Barry Gibb credits old friend and then-RSO Records labelmate Eric Clapton for convincing the Bee Gees to move to America in the mid-'70s to revitalize their sagging career. Barry, the sole surviving Gibb brother, chatted with Billboard in advance of Saturday's (December 12th) premiere of the group's HBO documentary, How Can You Mend A Broken Heart.
Barry recalled that by 1973, things were at a make-or-break point for himself, and brothers Robin and Maurice: “(Atlantic Records chairman) Ahmet Ertegun told (our manager) Robert Stigwood that if we didn’t kick it up, they’d have to drop the group because they were fed up with the pathos in the ballads. Robin really didn’t want to do much after that. I think it really broke his heart, because Ahmet didn’t want to hear that lament anymore, that kind of voice. It’s a cruel business. You’re always dealing with people who want to tell you what kind of songs you should record.”
Barry recalled how Clapton came up with the perfect recipe to inspire the brothers into action: “Eric said, 'Why don’t you make an album in America?' He said, 'Get Americanized. Don’t spend your life tying to stick with psychedelic music or whatever you think is happening in England. Got to America, get influenced by American artists.' And we did just that.”