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The Bee Gees

No popular music act of the '60s, '70s, '80s, or '90s attracted a more varied audience than the Bee Gees. Beginning in the mid- to late '60s as a Beatlesque ensemble, they quickly developed as songwriters and singers to create a style of their own that carried them from psychedelia to progressive pop. Then, after hitting a popular trough, they reinvented themselves as perhaps the most successful white soul act of all time. What remained a constant throughout their history is their extraordinary singing, rooted in three voices that were appealing individually and melded together perfectly.

The group was also music's most successful brother act. Barry Gibb, born on September 1, 1946, in Manchester, England, and his fraternal twin brothers Robin Gibb and Maurice Gibb, born on December 22, 1949, on the Isle of Man, were three of five children. The three of them gravitated toward music, encouraged by their father, who saw his sons at first as a diminutive version of the Mills Brothers. The three Gibb brothers made their earliest performances at local movie theaters in Manchester in 1955, singing between shows. The family moved to Australia in 1958, resettling in Brisbane. Now known as the Brothers Gibb -- with Barry writing songs -- they attracted the attention of a local DJ, and eventually got their own local television show. It was around this time that they took on the name the Bee Gees (for Brothers Gibb). The trio was astoundingly popular in the press and on television, but actual hit records eluded them.

By late 1966, they'd decided to return to England -- which, thanks to the Beatles, was now the center of the world for rock and popular music. The group had sent demo recordings ahead of them, and "Spicks & Specks" -- which became their first Australian hit while they were in mid-ocean -- had attracted the interest of manager Robert Stigwood. The trio was signed by Stigwood upon their arrival, and began shaping their sound in the environment of Swinging London. Barry and Robin Gibb alternated the lead vocal spot, harmonizing together and with Maurice. Barry played rhythm guitar, while Maurice played bass, piano, organ, and Mellotron, among other instruments. Their first English recording, "New York Mining Disaster 1941," an original by the group with a haunting melody and a strangely surreal, almost psychedelic ambience, was released in mid-1967 and made the Top 20 in England and America. They had successful follow-ups with "Holiday" and "To Love Somebody," the latter actually written for Otis Redding to record, and "Massachusetts," which topped the U.K. charts.

After Bee Gees' 1st, the Gibb brothers took over producing their own records. It was easy, amid the sheer beauty of their recordings, to overlook the range of influences that went into their sound, which came from a multitude of sources, including American country music and soul music. At this point in their history, they were most comfortable deconstructing elements in the singing and harmonies of black American music and rebuilding them in their style.

In 1969, the trio split up in a dispute involving the Odessa album. A lushly orchestrated double LP, it was their most ambitious recording to date, but they were unable to agree on which song would be the single, and Robin walked out. Barry and Maurice held on to the Bee Gees name for one LP, Cucumber Castle, while Robin released Robin's Reign. Without a group to promote it, the Odessa album never sold the way it might have, even with a hit, "First of May." Cucumber Castle generated several successful singles in England and Germany, including the gorgeous, African-influenced "I.O.I.O.," while Robin had a hit with "Saved by the Bell."

In 1970, almost two years older and a good deal wiser, they decided to get back together. They related to each other better and had also evolved musically, now creating a progressive pop/rock sound similar to the Moody Blues. They came back on a high note with two dazzling songs: the soulful "Lonely Days," the group's first number one hit in America; and the achingly lyrical "Morning of My Life," which proved so popular with fans that the group was still doing it in concert decades later.

Their success began to ebb, however, after another huge international hit with "How Can You Mend a Broken Heart" in 1971. The single "Run to Me" made the Top 20 in 1972, but the album To Whom It May Concern was forgotten almost instantly after a brief chart run. Their fortunes continued in reverse during 1973 withLife in a Tin Can and the single "Saw a New Morning" -- despite a move to America and a heavy promotional push, the song never made the Top 40 and the album stalled out.

