Barry Gibb has been knighted by the British monarchy. He’s been hall of famed for rock and roll and his songwriting.
He, along with his late brothers, twins Robin and Maurice Gibb, made Miami home base for No. 1 hits written and recorded here for their act, the Bee Gees, as well as for Barbra Streisand (“Guilty”), Kenny Rogers and Dolly Parton (“Islands in the Stream”), and Dionne Warwick (“Heartbreaker”) since moving to Miami Beach in 1975.
Now, a new honor comes to the British singer-songwriter and musician:
Gibb has been named one of the five artists that The John F. Kennedy Center for the Performing Arts selected as the 46th honorees for lifetime artistic achievements — the Kennedy Center honor distinction.
Joining Gibb are actor and comedian Billy Crystal; soprano Renée Fleming; rapper, singer, and actress Queen Latifah; and singer Dionne Warwick.
“This is a wonderful honor! It’s hard to be proud and humble at the same time,” Gibb said in a statement after he learned he’d been chosen.
“It is one of the most special moments in my life and something that I will always cherish. When I think back over 50 years to our beginnings in Redcliffe, Queensland, I could never have expected this to happen in my life. Receiving the Kennedy Center Honors is something that everyone hopes might happen one day. I’ve often thought about but never dreamed it could come true,” Gibb said.
Gibb, 77, may have been born on the Isle of Man, making him a British citizen. He may have been raised in Australia where he and his two younger brothers formed the Bee Gees as teens in the early-1960s. The Kennedy Center Honors may be delivered and broadcast from the Kennedy Center Opera House in Washington.
But this year’s honors carry a distinct Miami rhythm.
For one, the gala event in D.C. on Dec. 3 will be hosted by Gloria Estefan.
In 2017, the same year Gibb was knighted, Estefan was named a Kennedy Center honoree at the 40th awards presentation. Estefan has based her entire career out of Miami — her home since 1959 — and graduated from Our Lady of Lourdes Academy, and the University of Miami in 1979.
She met Emilio Estefan in 1975 and soon after joined his band, the Miami Sound Machine. The group’s 1987 hit, “Rhythm Is Gonna Get You,” was added to the National Recording Registry at the Library of Congress in 2018. A biomusical, “On Your Feet!” The Story of Emilio and Gloria Estefan,” played Broadway and later the Actors’ Playhouse at the Miracle Theatre stage in Coral Gables in February 2022.
The same year the Estefans met, Gibb was talked into moving with his family to South Florida in early 1975 by fellow Brit Eric Clapton, who had recorded at Criteria Studios in North Miami.
Gibb never left.
The Bee Gees’ first release cut locally was “Jive Talkin’. The single went to No. 1 and reestablished the Bee Gees as a hit machine responsible for landmarks like “You Should Be Dancing,” “Tragedy” and the “Saturday Night Fever” smashes “How Deep Is Your Love,” “Stayin’ Alive” and “Night Fever.”
Gibb also wrote or co-wrote three No. 1 singles for youngest brother Andy Gibb in 1977 and 1978, including “I Just Want to Be Your Everything.”
Estefan on Gibb
Estefan started hosting the Kennedy Center Honors in 2018. This year, she gets to do so while her fellow in song gets his due.
“I still remember the thrill of hearing that I would be receiving a Kennedy Center Honor,” Estefan told the Miami Herald in an email on Thursday. “Now, on my third time hosting the Honors I am thrilled again to be able to celebrate a fellow Miamian, the uniquely talented Barry Gibb, along with the incredible Dionne Warwick, Queen Latifah and Renée Fleming. What a powerhouse group of diverse artists!”
Gibb and Warwick connection
Here’s one more Miami connection: Dionne Warwick.
The New Jersey native turned to Barry Gibb in Miami for their custom-crafted “Heartbreaker” collaboration in 1982. Now, Warwick and Gibb share a Kennedy honor in the same group.
The “Heartbreaker” album led to the hit title song. “Heartbreaker” was patterned after Gibb’s production and writing pairing with Streisand on the 1980 “Guilty” project. After Warwick, Gibb produced Kenny Rogers’ “Eyes That See in the Dark” album that included the chart-topping Dolly Parton duet, “Islands in the Stream” in 1983.
All of these projects were partly recorded at the Gibbs’ private studio, Middle Ear, which was tucked off of the Venetian Causeway near the two-story Miami Beach Publix.
Maurice Gibb Memorial Park on Purdy Avenue, named in his honor after he died in 2003, is near the family’s former studio. Robin Gibb died in 2012.
“I wish my brothers were here so that they could’ve shared in this special moment,” Barry Gibb said in his Kennedy Center statement.
“Barry Gibb has become a cultural beacon in Miami,” commented Michael Gordon on a Facebook post by Gibb’s friend and tour manager Carlos Guzman.
How to watch
The 46th Kennedy Center Honors will air from 9 p.m. to 11 p.m. Dec. 27 on CBS and stream on Paramount+.