‘I’ve settled down,’ claims the reformed high liver; ‘this is the mature Andy Gibb’
They share the same peachy-clean charisma and British Empire bloodlines, and their achingly romantic duet I Can’t Help It is climbing the charts. But, wishful tabloid innuendos aside, the backstage liaison of Andy Gibb and Olivia Newton-John is going nowhere. “Any guy would love to have her,” sighs Gibb. “I’d like the rumors to be true, but it takes two to tango.”
Newton-John is still under the protective wing of manager (and ex-boyfriend) Lee Kramer, and Andy, the kid brother of the Bee Gees, isn’t exactly pining for companionship. He has dated Marie Osmond as well as Susan George, and when Olivia’s Oscar-night ABC special was taped at L.A.’s Century City, the crush of excited Gibb fans included Kristy McNichol. (Those extra security guards ABC had to hire weren’t because of Olivia’s other male guests: Cliff Richard, Elton John, Gene Kelly and Ted Knight.) And how many other pop stars are considering a Greatest Hits album at age 22?
Still, his current single, Desire, and accompanying third album, After Dark, represent something of a comeback for Gibb. It took so long to finish the LP—18 months—that deejays began recycling his oldies like Love is Thicker than Water. Newton-John, 31, whose two duets were among the first tracks laid down, reportedly complained that they were stale by the time the record was finally released. One industry insider close to the Gibbs claims that Andy’s drug use—purportedly a mix of cocaine and Quaaludes—distracted him from work. Andy, however, maintains the delay resulted from conflict with the Bee Gees’ own Spirits Having Flown LP and their tour of last summer. “He tried recording without Barry [Andy’s producer and the senior of his three Bee Gee older brothers] but he felt uncomfortable and had to wait,” confirms a friend. Andy acknowledges: “It was too long to be away.”
That said, Andy admits he is no stranger to drugs. Given a Sudafed decongestant capsule during a recent bout of sniffles, he chewed it, then cried, “Yecch. I thought it was a Red [a Seconal].” He subscribes to High Times “to keep up on these things” and admits smoking grass and once trying cocaine. “It was at a Hollywood party,” he explains, “right after my first big record hit. I was getting crazed being Andy Gibb all the time. Luckily, it didn’t do any harm.” Now, he says, “I’ve cut myself off from that stuff. Everyone likes some kind of high, but I have enough trouble handling myself without it. I’ve become a health nut.” He even knocks “the Brothers” (as he calls them) for once using drugs. “It totally puts me off,” he says. “But I can understand the pressures, and they didn’t do themselves any permanent damage.”
Indeed, Andy—who is as affable and relaxed as the other Gibbs—has learned from the lessons of his brothers’ superstardom. Already a millionaire (“but not much more”), he worries that excessive touring increases the chances of a plane crash (“It’s the law of averages”). He has also long since given up going out in public alone. During a “Big Mac attack,” Andy tried a McDonald’s in Manhattan but, once recognized, had to flee on foot. Even an ankle sprain became a media event. After tripping on an obstacle course during a CBS Celebrity Challenge of the Sexes taping near L.A., he had to endure endless takes and retakes (stretcher, ambulance, examination) meant to cash in on his pain. “We’ll probably use him more in the program than if he hadn’t hurt himself,” admitted one of the directors.
Though his boyish grin projects almost as much wattage as all seven Osmond siblings, the difference is Andy’s onstage sexuality. It is overt. Even he admits that his painted-on pants are “verging on obscene. I definitely have a sexual ego thing. But if I’m suggestive,” he continues, “it’s in a nice way. Luckily, no one’s ever been hurt—a few girls have passed out, that’s all.” Included with the After Dark LP is a fan club membership and lottery-type chance to win “one of Andy’s personally worn T-shirts.” He doesn’t resent the shrieking fans and says, realistically, “I’ll worry when they stop.” As for the isolation, he says, “The guys who work for me are also my best mates.” When he left on a cruise of the Bahamas this month aboard his 58-foot Hatteras, Shadow Dancer (named for his second LP), he took along his personal assistant Scott Sands and bodyguard-size aide Mark Hulett.
Andy makes no secret of wanting to outlast rivals like Shaun Cassidy and Leif Garrett. “I don’t think there’s a long life in the teen thing—three to five years and you’re out.” So he is planning a switch out of the bubble gum appeal to “more meaningful” songs for adults—”They’re the ones who keep you going.”
