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Bee Gees

L-R Maurice, Barry, and Robin Gibb performing in Los Angeles, c. 1996
Background information
Genres Pop, Soft rock, Blue-eyed soul, Disco
Years active 1958–2003,
2009–present
Labels Festival, Polydor, Atco, RSO, Warner Bros., Rhino
Website www.beegees.com
Members
Barry Gibb
Robin Gibb
Former members
Maurice Gibb
Colin Petersen
Vince Melouney
Geoff Bridgeford

The Bee Gees were originally a singing trio of brothers — Barry, Robin, and Maurice Gibb. The trio were successful for most of their forty years of recording music, but they had two distinct periods of exceptional success: as a harmonic "soft rock" act in the late 1960s and early 1970s, and as the foremost stars of the disco music era in the late 1970s. The group sang three-part tight harmonies that were instantly recognisable; brother Robin's clear vibrato lead was a hallmark of their earlier hits, while Barry's R&B falsetto became a signature sound during the disco years. The three brothers co-wrote most of their own hits, as well as writing and producing several major hits for other artists.

Born in the Isle of Man to English parents, the Gibb brothers lived their first few years in Chorlton, Manchester, England, and moved in the mid-1950s to Brisbane, Queensland, Australia, where they began their musical careers. After early chart success in Australia, they returned to the United Kingdom where producer Robert Stigwood promoted them to a worldwide audience. It has been estimated that the Bee Gees' record sales total more than 200 million,[1] making them one of the best-selling music artists of all time. They were inducted into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame in 1997; fittingly, the presenter of the award to "Britain's first family of harmony" [2] was Brian Wilson, historical leader of the Beach Boys, America's first family of rock harmony. Their Hall of Fame citation says "Only Elvis Presley, The Beatles, Michael Jackson, Garth Brooks and Paul McCartney have outsold the Bee Gees".[2]

Following Maurice's sudden death on 12 January 2003, Barry and Robin Gibb temporarily ended the group after forty-five years of activity. On 7 September 2009, Robin Gibb revealed that he and Barry Gibb had agreed that the Bee Gees would reform and perform again.[3]

Contents

History

Early years

Plaque at Maitland Terrace/Strang Road intersection in Union Mills, Isle of Man.

The elder Gibb brothers were born on the Isle of Man, but the family returned to father Hugh Gibb's home town of Chorlton cum Hardy, Manchester, England, in the early 1950s where the boys began to sing in harmony. On one occasion, the boys were going to lip sync to a record in the local Gaumont cinema (as other children had done on previous weeks), but as they were running to get there Maurice dropped the record and it broke. Now having no record, the brothers sang live and received such a positive response from the audience that they decided to pursue a singing career.

In 1958, the Gibb family, including infant brother Andy (born 5 March 1958 in Manchester, England), emigrated to Redcliffe in Queensland, Australia. The still very young brothers began performing where they could to raise pocket change. First called the Rattlesnakes, later Wee Johnny Hayes & the Bluecats, they were introduced to radio DJ Bill Gates by racetrack promoter Bill Goode (who saw them perform at Brisbane's Speedway Circuit). Gates renamed them the "Bee Gees" after his and Goode's initials – thus the band name was not specifically a reference to "Brothers Gibb", despite popular belief.[4][5]

By 1960, the Bee Gees were featured on television shows, and in the next few years began working regularly at resorts on the Queensland coast. Barry drew the attention of Australian star Col Joye for his songwriting, and Joye helped the boys get a record deal with Festival Records in 1963 under the name "Bee Gees." The three released two or three singles a year, while Barry supplied additional songs to other Australian artists.

A minor hit in 1965, "Wine and Women", led to the group's first LP The Bee Gees Sing and Play 14 Barry Gibb Songs. By late 1966, the brothers decided to return to England, while the rest of their family stayed in Australia. While at sea in January 1967, they heard that "Spicks and Specks", a #1 hit in October 1966 had been awarded Best Single of the Year by Go-Set, Australia's most popular and influential music newspaper.

Late 1960s - first international fame

The original 5 member band

Before their departure from Australia to England, Hugh Gibb sent demos to Brian Epstein who managed The Beatles and was director of NEMS, a British music store and promoter. Brian Epstein had passed the demo tapes to Robert Stigwood, who'd recently joined NEMS. After an audition with Stigwood in February 1967, the Bee Gees were signed to a five-year contract whereby Polydor Records would be the Bee Gees' record label in the United Kingdom, and ATCO Records would be the United States distributor. Work quickly began on the group's first international album, and Robert Stigwood launched a promotional campaign to coincide with its release.

Stigwood proclaimed that the Bee Gees were "The Most Significant New Talent Of 1967" and thus began the immediate comparison to The Beatles. Their second British single (their first UK 45 rpm issued was "Spicks and Specks"), "New York Mining Disaster 1941", was issued to radio stations with a blank white label listing only the song title. Some DJs immediately assumed this was a new Beatles' single and started playing the song in heavy rotation. This helped the song climb into the Top 20 in both the United Kingdom and the United States. No such chicanery was needed to boost the Bee Gees' second single, "To Love Somebody", into the US Top 20. Originally written for Otis Redding, "To Love Somebody" was a soulful ballad sung by Barry, which has since become a pop standard covered by hundreds of artists including Gram Parsons, Rod Stewart, Janis Joplin, The Animals, Nina Simone, and Michael Bolton. Another single, "Holiday" was released in the United States, peaking at #16. The parent album, the erroneously titled Bee Gees 1st, peaked at #7 in the United States and #8 in the United Kingdom.

