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Staying Alive: The Bee Gees

Updated: Oct 23, 2021

The Bee Gees in my mind would stand out as one of the greatest groups ever. In fact they are a notch or two below The Beatles in greatness and popularity. They are behind evergreen songs like "Staying alive", "How deep is your love" " Night Fever" Their music transcended generations . Can anybody forget the melodious voice of Robin Gibbs or the the sweet Falsetto voice of Barry Gibbs. The Bee Gees were christianed the Disco Kings for their epic work in the mid 70's to late 70's. They are multiple Hall of Famers and have sold well over 120M records. They have done collaborations with some of the greatest Superstars including but not limited to Barbara Streisand, Celine Dion . It is said that their single "night Fever" was the biggest selling single of all time before Michael Jackson's Thriller upended them. Tragedy has a way of intruding into the lives of great musicians and great music groups. The group unfortunately today has only one member surviving, as death has snapped both Maurice and Robin Gibbs. Barry Gibbs is the only surviving member of this erstwhile great group. The group set so many precedents that the present generation of musicians today cannot light a candle to them. When you talk about the Bee Gees you talk about the Beatles they were that good.

The Bee Gees


The Beginning

They were born in the Isle of Man to English parents. They lived in Chorlton Manchester before moving to Australia in the 50's in a place called Redcliffe. In the Bay region of Queensland. There they started their group and ran through the gamut of discovery and hustling, they in the course of growing released some albums and had to relocate back to England in 1967 to have access to a larger musical audience. Their single "Spicks and Specks" needed to reach a wider audience according to their manager.



The Bee Gees In 1967


As can be seen from the picture above the Bee Gees as a group had more than the three Gibbs brothers, before the departure of the Bee Gees to the UK Hugh Gibbs had earlier sent their demos to Brian Epstein, the legendary promoter of the Beatles, Epstein passed the demos to Robert Stigwood, who after auditioning them got them a 5 year recording contract with POLYDOR records and they also got a contract with Alto Records in the US.


Worldwide Fame

Stigwood upon signing them on promptly started promoting their music he made comparisons of the Bee Gees with the Beatles, thus attracting attention to the group, the comparison with the Beatles helped their single "Spicks and Specks" rise in the UK charts. No such impetus was needed to promote their next single " To love somebody", the song made the US charts, the song was incidentally originally penned for Otis Redding

Success brought fame and they got many invites, to the BBC and to Jimmy Saville show, and were now touring Europe and the US. They released more singles in 1968, After touring in 1968 one of the non Gibbs brothers member of the group left to pursue his solo career. Maurice Gibbs had earlier collapsed due to exhaustion prior to their 1968 US tour

Like all groups and like all endeavors made by humans bad blood soon cropped up as Robin Gibbs felt Stigwood was giving Barry Prominence in the Group as a front man and so quit the group in mid 1969 to pursue his solo career. Within this period Robin as a solo artist recorded more success than the remaining Bee Gees group.


Robin Gibbs


After the departure of Robin the group continued playing as the Bee Gees and at one point drafted their sister into the group. They released an album in 1970 with little success

People actually thought the Bee Gees were finished. Maurice started recording a solo album and Barry too was doing same without much success, meanwhile Robin was scoring hits in Europe with his second hit "Saved by the Bell"



Saved by the Bell Album Sleeve


By the early seventies, blood being thicker than water, the brothers called each other and reformed the band. They continued releasing albums with varying success.

By 1973 the the Bee Gees kind of reached a dead end productively and something had to give. They however performed with Chuck Berry in 1973, they did two songs, " Johnny be good" and "Reeling and Rocking"



Bee Gees Jamming with Chuck Berry


The group were on a downward spiral so much so that after a tour of Canada and the US the group returned home to England and started playing in small clubs.


At Eric Clapton's suggestion they moved to the United States, specifically Florida and there they discovered that the smooth soft ballads and R & B they were playing was not going to lead them anywhere near the top, so they caught unto the Disco vibes and Barry had to learn to use Falsetto voice. That change to Disco changed their lives forever and made them into the legends they are till date.

They had earlier released "Jive Talking" a US number 1 chart topper as well as "7 night on Broadway". They had also done 'To Love Somebody" in 1975 with Helen Reddy, In 1976 they released "You should be dancing"

1977 was the year they released their biggest songs that catapulted them to the Status of mega Superstars and Legends.

