July 29, 2022 by jayneanastasia
The year was 1978 and no solo artist was hotter in the Pop Music Scene than Andy Gibb. I was a Senior in High School and Andy‘s music echoed through my days as part of the soundtrack to my life. Although we were close in age, Andy‘s life and mine couldn’t have been more different. While I was studying, he was living the perfect Pop Star dream. Or so I thought.
Andy came from a large family with four older siblings. Three of the siblings were brothers (including a set of twins) who were also sitting at the top of the Pop Music Charts. Those brothers were famously known as the Bee Gees. When Andy became old enough to break into the music profession, he made his way as a solo artist, with there always being talk of him joining his brothers as a Bee Gee at some point. But that was not to be. Just five days after his 30th birthday, he passed away. Many books have been written about the Bee Gees and their rise to fame, and Andy has always been included as part of the family tale. But for all of his success and his tragic young death, he has never been the focus. Until now, that is.
Arrow Through The Heart: The Biography Of Andy Gibb is a new publication by Matthew Hild. Matthew is an author and educator who has spent the last couple of years during the Covid lockdown, researching, interviewing and organizing a timeline of the life of Andy Gibb. Andy‘s work and life has now received the attention it deserves as a standout musician that audiences throughout the world love and appreciate still to this day.
As a fan of Andy‘s, I’ve been following Matthew’s social where he’s shared snippets, photos, factoids, and other interesting tidbits along his writing journey. Once the book was published, I quickly placed my order and delved into the contents, as did many other fans. At that point, I realized that Featuring Matthew and the Andy Biography would be a great fit for my blog. Knowing Matthew’s connection to Andy‘s fandom, I thought what a great opportunity to introduce not only the book, but also Matthew as an author to all of the fans. So I contacted Matthew, and he was very kind and generous to give of his time to answer some questions! Along with questions concerning Andy, I’ve also included some questions for everyone to get to know Matthew a little better! There are two questions from other fans as well, whom I regularly chat with.
Thank you Matthew, for chatting with us. Let’s get started!!
Can you share a little about your background for us? (Where you are from, education, work experience, etc.)
I am a historian from Atlanta. I earned a doctorate at Georgia Tech, where I currently teach courses in US history and the history of technology and science.
Do you recall how your interest in writing originated, and how soon did you take up writing as a profession?
I started writing while earning my degrees in history. I consider teaching to be my main profession, though.
What inspired you to write the subject of your first book?
That book is about working-class political protest in the US South in the late nineteenth century. The book started off as my dissertation, and it seemed then (and now) like a timely topic that is relevant still today.
Do you set aside specific time to write, requiring yourself so much per day, or did you write as inspiration ebbs and flows?
I do it when I have the time. The pandemic and lockdown gave me extra time, as was true for many others, I imagine.
Do you have any advice for other writers, as well as any tips for writers trying to get published?
Try to find a publisher that you think fits your book. I would highly recommend BearManor Media, the publisher of this book, for entertainment books. I enjoyed working with them. But there is nothing wrong with self-publishing if you cannot find a suitable publisher.
How much time did it take you from the beginning idea through publishing to write Arrow Through the Heart?
Something approaching two years. I wrote a lot of it during the height of the pandemic.
How much of that time was spent on research? Was research completed prior to the actual writing, or did it occur in concert with the writing?
In concert with. I was continually landing new interviews while writing it, which of course led to many revisions.
Your other publications have all been based on historical eras and the events of the times. What was it that inspired you to pen a Biography, as well as take on a Pop Culture icon like Andy Gibb?
Because of the pandemic, research libraries were closed. I was able to write this book largely by interviewing Andy‘s friends and associates and by finding old articles, interviews, etc. on the internet (or in some cases, sent to me by Andy‘s friends or fans). And I thought that a biography of Andy was long overdue, given his huge stardom in the late ’70s and early ’80s.
How familiar were you with Andy‘s life and his career before you began your research, and do you consider yourself a fan?
I knew something about him, and the Bee Gees, beforehand, although much less than I do now of course. I think you have to be careful about being too big a fan of someone you are writing about, in order to stay objective, but I enjoyed listening to Andy‘s (and the Bee Gees‘) music often while I was working on the book.
How difficult was it to find and connect with many of Andy‘s friends and associates from his early days, as well as family members?
I had no luck at all with family members. I had better luck with a good many of his friends (listed in the book’s acknowledgments), and often one friend and/or associate of Andy‘s would put me in touch with another. I was able to talk to people who knew him in his early days, such as his longtime assistant and friend Tony Messina, and people who knew him at the end of his life, such as the Middle Ear engineer Scott Glasel, and many people who knew him during his heyday.
You mention in your interview with Today Extra Australia a comment that Olivia Newton-John had made regarding Andy. Were you able to speak with her directly?
I reached out to her US agent, Michael Caprio. He told me she was on a break and not doing media, but he said that since Andy was such a good friend of hers, he would ask her if I could ask her some questions via email. She agreed to let me do that, for which I am grateful, of course. That email exchange was where many (although not all) of the quotes from her in the book came from. (Note – the Today Extra Australia interview has been included at the end of the Feature.)
