At just 23, Andy Gibb had the pop world at his feet. He had had more number one hits than his older brothers Barry, Robin and Maurice of the supergroup the Bee Gees, he had $4 million in the bank and his own international hit TV series.
But more important to Andy Gibb than any of this was the fact that he had found his perfect love. By the summer of 1981 he was deeply involved with Victoria Principal, Pamela Ewing in the super-soap Dallas, and regarded as one of the world's most beautiful women. Although she was seven years his senior, the couple were obviously madly in love and it was rumoured were all set to marry.
In August 1981 they recorded a remake of the Everly Brothers' duet All I Have To Do Is Dream and the pop world assumed that the hit record was a prelude to a love story coming true. It wasn't. For reasons that were never fully explained, Victoria decided that the affair was over and Andy Gibb was devastated. He threw himself into his work, and became the only singer in American chart history to have his first three singles go straight to number one. Indeed, he had ten songs in the US top 40, three of them winning platinum and gold discs. He made his debut on Broadway in Joseph and the Amazing Technicolor Dreamcoat, hosted a TV series and starred in a TV comedy series.
But none of it could compensate for losing the love of his life. Friends were horrified to find that Andy had been transformed from a sunny extrovert youngster into a moody recluse never seen on the pop social circuit. It was a dramatic change for the boy who had been persuaded to become a singer by his three older brothers — and found to his surprise that he was more often in the charts than they were. It was brother Barry who came up with the tune of Andy's first major hit, I Just Want To Be Your Everything. When it reached number one, the Bee Gees negotiated a massive contract for their baby brother. "I just can't tell anyone just how much I owe to them," Andy would later say. "They were never my rivals, just my constant inspiration..."
So Andy was delighted when I Just Want To Be Your Everything was finally pushed off the top slot... by How Deep is Your Love?...recorded by his brothers! But he was back at number one a month later with Love Is Thicker Than Water, once again co-written by brother Barry. "There's magic when we work together," Andy said. "Imagine having the greatest singers and songwriters living under one roof — your roof!
A few weeks later, he did it all again, with Shadow Dancing, written by all three of the Bee Gees. "We were going to record it ourselves," Maurice Gibb said, "but we all agreed it was the perfect song for Andy so we gave it to him. And once more he took it all the way to number one. "No, we weren't jealous. We were all thrilled with the kid's success. He was probably the most talented of all of us."
When Shadow Dancing won a platinum award, Andy insisted on presenting it to his brothers. He then had three more singles in the Top Ten and was planning to star in a Hollywood musical, when he met and fell in love with Victoria Principal.
After that, things for Andy Gibb would never be the same again. Although outwardly he was rich and successful, Andy Gibb had secretly turned to drugs to ease the pain of losing Victoria and soon he was desperately in need of help. His brothers had him admitted to the famed Betty Ford clinic under another name for the treatment of cocaine abuse, but the treatment was not a success. Eventually Andy Gibb discharged himself and sank deeper into depression. He reneged on contracts, cancelled tours without notice and walked out of recording sessions in tears.
Again, his brothers did everything they could to help. "It was heartbreaking seeing him in that state," Robin Gibb remembered. "He just didn't seem to care if he lived or died. Life without Victoria had no meaning for him."
In 1987, the man who was once one of the richest stars in pop was forced into bankruptcy with $2 million of debts. Then suddenly and dramatically, Andy Gibb fought his way back to life. By January, 1988, he had signed a new deal with Island Records, paid off many of his debts and was due to record his first album in the spring. But he never did. In March 1988 he complained of stomach pains and was rushed to hospital with a suspected drug overdose.
He died three days later of what his family have always claimed was an inflammation of the heart caused by a virus. It was five days after his 30th birthday. Victoria Principal was too heartbroken to go to the funeral. But at her request the record they made together was reissued — and raised over $1 million for drug rehabilitation charities. "It just brings all the heartbreak back again," she said. "But if some good comes out of the tragedy it's the very least I can do."