Following the success of Bee Gees 1st, the band (which now consisted of Barry on rhythm guitar, Maurice on bass, Vince Melouney on lead guitar and Colin Petersen on drums), began work on the act's second album. Released in late 1967, Horizontal repeated the success of their first album, featuring the #1 UK single "Massachusetts" (a #11 US hit), and the #7 UK single "World". The sound of the album Horizontal had a more "rock" sound than their previous release, though ballads like "And The Sun Will Shine" and "Really And Sincerely" were also prominent. The Horizontal album reached #12 in the US, and #16 in the UK promoting the record, the Bee Gees made their first appearances in America, playing live concerts and television shows such as The Ed Sullivan Show and Laugh In.

Two more singles followed in early 1968, the ballad "Words" (#15 US, #8 UK) and the double A-sided single "Jumbo" b/w "The Singer Sang His Song". "Jumbo" was the Bee Gees' least successful single to date only reaching #57 in the US, and #25 in the UK. The Bee Gees felt that "The Singer Sang His Song" was the stronger of the two sides, an opinion shared by listeners in the Netherlands, who made it a #3 hit. Further Bee Gees chart singles followed: "I've Gotta Get a Message to You" (#8 US, #1 UK) and "I Started A Joke" (#6 US), both culled from the band's third album Idea. Idea was another Top 20 album in the US (#17) and the UK (#4). Following the tour and TV special to promote the album, Vince Melouney left the group, feeling that he wanted to play more of a blues style music than the Gibbs were writing. Melouney did achieve one feat while with the Bee Gees—his composition "Such A Shame" (from Idea) is the only song on any Bee Gees album not written by a Gibb brother.

By 1969, the cracks began to show within the group. Robin began to feel that Stigwood had been favouring Barry as the frontman. Their next album, which was to have been a concept album called Masterpeace, evolved into the double-album Odessa. Most rock critics felt this was the best Bee Gees album of the 60s, with its progressive rock feel on the title track, the country-flavored "Marley Purt Drive" and "Give Your Best", and signature ballads such as "Melody Fair" and "First Of May". The last of which became the only single from the album, and was a minor hit. Feeling that the flipside, "Lamplight" should have been the A-side, Robin quit the group in mid-1969 and launched a solo career. Robin Gibb saw brief success in Europe with the #2 hit "Saved By The Bell" and the album Robin's Reign. Barry and Maurice continued as the Bee Gees, even recruiting their sister Lesley to appear with them on stage.

The first of many Bee Gees compilations, Best of Bee Gees was released, featuring the non-LP single "Words" plus the Australian hit "Spicks and Specks" The CD release replaces "Spicks and Specks" with another non-LP single "Tomorrow Tomorrow", because Polydor could no longer secure the rights to the Australian track. "Tomorrow Tomorrow" was a moderate hit in the UK reaching #23, but stalled at #54 in the US The compilation reached the Top Ten in both the US and the UK.

While Robin was off on his own, Barry, Maurice, and Colin continued on as the Bee Gees, recording their next album, Cucumber Castle. There was also a TV special filmed to accompany the album, which aired on the BBC in 1971. Colin Petersen played drums on the tracks recorded for the album, but was fired from the group after filming began and his parts were edited out of the final cut of the film. The leadoff single, "Don't Forget to Remember" was a big hit in the UK reaching #2, but a disappointment in the US, only reaching #73. The next 2 singles, "I.O.I.O." and "If I Only Had My Mind On Something Else" barely scraped the charts, and following the release of the album, Barry and Maurice parted ways. It seemed that the Bee Gees were finished. Barry recorded a solo album which never saw official release, though "I'll Kiss Your Memory" was released as a single, without much interest. Meanwhile, Maurice released the single "Railroad", and starred in the West End musical Sing A Rude Song.

Early 1970s

The three brothers reunited in the later part of 1970, penning a series of songs about heartache and loneliness. Although they had lost traction on the British charts, the Bee Gees hit #3 in America with "Lonely Days" (from the reunion LP 2 Years On) and had their first US #1 with "How Can You Mend a Broken Heart" (from Trafalgar). The trio's talents were included in the soundtrack for the 1971 film Melody as they performed several songs for the title. In 1972, they hit #16 in America with the single "My World" and "Run To Me" from the LP To Whom It May Concern; the latter also returned them to the British top ten for the first time in three years.

By 1973, however, the Bee Gees were in a rut. The album, Life in a Tin Can, and its lead-off single, "Saw a New Morning," sold poorly with the single peaking at #94. This was followed by an unreleased album (known as A Kick in the Head Is Worth Eight in the Pants). A second compilation album, Best of Bee Gees, Volume 2 was released in 1973, though it did not repeat the success of Volume 1.

