The Bee Gees were a pop trio comprised of three English-born/Aussie-raised brothers — Barry (born 1946) and twins Robin and Maurice Gibb (born 1949). They were active as a recording unit from 1963 to 2001.
Performing together since childhood, the brothers first recorded for the Australian market during the mid-1960s. Returning to their nation of birth, the band’s third album — Bee Gees 1st (1967) — captured the mood of Swinging London with its mix of twee carnival pop and Victorian kitsch.
Enhancing their orchestral-pop approach, the Bee Gees became known for a string of ballads during the psychedelic era, including “New York Mining Disaster 1941,” “I Started a Joke,” and “I Gotta Get a Message to You.” Following 1969’s ambitious double-set Odessa, the band briefly fractured as Robin attempted a solo career.
Regrouping in 1971, the Bee Gees scored a comeback with “How Can You Mend a Broken Heart,” which became their first No. 1 single on the U.S. Billboard chart. Several more albums followed in a similarly light, sensitive vein, culminating with 1974’s Mr. Natural, where the brothers first embrace elements of American R&B. Around this time, Barry Gibb appropriated a falsetto reminiscent of high-octave black crooners such as Eddie Holman and Stylistics frontman Russell Thompkins Jr.
Now based in Miami, the Bee Gees issued Main Course (1975), which ushered a new and lucrative direction with the danceable slide of “Nights on Broadway” and “Jive Talking.” Emboldened by the commercial prospects of this new direction, the band cut Children of the World (1976) in a uniformly mirror-balled mode, as heard and felt in the strobe-light thrust of “You Should Be Dancing.”
With their dance-music credentials firmly established, the Bee Gees were musically commissioned for manager Robert Stigwood’s movie about Brooklyn disco culture, Saturday Night Fever (1977). The film and its soundtrack broke sales records worldwide, thanks in part to the iconicism of the album’s three defining hits: “Night Fever,” “How Deep Is Your Love,” and “Staying Alive.”
Through much of 1978, Bee Gees and Gibb-associated tracks — “Shadow Dancing” (Andy Gibb), “If I Can’t Have You” (Yvonne Elliman), “Emotion” (Samantha Sang), “Grease” (Frankie Valli) — traded places in the Billboard top spot. Later that year, however, the band hit a snag with their ill-advised big-screen adaptation of Sgt. Pepper’s Lonely Hearts Club Band.
The Bee Gees soldiered on with their 1979 release Spirits Having Flown, a blend of dance-floor fervor (“Tragedy,” “Love You Inside and Out”) and airy balladry (“Too Much Heaven,” “Reaching Out”). Singles from the album continued the band’s record-breaking streak, but the new decade brought professional obstacles and the brothers parted ways with Stigwood.
In 1980, Barry Gibb wrote, produced, and dueted on Barbra Streisand’s Guilty. Backup work for other artists would ultimately sustain the brothers after the Bee Gees’ 1981 album Living Eyes — forwarded by the low-registered, mechanically driven “He’s a Liar” — was rejected by radio and record buyers, despite the album’s material tightness and stylistic variety.
The 1982/83 period saw continued backup work from the brothers, with successes in the form of “Heartbreaker” for Dionne Warwick and “Islands In the Stream,” a chart-topping duet for Kenny Rogers and Dolly Parton. Beyond contributing to the soundtrack of the 1983 SNF sequel Staying Alive, the Bee Gees nameplate was benched during this period.
The brothers themselves, however, continued to produce under their own names. In 1984, Barry cut his first solo album while Robin found success in Europe with back-to-back 1983/84 solo LPs in a synthpop/AC vein. The Gibb’s also collaborated with Michael Jackson on Diana Ross‘s 1985 release Eaten Alive, which yielded further UK/Euro success with “Chain Reaction” and the album’s title-track.
In 1987, the Bee Gees reconvened with the album E.S.P., which topped charts throughout much of the world with its lead-off single “You Win Again.” The American public finally re-warmed to the brothers when the title-track to 1989’s One became their first Billboard Top 10 placement in a decade. Subsequent releases during the 1990s would mostly find success outside the U.S., save for 1997’s globally celebrated Still Waters CD.
