David Meyer’s “The Bee Gees: The Biography” – A great disappointment and missed opportunity

The cover of "The Bee Gees: The Biography"
(published July 2013)

新しい伝記の表紙 (2013年7月刊)

David Meyer’s "The Bee Gees: The Biography" (Kindle edition:The Bee Gees: The Biography) came out earlier this month after a considerable delay.  Advertised as "the first narrative biography" by a professional writer known for his insightful musical biography about Gram Parsons, there was geneal anticipation among fans that the author would give the extraordinary life story and music legacy of this band who has had astonishing longevity a serious approach, neither sycophantic nor dissing, that they deserve.

However, quite frankly, every fan I know who has read it including myself finds it extremely disappointing.  Not because it is not hero-worshipping our favorite group, but because it simply has too many mistakes, both factual and typograhpical.  It is full of recycled quotations and requotations mostly from easily accessible sources.  I wonder why a professional author has bothered to write this book at all if he does not have time to at least get some basic facts right.  (Some of the errors are rather trivial: for example, Meyer describes Andy Gibb as having "sparkling blue eyes."  But a carelessness like this does take away from the author’s credibility.  Who would take seriously a critical biography about Marilyn Monroe by someone who says she had "flowing dark hair"?)

At first I was dog-earring every page with any mistake in it, but soon I gave up. There simply were too many of them to bother.  Clearly the author has not done his homework.  He does try to be critical, but he mostly comes across as simply "opinionated," because he does not tell us the reason why or what makes him think that way.  

Still, there are some revelations and interesting analysis of songs.  So if you are a massive fan of the Bee Gees and buy anything and everything that says Bee or Gee, the choice is yours to include this in your collection. But even then it might be better to opt for a Kindle edition, because I am not sure if this book deserves the space it takes up in your bookshelf.  If you are just a casual fan who want to know more about the Bee Gees, then don’t buy it.

To my immense surprise, some people did give five stars to this book on Amazon. But since some of them who are most complimentary admit that they are not fans of the Bee Gees, I wonder if they could be the author’s aunts or business associates.

Robin Gibb at one time was working on his autobiography and he spoke to me about its Japanese translation. Barry Gibb mentioned in a recent Music Week interview that he is "writing a book" and got to the point where they "arrived in England."  Also, we’ve yet to see a really insightful and objective evaluation of the Bee Gees and their career by a well-studied third party. 

Another book about the Bee Gees came out earlier this year: "Bee Gees: The Day-By-Day Story, 1945-1972" by Andrew Sandoval (Kindle edition: Bee Gees: The Day-By-Day Story, 1945-1972 .  As you can see from its title, it’s a day-by-day chronicle of the early years of the Bee Gees from the historical union of the Gibb parents up to 1972.  It’s a well-researched book by the musical producer who had worked on the Rhino reissues of the Bee Gees and interviewed them for the liner notes of the remarkable box set "Studio Albums 1967-68."  It is highly recommended to any fan.  We’ve been wanting to write about this book, but have not got around to it. (We have not even completed our report of Barry’s Down Under Tour!)  However, now that it is also available on Kindle, we’d like to do a more extensive article about it soon.

Hopefully, these two books are just a precursor.  The rich musical and cultural legacy of the Bee Gees deserves much serious attention.

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