With the news yesterday of Robin Gibb’s death, I thought I might share with you this morning my Bee Gees story.
Back in November of 1997, I was one of 15 from the Oregon-Idaho Conference (Kim Fields was another) who attended the inaugural session of the Academy for New Congregational Development in Las Vegas, Nevada. We were staying at the MGM Grand. The story was that they got an amazing deal on our rooms. The hotel apparently didn’t realize that United Methodists don’t gamble. As we checked in we noticed life-sized cardboard cut-outs of the Bee Gees. They were set to perform at the MGM Grand the night after we left. Room rates I’m sure went up then.
Wednesday evening, November 12 (my birthday), we were holding a worship service. The preacher was preaching a great sermon. I remember hanging on every word. Then one of the strangest things happened. An older gentleman named Clinton Parker, the organizer of the Academy, walked to the front and started talking. Preachers aren’t too fond of being interrupted in the middle of their sermons. He said something like this, “I am terribly sorry to do this, but I just received word that the Bee Gees are about to begin the dress rehearsal for their concert. We have been invited to attend. No charge. The only catch is we can’t enter once they have started. We have to be in our seats within 15 minutes.”
The next few minutes were a bit surreal. Some of those in attendance had the integrity to stay put and wait for the sermon to resume. Most didn’t. I didn’t. There was a mass exodus for the doors as we were led down a labyrinth of hallways and into the big arena where the MGM Grand hosts all their prize fights. We got amazing seats. Front center, maybe 20 rows from the stage. It was an incredible concert.
Turns out the real concert, on November 14, was billed as “The Bee Gees: One Night Only”. Barry Gibbs was suffering from arthritis and decided this was going to be it, their final concert. The recording from that concert was turned into an album that was a huge success. “One Night Only” also played on HBO for years after the concert. The popular acclaim caused Barry to change his mind. He decided he was up to one more big tour, and so “One Night Only” was repeated all over the world.
The next morning’s opening session of the Academy for New Congregational Development was interesting. We went on and one ad nauseum debriefing what had happened the night before. Poor Clinton Parker got reamed for interrupting worship to let us know about the invitation. Those who stayed in the room and refused to move played the role of martyrs. Some of those who left waxed eloquently about the moral dilemma in which they found themselves. As for me, I’m still curious about how that sermon would have ended, but I haven’t regretted for a moment attending that concert. Especially now that Barry is the only one or the four “Brothers Gibb” who is still with us.
In Christ, Pastor John Watts