Bee Gees

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)


Background


1963–1966


The Bee Gees Sing and Play 14 Barry Gibb Songs

The Bee Gees’ debut album, Sing and Play 14 Barry Gibb Songs, appeared in November 1965 on Leedon Records. It’s a compilation of 1963–65 singles in the Australian market.


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.

“Monday’s Rain”
Released: June 1966 (AUS)

“Spicks and Specks”
Released: September 1966 (AUS), February 1967 (UK)
“Born a Man”
Released: February 1967 (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.

“New York Mining Disaster 1941”
Released: April 1967

“To Love Somebody”
Released: June 1967

“Holiday”
Released: September 1967


Horizontal

The Bee Gees released their fourth album, Horizontal, in January 1968 on Polydor and Atco.

“Massachusetts”
Released: 19 September 1967 (UK) “Barker of the UFO”
November 1967 (US)

“World”
Released: December 1967 (UK) “Sir Geoffrey Saved the World” “Sinking Ships”

“And the Sun Will Shine”
Released: February 1968 (France)


“Jumbo”

In March 1968, the Bee Gees released “Jumbo,” a standalone single backed with “The Singer Sang His Song.”


Idea

The Bee Gees released their fifth album, Idea, in September 1968 on Polydor and Atco.

“I’ve Gotta Get a Message to You”
Released: 7 September 1968

“I Started a Joke”
Released: 21 December 1968


Odessa

The Bee Gees released their sixth album, Odessa, on March 30, 1969, on Polydor. This was their first and only studio double album.

“First of May”
Released: January 1969


“Tomorrow Tomorrow”

On May 30, 1969, the Bee Gees released “Tomorrow Tomorrow,” a standalone single backed with “Sun in My Morning.” This was their first recording after Robin’s temporary exit.


Cucumber Castle

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.

“Don’t Forget to Remember”
Released: August 1969

“If Only I Had My Mind on Something Else”
Released: March 1970 (United States)

“I.O.I.O.”
Released: March 1970

Inception/Nostalgia (rarities comp)


2 Years On

The Bee Gees released their eighth album, 2 Years On, in November 1970 on on Polydor, Atco, and Spin (Oceania). This album marked the return of brother Robin, who briefly recorded as a solo artist.

“Lonely Days”
Released: 6 November 1970


Trafalgar

The Bee Gees released their ninth album, Trafalgar, in September 1971, when it first appeared on US Atco (two months ahead of its UK release on Polydor).

“How Can You Mend a Broken Heart”
Released: May 1971 backed with the non-album “Country Woman”

“Don’t Wanna Live Inside Myself”
Released: November 1971 (US)
“Israel”
Released: May 1972 (Europe)


“My World”

On January 14, 1972, the Bee Gees released “My World,” a standalone single backed with “On Time.”


To Whom It May Concern

The Bee Gees released their tenth album, To Whom It May Concern, in October 1972 on Polydor and Atco.

“Run to Me”
Released: July 1972

“Sea of Smiling Faces”
Released: November 1972 (Japan)

“Alive”
Released: December 1972


1973–1974


Life in a Tin Can

The Bee Gees released their eleventh album, Life in a Tin Can, on January 19, 1973, on RSO.

“Saw a New Morning”
Released: March 1973


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.

“Wouldn’t I Be Someone”
June 1973 in edited form (3:24) “Elisa”


Mr. Natural

The Bee Gees released their twelfth album, Mr. Natural, in May 1974 on RSO.

“Mr. Natural”
Released: March 1974 backed with the non-album “It Doesn’t Matter Much to Me”

“Throw a Penny”
Released: June 1974 (US)
“Charade”
Released: August 1974


Main Course

The Bee Gees released their thirteenth album, Main Course, in June 1975 on RSO.

“Jive Talkin'”
Released: May 1975 (US), July 1975 (UK)

“Nights on Broadway”
Released: September 1975

“Fanny (Be Tender with My Love)”
Released: January 1976


Children of the World

The Bee Gees released their fourteenth album, Children of the World, on September 13, 1976, on RSO.

“You Should Be Dancing”
Released: June 1976 (UK), July 1976 (US)
“Love So Right”
Released: September 1976
“Boogie Child”
Released: January 1977

“Children of the World”
Released: February 1977


Here at Last… Bee Gees… Live

In May 1977, RSO issued Here at Last… Bee Gees… Live, a double-album culled from the brother’s December 20, 1976, show at the Forum in Los Angeles.


Saturday Night Fever

On November 20, 1977, RSO issued Saturday Night Fever, the official soundtrack to the namesake dance drama film starring John Travolta.

“How Deep Is Your Love”
Released: September 24, 1977 “Can’t Keep a Good Man Down” (live)

“Stayin’ Alive”
Released: December 1977 backed with the Bee Gees “If I Can’t Have You”

“If I Can’t Have You”
Released: January 1978

“Night Fever”
Released: January 1978 “Down the Road” (live)
“More Than a Woman”
Released: April 8, 1978


1978–1979


Sgt. Pepper’s Lonely Hearts Club Band

On July 25, 1978, Sgt. Pepper’s Lonely Hearts Club Band premiered in theaters.


Spirits Having Flown

The Bee Gees released their fifteenth album, Spirits Having Flown, on February 5, 1979, on RSO.

“Too Much Heaven”
Released: November 1978

“Tragedy”
Released: February 1979

“Love You Inside Out”
Released: April 1979

“Spirits Having Flown”


1980–1981


Living Eyes

The Bee Gees released their sixteenth album, Living Eyes, in October 1981 on RSO.

“He’s a Liar”

“Living Eyes”

Outtake: “Heart (Stop Beating in Time)”


1982–1983


Staying Alive

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.

“The Woman in You”
Released: May 1983

“Someone Belonging to Someone”
Released: July 1983


1984–1985


E.S.P.

The Bee Gees released their seventeenth album, E.S.P., on September 22, 1987, on Warner Bros.

“You Win Again”
Released: September 1987
“E.S.P.”
Released: October 1987
“Crazy for Your Love”
Released: February 1988


One

The Bee Gees released their eighteenth album, One, on April 17, 1989, on Warner Bros.

“Ordinary Lives”
Released: March 1989 (EUR)
“One”
Released: June 1989
“Tokyo Nights”
Released: October 1989
“Bodyguard”
Released: January 1990


Discography:

  • 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)

Sources:

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