We know that Andy grew up with and seemed very close to his sister/niece, Bernice or Beri as she was known. Were you able to have any contact with her before her untimely passing last year?
No, but since she almost never spoke publicly about Andy in all the years between his death and hers, I really doubt that she would have spoken to me.
What was the hardest part of writing this biography?
Getting enough people who knew Andy well to speak to me. I think I did, but still, some people who knew him well–Marie Osmond, Marc Hullett, Brad Lachman, Marc Gurvitz–turned down my request to be interviewed. That was disappointing, but of course I respected their decision and their right to privacy.
How did you come up with the title?
I just thought it was fitting, and most of Andy’s fans know the ironic “I’m too young to die” refrain in the song.
Tell us a little bit about your cover art. Who designed it? Why did you go with that particular image/artwork?
For the front cover I wanted a photo that fans had not seen. A very talented artist in Sicily, Chris Minoldi, graciously offered to paint the portrait on the back cover as a tribute to Andy. The staff at BearManor Media (the publisher) designed the artwork.
I understand that the book has been optioned for a film. Which actor/actress would you like to see playing the lead characters from your book if you could have your dream cast?
I am stumped on this. Heath Ledger would have been a perfect choice, I think, to play Andy, but of course like Andy he passed too young.
What is the biggest thing to your knowledge that you feel people THINK they know about Andy and his story that you haven’t found to be true?
I’m not sure, but I do think too much emphasis has been placed on his problems (as in the VH-1 Behind the Music show on him), so hopefully this book redresses that and provides a more balanced look at his life.
And in the same way, what is the most important thing to your knowledge that you feel people DON’T know about Andy and his story, that they should know?
In terms of his personality, his kindness and generosity, which so many of his friends told me about. Professionally, he was extremely versatile and successful at everything he tried–records, TV, large concerts, Las Vegas nightclub shows, and musical theater (Pirates of Penzance, Something’s Afoot, Joseph and the Amazing Technicolor Dreamcoat).
After learning as much as much as you have about Andy, do you feel that if he had been anyone else, his path might have turned out differently? He wouldn’t have had the brothers’ experience to help him, but he also wouldn’t have felt their legacy hanging over him. Do you feel that his addictive personality would have remained an issue regardless?
I really can’t say, but his insecurities as the little brother of the Bee Gees definitely contributed to his addictions, although I don’t think they were the sole cause.
If you had to do it all over again, would you change anything about how you approached preparing your book?
I would have liked to have traveled to some of the places Andy lived and spent a lot of time, but the pandemic made that pretty much impossible.
Twitter Question from Kay ~ I would like to know if Andy felt like he had a “home.” He lived in so many places. I’ve wondered why his grave is in Los Angeles.
Right after Andy died (in England), Dick Ashby said that he thought Andy‘s heart was either in Miami or L.A. But Andy also often spoke fondly of Australia. As for why his grave is in L.A., I didn’t write this in the book because I am not 100% sure it’s true, but I heard that Hugh (Andy‘s father) wanted him buried there. Hugh and Barbara lived nearby in Woodland Hills (in the San Fernando Valley) at the time.
Twitter Question from Veoniss Houston ~ How did you discover Andy and what pushed you to put out the bio? I know Andy definitely needed one!
I knew about him growing up, and, you’re absolutely right, he needed one. That was why I wrote it–it seemed long overdue. There have been, of course, numerous books about the Bee Gees, but not about Andy before (except a slim, teen-magazine type of bio in 1979, which is still listed on Amazon). His impact and legacy certainly warrant a biography.
Is there anything else you’d like to share?
I’d like to thank all of Andy‘s friends and associates who shared their memories (and in some cases, photos) with me. Without their help, there would be no book.
How may we find out more about your books?
I have an Amazon author page that lists all my books.
Now, here is a fun little thing I like to call…
What’s your favorite getaway?
Never been to Ibiza, where Andy, Beri, and his parents lived from 1971-73, but I would love to see it.
Favorite guilty pleasure?
I am going to say a certain album by Barry Gibb & Barbra Streisand from 2005.
What three people (dead or alive) would you invite to a dinner party?
I certainly would love the chance to talk to Andy after spending so much time on the book. And I think Robin and Maurice would have both been interesting to meet, too. A number of people who I interviewed for the book mentioned what a fun-loving guy Mo was.
Favorite food indulgence?
Boring healthy things lol
Do you believe in ghosts or aliens?
Not really, yet I read and heard many stories about Andy‘s family and friends encountering his ghost in the year or so after he died, so who knows?
THANK YOU, Matthew, for taking time to discuss your work and your new book, Arrow Through The Heart: The Biography of Andy Gibb! Anyone looking for a copy may just click on the title listed here and it will take you to the Amazon page!
I thought it only fitting to end this Feature with Andy‘s song, from which the title of the book came from. Take a listen to Andy Gibb and Arrow Through The Heart as featured on the Mythology Box Set…