Daniel Coston: How did you meet up with the Bee Gees? Had you all played together,
and hung out together in Australia?
Vince Melouney: I knew The Bee Gees in Australia, we had met at TV shows and gigs and I became friendly with them. I did some recording with them just before I left for The UK. They said they were going to The UK not long after me and maybe we would meet up again there. The rest is history.
Coston: Was the band already rehearsing and recording, when you joined?
Melouney: No, they hadn’t started recording, they auditioned for Robert Stigwood, who had already knew they were coming, as The Bee Gees Father, Hughie, had been in contact with Stigwood, sent him recordings etc from Australia. Colin Petersen had joined not long before me. I heard they were in The UK through my friends in The EasyBeats, a group from Australia who had a hit in Britain with a song called “Friday on my Mind”.
Coston: What are your memories of recording that first album?
Melouney: It was exciting. To be in a studio in London, actually, just to be in London was exciting. It was IBC Studios, in the centre of London; all of us were together for the first time (that is the five of us, I hadn’t met Colin before, although he was a friend of The Bee Gees in Australia). I can’t remember the first song we put down, but that first night, we recorded ‘New York Mining Disaster 1941’. The album that followed was a really wonderful experience. Song after song was inspirational. We all got along, we all worked together, it was fun, though we were deadly serious about what we were doing.
Coston: Did you know early on that string sections and horns would be
featured on their songs? How did you feel about that?
Melouney: Yes I did. Bill Shepherd was our arranger and if you listen to the first album, you will notice the string arrangements are quite sparse in most of the songs where they are playing, so it didn’t interfere with my guitar at all, I really enjoyed Bill’s arrangements. The next two albums featured a lot more guitar.
Coston: What were some of the Bee Gee's early live gigs like?
Melouney: Can’t really remember most of them, but we did some small venues around England, supported some acts, I think one was The Rod Stewart Group, we played the Saville Theatre in London, supporting Fats Domino, it was not a good move. All the Rockers had come to see Fats, not listen to young kids with high voices, sing about love, no no no.
Coston: How fast did stardom seem to hit?
Melouney: It came upon us too fast, before we knew it, we were flying first class, doing the ‘Ed Sullivan Show’ in New York, staying in VERY expensive, flash hotels. Coming from Australia only a few months earlier, which at that time, was at the end of the earth, we were like kids in a lolly shop.
Coston: At one point, it looked you and Colin were going to have to go back
to Australia, and a couple of fans chained themselves to Buckingham
Palace in protest. What was that like, and whatever became of those
Melouney: I just recently heard from one of those girls, she sent me some pics of her chained to Buckingham Palace, don’t know where they are now, must find them. It was a difficult time, just when we had made the grade, they, the home office wanted to kick us out. But with perseverance by Robert Stigwood and our fans, they reluctantly gave us a stay of execution and let us stay in the country.
Coston: How did you and the band work up songs?
Melouney: Like most groups I think, Barry, Robin and Maurice would sing the song and we would try different ideas till we were all happy with it. We did do quite a few versions of some of the songs, which can be found on the 6 CD collection, which came out about 5 years ago.
Coston: Talk about coming up with your guitar parts. I know that on “World,”
and other songs, you came up with your guitar parts.
Melouney: I came up with most of my parts, but did listen to what everyone had to say and made changes where I felt necessary and that made sense.
Coston: What are your recollections of recording Horizontal? It sounds
like a remarkably assured band, despite everyone's age, and busy
Melouney: I think we had settled in by then, felt confident of what we were doing, had a few hits under our belt and yes fitting in recording when we were so busy, flying here there and everywhere, to do gigs, TV shows, personnel appearances, interviews. I get tired now just thinking about it.
Coston: What did the band sound like in a live setting? Was it a challenge
to some of the songs that had been so strings-oriented on the
Melouney: Except for right at the beginning, we never performed without an orchestra.
Coston: Has any live recordings of you and the Bee Gees turned up? I keep
hoping for a great lost live set.
Melouney: Not that I know of, there are some recordings to be found on youtube, I think from a tour of Germany.
Coston: What are your recollections now of recording Idea?
Melouney: Again, it was such a long time ago, I just cannot remember. We were always in the studio, recording something. Sorry can’t help you there.
Coston: You wrote “Such A Shame”, a great song. Talk about the song. I know
that you've expressed regret that you didn't let Barry sing the part
that you took.
Melouney: Yes, Barry really liked the song and wanted to sing it, and I do wish I had of said yes. Obviously the band was starting to implode on itself at that time, as the lyrics to that song imply. Robert Stigwood was starting to get more involved in the musical side of the band, of which he really knew nothing about except that he had a great ear for picking a hit.
Coston: Listening to these records, I'm also amazed at young everyone was.
Was youth also a factor in the band splitting up?
Melouney: Probably, coming from Australia, which at that time could have been on another planet, it was a very young, naive place to be coming from. London was where it was all happening and we were like the straight couple in ‘The Rocky Horror Show’.
Coston: What finally caused you to leave?
Melouney: There was conflict within the band, due to outside influences. Robert Stigwood wanted more and more strings, I really no longer had much to do. We had a winning combination and could have gone on to make many great albums. But no, the end was nigh, so time to go.
Coston: I've read that you played on some of the tracks for Odessa. Is
that true, and what tracks were those?
Melouney: Yes, I was on three tracks, “Marley Purt Drive”, “Whisper Whisper” and one more that I can’t remember.
Coston: What are you working on these days? I've read that you also put
out a solo album in the last several years.
Melouney: I am very close to finishing an album of Bee Gee songs that I do in my show. They all have my own arrangement, I have done them all in my own way. I play my show all over the country and am heading off to LA in March to catch up with an old friend who is a record producer together with his wife, Carlo Olsen and do some recording there. Then I am off to The UK to play my show there. I am contacting agents there at the moment. I want to play Europe again. How long I will be there, I do not know.
Coston: Anything that you'd like to say to our readers, or anything that I
Melouney: Thanks for reading my ramblings and if you see me advertised playing in your area, please come along. Also, keep an eye out for my new album, soon to be released on iTunes.
The complete interview coming soon in an upcoming issue of the Big Takeover Magazine.
You can also read my post about my love for the first three Bee Gees albums on this blog.