On the advice of Ahmet Ertegün, head of their US label Atlantic Records, Stigwood arranged for the group to record with famed soul music producer Arif Mardin. The resulting LP, Mr. Natural, included fewer ballads and foreshadowed the R&B direction of the rest of their career. But when it too failed to attract much interest, Mardin encouraged them to work with the soul music style.

The brothers attempted to assemble a live stage band that could replicate their studio sound. Lead guitarist Alan Kendall had come on board in 1971, but did not have much to do until Mr. Natural. For that album, they added drummer Dennis Bryon, and they later added ex-Strawbs keyboard player Blue Weaver, completing the late 1970s "Bee Gees band". Maurice, who had previously performed on piano, guitar, organ, mellotron, and bass guitar, as well as exotica like mandolin and Moog, now confined himself to bass onstage.

Performing in 1975

At Eric Clapton's suggestion, the brothers relocated to Miami, Florida, early in 1975 to record. After starting off with ballads, they eventually heeded the urging of Mardin and Stigwood and crafted more rhythmic disco songs, including their second US #1, "Jive Talkin'", along with US #7 "Nights on Broadway." The latter featured Barry Gibb's first attempts at singing falsetto based on Arif Mardin's suggestion, in the backing vocals toward the end. Robin also began singing some passages in a falsetto pitch. The band liked the resulting new sound, and this time the public agreed, sending the LP Main Course up the charts. This was their second album to have two US top-10 singles since 1968's Idea. Main Course also became their first charting R&B album. Mardin was unable to work with the group afterwards, but the Bee Gees enlisted Albhy Galuten and Karl Richardson who had worked with Mardin during the Main Course sessions. This production team would carry the Bee Gees through the rest of the 1970s.

The next album, Children of the World, was drenched in Barry's newfound falsetto and Weaver's synthesizer disco licks. Led off by the single "You Should Be Dancing," it pushed the Bee Gees to a level of stardom they had not previously achieved in the US. though their new R&B/disco sound was not as popular with some die hard fans from the 1960s. The Bee Gees' band was now closer to a rock act, with rhythm guitar and real drums behind the falsetto.

Late 1970s: Saturday Night Fever

The famous pose.

Following a successful live album, Here at Last... Bee Gees... Live, the Bee Gees agreed with Stigwood to participate in the creation of the Saturday Night Fever soundtrack. It would be the turning point of their career. The cultural impact of both the film and the soundtrack was seismic, not only in the United States but in the rest of the world, bringing the nascent disco scene mainstream.

The band's involvement in the film did not begin until post-production. As John Travolta asserted, "The Bee Gees weren't even involved in the movie in the beginning... I was dancing to Stevie Wonder and Boz Scaggs."[6] Producer Robert Stigwood commissioned the Bee Gees to create the songs for the film. The brothers wrote the songs "virtually in a single weekend" at France's Château d'Hérouville studio.[6] Barry Gibb remembered the reaction when Stigwood and music supervisor Bill Oakes arrived and listened to the demos:

They flipped out and said these will be great. We still had no concept of the movie, except some kind of rough script that they'd brought with them... You've got to remember, we were fairly dead in the water at that point, 1975, somewhere in that zone–- the Bee Gees' sound was basically tired. We needed something new. We hadn't had a hit record in about three years. So we felt, Oh Jeez, that's it. That's our life span, like most groups in the late 60s. So, we had to find something. We didn't know what was going to happen.[6]

Bill Oakes, who supervised the soundtrack, asserts that Saturday Night Fever did not begin the disco craze; rather, it prolonged it: "Disco had run its course. These days, Fever is credited with kicking off the whole disco thing–-it really didn't. Truth is, it breathed new life into a genre that was actually dying."[6]

Three Bee Gees singles ("How Deep Is Your Love", "Stayin' Alive", and "Night Fever") reached #1 in the United States and most countries around the world, launching the most popular period of the disco era. They also penned the song "If I Can't Have You" which became a #1 hit for Yvonne Elliman, while the Bee Gees' own version was the B-Side of "Stayin' Alive." Such was the popularity of Saturday Night Fever that two different versions of the song "More Than a Woman" received airplay, one by the Bee Gees, which was relegated to album track, and another by Tavares, which was the hit. The Gibb sound was inescapable. During an eight-month period beginning in the Christmas season of 1977, the brothers wrote six songs that held the #1 position on the US charts for 25 of 32 consecutive weeks—three under their own name, two for brother Andy Gibb, and the Yvonne Elliman single.

