in this article

As previously mentioned, most of the press was about the first half of their stay in Tokyo, and not much information is available about their two concerts in Osaka.  What little material we have now was recorded or photographed by ardent fans and survived in the hands of collectors.

Here’s a summary of what the Stereo magazine had to say about the two concerts in Tokyo, March 23 and 24, 1972:

It’s as though the recent spout of hard rock or progressive rock had never existed.  Singing about everlasting love with their lush harmonies, the Bee Gees have been charming the youth around the world.  On this much anticipated first tour of Japan, they did four concerts, two in Tokyo and two in Osaka.

The Bee Gees were formed by the three Gibb brothers, Barry, the eldest, and the twins, Maurice and Robin.  They made their international debut in 1967.  Their highly entertaining concerts proved that they had not been in show business since childhood for nothing.  Starting with ‘New York Mining Disaster 1941,’ they sang their hit songs including ‘How Can You Mend A Broken Heart,’ ‘My World,’ ‘Melody Fair,’ and ‘Massachusetts,’ while girls in the capacity audience screamed for Barry, Maurice, or Robin.

Although they are known as brilliant melody makers, they revealed during the press conference that they could not actually read or write music.  They also said they would like to introduce some Japanesque elements in their forthcoming album.  So we have that to look forward to!

This one was actually quite nice, but most music press back then tended to be rather condescending, treating the Bee Gees as another "fad."  The fact they were so young back then and looked "kind of cute" seemed to fuel this kind of reaction.  That the Bee Gees were also an intergal part of "lavishly experimental pop age" (from the Rolling Stone review of Robin’s posthumously released "Saved by the Bell – Collected Works of Robin Gibb: 1969-1970") was more than overlooked. 

The program booklets sold at the venues were quite embarrassing to read even back then.  The publishers obviously counted on the language barrier for the Bee Gees and their entourage not to know what was actually written about them in the official Japanese booklets.  Judging from the number of mistakes, they were obviously not edited or proof-read, either. (David Meyer’s infamous biography comes to mind.)

The booklet from their 1973 tour carried a panel of people from Japan’s music industry talking in a patronizing way about how they thought "the Bee Gees could never hope to make it really big but would manage to stick around" and that they were "basically an easy listening group."  The insult of it shocked the fans who bought the booklet and were understandably fuming.  It was a good thing that the Bee Gees never did find out what those official stuff said about them.

{Bee Gees Days}

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