By Morgan Gilbert
When I heard the first falsetto notes of the Brother’s Gibb electrifying the screen in Saturday Night Fever—I was hooked.
I had been born in the wrong decade. I was meant to be alive in the 70s, and I made it my mission to recreate my 21st century in disco balls, bell-bottoms and muscle cars.
I already owned a 1972 Ford Custom 500, so my subconscious had clearly been aware of my true destiny long before I saw the watershed disco movie. I needed more. I needed to feed the disco inferno in my soul.
Poor-man’s suite – for 8th Grade Promotion Dance.
I wore a 70s costume to school for my eighth grade Halloween. I ended up teaching most of the school how to do the Hustle out on the foursquare court. I progressed to piecing together a poor-man’s Saturday Night Fever suit for the eighth grade promotion dance. I watched hours of YouTube videos and learned the entire John Travolta solo dance from the movie. I performed it in the middle of the dance floor, surrounded by a cheering crowd—my fate was decided.
When I hit the ninth grade I instituted Retro Wednesdays and wore 70s clothes to school each week. Turns out I was the only participant in my invented “day,” but that didn’t stop me.
I soon realized I would need to expand my 70s wardrobe if I was going to keep up the Wednesday tradition throughout my high school tenure. I trolled second-hand clothing stores and sent out a call for help to my immediate family.
Slowly I built an impressive fashion collection, and as word spread of my obsession other people were pulled into my world. My boss, a big dance sensation in New York in the 70s, had a fabulous pair of white, patent leather, platform shoes which he gifted to me.
The struttin’ shoes!
My mom made me a pair of purple polyester bell-bottoms with huge, wide bells! They were awesome, but the amazing, all-white, Bee Gees suit eluded me. When I heard that Barry Gibb was going to tour, I knew I had to be there and I had to be in the suit.
Mom worked on getting tickets and my grandma stepped up and took on the task of making the suit. We searched eBay for vintage patterns and she hit the garment district in Los Angeles to find the perfect fabric.
My dream was becoming reality.
I was lucky enough to get tickets to see the Mythology Tour at the Hollywood Bowl in June—my 17th birthday present.
Suit construction began in February and my grandma sent photo updates from her sewing room. Each image fit into the unfolding mosaic in my mind—screaming to be completed. The buzz of anticipation spread through every inch of my body. I just needed the final piece.
At long last, June arrive. Roadtrip! Off to California to see my amazing suit and, of course, my grandma—the seamstress.
She opened the closet door and extracted the holy grail. My eyes glazed over; the suit emanated a light all its own. A portal to another dimension. I knew that when I put on that suit I would be the 70s. Finally, the last piece fell into place.
My mom worked on my enormous white-boy fro for over two hours. Applying tons of product, blow-drying sections and slowly shaping it into that flowing, feathered masterpiece that was the Barry Gibb signature coiffe.
I unwrapped the suit from the plastic and pulled on the flared-to-perfection pants. A strange panic seized my chest. I forgot the shirt! Shit! I forgot the shirt! “Mom!”
Mom and grandma raced off to the thrift store, 30 minutes before our scheduled departure, and returned 20 minutes later with a white, wide-collared shirt. Had I actually been holding my breath for 20 minutes? I slipped my feet into the white platforms and could not keep the smile on my face from touching my heart.
Dressed in the suit I had dreamed of for years, I picked up my Bee Gees Greatest Hits LP and walked, no—strutted out the door.
We opted for the shuttle and parked in the garage at Hollywood and Highland. As we walked from the parking structure to the bus pick-up I passed a group of high school girls. I overheard one girl say, “That is the best picture I got all day.” I smiled. The 70s are alive and well!
I walked onto the bus and a murmur passed through the crowd like a dirty secret at a prayer meeting. These people were my people—they loved the 70s and they had made the effort to get off their asses and come to see the last living member of, arguably, the greatest group of that decade.
