The Bee Gees
Synopsis of Pop Music
“Whether you're a brother or whether you're a mother,
You're stayin' alive, stayin' alive.
Feel the city breakin' and everybody shakin',
And we're stayin' alive, stayin' alive.
Ah, ha, ha, ha, stayin' alive, stayin' alive.
Ah, ha, ha, ha, stayin' alive...”
Usually when a music act has a long-lasting career, it is because they have learned to do one style of music very well. However, The Bee Gees have enjoyed and continue to enjoy a successful career because of their ability to reinvent themselves. This talented trio of brothers has done everything from psychedelia to ballads to disco and have managed to score hits at every step of the way. Their gift for consistently writing and producing great songs have also made them in-demand songwriters and producers for top talents like Barbra Streisand. As a result, they have become a true institution of popular music.
Barry, Robin and Maurice Gibb were performing together before they had reached their teens, first as a support act for their bandleader father and then on their own as the Brothers Gibb. By the mid-1960’s, they were a trio of seasoned performers who could sing anything from showtunes to rock and roll. More importantly, Barry had been writing songs for the group from his early teens on and had won the more than one hit in Australia. These combined skills paid off in 1967 when the group, now known as The Bee Gees, were summoned to England for a record contract.
Bee Gees’ First was released in the summer of 1967. It consisted entirely of tunes penned by the three brothers and showed off their impressive musical range to good effect. They soon landed their first worldwide hit with a Beatles-ish tune called “New York Mining Disaster 1941.” It was a dramatic pop tune about a mining cave-in built on jangly guitars and the group’s three-part harmonies. In fact many Americans thought this song was actually done by The Beatles when they first heard it because the song was initially submitted to record stations with no artist credited on the label.
The Bee Gees soon proved their staying power with “To Love Somebody,” a soul-styled ballad that became a Top-20 hit. For the next few years, they would have great success with a string of ballads done in a lushly-produced but impassioned style. Songs like “Massachusetts,” “Holiday” and “Words” blended a rich, orchestral sound with psychedelic touches and the Gibbs’ strong harmonies to become big international hits. These songs often dealt with unusual subjects: For instance, "I’ve Got To Get A Message To You” was about the last wish of a prisoner condemned to die.
The Bee Gees reached the peak of their early period in 1969 with Odessa, a double album that showed off their orchestral-psychedelia sound at its most ambitious. However, Robin Gibb left the group that year to pursue a solo career. He scored a hit with the dramatic “Saved By The Bell,” while Barry and Maurice continued on as The Bee Gees with Cucumber Castle. This album was the soundtrack to a fantasy-comedy film that they starred in and gave them a big hit in the U.K. with the country-styled “Don’t Forget To Remember.”
Robin Gibb returned to The Bee Gees in 1970, beginning the next phase of the group's career. Their new hits downplayed psychedelia in favor of a pure ballad sound. They quickly scored a Top-5 hit with “Lonely Days,” a nifty pop tune that contrasted piano-led verses done in a ballad style with a poppy Beatles-styled chorus that featured big-band horns. It was followed by a #1 hit with “How Can You Mend A Broken Heart?,” an aching ballad with a gorgeous, string-driven sound. More lovely ballad hits followed, including “Run To Me” and “My World.”
In 1973, The Bee Gees entered what would be the most successful and influential phase of their career when they began experimenting with a more American-styled sound. They gave free reign to their love of American soul music on Main Course and reinvented themselves as disco kings in the process. The bass-driven, danceable “Jive Talkin” was based on a rhythm the brothers Gibb heard when driving over a bridge. The end result was a #1 hit that filled the dance floors at discos around the world. It was followed by another danceable hit in “Nights On Broadway,” and “Fanny,” a lovely hit ballad.
The Bee Gees continued in their new disco style with Children Of The World in 1976. It featured another #1 hit in “You Should Be Dancing,” a fast-paced dance tune driven by an infectious conga beat. The next year, The Bee Gees truly became superstars when they contributed several songs to the soundtrack of Saturday Night Fever. They scored three back-to-back #1 hits with the silky ballad “How Deep Is Your Love,” the all-time disco classic “Stayin’ Alive” and the intensely danceable “Night Fever.” By the middle of 1978, they were the most popular band in the world.
By this time, The Bee Gees had also found success as songwriters and producers. In between their many hits in 1977 and 1978, they crafted several hits for other artists. Several of these went to #1, including “If I Can’t Have You” by Yvonne Elliman and “Grease” by Frankie Valli. Most notably, they teamed up with their younger brother Andy Gibb to create three #1 smashes: “I Just Want To Be Your Everything,” “(Love Is) Thicker Than Water” and the propulsive dance classic “Shadow Dancing”. The Bee Gees also starred in the musical Sgt. Pepper’s Lonely Heart’s Club Band that year.
