I’ve got a thing for Andy Gibb.
Yeah, I know. I knoooooow.
I’ve always been a bit behind the times, but this Andy Gibb thing is delayed even for me.
Maybe I did have a thing for him in the late 70s; I seem to remember liking Shadow Dancing quite a bit, I may have even bought the 45. Truth be told, at that time my heart belonged to a certain Italian American superstar, with blue blue eyes and a dimple in his chin. Then when the shiny excess of disco wore off, I became consumed with the sensitive heartthrob Timothy Hutton. As soon as I had watched the stark 80s masterpiece Ordinary People and got my first glimpse of chaste WASP suffering, I cast nary a thought to any of my previous loves.
And as for music, I chose the Beatles first and then moved on to New Wave. Disco was an embarrassing blip and a show like Solid Gold was only interesting to laugh at (although X once performed on Solid Gold. X!)
But here I am, deep, deep into middle age, swooning over images of Andy. Hot, sexy and dead Andy. But that’s just who I am. I tend to get a little obsessed. One day, I’m absentmindedly singing along to “I Just Want to be Your Everything” on Songza, and the next day I start thinking about Andy, and the next day and the day after that…
I am fascinated by his incredibly cliche story. As it reads in the press, Andy’s story is classic biopic material: lured by fame, riding high on fame, dragged under and then spat out by the cruel undertow that fame always proves itself to be.
His rise to the top is so Dirk Diggler, he’s young, good looking and so impossibly earnest. But then the usual evils come in and lead our young hero astray. Our hero struggles to hang on and hang on he does until the biggest evil of all rears its head: the 80s. Poor Andy. Poor us. Have you seen pictures of us from the 80s? They’re pretty horrible. I looked a lot better in the late 70s than I did in the 80s that’s for sure. In the late 70s, I wore my hair in Bo Derek inspired braids complete with beads on the end. I looked cute. In the 80s I traded that in for a Grace Jones hair cut. Ugggh. Rather than spend my afternoon watching disco shows on TV, I started watching videos. Somehow it became much cooler to watch a milk bottle explode in slow motion than watch the Soul Train line dance.
But Andy staggers into the 80s.
He goes on talk shows, tries to infuse new life into his hits and takes on new adventures. Look there’s Andy on the March of Dimes telethon! Hey, Andy is talking to Maryann Mobley — Maryann Mobley!!! Isn’t that Andy making a guest star appearance on Punky Brewster?! It’s all predictable and a little flat.
But every once in a while, the old Andy rises from the ashes and goes to places where disco still looms large. One of my favourite clips is Andy at the 1984 Wine Festival in Chile, bare chested, gleaming with sweat, clad in tight red leather pants running around on stage like some modern day Dionysus.
That is Andy at his most magnificent.
But Andy, and his handlers, wanted a big comeback. Another stab at the top ten, perhaps a role in a small, independent movie, something that would have people look at him in a new light.
“Who is that?”
“Oh, that’s Andy Gibb!”
“The disco star?”
“Not anymore, he’s concentrating on his film career now. He’s just made a film with Milos Forman.”
“I never knew he could act!”
Andy’s story ends before his triumphant comeback. I don’t mind. Comebacks are only good for about a year or two and then what? John Travolta made Battlefield Earth after Pulp Fiction — need I say more?
But I’m sorry Andy Gibb is no longer with us.
I love his vulnerability. I love his dancing. I love his voice. I love that every one of his ballads doubles as an anthem for co-dependency. And I love his story.