Fueled by the movie's success, the soundtrack broke multiple industry records, becoming the highest-selling album in recording history to that point. With more than 40 million copies sold, Saturday Night Fever is music's best selling soundtrack album. It is currently calculated as the 7th highest-selling album worldwide.[7]

During this era, Barry and Robin also wrote "Emotion" for Samantha Sang, who made it a Top Ten hit (the Bee Gees sang back-up vocals). Barry also wrote the title song to the movie version of the Broadway musical Grease for Frankie Valli to perform, which went to #1. During this period, the Bee Gees' younger brother Andy followed his older siblings into a music career, and enjoyed considerable success. Produced by Barry, Andy Gibb's first three singles all topped the US charts. In March 1978, The Bee Gees held the top 2 positions on the US Charts with "Night Fever" and "Stayin' Alive", the first time this had happened since the Beatles. On the US Billboard Hot 100 chart for April 8, 1978, five songs written by the Gibbs were in the US top ten at the same time: "Night Fever", "Stayin' Alive", "If I Can't Have You", "Emotion" and "Love is Thicker Than Water". Such chart dominance hadn't been seen since April 1964, when the Beatles had all five of the top five American singles. Barry Gibb became the only songwriter to have four consecutive number one hits in the US breaking the John Lennon and Paul McCartney 1964 record. These songs were “Stayin’ Alive”, “Love Is Thicker Than Water”, “Night Fever”, “If I Can’t Have You”.

The Bee Gees also co-starred with Peter Frampton in the movie Sgt. Pepper's Lonely Hearts Club Band (1978) loosely inspired by the classic 1967 Beatles album. The film had been heavily promoted prior to release, and was expected to enjoy great commercial success. However, the disjointed film was savaged by the movie critics, and ignored by the public. Though some of its tracks charted, the soundtrack was a high-profile flop. Previously, the Bee Gees had recorded three Beatles covers—"Golden Slumbers/Carry That Weight", "She Came in Through the Bathroom Window" and "Sun King" —for the transitory musical documentary All This and World War II.

The Bee Gees' follow-up to Saturday Night Fever was the Spirits Having Flown album. It yielded three more #1 hits: "Too Much Heaven", "Tragedy", and "Love You Inside Out." This gave the act six consecutive #1 singles in America within a year and a half (a record surpassed only by Whitney Houston). "Too Much Heaven" ended up as the Bee Gees' musical contribution to the Music for UNICEF Concert at the United Nations General Assembly in January 1979, a benefit organized by the Bee Gees, Robert Stigwood, and David Frost for UNICEF that was broadcast worldwide. The brothers donated the royalties from the song to the charity. Up to 2007, this song has earned over $11 million for UNICEF. During the summer of 1979, The Bee Gees embarked on their largest concert tour covering the US and Canada. The Spirits Having Flown tour capitalized on Bee Gees fever that was sweeping the nation, with sold out concerts in 38 cities. The Bee Gees produced a video for the title track of "Too Much Heaven" directed by Miami-based film-maker, Martin Pitts and produced by Charles Allen. With this video, Pitts and Allen began a long association with the Brothers.

The Bee Gees even had a country hit in 1979 with "Rest Your Love On Me", the flip side of their pop hit "Too Much Heaven", which made Top 40 on the country charts. In 1981, Conway Twitty's version of "Rest Your Love On Me" topped the country charts.

The Bee Gees' overwhelming success rose and fell with the disco bubble. By the end of 1979, disco was rapidly declining in popularity, and the backlash against disco put the Bee Gees' American career in a tailspin. Radio stations around America began promoting "Bee Gee Free Weekends". Following their remarkable run from 1975–79, the act would have only one more top ten single in the US, and that wouldn't come until 1989. The Bee Gees' international popularity sustained somewhat less damage. Barry Gibb considered the success of the Saturday Night Fever soundtrack both a blessing and a curse:

Fever was No. 1 every week... It wasn't just like a hit album. It was No. 1 every single week for 25 weeks. It was just an amazing, crazy, extraordinary time. I remember not being able to answer the phone, and I remember people climbing over my walls. I was quite grateful when it stopped. It was too unreal. In the long run, your life is better if it's not like that on a constant basis. Nice though it was.[6]

1980s and 1990s

The Bee Gees in 1983 during the disco backlash that lasted for most of the 80's

Robin and Barry Gibb released various solo albums in the 1980s but only with sporadic and moderate chart success. However, the brothers had continuing success behind the scenes, writing and producing for several artists - in 1982, Dionne Warwick enjoyed a UK Top 5 and US Adult Contemporary #1 with her comeback single, "Heartbreaker". A year later, Dolly Parton and Kenny Rogers recorded "Islands in the Stream", which proved to be a US #1 hit. Diana Ross also hit #1 in the UK charts in 1986 with "Chain Reaction". In addition, Barbra Streisand recorded her entire 1980 album, Guilty with the assistance of Barry Gibb, and the single "Woman in Love" - penned by the three brothers - reached #1 both in the US and the UK. They became Streisand's most successful album and single.

In 1981, the Bee Gees released the album Living Eyes, but with the disco backlash still running strong, the album failed to make the US top 40. Two singles from Living Eyes didn't fare much better. "He's a Liar" only reached #30 in the US and "Living Eyes" missed the Top 40, only reaching #45, breaking the Bee Gees' Top 40 streak which started in 1975 with "Jive Talkin'". In 1983, the Bee Gees had greater success with the soundtrack to Staying Alive, the sequel to Saturday Night Fever. The soundtrack was certified platinum in the US, and included their Top 30 hit "The Woman in You".

