Barry Gibb may never have been a teen YouTube star-turned-pop idol like Justin Bieber, but the singer, whose impressive falsetto helped propel the Bee Gees into being one of music's most popular acts, knows a thing or two about starting young in the industry ... and endurance.
"Things don't really change much, do they?" he told TODAY's Matt Lauer Thursday when the anchor solicited an opinion on Bieber's recent legal woes and questionable behavior. "If you're a teenage idol and all the young girls love you, you can lose that pretty quick.
"You can lose perspective, but you can also lose them in the long run if you're not a role model," Gibb added. "Hopefully what he does on stage and the way he dances and the way he sings, he will apply that to his real life. There's a discipline in what he's doing. Apply that discipline to how you want to behave."
Gibb, who admitted he "never could dance," nonetheless got the world toe-tapping with decades of hits that began when he performed with his brothers Robin and Maurice (both of whom have since died) as the Bee Gees in 1958. Though they had significant success with their early tunes, they became the kings of disco when the soundtrack of "Saturday Night Fever" was released in 1977.
But despite the hits, Gibb, who is heading out on tour again in May to play some of the old favorites, said he and his brothers never felt like they were on top of anything, noting that they lived "life in a tin can."
"I've always thought that the odds were always against us," he said. "Maybe because we were brothers and we were kids on Australian television so maybe some people thought we were precocious, but we were just kids. And when we came to England, they told us, 'Don't bother to leave Australia. You'll never make it.'"
The Brothers Gibb (which is where "Bee Gees" came from) proved everyone wrong. Even today, their music shows up as an influence in hits including Robin Thicke's "Blurred Lines" and Daft Punk's "Get Lucky," in part because disco never dies, and the Bee Gees had a truly influential sound.
So original, Lauer had to suggest to Gibb, "Let's get in the shower together." After a quick double take and a chuckle, he clarified, "What song is the one that is your go-to shower song?"
Gibb, naturally, couldn't pick just one. "There's so many I love," he said, crooning a bit of "Stardust" by Nat King Cole. "I love all the old songs."
Fans who tuned in immediately tweeted their love for the surviving Bee Gee.
But at least one was thwarted by academic pursuits, proving Gibb's fans span many generations.
Gibb's tour, "Mythology," kicks off in Boston on May 15.
First published January 30 2014, 6:13 AM