In 1979, the Bee Gees returned to the charts with Spirits Having Flown. Like their previous album, it produced three #1 hits: “Too Much Heaven” was an old-fashioned ballad with a glossy, modern sound, “Tragedy” was a dramatic disco epic, and “Love You Inside Out” was a bouncy slice of pop-funk. The group followed their chart success with a world tour that became a sold-out attraction at each stop. During this time, Barry also produced and wrote several songs for the Barbara Streisand album Guilty. From this album, “Woman In Love” became a #1 hit, and “Guilty” (a duet with Barry) hit #3.
As the 1980’s began, The Bee Gees began downplayed their own career to become superstar writers and producers. Over the next few years, they would produce hit albums for such artists as Dionne Warwick, Kenny Rogers and Diana Ross. However, they would also do the occasional album during the 1980’s as The Bee Gees. They did the soundtrack for Staying Alive, the sequel to Saturday Night Fever, in 1983. They also scored a Top-10 hit at the end of the decade with the spiritual-themed “One.”
Today, the Bee Gees are well into their fourth decade of success. Their many past hits are revered as classics and have been covered by artists as diverse as Elvis Presley and Sarah Vaughan. With the disco revival of the 1990’s, hits like “Stayin’ Alive” and “You Should Be Dancing” were given a new lease on life and were also covered by artists like The Fugees and Boyzone.
The Bee Gees have not been content to rest on their laurels, and they remain as active as ever today. Most recently, they scored a hot album with Still Waters and were recently inducted into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame. They also continue to pen hits for artists like Celine Dion. Their abilities to write great songs that stand the test of time have made them a treasure of the pop music, and their ability to stay current ensures that The Bee Gees will continue to be important to pop music for many years to come.
Artist Release History1965 - Bees Gees Sing and Play 14 Barry Gibb Songs
1966 - Monday's Rain
1967 - The Bee Gee's 1st
1968 - Horizontal
1968 - Idea
1968 - Rare, Precious & Beautiful (compilation)
1969 - Odessa
1969 - The Best of the Bee Gees, Vol. 1
1969 - Rare, Precious & Beautiful, Vol. 2 (compilation)
1970 - Cucumber Castle
1970 - Rare, Precious & Beautiful, Vol. 3 (compilation)
1971 - Melody (Soundtrack)
1971 - Trafalgar
1972 - To Whom It May Concern
1973 - Life in a Tin Can
1973 - Gotta Get a Message to You (compilation)
1973 - The Best of the Bee Gees, Vol. 2
1974 - Mr. Natural
1975 - Main Course
1975 - Portrait (compilation)
1976 - Children of the World
1976 - Bee Gees Gold, Vol. 1(compilation)
1977 - Here at Last...Live
1977 - Saturday Night Fever
1977 - Best
1977 - I've Gotta Get a Message to You (compilation)
1978 - Sgt. Pepper's Lonely Hearts Club Band (soundtrack)
1978 - 1963-1966: Birth of Brilliance (compilation)
1979 - Spirits Having Flown
1979 - Greatest(compilation)
1980 - Early Years, Vol. 1 (compilation)
1980 - Early Years, Vol. 2 (compilation)
1981 - Living Eyes
1982 - Bee Gees Best 1967-70 (compilation)
1982 - The Early Days (compilation)
1983 - Staying Alive (soundtrack)
1983 - Music for the Millions (compilation)
1985 - Massachusetts (compilation)
1987 - E.S.P.
1989 - One
1990 - Tales from the Brothers Gibb (compilation)
1990 - The Very Best of the Bee Gees (compilation)
1991 - High Civilization
1993 - Size Isn't Everything
1993 - Songbook (compilation)
1995 - To Be or Not to Be (compilation)
1997 - Still Waters
1997 - Forever Classic
1998 - One Night Only [live]
1998 - Ever Increasing Circles (compilation)
1998 - Original Hits (compilation)
1998 - Spicks & Specks: 26 Songs from the Early Days (compilation)
1998 - Birth of Brilliance, Vol. 2 (compilation)
1998 - Claustrophobia (compilation)
1998 - Great Bee Gees (compilation)
1999 - Tomorrow the World (compilation)
1999 - Brilliant from Birth (compilation)
1999 - Best! 2000 (compilation)
2000 - 22 Hits of the Bee Gees (compilation)
2000 - Classic Years (compilation)
2001 - This Is Where I Came In
Pop Sub Categoriespop
Essential Music AlbumsBest of the Bee Gees (Polygram)
Best of the Bee Gees, Vol. 2 (Polygram)
Bee Gees Greatest (Polygram)
Band MembersBarry Gibb vocals, guitar
Robin Gibb vocals
Maurice Gibb vocals, bass
Vince Melouney guitar (1967-69)
Colin Peterson drums (1967-69)