Everyone stared. No one spoke. Finally, one brave soul asked the question that was on everyone’s lips, “Can I take your picture?” And so it begins.
By the time we arrived at the Hollywood Bowl I had posed for several pictures and answered a battery of questions about my suit, hair, shoes and album.
I stepped off the shuttle bus, continuing to strut my way through the turnstiles and into the Hollywood Bowl. Cheers, whoots and applause followed me all the way to my seat.
I honestly had no idea that my desire to pay homage to the Bee Gees and their unforgettable white suits would lead to this night. Wow.
I was super pumped and therefore needed a trip to the restroom before the show started. I didn’t make it back to my seat for 30 minutes! Everyone I passed wanted a picture. I missed half of the opening act, Jared & Mill.
During a short break the crew reset the stage. The sun sank behind the Hollywood hills and the lights came up in the amphitheater. I held my breath, again.
Cheers and screams erupted as the man of the night; Mr. Barry Gibb took the stage. The familiar notes of Jive Talkin’ poured out of the speakers and the crowd went nuts.
I danced in my seat, still clutching the treasured LP I hoped to get autographed after the concert. Mom sensed my excitement.
“Why don’t you hand me that thing so you can dance?” She took the album and I continued to seat dance.
The next song hit my eardrums and I was possessed. “I can’t take it anymore,” I announced. I got out of my seat and headed straight down to the wide cement walkway and busted out my best 70s moves. I had the Fever. Concertgoers raised their cellphone lights and illuminated my makeshift dance floor. I was lost in the moment, dancing like I was alone in my room. I “hustled” until the very last note of You Should be Dancing faded.
The tributes to Maurice, Robin and Andy were a genuine honor to witness—an amazing concert. The inclusion of Barry’s son, Stephen, and his niece, Samantha, gave the entire night a wonderful “family reunion” vibe.
I felt the night slipping away and I was desperate to keep the moment alive. I walked down and talked to one of the security guards, in hopes of getting information about the possibility of an autograph.
He told me my best bet was to wait outside the VIP room. Done.
We only had 25 minutes to get back to the shuttle after the concert ended and get our ride back to the parking structure in Hollywood. I waited by the VIP door, hoping for a miracle.
“Mom, are you watching the clock?”
“Sweetie, this is what we’re doing. If we have to call a taxi or walk all the way back, then we will. Don’t worry about it, we’re here—we’re staying.”
The night wore on and Mr. Gibb did not appear. Several other folks were waiting, too. They all took pictures with me—mostly because I was the next best thing to the real thing, at that point.
Eventually the security guys started their final push to get us all out of the Bowl, so they could close up.
Mom strategically moved us over near a large group queueing up for a private shuttle and we crossed all our fingers and toes—which is difficult in platforms!
The VIPs were leaving. Alan Thicke, Olivia Newton-John, the producer of American Idol, and more, rolled by with that special glitterati glow. Some would avert their gaze and ignore us completely. A few gave us a smile or a “thumbs up.”
Suddenly one of the VIPs walked over and tapped me on the shoulder.
“Do you want to go in?”
I could not breathe. Was she serious? “Yeah! I drove all the way from Arizona. I’ve been waiting…”
“Here.” I looked down and saw the golden ticket right there in her hand. An actual VIP pass—the elusive credentials that had kept me on the outside all night.
“You should be in there,” she said.
The angel-woman’s boyfriend handed my mom his pass. I think my mom may have hugged them. They disappeared into the night. I was going inside the VIP room.
I will leave out the embarrassing details about who may or may not have shed tears of joy at this point in the evening. But whoever it was, dried his or her tears and strutted past the velvet rope.
We flashed our credentials to the security guard and he actually smiled as he waved us through.
I barely made it into the room; a pack of cougars hit me like an injured deer in the forest. A quick scan told me these could easily be some of the original groupies that followed the Bee Gees in the 70s. My three-piece, white suit was like catnip.