In 1983, the band was sued by Chicago songwriter Ronald Selle, who claimed that the Gibb brothers stole melodic material from one of his songs, "Let It End," and used it in "How Deep Is Your Love." At first, the Bee Gees lost the case; one juror said that a factor in the jury's decision was the Gibbs' failure to introduce expert testimony rebutting the plaintiff's expert testimony that it was "impossible" for the two songs to have been written independently. However, the verdict was overturned a few months later.

The Bee Gees released the album E.S.P. in 1987, which sold over 3 million copies. The single "You Win Again" went to #1 in numerous countries, including Britain, but was a disappointment in the US, charting at #75. The Bee Gees voiced their frustration over American radio stations not playing their new European hit single, an omission which the group felt led to poor sales of their current album in the States.

On 10 March 1988, younger brother Andy died at the age 30 as a result of myocarditis, an inflammation of the heart muscle due to a recent viral infection. His brothers acknowledge that Andy's past drug and alcohol use probably made his heart more susceptible to the ailment. Just before Andy's death, it was decided by the group that Andy would join them, which would have made the group a four piece. This did not come to pass, however. The Bee Gees' following album, One (1989), featured a song dedicated to Andy, "Wish You Were Here". The album also contained their first US top ten hit (#7) in a decade, "One". After the album's release, they embarked on their first world tour in ten years.

In 1990, Polydor Records issued the box set Tales from the Brothers Gibb: A History in Song, which contained all of the group's singles (except 1981's "Living Eyes"), rare B-sides, unreleased tracks, solo material, and live performances. Many songs received new stereo mixes by Bill Inglot with some songs making their CD debut. At the time of its release, Tales was one of the first box sets issued in the music business and it was considered an honor for a group to have one. In the UK, Polydor issued a single disc hits collection from Tales called The Very Best of the Bee Gees, which contained their biggest UK hits, and has been one of their best selling albums in that country, re-charting numerous times since 1990.

Following their next album, High Civilization, which contained the UK top five hit "Secret Love," the Bee Gees went on a European tour. After the tour, Barry Gibb began to battle a serious back problem, which required surgery. In addition, he also suffered from arthritis, and at one point, it was so severe that it was doubtful that he would be able to play guitar for much longer. In the early 1990s, Barry Gibb was not the only Bee Gee living with pain. Maurice had a serious drinking problem, which he had battled for many years, but finally began recovery with the help of Alcoholics Anonymous.

In 1993, they returned to the Polydor label, and released the album Size Isn't Everything, which contained the UK top five hit "For Whom the Bell Tolls". Success still eluded them in the US, however, as the first single released, "Paying the Price of Love" only managed to reach #74 on the Billboard Hot 100 while the parent album stalled at #153. Four years later, they released the album Still Waters, which sold over four million copies, and debuted at #11 in the US. The album's first single, "Alone", gave them another UK Top 5 hit and a top 30 hit in the US. Still Waters would be the band's most successful US release of their post-RSO era.

One Night Only

On 14 November 1997, the Bee Gees performed a live concert in Las Vegas called One Night Only. The show included a performance of "Our Love (Don't Throw It All Away)" synchronized with a vocal by their deceased brother Andy and a cameo appearance by Celine Dion singing "Immortality". The CD of the performance sold over 5 million copies. This led to a world tour of "One Night Only" concerts. The tour included playing to 56,000 people at London's Wembley Stadium on 5 September 1998 and concluded in the newly-built Olympic Stadium in Sydney, Australia on 27 March 1999 to an audience exceeding 105,000.

In 1998, the group's score for Saturday Night Fever was incorporated into a stage production produced first in the West End and then on Broadway. They wrote three new songs for the adaptation. Also in 1998 the brothers recorded Ellan Vannin for Isle of Man charities. Known as the unofficial national anthem of the Isle of Man, the brothers performed the song during their world tour to reflect their pride in the place of their birth.[8]

The Bee Gees closed the decade with what turned out to be their last full-sized concert, known as BG2K, on 31 December 1999.

The "One Night Only" name grew out of the band's declaration that, due to Barry's health issues, the Las Vegas show was to be the final live performance of their career. After the immensely positive audience response to the Vegas concert, Barry decided to continue despite the pain, and the concert expanded into their last full-blown tour.

Maurice's death

In 2001, they released what turned out to be their final album of new material as a group, This Is Where I Came In. The album gave each member a chance to write in his own way, as well as composing songs together. For example, Maurice's compositions and leads are the "Man in the Middle" and "Walking on Air," while Robin contributed "Déjà Vu," "Promise the Earth," and "Embrace," and Barry contributed "Loose Talk Costs Lives," "Technicolour Dreams", and "Voice in the Wilderness". The other songs are collaborative in writing and vocals. They performed many tracks from This Is Where I Came In, plus many of their biggest hits, on the live televised concert series Live by Request, shown on the A&E Network. The last concert of the Bee Gees as a trio was at the Love and Hope Ball in 2002.

