Thai singers remember the Bee Gees as they set out to raise funds to help veteran songwriters
The Bee Gees – the greatest pop and disco trio of all time whose fraternal harmonies were instantly recognisable – disbanded forever in 2012 following the death of Robin – but remain in the hearts of fans around the world. The band is still fondly remembered in Thailand and its hits are being brought back to life again at a tribute concert, titled “Care for Each Other: The Night To Remember Bee Gees”, that’s being staged in August at the Thailand Cultural Centre.
“I have been a professional and successful songwriter for 23 years as well as a producer. In my career, I’ve met and worked with many other songwriters and also learnt that none of them are eligible to receive any benefits or support from any organisation, governmental or otherwise. Most veteran songwriters are now living in poverty and a lot of them are in poor health, being victims of cancer. So, I want to set up a fund for cancer patients,” says Thawichaya Tungsaharangsee, executive producer of music label Classy Records, which is organising the concert.
“I have decided to call the fund Classy For Friends and am starting by raising money through a concert dedicated to the Bee Gees, as both Robin and Maurice died of cancer. I am, of course, paying the copyright fee for the 35 songs we will be performing.
“I also want to devote the fund to my father, who died of cancer in 2012. The principle is simple: To become part of the Classy For Friends Fund, a songwriter pays Bt500 for membership and receives a T-shirt. All membership fees will be put into the fund alongside donations and other money raised and the songwriter will receive dividends or medical expenses if he or she is diagnosed with cancer,” Thawichaya explains.
The show will mark Classy Records debut in the concert-organising world and it will also be handling the production. The label is planning to stage one or perhaps two concerts a year, with the second tribute concert expected to pay respect to the great master, Paiboon Butrkhan, whose hits include “Mon Rak Lukthung”.
“We know that the Bee Gees are still popular here and are confident that their fans will come to the concert,” says Thawichaya. “We plan to make the show greater than other previous tribute concert, bringing a giant LED screen six metres high and 14 metres wide to the Thailand Cultural Centre. We will also design the graphics for all songs and show them on that big screen.”
Those coughing up for the Bt3,000 tickets will take home a CD, “A Cordial Tribute to the Bee Gees”, featuring six songs – “Words” by Surasee Itthikul, “Our Love (Don’t Throw It All Away)” by Chotchoo “Pom Autobahn” Puengudom, “Melody Fair & In The Morning” by Cheepchanok Sriyamart, “How Can You Mend A Broken Heart” by Sobchai “Ford” Graiyoonsen, “First of May” by Triple J Jazz Trio featuring Narinpan “Jo” Pantarawong, and “How Deep Is Your Love” by Ie (Thananya) Weeranukul.
The tribute concert will feature a set list of 35 Bee Gees songs divided into four parts: jazz, ballads, Andy Gibb and disco. Contributing artists include Suchart “Ton” Chawangkul, Suttipong “Chompoo Fruity” Wattanajung, Gunpol “Ping Fruity” Pridamanoch, Edward Vanzo, Thiti “Zonx” Prukchaum, Attapong “Oat Street Funk Rollers” Boonsermsap, 2 Is Better Than 1, Triple J Jazz Trio, Atthaporn “Toon The Voice” Kornchaiya, Puwadon “Yamin” Weerasatien, Rawiwan “Oui” Chinda, Christophe Descamps, Mum Laconic, and a group of students aged seven and eight from Music Box music school in Chanthaburi province.
“It’s unbelievable how well these kids sing the Bee Gees’ songs,” says Thawichaya, adding that the concert will also feature several of his label’s artists, among them Rawiwan “Oui” Chinda, Paibulkiat “Pun” Kheokaew, Isaree “Mameow” Namphacharoen, a former member of girl trio 3G, Pimpetch “Palmie” Kunjara Na Ayuthaya, and Walai “Jiab” Pipatcharoenkij. They’ll be backed by a 13strong adhoc Classy Band featuring musicians, chorus singers and a brass section.
“The Bee Gees had very recognisable harmonies, with Barry’s R&B falsetto shining out from the late 1960s to the early 1970s and Maurice’s clear vibrato in the mid-1970s, which was really the trio’s heyday. Their popularity soared when their songs featured on the ‘Saturday Night Fever’ soundtrack in 1977. In addition to their own hits, Bee Gees worked with other artists, writing Barbra Streisand’s ‘Women in Love’ and Kenny Rogers’ ‘You and I’. At the height of their popularity, Thai artists sang Bee Gees’ covers especially ‘How Deep Is Your Love’ and ‘Too Much Heaven’,” says DJ Roj Kwantham, who worked at Nite Spot in that era.
“I listened to the Bee Gees in the days when I was singing and playing guitar with a band at the Windsor Hotel. We used to be known as the young Bee Gees. Among the Thai artists who could imitate Barry’s falsetto were Danupol ‘Jae’ Kaewkarn and Grand Ex’ Nakorn ‘Tong’ Vejsupaporn. I loved the ballads like ‘Words’ and ‘First of May’. ‘Spirits Having Flown’ marked the tail end of the Bee Gees’ most successful era and the album sold more than 20 million copies worldwide. For this concert, we will all be singing Bee Gees’ songs in our individual styles, not trying to imitate them,” says Pom Autobahn.
“I love the Bee Gees but never thought of covering their songs because it was too hard trying to copy Barry Gibb’s wide vocal range. But, for this concert, I will make the impossible possible,” says Ie Weeranukul, who will perform two songs “How Deep Is Your Love” and “Spicks and Specks.”
“I love watching movies about music and ‘Melody Fair’ was amongst my favourites. I liked the Bee Gees both in terms of lyrics and music but never tried to copy Barry Gibb’s voice. I also like ‘You and I’, the song they wrote for Kenny Rogers, which is very melodious,” says Pun Paibulkiat.
“If the new generation comes to this concert, they will get to know the Bee Gees on the big screen, which will show the portraits of the brothers together with their stories and their songs,” says Thawichaya.
“It really is all about The Bee Gees.”
More than “Words”
- “Care for Each Other: The Night To Remember Bee Gees” is the tribute concert that will be held at the Main Auditorium of Thailand Cultural Centre on August 19 at 5pm.
- From 3pm, concert-goers and fans can browse and buy from the booths outside the venue selling the Bee Gees’ CDs and vinyl recordings as well as other memorabilia.
- Tickets cost from Bt1,000 to Bt3,000 including the CD. They’re available at Thai Ticket Major counters, by calling (02) 262 3456 and online at www.ThaiTicketMajor.com.
- Proceeds after a deduction for expenses will go to the Classy for Friends Fund.