The Bee Gees appeared on Des O’Connor’s Tonight Show to promote their One Night Only album in 1998. The highlight of the Gibbs brother’s 20 minutes slot was their performance of How Deep is Your Love? On the full video of the show, one sees Barry about to strum his guitar, when he changes his mind and proposes an acapella version.
Barry sings the first verse solo, as usual. His timing and pitch are impeccable, but the real magic starts when Maurice and Robin’s deeper voices harmonise around Barry’s effortless falsetto. In the video below, their sibling bond and long experience of singing together shine on one of the most charming versions of the classic ballad ever heard.
An interesting feature of the video is the way in which the enthralled O’Connor joins in the singing. If one did not know better, one might think this was the height of presumption. Des O’Connor was a singer in his own right who frequently sang with his guests on Tonight. He released a cover of How Deep is Your Love? on his Lovin’ Feeling album in 1989, and, on the show, he asked the brothers to start the “one I sang”, promising to “jump in” once the song got going. Also, he sings softly.
The Gibbs brothers’ evident ease in the company of Des O’Connor is in marked contrast to their appearance on the Clive Anderson All Talk show in 1997. From the get-go, Anderson niggled at them. He compared Barry’s falsetto to Mickey Mouse’s voice and suggested that it might be the consequence of too tight jeans. A few minutes later he quipped that calling the Bee Gees writers of hit songs was “one letter shy”. Halfway through the interview, Barry led his brother’s off, as can be seen below.
The One Night Only album that the Bee Gees were promoting on Tonight was recorded in Las Vegas on 14 November 1997. This show was originally intended to be the Bee Gees’ last performance ever on account of the chronic arthritis in Barry’s back. After the show, buoyed by the enthusiastic response of the audience, the Bee Gees decided to press on with a One Night Only world tour, with concerts every fortnight to give Barry time to recover between shows. Fittingly, given that the Isle-of-Man-born brothers emigrated to Australia with their parents in the late 1950s, the tour ended in Sydney, on 27 March 1999, before an audience of 72,000.
The last full show by the Bee Gees was on New Year’s Eve, 1999, in Sunrise, Florida. On 23 February 2002, the brother’s made their final concert appearance as a trio at the Love and Hope Ball in Miami. A year later, on 12 January 2003, 53-year-old Maurice died of a heart attack.
Watching the Bee Gees relaxed appearance with Des O’Connor on Tonight, one would never have guessed that the long-running band was nearing the end of the road.