Their leader, Sandy, (name changed to protect the not-so-innocent) grabbed me and escorted me over to meet Stephen Gibb. I had never heard him sing before this night, and I really dug his gravelly voice and rocker guitar licks.
Stephen Gibb signing my LP. (Pardon the poorly lit pic – but Mom was so excited for me that she forgot to turn on her flash!)
I showed him my Bee Gees vinyl and he autographed it for me.
“I don’t want to sign on my dad’s face, seems kinda sacrilegious,” he quipped as he signed the back panel.
Next stop was Sammy, Maurice’s daughter. She also had a great voice and a fantastic stage presence. She signed my album, too.
Sandy introduced me to the Mythology Tour band members. I met guitar players, bass players, the drummer—it was amazing. Somewhere along the line I lost my mom. She’s not super social. Turns out she had struck up a conversation with one of the Grammy and Emmy award-winning guitar players.
She was having a great time chatting with this guy when one of the other band members came over and ask if she was going to the ****, afterwards (location redacted to protect the guilty).
My mom is pretty sharp. She realized we had just been inadvertently invited to the AFTER after party.
“Oh, I don’t know. I’ll have to check with Morgan.” She played it super cool and then slipped off to tell me the news.
“Dude, we just got invited to the AFTER after party at the ****!”
“Yeah. It’s at an actual Hollywood bar. Can you pull that off?”
My 16-year-old brain skipped over reality and immediately answered, “Let’s do it.”
The security guys hit the VIP room, and intent on clearing out the stragglers—one of them shouted rudely at me, but to be fair it was after midnight.
When we got outside the Bowl there was one lone shuttle—filled with all the security personnel. Oh, serendipity you do have a sense of humor.
We got on the bus and the security guys trickled on, one and two at a time.
“You are workin’ that suit brother.” Enormous stoic, black guy nodded in my direction.
“Can I get a picture?” The guard from the VIP door asked.
I chuckled to myself and jumped up, threw my hip to the side and my disco finger in the air. Several pics later the bus dropped us back at the Hollywood and Highland parking garage.
“Are you sure you want to do this?”
“Why not?” I was floating on the high of this amazing night and I figured I had nothing to lose.
Mom typed the location into her phone and started the car. “OK, this is a real bar. When we get there, you just walk in like you know what you’re doing and don’t stop.”
We parked on the street and put on our game faces. I got three confident struts inside the door—
“Stayin’ alive, stayin’ alive, Ah, ha, ha, ha, stayin’ alive…,” some black guy with long braids, super chill clothes and a crew, jumped up and burst into song.
“Walk to him. Walk to him,” Mom whispered fiercely behind me.
He jumped up and fist-bumped me. “Mad props on the suit, man. Mad props!” A couple other guys from his crew followed suit and fist-bumps were exchanged. I looked over and the first guy was giving Mom a big hug and a kiss on the cheek.
One of the Gibb band guys caught sight of us. “Morgan. You made it!” I kept thinking it was all a dream and I would wake up in an alley in Hollywood with a nasty bump on my head and no white, patent leather, platform shoes.
As I walked away the serenade guy yelled, “Oh no you’re not doin’ the walk, honky!”
“It’s the shoes,” Mom informed him. “You have to walk like that, in the shoes.”
He smacked one of his buddies in the arm. “It’s the shoes, bro. It’s the shoes.” His announcement incited uproarious laughter.
I saw Sandy, and she gave me another big hug. She was turning out to be pretty damn awesome. She walked me around again, I said hello to Stephen Gibb and she introduced me to more of the band members. I even got to chill with Dave Navarro from Jane’s Addiction.
We rolled out of there about 2:30 a.m. on what will forever be one of the best nights of my life.
The only thing that could top it, would be to meet Sir Barry Gibb, himself. I added the “Sir” because that’s just how I feel about him, and his brothers (rest their souls).