As a recording artist, Bill Shepherd has released such successful albums as the pop instrumental LP Shepherd and His Flock in 1959 and, in 1968, the Aurora LP. It is as an engineer, and later a producer/arranger, however, that he had a major impact on popular music by virtue of his association with the Bee Gees. The British-born Shepherd had first achieved notice in the pop world in 1959 with his work as producer/composer on a film called #Idle on Parade, which attempted to put Anthony Newley into a kind of rock roll comedy vehicle. He also worked with legendary producer Joe Meek during the early '60s and cut a song with Gene Vincent, conducting the orchestral accompaniment for the American rock legend in 1963 before emigrating to Australia in 1964. Shepherd joined Festival Records and first began working with Barry, Robin, and Maurice Gibb in 1965 on their recording of Arthur Alexander's Every Day I Have to Cry and the Barry Gibb-authored B-side, You Wouldn't Know. Shepherd departed Australia for England in 1966, and by 1967 was back working with the Bee Gees, this time under the auspices of manager/producer Robert Stigwood. He was responsible for many of the arrangements and the conducting of many accompaniments on their '60s recordings, from small string ensembles to 30-piece orchestras, in effect serving the same function with this group that George Martin had with the Beatles. Shepherd's good professional relationship with the group in those years, along with his musical range, allowed him to work in any of the idioms in which they chose to record, from psychedelia to pop ballads, and he was, at least as much as guitarist Vince Melouney or drummer Colin Petersen, a full-time member of the group in everything but name. Indeed, in those years the group often toured England and performed on-stage with an orchestra in tow, and Shepherd was very much the architect of their sound. In 1968, Shepherd also released an album entitled Aurora on which he conducted a soft pop chorus in performances of songs composed by the Gibb brothers. He remained closely involved with all of the group's work up to and including To Whom It May Concern, which was their last album done in England. Only on the rather more ambitious double-LP Odessa did he cede any of the arranging chores, in that instance to Paul Buckmaster. Although his relationship with the group ended in 1972, Shepherd's arrangements and conducting for the group are still spoken of highly by all concerned. ~ Bruce Eder, Rovi

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