Andy Gibb died on March 10, 1988, when he was 30 years old. A new book called Arrow Through the Heart looks back at his amazing talent and sad end.
“Andy’s fall from grace was just as dramatic as his rise to fame,” says author Matthew Hild, who talked to Andy’s friends and musicians who knew him when he was young and dreamed of becoming a Bee Gee and performing with his brothers.
The biography talks about his deep insecurities, how he dealt with fame, and how he became addicted to cocaine, which hurt his health. Hild says, “Everything went wrong with Andy, even though he was loved.” “But the seeds for that were planted a long time ago, when he was thrown onto the world stage when he was still in his teens.”
As a teenager, he started his solo career by playing in bars in Ibiza and Australia, where he became well-known. By 1976, his older brother Barry Gibb, whom he looked up to, told him he wanted to work together. Hild also talks about how the two brothers got back together at Robert Stigwood’s house to make some “surefire hits” for his first album. “Andy could only watch in amazement as Barry wrote “I Just Want to Be Your Everything” on the spot in about 20 minutes,” writes Hild.
The song was No. 1 on the Billboard charts for four weeks. Soon after, “(Love Is) Thicker Than Water” and “Shadow Dancing” took over the top spot. Andy’s first three singles were all No. 1 hits, which made him a global superstar at the age of 19.
But behind Andy’s easy charm and sweet sexiness was a young man who doubted his songwriting skills and relied on Barry, who wrote or co-wrote and produced some of his biggest hits, even though his older brother told him he had his own talent. Hild says: “Barry would tell him, “There are three of us, but look at what you do. That’s not possible.'”
Andy also had problems in his personal life, especially after he broke up with Victoria Principal, an actress from Dallas with whom he had fallen in love in 1981. Their relationship was rocky, and when they broke up, he was crushed. The author says that Andy “never really found the long-term relationship he was looking for.”
During this time, he was taken to the hospital more than once for chest and stomach pains, and people in the industry started to hear about his drug problems. In 1982, he told Good Morning America, “I’ve been to hell and back, I guess.” “I had a nervous breakdown that was very bad…. I had everything I could have wanted, but I blew it all up.”
His family told him he needed to go to rehab. Andy went to the Betty Ford Center in 1985. Once he got out, it was hard for him to get his career going again.
His brothers asked him to come to Miami so they could work together and help each other. Barry eventually took Andy to London to get a new record deal set up. Early in 1988, Andy moved there to live in a carriage house on his brother Robin’s property. Hild says, “At first, he was hopeful.” He sounded upbeat and told his friends that he was looking forwards to going back to work.
But he didn’t say that his health had been getting worse and worse.
On March 9, 1988, Andy passed out in Robin’s cottage and had to be taken to the hospital. He died of myocarditis the next morning (inflammation of the heart muscle).
Decades later, Hild hopes that the book, which Lisa Saltzman Groundbreaking Productions has bought the rights to, will make people think again about Andy Gibb’s legacy. “People often get Andy wrong. Because his decline was so heavily publicised his reputation unjustly suffered,” he says. “He was a talented actor who was a star on Broadway and co-hosted the TV show Solid Gold. He should get more attention for his own skills instead of just being known as the Bee Gees’ younger brother.”
And it was a skill that only he had. Hild says, “There was something about Andy that made people like him.” “People could tell how weak he was, and it showed in his music.”