The 21st century saw the Bee Gees reinvigorated with the release of This Is Where I Came In (2001), which showed refreshing stylistic breadth from the now-fiftysomething brothers. Sadly, Maurice Gibb died unexpectedly from a heart ailment in January 2003, effectively putting an end to the band’s story. With the 2012 passing of Robin Gibb, eldest-of-kin Barry has been prematurely cast as the last-one standing of this legendary musical brotherhood.
Members: Barry Gibb (guitar, lead vocals), Robin Gibb (lead vocals, 1958-69, 1970-2003), Maurice Gibb (bass, piano, vocals), Vince Melouney (guitar, 1967-68), Colin Petersen (drums, 1967-69), Geoff Bridgford (drums, 1969-72)
The Bee Gees Sing and Play 14 Barry Gibb Songs
Spicks and Specks
The Bee Gees released their second album, Spicks and Specks, in November 1966 on Spin Records. This is their second of two albums restricted to the Oceanic market. In 1968, the album appeared on Atco (US) and Polydor (Canada, UK, Europe) as Rare, Precious & Beautiful.
Released: June 1966 (AUS)
Bee Gees’ 1st
The Bee Gees released their third album, Bee Gees’ 1st, on July 14, 1967, on Polydor. This was their debut release in the Northern Hemisphere and titled in reference to their newfound international scope.
The Bee Gees released their fourth album, Horizontal, in January 1968 on Polydor and Atco.
“And the Sun Will Shine”
Released: February 1968 (France)
The Bee Gees released their seventh album, Cucumber Castle, in April 1970 on Polydor and Atco. This was their only album as a duo, recorded by Barry and Maurice during a brief period of estrangement from Robin Gibb. The title comes from a song on their 1967 release Bee Gees’ 1st.
“If Only I Had My Mind on Something Else”
Released: March 1970 (United States)
2 Years On
To Whom It May Concern
“Sea of Smiling Faces”
Released: November 1972 (Japan)
Life in a Tin Can
A Kick in the Head is Worth Eight In the Pants
The Bee Gees recorded a second album of material during the Life in a Tin Can sessions. RSO intended to release this album, tentatively titled The Bee Gees Album, months after the January appearance of Tin Can. The canceled second album is colloquially known as A Kick in the Head is Worth Eight In the Pants.
The Bee Gees released their twelfth album, Mr. Natural, in May 1974 on RSO.
“Throw a Penny”
Released: June 1974 (US)
Released: August 1974
Children of the World
The Bee Gees released their fourteenth album, Children of the World, on September 13, 1976, on RSO.
Here at Last… Bee Gees… Live
Saturday Night Fever
On November 20, 1977, RSO issued Saturday Night Fever, the official soundtrack to the namesake dance drama film starring John Travolta.
“If I Can’t Have You”
Released: January 1978
Sgt. Pepper’s Lonely Hearts Club Band
Spirits Having Flown
Released: February 1979
The Bee Gees released their sixteenth album, Living Eyes, in October 1981 on RSO.
Outtake: “Heart (Stop Beating in Time)”
In June 1983, RSO issued Staying Alive: Original Motion Picture Soundtrack, a two-record accompaniment to the dance drama film starring John Travolta in a reprisal of his Tony Manero character in Saturday Night Fever.
“You Win Again”
Released: September 1987
Released: October 1987
“Crazy for Your Love”
Released: February 1988
Released: March 1989 (EUR)
Released: June 1989
Released: October 1989
Released: January 1990
- The Bee Gees Sing and Play 14 Barry Gibb Songs (1965)
- Spicks and Specks (1966)
- Bee Gees’ 1st (1967)
- Horizontal (1968)
- Idea (1968)
- Odessa (1969)
- Cucumber Castle (1970)
- 2 Years On (1971)
- Trafalgar (1971)
- To Whom It May Concern (1972)
- A Kick in the Head is Worth Eighty In the Pants (unreleased — recorded 1972)
- Life in a Tin Can (1973)
- Mr. Natural (1974)
- Main Course (1975)
- Children of the World (1976)
- Spirits Having Flown (1979)
- Living Eyes (1981)
- E.S.P. (1987)
- One (1989)
- High Civilization (1991)
- Size Isn’t Everything (1993)
- Still Waters (1997)
- This Is Where I Came In (2001)
- Discogs: Bee Gees
- English B Albums Directory (page 3)
- 45worlds: Bee Gees
- 45cat: Bee Gees
- Concerts Wiki: Bee Gees
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