Maurice, who had been the musical director of the Bee Gees during their final years as a group, died suddenly on 12 January 2003 at the age of 53 from a heart attack, prior to emergency surgery to repair a strangulated intestine.[9] Initially, his surviving brothers announced that they intended to carry on the name "Bee Gees" in his memory. But as time passed they decided to retire the group name, leaving it to represent the three brothers together.[10]

The same week that Maurice died, Robin's solo album Magnet was released. On 23 February 2003, the Bee Gees received the Grammy Legend Award. Barry and Robin accepted as well as Maurice's son, Adam, in a tearful ceremony.

Although there was talk of a memorial concert featuring both surviving brothers and invited guests,[11] nothing materialised. Barry and Robin continued to work independently, and both released recordings with other artists, occasionally coming together to perform at special events.

After the Bee Gees

In late 2004, Robin embarked on a solo tour of Germany, Russia and Asia. During January 2005, Barry, Robin and several legendary rock artists recorded "Grief Never Grows Old," the official tsunami relief record for the Disasters Emergency Committee. Later that year, Barry reunited with Barbra Streisand for her top-selling album Guilty Pleasures, released as Guilty Too in the UK as a sequel album to the previous Guilty. Robin continued touring in Europe.

In February 2006, Barry and Robin reunited on stage for a Miami charity concert to benefit the Diabetes Research Institute. It was their first public performance together since the death of brother Maurice. Barry and Robin also played at the 30th annual Prince's Trust Concert in the UK on 20 May 2006.

In October 2008, Robin performed a couple of songs in London as part of the BBC Electric Proms Saturday Night Fever performance. This involved various other performers and the BBC Concert Orchestra and was screened on the BBC and BBC interactive services.


On 1 September 2009, Barry Gibb, in an interview with Easy Mix radio host Tim Roxborough, mentioned on the subject of future tours that "they will be back"; but in an agreement with Warner/Rhino they would not make an announcement at that time.[12][13]

Return to performing

On 7 September 2009, Robin Gibb disclosed to Jonathan Agnew that he had been in touch with Barry Gibb and that they had agreed that the Bee Gees would reform and "perform again".[14]

Barry and Robin performed on the BBC's Strictly Come Dancing on 31 October 2009[15] and appeared on ABC-TV's Dancing With The Stars on 17 November 2009.[16]

On 15 March 2010, Barry and Robin inducted the Swedish group ABBA into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame.

Songwriting success

The Bee Gees have sold in excess of 205 million records and singles worldwide.[17]

2,500 artists have recorded their songs.[18] Their most popular composition is "How Deep Is Your Love", with 400 versions by other artists in existence.[19]

At one point in 1978, the Gibb brothers were responsible for writing and/or performing 9 of the songs in the Billboard Hot 100.[20] In all, the Gibbs placed 13 singles onto the Hot 100 in 1978, with 12 making the Top 40.

Their songs have been covered by many singers, including Elvis Presley, Janis Joplin, Al Green, Eric Clapton, Lulu, Elton John, Tom Jones, Nina Simone, John Frusciante (who has covered "How Deep Is Your Love" during Red Hot Chili Peppers concerts), Feist, Billy Corgan, Michael Bolton, Robert Smith, Ardijah, and Destiny's Child.

Songs written by the Gibbs but largely better known through versions by other artists include the following:

Many hit covers and album tracks of the Bee Gees' songs have been covered, and the band's music has also been sampled by dozens of hip hop artists.

Awards and recognition

Inductions

  • 1979 Hollywood Walk Of Fame
  • 1994 Songwriters Hall Of Fame
  • 1995 Florida's Artists Hall Of Fame
  • 1997 Rock And Roll Hall Of Fame
  • 1997 ARIA (Australian Recording Industry Association) Hall Of Fame
  • 2001 Vocal Group Hall Of Fame
  • 2004 Dance Music Hall Of Fame
  • 2005 London's Walk Of Fame

Grammy Awards

  • 1977 Best Pop Vocal Performance By A Group - "How Deep Is Your Love"
  • 1978 Best Pop Vocal Performance By A Duo Or Group - "Saturday Night Fever"
  • 1978 Best Arrangement Of Voices - "Stayin' Alive"
  • 1979 Album Of The Year - "Saturday Night Fever"
  • 1979 Producer Of The Year - "Saturday Night Fever"
  • 1980 Best Pop Performance By A Duo Or Group With Vocal - "Guilty" (Barry Gibb with Barbra Streisand)
  • 2000 Lifetime Achievement Award
  • 2003 Legend Award
  • 2004 Hall Of Fame Award - "Saturday Night Fever"

World Music Awards

  • 1997 Legend Award

American Music Awards

  • 1979 Favorite Pop / Rock Band, Duo Or Group
  • 1979 Favorite Soul / R&B Album - "Saturday Night Fever"
  • 1980 Favorite Pop / Rock Band, Duo Or Group
  • 1980 Favorite Pop / Rock Album - "Spirits Having Flown"
  • 1997 International Artist Award

BRIT Awards

  • 1997 Outstanding Contribution To Music

BMI (Broadcast Music Incorporated) Awards

  • 2007 BMI Icons

Commemorative stamps

In October 1999 the Isle of Man Post Office unveiled a set of 6 stamps honouring their native sons' music. The official launch took place at the London Palladium where the stage show of Saturday Night Fever was playing. A similar launch was held in New York shortly after to coincide with the show opening across the Atlantic. The songs depicted on the stamps are "Massachusetts", "Words", "I've Gotta Get A Message To You", "Night Fever", "Stayin' Alive" and "Immortality".

