Discovering The Bee Gees: Col Joyes' big gamble paid off

Col Joye and The Joy Boys were pioneers in the rock industry took the Australian charts by storm in 1959. They were the first act to have three number ones in a calendar year with “Bye Bye Baby”; “Rockin’ Rollin’ Clementine” and the biggest selling record in Australia that year “Oh Yeah Uh Huh”.

They had many more hits and another number one in 1960 with “Yes Sir That’s My Baby”. But they had to wait until 1973 for their final number one hit, “Heaven Is My Woman’s Love” another top selling Australian song of the year. But perhaps Col Joye’s biggest contribution to the Australian music scene started at a party on the Gold Coast in 1961. At about 3am he was about to leave when he was told to hang around to hear these three local kids performing, at 3.15 they performed and Col joys one word reaction was “Knockout!”

The trio comprised of twins Robin and Maurice Gibb and their elder brother Barry. Col invited them to perform with him at a Church gig the following day, when he decided to tape them. Col recalls “I still have that tape somewhere it starts ‘Hi my name is Barry Gibb and I live at 23 Cambridge Avenue, Surfers Paradise and my first song is Let Me Love You’”. Col Joye took the tape to Festival Records who told him that groups don’t sell (big mistake) but convinced them to sign the boys saying he would produce them himself. “They had this magic sound and there was something about them and they knew when to harmonise the melody and they all did it naturally” Col states. They moved into Col’s house and he introduced them to Bandstand but he admits he did not have the expertise to get their sound on disc, so they went off to London.

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When they arrived there they were met with the news that “Spicks And Specks” was top of the charts in Australia. They were signed by Robert Stigwood, a director of NEMS Enterprises, a company owned by Beatles Svengali Brian Epstein. The trio was supplemented with Aussie friends Colin Petersen (you may remember him as Smiley in the Australian movie) on drums and Vince Melouney on guitar. They had their first big international hit as The Bee Gees with “New York Mining Disaster 1941”. Their second record “To Love Somebody” was not a big hit but produced some incredible covers by Nina Simone, Eric Burdon & The Animals and Janis Joplin.

In October 1967, they had their first worldwide number one “Massachusetts”. The group became one of the most accomplished in musical history writing and producing hits not only for themselves but others such as Dionne Warwick, Diana Ross, Barbara Streisand, Dolly Parton and Kenny Rogers.


What are your first memories of the Bee Gees? What are your favourite songs?

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