The trio was falling into a deep creative and commercial hole. Rescue came from a suggestion by Eric Clapton, that they try recording at Criteria Studios in Miami, Florida, where he had just cut an album. The Bee Gees took his advice and came back with Mr. Natural (1974), produced by Arif Mardin. This record was a departure with its heavily Americanized R&B sound, and the following year they plunged headfirst into the new sound with Main Course -- the emphasis was now on dance rhythms, high harmonies, and a funk beat. And spearheading the new sound was Barry Gibb, who, for the first time, sang falsetto and discovered that he could delight audiences in that register. "Jive Talkin'," the first single off the album, became their second American number one single, and was followed up with "Nights on Broadway" and then the album Children of the World, which yielded the hits "You Should Be Dancing" and "Love So Right." Then, in 1977, their featured numbers on the soundtrack to the Robert Stigwood-produced Saturday Night Fever, "Stayin' Alive," "How Deep Is Your Love," and "Night Fever," each topped the charts, even as the soundtrack album stayed in the top spot for 24 weeks. In the process, the disco era in America was born -- Saturday Night Fever, as an album and a film, supercharged the phenomenon and broadened its audience by tens of millions, with the Bee Gees at the forefront of the music.

It was a profound moment although, ironically, there wasn't that much difference in their sound. Amid the dance numbers, the Bee Gees still did a healthy portion of romantic ballads that each offered memorable hooks. They'd simply decided, at Arif Mardin's urging, to forget the fact that they were white Englishmen and plunged into soul music, emulating, in their own terms, the funkier Philadelphia soul sounds that all three brothers knew and loved. In one fell swoop, the group had managed to meld every influence they'd ever embraced, from the Mills Brothers and the Beatles to early-'70s soul, into something of their own that was virtually irresistible. Spirits Having Flown was their crowning commercial triumph, topping 30 million in sales and yielding three more number one singles.

By the end of the '70s, however, the disco era was waning from a combination of the bad economy, political chaos domestically and internationally (leading to the election of Ronald Reagan), and a general burnout of the participants from too many drugs and profligate sex (which would precipitate an epidemic of sexually transmitted diseases and herald the outbreak of AIDS in the United States). There had already been an ad hoc reaction against the group's dominance of the airwaves, with mass burnings of Bee Gees posters and albums organized by DJs. The group itself helped contribute to the end of the party with their participation (at Stigwood's insistence) in the film Sgt. Pepper's Lonely Hearts Club Band, "inspired" (if that's the word) by the Beatles' album. The movie was a commercial and critical disaster, and an embarrassment to all concerned.

In America, the Bee Gees were virtually invisible for most of the '80s. Instead, Barry Gibb pursued work as a producer for other artists, creating hits for Barbra Streisand and Diana Ross. By 1987 and the E.S.P. album, their sales had rebounded everywhere but the United States, yielding a number one single (outside of the U.S.) in "You Win Again." Their 1989 album One got a good reception around the world and generated a Top Ten U.S. single. And in the '90s, Polygram Records released the four-CD anthology Tales from the Brothers Gibb, which sold well around the world. The trio's 1997 induction into the Rock & Roll Hall of Fame led to a resurgence of interest, which heralded the release of the live album One Night Only (1998), cut at their first American concert in almost a decade.

The Bee Gees remained active until the death of Maurice in January 2003, from cardiac arrest during surgery. Following his death, Robin and Barry decided to cease performing as the Bee Gees. Their recorded legacy, however, subsequently became more visible than it had been in decades with the move of their catalog to Warner/Reprise. The latter company began the long-awaited upgraded CD reissue of the Bee Gees' post-1966 library, including the first-ever release of outtakes and rehearsal versions of songs. Robin was diagnosed with and underwent treatment for cancer in 2011. He died in London in May 2012 due to complications from cancer and intestinal surgery; he was 62 years old. Given the previous deaths of Andy (who had several number one hits and who died of an inflammatory heart virus in 1988) and Maurice Gibb, Robin was the third Gibb brother and second member of the Bee Gees to pass away. ~ Bruce Eder, Rovi
full bio

Selected Discography

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Track List: Mythology

Disc 1
Disc 2
Disc 3
Disc 4
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Track List: Tales From The Brothers Gibb