Civic honors

In 1978, following the success of Saturday Night Fever, and the single "Night Fever" in particular, Reubin Askew, the Governor of the U.S. state of Florida, named the Bee Gees honorary citizens of the state, since they resided in Miami at the time.

All three brothers (including Maurice, posthumously) were named Commanders in the Order of the British Empire in 2006, one level underneath knighthood.

On 10 July 2009, the Isle of Man's capital bestowed the Freedom of the Borough of Douglas honour on Barry and Robin, as well as posthumously on Maurice, thereby conveying the award of the town of their birth to all three brothers.[21]

On 20 November 2009, Douglas Borough Council released a limited edition commemorative DVD to mark their naming as Freemen of the Borough.[22]

Discography

Studio albums

Year Title US
Chart
UK
Chart
1965 The Bee Gees Sing and Play 14 Barry Gibb Songs
1966 Spicks and Specks
1967 Bee Gees 1st #7 #8
1968 Horizontal #12 #16
1968 Idea #17 #4
1969 Odessa #20 #10
1970 Cucumber Castle #94 #57
1970 2 Years On #32
1971 Trafalgar #34
1972 To Whom It May Concern #35
1973 Life in a Tin Can #68
1974 Mr. Natural #178
1975 Main Course #14
1976 Children of the World #8
1979 Spirits Having Flown #1 #1
1981 Living Eyes #41 #73
1987 E.S.P. #96 #5
1989 One #68 #29
1991 High Civilization #24
1993 Size Isn't Everything #153 #23
1997 Still Waters #11 #2
2001 This Is Where I Came In #16 #6

Live albums

Year Title US
Chart
UK
Chart
1977 Here at Last... Bee Gees... Live #8
1998 One Night Only #72 #4

Soundtrack releases

Year Title US
Chart
UK
Chart
1977 Saturday Night Fever #1 #1
1983 Staying Alive #6 #14

Catalogue Reissue

The Gibbs recently gained ownership rights to their back catalog, and set up a new distribution arrangement with Warner/Rhino/Reprise Records where they have since reissued digitally remastered versions of Saturday Night Fever, their later Bee Gees Greatest album, and a new boxed set: The Studio Albums: 1967 - 1968. Incidentally, ATCO, the original US label of the group, is a sister label to the aforementioned labels under the Warner Music Group.

According to Robin Gibb's website, three more reissues were planned for the 2008 holiday season: Best of Bee Gees, Best of Bee Gees, Volume 2 and Love Songs. The double album Odessa was released on January 13, 2009 in a special 3-disc deluxe edition complete with the original red velvet cover which will contain remastered stereo and mono versions of the album as well as alternate versions and unreleased tracks.

Limited edition

Ellan Vannin was recorded in 1997 as a 1,000 quantity limited edition single for Isle of Man charities. The song was featured in the Bee Gees World Tour and on ITV's "An Evening With…" but to date has not been released generally. The single was subsequently also available as part of the 1999 Bee Gees Stamp issue.

50th Anniversary Collections

In conjunction with the 50th anniversary of The Bee Gees (when they started calling themselves 'Bee Gees' in 1959), Rhino Records is releasing two new collections. Mythology is a four-disc collection highlighting each brother, including Andy, with tracks personally selected by Barry, Robin, Maurice's wife Yvonne (with his children Adam and Samantha), and Andy's daughter Peta. Maurice's disc contains two unreleased tracks called "Angel Of Mercy" and "The Bridge". Andy's disc contains the unreleased track "Arrow Through The Heart". Mythology also features a scrapbook of family photos, many never-before published, along with tributes from artists such as George Martin, Brian Wilson, Elton John, Graham Nash and the band's longtime manager Robert Stigwood.

The second collection, The Ultimate Bee Gees is a more modest 2-disc, 40 track collection highlighting their biggest hits which will include a bonus DVD of unreleased videos, previously unreleased television appearances, live performances, and promo videos. Each disc is themed with the first disc being the more upbeat songs called 'A Night Out' and the second disc being more ballad focused called 'A Night In'.[23]

Band

Barry Gibb played rhythm guitar.

During early 70s, Robin Gibb played piano and violin occasionally, but most of the time he only sang. Although he keeps on playing strings and keyboards privately, he has not played any instrument on stage since mid-70s.