The Bee Gees agreed to participate in doing the soundtrack for the film Saturday night fever, featuring John Travolta.

It was said the brothers wrote the songs virtually on a weekend. The demand for the "Night Fever" single was so overwhelming that their recording company could not meet up the demand for the production of Vinyl records. Saturday Night Fever sold between 1977 and 1980, over 25M records. The Bee Gees had another monster single called "Staying Alive" and another super ballad called " How deep is your love"

Saturday Night fever as at 2010 is calculated as the 4th highest selling album of all time.

By 1978 5 songs done by the Bee Gees were on the US charts, they of course won a Grammy for the album, their 5 chart topping songs was a feat only equaled by the Beatles.

Barry Gibbs became the only songwriter to have 4 songs topping the US charts, surpassing John Lennon and Paul Mc Cartney.


Movie Track for Saturday Night Fever


The Bee Gees were so successful during this era that they were made honorary citizens of the State of Florida in 1978 by Governor Reuben Askew.


Post 1977/78

The Bee Gees were prolific in the release of singles and albums post Saturday Night Fever, they had become global Superstars and icons, It seems one cannot best one's best, the albums released post 1977/78 were great but could not equal or best Saturday Night Fever album .

In 1980 the Bee Gees did a collaboration with Barbara Streisand to produce her Album "Guilty" which contained the single "Woman in love" This was Barbara Streisand's most successful work till date.


Guilty Album Sleeve


The Bee Gees also helped launch the faltering career of Dione Warwick in her 1982 comeback single "Heartbreaker", The Bee Gees through Barry also helped produce Kenny Rogers "Eyes that see in the Dark" that contained the duet with Dolly Parton, "Islands in the Stream"

Like I said earlier the Bee Gees were prolific musicians, they released albums in 1981, 1987, 1988. Their younger brother died and the Bee Gees released an album called "one" in 1989 with a track called "wish you were here" dedicated to him.

Polydor also released a single hits collection of the Bee Gees, called "The very best of the Bee Gees"

In the 90's there were health challenges for Barry Gibbs, he had serious back problems and Maurice Gibbs had to be treated for Alcoholism, The Demons of fame had started worrying the Group, They of course kept releasing albums in the 90's, they were touring and receiving multiple awards.

The Bee Gees were beginning to tone down their performances and were literally rounding up as Barry's health deteriorated. In between they had a performance with Celine Dion in which they brought Celine Dion to sing "Immortality"


Bee Gees & Celine Dione doing Immortality


The Bee Gees closed the Century in what turned out to be their last full sized concert known as BG2K on December 31 1999


Deaths of Maurice and Robin

In 2001 the group released an album "This is where I came from" . The final concert of the Bee Gees was in 2002. Maurice Gibbs died suddenly on 12th January 2003 from complications arising from a stomach problem.

The same week Maurice died Robin released an album. The Bee Gees received a Legends Grammy award that year.

Robin resumed touring after Barry had cooled off due to Health issues. In 2006 Robin and Barry united for a charity gig. Robin and Barry did some shows in 2009. In November 2011 it was announced that Robin had cancer



Robin fighting the ravages of cancer


At some point in Robin's treatment for cancer he went into a coma, came back but finally succumbed to the ravages of the disease in may 2012. He died of liver and kidney failure.

Sir Barry Gibbs as he is now being addressed after being Knighted by Prince Charles

is the only surviving member of the trio and is barely seen in public, though it is not uncommon to see him once in a while in the midst of royalty and world Presidents



Arise Sir Barry Gibbs!


The Bee Gees are one of the most honored and respected groups in the world they have baskets of awards and I can only do justice to a few.


Awards

Grammys

Star on Hollywood walk of fame 1979

Song writers Hall of fame 1994

Florida Hall of fame 1995

Rock & Roll Hall of fame 2001

Dance Music Hall of fame 2001

London Walk of fame 2006

Musically Speaking Hall of fame 2007

Collectively, Barry, Maurice and Robin, have earned a combined 109 BMI Pop, Country and latin awards.

Phew, I am tired the list could go on and on.

Many Thanks to, Wikipedia, Google, ABC news, Pinterest and the various media whose images we have used.


Click the link below to listen to the songs of the Artists featured on the Blog

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