Comments

Lo maximo de esos anos
What the f**k........ B e e Gees did record prior to the disco demolition of music. Hey Pandora wake the f**k up play something before 1971.
The beegees r #1in music and disco voice bring it back famous tubby chuco tejas
The Best Bee Gees ever.
I really love the Bee Gees so much.
These brothers are and were so talented! This album was the bomb back in the day! Brings back memories of going to disco's and to the movie to see Saturday Night Fever.
This song makes me think of the movie Arthur and the Invincibles or something like that.
This song makes me think of the movie Arthur and the Invincibles or something like that.
This song makes me think of the movie Arthur and the Invincibles or something like that.
The Bee Gees, Donna Summer and Chic are The monsters of Disco
Good
Disco never died. It get's reinvented every decade and called something that is popular at that time. Love the Bee Gees
I LOVE THE BEE GEES MUSIC THANK U FOR THE SOUNDTRACK THE MOVIE SATURDAY NIGHT FEVER THAT MOVIE AND MORE PUT DISCO ON THE MAP IN THE 70S
Pretty good.
It does bring back memories
Lousy food warm beer where it all started before the name was changed to 2001 odyssey js
This album was slamming and was the most selling album in history until Thriller came along! Why so I see John Travolta walking down the streets of Brooklyn? Lol?
this reminds me of my aunt she had the album and would play it every time we go visit. Its good music
Yes i miss this kind of music know this is dancing music to dance to
Saw Barry on Fallon recently doing You Should Be Dancin...it gave me goosies.
hadlockcarol e
One of my all time favorite bands.
I will BURN you.
Yeah
sarahemiller 5
I'm just posting this to prove it's not real kiss ur hand 5 times and post this on 2 other comments and a pink or blue iPhone will be under ur pillow
Da beegezzz beezzz eieiz eieio dafarmgees
Will there ever be a station on Satellite radio called the 2010's ... NO!
I love the Bee Gees and I love Ozzy also.....Chi l d of the 70's...Rap is crap!
Didn't care for bee gees too much when I was younger, but did like their brother Andy
desireevarga s 5 6
My grandma loves old songs and this one. I love this song. I am Mexican American
Ooooooh
Reminds me of Justin and Jimmy dancing on SNL LOL!
You go
Disco`s best band ever
shut up
Bee gees suck their nobody's who can't sing never will rap like driicky gram or tyga never ever future :-P
Bee gees so fantastic
Moriarty
Time slips away, but music stays! RQ/rlh
jchuffman11 then youv'e got style
I'm probably like the only person my age who listens to this.
annamazing99
stayin aliiiiieveee !
a1yayoo
adorable i watch their videos see them when
I love Bee Gees and when i was a tween i was in love with Andy Gibb.....ver y sad about him.......dr g s r a btch
I always impersonated Robin singing when I was growing up in Spokane Wa. My brother Randy sang Barry's part. What fun and we were good just like the real brothers.Mis s you guys Robin and Maurice .....Robin Chapman ,, This one for Andy! See you in 2014 Barry!!!!
dvconry
He's touring in 2014: http://www.t i c k e t m a s t e r . c o m / B a r r y - G i b b - t i c k e t s / a r t i s t / 7 5 9 6 8 6
Wish Barry would take a chance and tour.Miss the music a lot!
soniaryan
I still love Bee Gees. I grew up dancing to their songs, probably my first time dancing with a young male it was by the bits of one of my favorite Bee Gees songs Stayin' Alive. I love them and miss them. Good times, good memories. Good ballads. The best ever. Musicians and music like that hard to come around. Lot of famous people without talent, just names built in a load of nothing.
I know Im repeating myself but -Im just giving my opinion!-BES T SOUND TRACK EVEVER!!!!-- S o many childhood memories!!!- B E E G E E S ! ! ! FOREVER!!!
michaelrocks 6 8
I was a kid back then but I listened to all kinds of music as long as it has a good sound and this is a good sound. ♪♪♪♪♪
One of the greatest groups ever so much talent. Guess we where lucky to spent what time we had with them. God Bless
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