Has country and bluegrass legend Ricky Skaggs gone disco?
Not exactly. But the multiple CMA and Grammy-award winning artist collaborated with Barry Gibb of “Saturday Night Fever” fame on one of the songs on his new album, “Music to My Ears.”
“There’s a whole lot more to the Bee Gees than what most people remember,” Skaggs told FoxNews.com. “I mean, just songs like, ‘How Can You Mend a Broken Heart,’ ‘I Started a Joke,’ ‘To Love Somebody’–songs like that, I’m telling you, they are prime country songs.”
After hearing a song Gibb wrote, “Soldier’s Son,” Skaggs asked the author of “Night Fever” and “Stayin’ Alive” to sing on his new album.
“I asked him just to think about it. I told him he didn’t have to give me an answer right now, but just think about if he’d be willing to come and sing on this record with me,” explained Skaggs. “Barry said, ‘I don’t have to think about it, I’m going to give you an absolute yes right now. I want to do it!’”
Gibb even fulfilled a childhood dream with Skaggs this past July. Before rehearsals for an unannounced show at Nashville’s historic Ryman Theater, Skaggs made Gibb an offer he couldn’t refuse.
“I asked him, ‘Well, what would you think about doing the Grand Ole Opry with us on Friday night,’” explained Skaggs. “There was this long silence on the other end of the phone, and then Gibb said, ‘When I was 12 years old, living in Australia, I used to see Marty Robbins and others on the Grand Ole Opry on an old black-and-white television in Australia. I dreamed of standing behind that microphone that says, ‘WSN Grand Ole Opry.’ But I thought with the brothers and the pop and rock ‘n roll direction that we took, that would never, ever happen. So this is a dream come true.’
The show went well, to say the least.
“Barry was thrilled to death,” said Skaggs of the three standing ovations Gibb received at the Grand Ole Opry. “He told me, ‘I could die now, and it would be totally okay. This is one of the greatest moments of my entire career–you don’t know what this has meant to me.’”
Now, Skaggs believes that Gibb has a whole country album in him.
“He told me that he has got four or five things written that he wants me to listen to and there’s a song about (his brother) Robin that he’s written that no one’s heard yet,” said Skaggs. “I’m not trying to push them on that one, I just said, ‘Hey, send it on out to me when you want me to hear it.’ We’ve talked a lot about Robin’s passing, we just have a really great relationship and friendship and I love him dearly.”
Gibb already has property in Nashville, Johnny and June Cash’s former estate, which was tragically destroyed by fire in 2007.
“They were so torn up over it,” said Skaggs of Barry and his wife, Linda’s, reaction to the fire. “Their dreams just kinda got dashed for a little while. We’ve been talking to him over the last six or eight months, saying, ‘Hey man, you’ve still got the property, you can rebuild.’
While the Gibb may be reluctant to make a permanent move to Nashville, Skaggs is insistent.
“I said, ‘Look, you need to live here. You need to just put roots town and come up to a place where people love you, honor you and appreciate your singing and songwriting abilities, you’ve got a lot of music left.’ Barry has outlived all of his brothers, and I know that’s been hard for him. But there’s a freedom that comes with that, too. He’s free now, he can do any kind of music that he wants to do. I think his plans are to do a record sometime and he wants me to help him. Hopefully, at some point we’re going to get more music out of him.”
Skaggs added that Gibb’s Christian faith can help him heal.
“He’s got a lot of Christian friends here,” said Skaggs. “Both he and Linda have been to Bible studies at my house. I think he maybe had a lot of that in early life with his mom and dad, but I think that the business can sometimes really consume our life. I just don’t think he wants that anymore. I think he wants to enjoy his kids, his grandkids, his good friends, and making music when he wants to make it. I think that’s what he’s looking forward to.”
Skaggs firmly believes that Gibb is on the verge of a songwriting renaissance.
“Some of his greatest songs are going to come in the next five or 10 years or so,” declared Skaggs. “I think he just needs the freedom to not have to worry about running things by his brothers. He’s got a clean slate and he’s got a short pen. He can write his future, he really can.”