von Nick Logan, New Musical Express, 2. November 1968
Vince Melouney is the Bee Gee who believes an interviewer should be allowed to get to know the person he is interviewing and vice versa. He is against the kind of interviews that were a feature of the Bee Gees earlier days, and to some extent still are, where the group is installed in their manager’s flat or office and reporters line up for their “fifteen minutes with the boys”.
So this was the Vince Melouney interview I conducted on a dustbin – I’m not proud.
Two builders were also in attendance when I called round to Vince’s Belgravia mews house, situated just round the corner from Brian Epstein’s old place.
In the upstairs living room Vince’s wife Diane sat watching the dripping water from a hole in the ceiling into a bowl strategically placed on the floor.
As there is a delightful little pub at the other end of the mews, we adjourned there, escaping from a crowded and stuffy interior to sit in the sun outside, with me on a dustbin!
Vince, whose dedication to his music has been mistaken for moodiness, and Colin, whose reticence at interviews has been mistaken for shyness, have always been the shadowy Bee Gees, finding common links in their musical ideals and nationality against the brotherly closeness of the Gibbs.
“I have never really felt 100 per cent a Bee Gee” said Vince, who is an honest as he is sincere. “Because the talent that I have doesn’t come up to the standard of the Gibb Brothers’ talent and I don’t think I am adding as much as they are.
“Within the context of what they are playing I realise that my ideas don’t augment their ideas”
Would it be a sad moment for him if, as Barry has said is possible, the Bee Gees were to cease to exist as a group after two years? It is then, says Barry, that there will be another re-think on the group’s future.
“I would be unhappy that we might lose our friendship” said Vince “But I think musically we would be happier because in two years we would have had two years more knowledge and I am sure we would be terribly frustrated.
“I would say that if I had not joined the Bee Gees I would not have had the ideas that I have now. I have been very strongly influenced by the Gibb Brothers’ compositions and very strongly influenced by Robert Stigwood through his ideas and the way he goes about dealing with situations.
“That is why I am not scared about hot it may be. Over the past eight or nine years I have had a hell of a lot of letdowns and I have earned a hell of a lot of money.
“But I learned one thing in Australia, and I have always had this thing, that if I was in a group that didn’t seem to be progressing I always left it even if they were earning big money. Because I would feel I was letting myself down as a musician.
“We’ve had happy times. We’ve had a lot of great times together and those I will remember in times to come. There have also been a lot of bad times, but owing to the way of life takes you, you cannot expect to be knocked out with what is happening all the time.
“But the greatest thing for me in the Bee Gees has been the influence of the Gibb Brothers on me and the travelling we have done over the past few years.
“The places we have been have had different atmospheres and ways of life and they have helped me widen my views on different subjects.
“And I am very indebted for being one of the Bee Gees because so many people in this world have not been able to go to all the places that I have been”
Vince’s current interest, and one of which he talks with tremendous and infectious enthusiasm, is in a new young group called Ashton, Gardener and Dyke, named after their surnames.
Tony Ashton and Roy Dyke were once with Remo Four and Kim Gardener is from Creation. All have been in the business seven or eight years, but they have been together for only a matter of weeks.
“Tony came to one of the Bee Gees sessions” said Vince, “I had already decided that I would go into production. We got talking and his ideas seemed very very good. I heard them rehearsing and they were the most together group I had heard for such a short space of time and I was very, very excited”
Vince describes the ideas as a cross between jazz and blues, turning more to the jazz side. It is the kind of thing Vince himself would like to get involved in if in the future a Bee Gees break up does come about
“They have an individual thing happening for them” he continued. “And because they are technically brilliant musicians, they can overcome the blatantly commercial obvious and they are playing commercial music but with a brilliant feel and the use of a lot of unconventional styling.
“Personally I dig any music. Anything where a lot of thought has gone into it. Doesn’t have to be jazz or blues or anything. And their music had a hell of a lot of thought behind it.
“This is what I am interested in because the harder you work the better a musician you become. But they have so much in this group. Not only brilliant musicians, they have a lot of character.
“A lot of groups are influenced by other groups and they lose their character, but these boys were separate from the usual group scene”.
Whatever his personal future, Vince will always be involved in music, and his ideal is to perform at the Philharmonic Hall at the Lincoln Centre because no pop group has come up to a high enough standard to play there before “To play there I would be the happiest guy in the world.”
He says “I dearly believe that for people to buy records you don’t have to record blatantly commercial music. It all depends how melodious the melody is, what is happening in the background. The rhythm should augment the vocal and the vocal should augment the rhythm.
“You can get so many beautiful things happening and it is still commercial. I think Arthur Brown is trying to do that. But a lot of groups that are making it, like the Doors and Jefferson Airplane, have gone out with weird ideas that haven’t quite come off.”
Like Colin, Vince is currently feeling the influence of the Band through their album ‘Music From The Big Pink’. He says “I am influenced to the extent that I can see what they are doing and I respect that. I’ve let their ideas augment my ideas”.
And he said suddenly “I have just found out in the last few months that there are so many beautiful things in this world that I could never see before. I’ve learnt so much about people that I want to go on learning a lot more”
The guitarist who has passed through more groups than he can remember in search of his musical ideal will succeed because more than anything, he has the will to.