Lesley Evans, the unknown Bee Gee
Melbourne: Sister to The Bee Gees brothers, Lesley Evans, has revealed the surprise call that she had got from the band. The 67-year-old, who lives in the Blue Mountains, recalled the time she stepped in and performed live with the ‘Bee Gees’.
It was the late 1960s, and her brothers’ band was an international sensation. The band which was at the height of its fame as that was the time when each song they released topped the charts and fans couldn’t get enough.
Brothers Gibb - Barry, Maurice and Robin - were living their childhood dream of making music and Evans, the only sister, was living hers with her newborn twin daughters and breeding Staffordshire bull terriers in Sydney’s west.
But just weeks before the band was due to perform at London’s music hub Talk of the Town, and to a broadcast audience of tens of thousands, the trio had a “brotherly spat”, as Evans explained, and Robin walked out.
With the venue counting on the band’s performance, the Bee Gees’ then-manager Robert Stigwood had an idea.
“Out of the blue I got a call from Rob and he said ‘Lesley, can you sing?’,” a leading daily has quoted her as saying.
“I made light of it and said ‘Well, can’t everyone sing?’,” she said.
And with little experience, other than three weeks of intense rehearsals, Lesley joined her famous brothers on stage.
“It was amazing. I loved it ... but it wasn’t for me. I had my twins to get back to and Robin came back soon after,” she said.
And so, as the ‘Bee Gees’ went on to sell more than 220 million albums worldwide and be considered as second-best in music history coming next only to ‘The Beatles’, Evans made her way back to her home in Sydney with seven children, before she and husband Keith retired to the Blue Mountains.
“I’m a private person, I guess. Their life over there was wonderful but I was very happy here living a quiet and private life,” Evans said.
“People who know me, know who my brothers are ... and the kids’ school friends know. But other than that, it’s not a big deal,” she said.
When the phone call came early on Sunday morning to say Robin, 62, had just hours left to live, Lesley tried her level best to stay focused on her brother’s “spectacular life”, to get her through the heartache.
“Robin lived an amazing life, better than anyone. All he ever wanted was to be a star, to have music, and he got it,” she said.
She dismissed the rumours suggesting that the ‘Bee Gees’ were cursed, insisting their lives and careers had been magnificent.
“I don’t think it’s been a tragedy, I think their lives have been absolutely spectacular,” she said.
“Robin used to wonder if we were being punished for the fame and fortune, and you’ve got to pay for it in some way, and we paid by losing Andy and Maurice, and Dad at a young age. But I don’t think it’s been a tragedy,” she said.
Robin’s death has left Barry and Lesley the only surviving siblings. Andy died in 1988 from a heart condition at age 30 and Maurice, the band’s musical director, suffered a heart attack in 2003 while waiting for surgery to repair a twisted intestine. He was 53.
Although she won’t make it to the UK next week for Robin’s funeral and memorial Lesley knows the funeral will be memorable.
“Robin wanted ‘How Deep is Your Love’ played. That was his favourite,” she added.