Maurice Gibb played bass guitar, rhythm and lead guitar, piano, organ, mellotron, and electronic keyboards, synthesizers and drum tracks. From 1966 to 1972 he played multiple instruments on many records. During the late 1970s he played mainly bass guitar. From about 1986 onward he usually played keyboards and guitars. Maurice was credited by the brothers as being the most technologically savvy member of the band, and had built his own home studio. The bootleg CD ESP Demos allegedly includes rough versions of tracks from the album of the same name that were recorded at that studio.[citation needed]

These musicians were considered members of the band:

Here are some other musicians who backed up the Bee Gees live and in the studio:

Bee Gees in pop culture

Notes and references

  1. ^ Kellerman, Andy. "Robin Gibb." Allmusic.com URL retrieved 13 August 2009.
  2. ^ a b "Rock 'n' Roll Hall of Fame citation". Rock and Roll Hall of Fame and Museum. 1997. http://www.rockhall.com/inductee/the-bee-gees. Retrieved 19 January 2010. 
  3. ^ Sean Michaels (8 September 2009). "Bee Gees to re-form for live comeback". The Guardian (London). http://www.guardian.co.uk/music/2009/sep/08/bee-gees-re-form. Retrieved 26 September 2009. 
  4. ^ Dolgins, Adam: Rock Names: From Abba to ZZ Top, 3rd ed., p.24. Citadel Press, 1998.
  5. ^ Bee Gees Fan Club Bio
  6. ^ a b c d e Sam Kashner, "Fever Pitch," Movies Rock (Supplement to The New Yorker), Fall 2007, unnumbered page.
  7. ^ "Record-Breakers and Trivia - Albums". Everyhit.com. http://www.everyhit.com/recordalb.html. Retrieved 2008-05-08. 
  8. ^ The Bee Gees - Born in the Isle of Man.
  9. ^ "Bee Gees question brother's treatment". BBC News. 13 January 2003. http://news.bbc.co.uk/2/hi/entertainment/2652147.stm. Retrieved 12 November 2009. 
  10. ^ "Bee Gees band name dropped". BBC News. 22 January 2003. http://news.bbc.co.uk/2/hi/entertainment/2682763.stm. Retrieved 12 November 2009. 
  11. ^ BBC "Tribute concert for Maurice Gibb". BBC News. 27 September 2004. http://news.bbc.co.uk/1/hi/entertainment/music/3692674.stm BBC. Retrieved 26 September 2009. 
  12. ^ Tim Roxborough (1 September 2009). "Hi From Tim September 1st - Barry Gibb Interview, Celebrating 50 Years Of The Bee Gees". Easy Mix. http://www.easymix.co.nz/WhosOn/Detail.aspx?id=1927. Retrieved 27 September 2009. 
  13. ^ Tim Roxborough (1 September 2009). "Memories of touring NZ, working with Robin again". Easy Mix. http://www.easymix.co.nz/content/1927/EMB%20BG%20-%20NZ,%20ROBIN%20AGAIN.mp3. Retrieved 27 September 2009. 
  14. ^ Adam Mountford (7 September 2009). "Bee Gees and Bombers at Lords". BBC. http://www.bbc.co.uk/blogs/adammountford/2009/09/bee_gees_and_bombers_at_lords.html. Retrieved 26 September 2009. 
  15. ^ BBC News (15 October 2009). "Bee Gees to perform on Strictly". http://news.bbc.co.uk/2/hi/entertainment/8308513.stm. Retrieved 16 October 2009. 
  16. ^ "Stayin’ Alive". New York Times. 28 November 2009. http://www.nytimes.com/2009/11/29/opinion/29sun3.html. Retrieved 6 December 2009. 
  17. ^ "Bee Gees World: Record Sales". web.archive.org. http://web.archive.org/web/20080213163507/http://www.beegees-world.com/bio_sales.html. Retrieved 2009-09-02. 
  18. ^ >. http://www.allbusiness.com/humanities-social-science/visual-performing-arts-music/13322257-1.html. 
  19. ^ Beth Neil (5 November 2009). "Bee Gees week: How Saturday Night Fever changed our lives forever". The Mirror (London). http://www.mirror.co.uk/celebs/news/2009/11/05/bee-gees-week-how-saturday-night-fever-changed-our-lives-forever-115875-21800065/. Retrieved 22 November 2009. 
  20. ^ http://www.catsfield.co.nz/
  21. ^ Rachael Bruce (10 July 2009). "Bee Gees named Freemen of the Borough". Isle of Man Today. http://www.iomtoday.co.im/news/Bee-Gees-named-Freemen-of.5449394.jp. Retrieved 11 July 2009. 
  22. ^ Details can be found here.
  23. ^ http://www.beegees.com
  24. ^ http://www.toto99.com/disco/gregdisco.shtml
  25. ^ http://www.toto99.com/disco/jeffdisco.shtml
  26. ^ Kenny.
  27. ^ Lyrics
  28. ^ Sound file

External links


Simple English

The Bee Gees were an Australian singing group consisting of three brothers Barry Gibb (September 1, 1946-), and twins Maurice Gibb (December 22, 1949- January 12,2003) and Robin Gibb (December 22 1949-). They performed together for almost 40 years, but are most famous for their album, Saturday Night Fever, the soundtrack for the film of the same name. They supposedly stopped performing after Maurice's death. They have another younger brother, Andy Gibb, who was not in the Bee Gees. Andy died in 1988.








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