Ricky Skaggs Draws Barry Gibb Into Country Music
Country-bluegrass superstar Ricky Skaggs has found a seemingly unlikely collaborator in Barry Gibb, the lone surviving member of pop supergroup the Bee Gees. The two legendary musicians are huge fans of one other, which is why they teamed up for Ricky’s latest album, Music to My Ears, released Tuesday (Sept. 25).
“There’s a whole lot more to the Bee Gees than what most people remember,” Ricky explains to Fox News. “I mean, just songs like, ‘How Can You Mend a Broken Heart,’ ‘I Started a Joke,’ ‘To Love Somebody’ — songs like that, I’m telling you, they are prime country songs.”
After hearing a song Barry wrote, called “Soldier’s Son,” Ricky asked Barry to sing it with him, and was surprised at how quick the iconic performer was to agree. “I asked him just to think about it,” Ricky recalls. “I told him he didn’t have to give me an answer right now, but just think about if he’d be willing to come and sing on this record with me. Barry said, ‘I don’t have to think about it, I’m going to give you an absolute yes right now. I want to do it!’”
The two also had a chance to work together when the longtime Opry member invited Barry to join him on stage at Nashville’s Ryman Auditorium and issued another invite to the entertainer.
“I asked him, ‘What would you think about doing the Grand Ole Opry with us on Friday night,’” Ricky recounts of their July performances. “There was this long silence on the other end of the phone, and then Gibb said, ‘When I was 12 years old, living in Australia, I used to see Marty Robbins and others on the Grand Ole Opry on an old black-and-white television. I dreamed of standing behind that microphone that says, ‘WSM Grand Ole Opry.’ But I thought with the brothers and the pop and rock ‘n’ roll direction that we took, that would never, ever happen. So this is a dream come true.’”
Barry found solace in his music after the passing of his brother and fellow Bee Gees member, Robin, earlier this year. (Robin’s twin, Maurice, also a member of the group, passed away in 2003, and youngest brother, Andy, died in 1988).
“He told me that he has got four or five things written that he wants me to listen to and there’s a song about Robin that he’s written that no one’s heard yet,” Ricky notes. “I’m not trying to push them on that one. I just said, ‘Hey, send it on out to me when you want me to hear it.’ We’ve talked a lot about Robin’s passing. We just have a really great relationship and friendship and I love him dearly.”
The Brisbane native, who owns the Nashville property that was once home to Johnny and June Carter Cash (the house was destroyed by fire in 2007), may collaborate with other Nashville writers in the near future.
“Barry has outlived all of his brothers and I know that’s been hard for him,” the recent recipient of the ACM Pioneer Award acknowledges. “But there’s a freedom that comes with that, too. He’s free now, he can do any kind of music that he wants to do. I think his plans are to do a record sometime and he wants me to help him. Hopefully, at some point we’re going to get more music out of him.”
Ricky isn’t the only country act with a Barry Gibb connection these days. A special version of 3 Pears, the new album from Dwight Yoakam, includes his version of the Bee Gees classic, “To Love Somebody.”
Ricky is on the road in support of his latest CD, with upcoming shows in Wisconsin and South Dakota this weekend. See his tour schedule here.
Watch Ricky Skaggs Perform ‘Somebody’s Prayin”