Sunday, September 30, 2012 at 2:00 p.m., the Unveiling of the Heritage Foundation Plaque for Robin Gibb was enacted at The Prebendal, Priest End in Thame.
Following the dedications by Sir Tim Rice, who said, "It's a great honor for me to have known Robin," and Mike Read, who spoke for everyone by saying, "Everyone that knew him loved him," the plaque was unveiled by Dwina and RJ Gibb. Robin's daughter Melissa could not be there because she was not feeling too well. You can watch the ceremony on news.sky.com, which also features a video of Peter Andre reminishing about the time he worked with Robin.
The ceremony was followed by the Afternoon Tea in the garden. The refectory and chapel were also opened to the attendees. As guests entered the marquee, instrumental versions of a selection of songs written by Barry, Robin and Maurice Gibb were played by house band Calibre.
Throughout the afternoon the music was played and songs were sung as a tritube to Robin: Isabel Suckling, accompanied by pianist Ian Tilley performed "Christmas Day" from "Titanic Requiem" preceded by her powerful rendition of "Ave Maria." Errol Reid and Wayne Banks, two people who over the last decade toured all over the world with Robin's solo show, which Robin himself loved to call "Bee Gee On His Own," until the last sellout show in front of 30,000 people in Berlin on July 3, 2011, did an acoustic version of "To Love Somebody." Singer songwriter Cecilia De Lisle performed "Rings Around The Moon" from the 1997 "Still Waters" album, accompanied on guitar by Ivor Novello award winner Stuart James. Cecilia is currently in a London studio working on a new album with Stuart and Bradley James. It will be released in 2013, and "Rings Around the Moon" might be one of the tracks. Also, Decca Records artist Mary-Jess Leaverland performed "Don't Cry Alone." She currrently has the song in her live set. You can see her outstanding performance of the afternoon on YouTube.
The Soldiers made a special presentation, recollecting the courage Robin showed last autumn when he was unable to make a reception at 10 Downing Street at 11:00 a.m. but was determined not to let them down for a TV appearance with Alan Titchmarsh and turned up and made his apology to the Prime Minister on live TV. However, even this is eclipsed when on February 13th this year, having committed to an invitation to appear with The Soldiers at their show, Robin made his last ever public appearance at the London Palladium in support of "Help For Heroes" charity.
The Soldiers performed "I've Gotta Get A Message To You," their 2011 Poppy Appeal song with Robin, and "How Deep Is Your Love" recorded in memory of Robin on their forthcoming album.
TV presenter Peter Andre, whose ITV2 show will feature footage filmed during the afternoon, read out the messages from those who could not attend the event including Bill Wyman, DJ Johnny Walker, Beverley Knight, Mick Hucknell, Mitch Winehouse, and Rick Wakeman.
Bill Wyman, currently touring Europe with the Rhythm Kings said: "When Georgie Fame performed 'How Deep Is Your Love' last night as a tribute to Robin, we had a standing ovation for our second song in! We are expecting something similar in Hamburg tonight.... Robin was the best voice of the Bee Gees." Beverley Knight sent a message saying how much loved and revered Robin was by the entire world of music and beyond. She continues: "For me he was a humble genius and I feel honoured to have known him."
It could have gone on and on, but Peter finally ended his presentation with the words of a man who received a Lifetime Achievement Award presented by Robin in February 2011 at the Berlin Film Festival. On that evening he talked about how his life changed forever after the first screening of the opening credits of Saturday Night Fever as he walked down a Brooklyn street to "Stayin' Alive." In the words of John Travolta: "Put them on a microphone and it's pure magic."
Legendary broadcasters who were also personal friends of Robin were among the guest speakers. David "Kid" Jensen, who introduced Robin's younger brother Andy on his first Top Of The Pops, also spoke of another legend Paul Gambaccini, who could not be present because of sudden illness. Paul was among the few people that visited Robin when he woke up from his coma in late April. Bob Harris, recipient of The Heritage Foundation Special Award as chosen by Robin himself, talked about the career of his friend Robin. Stephen Dixon, the host of Sky News was also there. Robin enjoyed late evenings at the Sky News studios in Isleworth, West London, doing "Paper Reviews."
Also, RJ and Doug Radcliffe MBE offered an appreciation of the Bomber Command Campaign spearheaded by then Heritage Foundation President Robin Gibb and the immense pride he would have felt when the dream was realised on June 28th when Her Majesty The Queen opened the Memorial in Green Park.
The day was a beautiful fitting tribute to Robin Gibb, but the Heritage Foundation Chairman David Grahame spoke for all of us when in one of the interviews he said: "I hoped we would never have had to put up a plaque for Robin in my lifetime. He put up such a fight."
There will be an article about the event in an upcoming issue of Hello. Also, Sunday Express is preparing a feature for next Sunday .
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