Barry Gibb Named Inaugural Fellow of MTSU’s Center for Popular Music

Singer-songwriter-producer Barry Gibb, left, laughs at an audience member's comment Monday night at MTSU during his recognition as the inaugural fellow of The Center for Popular Music in the university's College of Mass Communication. Presenting Gibb with documentation of his honor inside Tucker Theatre are mass comm Dean Ken Paulson, center, and Dr. Dale Cockrell, director of the center. (MTSU photo by Andy Heidt)

Singer-songwriter-producer Barry Gibb, laughs at an audience member’s comment Monday night at MTSU during his recognition as the inaugural fellow of The Center for Popular Music in the university’s College of Mass Communication. Presenting Gibb with documentation of his honor inside Tucker Theatre are mass comm Dean Ken Paulson, and Dr. Dale Cockrell, director of the center. (MTSU photo by Andy Heidt)

Singer-songwriter Barry Gibb was honored Monday night (Oct. 28) as the inaugural fellow of The Center for Popular Music at MTSU’s College of Mass Communication. Gibb, a founding member of the pop-sensation Bee Gees, received the honor before speaking at MTSU’s Tucker Theatre for an event billed as his first lecture and performance combination.

The artist came to campus at the invitation of John Merchant, an assistant professor in MTSU’s Department of Recording Industry who toured with Gibb for years as part of his sound production team.

“Barry Gibb’s career has been characterized by its breadth, depth and consistently high quality, embracing shifts in popular music with intuitive ease — and emerging at the top of the charts in five different decades,” said Ken Paulson, dean of the college, who helped present the honor to Gibb.

The fellowship recognizes Gibb’s extraordinary accomplishments as a performer, songwriter and producer. He is cited in the Guinness Book of World Records as the world’s most successful songwriter after Paul McCartney.

Gibb and his brothers have been topping the charts since the 1960s, becoming the only group in pop history to write, produce and record six straight No. 1 hits. The Bee Gees had 16 Grammy nominations and nine Grammy wins. Gibb also has had No. 1 songs in the 1960s, 1970s, 1980s 1990s and 2000s and is the only songwriter in history to write four successive U.S. No. 1 hits: The Bee Gees’ “Stayin’ Alive” in 1978, replaced by youngest Gibb brother Andy’s single, “Love Is Thicker Than Water,” followed by the Bee Gees’ seven-week run for “Night Fever” and Yvonne Elliman’s “If I Can’t Have You.” The Bee Gees’ and Elliman’s singles all originated with one of the top-selling albums of all time, the film soundtrack from “Saturday Night Fever.”

Recording Industry Chair Beverly Keel said she was pleased that Gibb’s appearance at MTSU provided an opportunity for the center — and the entire university community — to connect with the legendary performer. “We take pride in providing top-notch opportunities for our students to learn from the best,” Keel said. “Professor Merchant’s ties to Mr. Gibb allowed the university to benefit from one of the greatest musical talents in popular music.”

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Jessica Nicholson serves as the Managing Editor for MusicRow magazine. Her previous music journalism experience includes work with Country Weekly magazine and Contemporary Christian Music (CCM) magazine. She holds a BBA degree in Music Business and Marketing from Belmont University. She welcomes your feedback at [email protected]

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