Andy’s making an even bigger crossover with his movie debut in Robert Stigwood’s sequel to Grease, the biggest-grossing musical of all time. (The movie, which starts shooting this summer, is tentatively and tackily called Son of Grease.) Though Stigwood’s attempt to move the other Gibbs into pictures (Sgt. Pepper’s Lonely Hearts Club Band) bombed, Andy is “putting my life in his hands.” He is also getting plenty of counsel from actor friends like Martin Sheen and Robert Redford. He’s learned, if nothing else, that he must retain an acting coach. “I’m scared to death, but movies are what I want to do,” he says.
On the subject of ambition, Andy reflects, “I didn’t realize how big the Bee Gees were at first, but when I became aware of it, I wanted it myself.” Born in England but raised in Australia (just like Olivia), Andy moved back to England with his bandleader father and songstress mother when Barry and twins Robin and Maurice were already beginning to make it. Andy, then 9, remembers “things changed.” The house was mobbed, his dad got a Rolls and “I got spoiled.” When his parents went into semi-retirement in Ibiza, Andy quit school—at 13. “I never liked it much, and I never had many friends,” he recalls. He took up water skiing, motocross racing and equestrian jumping, and “won most of the time.” He also sang in local night spots before the family moved to Britain’s Isle of Man, where he formed his first band, and then went back to Australia.
At 18 Andy signed a record deal with Stigwood. “I thought I was too young,” he admits, “but I wasn’t going to turn it down.” His first release, I Just Want to Be Your Everything, topped the charts, and “everything took off at once.” His dream of becoming a fourth Bee Gee subsided. Instead, the brothers began running his solo career, which “brought us closer together as a family.” But, Andy says, “I don’t intend to lean en them my whole life.”
One casualty of fame was his marriage. Kim Reeder, an Australian secretary he met at a dog show, lasted almost a year at the Gibb family base in Miami before going back home, pregnant, for a divorce in 1978. “We were too young,” Andy says now. Kim was in L.A. in January—the only time Andy has seen his daughter, Peta, 2—and he says, “It went real well.”
Andy wants to get married again, but doesn’t “date as much as I’d like to.” He’s “only friends” now with Susan George and Marie Osmond. Gibb keeps warning Marie fondly about “working too hard.” Her devout Mormonism—the Gibbs are Anglican—kept them from getting serious. As for his followers, Andy says, “They chase me, and I tend to back off.” But he adds, “I have as much sex drive as the next guy. There’s got to be a thing once in a while.”
Andy’s only home is his boat, berthed in Miami. He chats incessantly about compass calibrations, autopilots and radar, and carries two semiautomatic machine guns, a .357 magnum and a riot gun, to protect the three-stateroom, three-head cruiser from modern-day Caribbean pirates.
His parents have purchased a $300,000 home in the San Fernando Valley, perhaps heralding another Gibb family uprooting, so his sister Berry, 15, can take up acting. (The other Gibb sister, Leslie, 35, is a dog breeder in Australia.) Andy, who lives in hotels like the Beverly Hilton when ashore, is looking for about 40 acres to establish a horse farm outside Santa Barbara. He says he fell in love with that area while visiting Maurice, hospitalized there for disk surgery last month.
When he travels, Andy carries pinups of Marilyn Monroe and Bo Derek (“the most beautiful thing walking on two legs”). His video-cassette collection includes not only sitcoms (“I like Mindy more than Mork”) but porn like Marilyn Chambers’ Behind the Green Door. His other tastes include “dirty magazines” and fast cars (a Jaguar in Florida and a Mercedes 450SL in L.A.). He sticks to “simple, hearty meals like fish and chips,” pouring vinegar on his fries, British-style, and the quaff that made Australia famous, Foster’s Lager. He also claims to eat eight or nine eggs a day and to drink a gallon and a half of milk. “I’m a bit of a glutton,” Gibb insists, despite his sylphlike 5’6″, 128-pound frame and 25-inch waist.
Andy has two unusual pets: a lioness, Samantha, on loan to a Miami zoo, and a so-so racehorse, named Livvy’s Choice (for you-know-who), retired as a brood mare to a stable with Seattle Slew. Andy doesn’t identify with that status. “I’ve been blasé at times,” he says, “but I just gave myself a kick in the pants. There’s a lot to do yet, and I can’t imagine retiring at 23,” he sums up. “I’d hate to think that everything that’s happened so far is the high point of my life.”