1958, Brisbane, Australia
Bee Gees seem to have been with us forever. They never
cease to amaze me that they are able to apparently
die and resurrect every few years", says Jay.
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The Bee Gees are one of the longest-lived acts in
pop history. The group's core was vocalist/guitarist
Barry Gibb, born September 1, 1946 in Manchester,
England and his twin brothers Robin and Maurice,
who were born on December 22, 1949 on the Isle of
Man. They were three of five children born to bandleader
Hugh Gibb and his wife Barbara.
The trio made their performing debut in 1955 as
the Blue Cats, performing a brief set of Lonnie
Donegan and Tommy Steele covers at the Manchester
club where their father's group was playing. In
1958 the Gibb family emigrated to Brisbane, Australia.
There the boys regularly played at area talent shows
and other amateur showcases, occasionally performing
songs composed by Barry. They changed the name to
'The Brothers Gibb' but soon shortened this to simply
'the Bee Gees'. In 1959 they were spotted by disc
jockey Bill Gates, who soon became the group's manager
and played their demo tapes on his radio show. An
18-month residency as the house band at the Beachcomber
Nightclub in Surfers Paradise allowed the group
to hone a set of original material composed by Barry,
and in 1962 they signed to Festival Records.
A series of singles followed, but despite having
their own weekly television series, the Bee Gees
found little success outside of the Brisbane area.
After issuing their first LP, 'Barry Gibb and the
Bee Gees Sing and Play 14 Barry Gibb Songs' in 1965,
they began making plans to return to England. It
was while relocating that they finally gained success
and topped the Australian charts with the title
track from 1966's 'Spicks and Specks'.
Upon settling in London, the Bee Gees' were joined
by bassist Vince Melouney and drummer Colin Peterson.
They also gained a new manager, Robert Stigwood,
director of NEMS Enterprises, the company owned
by Beatles manager Brian Epstein. The group signed
to Polydor and released the single 'New York Mining
Disaster 1941', a Top 20 hit in Britain and the
U.S. in 1967.
After issuing a strangely titled 'Bee Gees First'
in 1967, the Bee Gees released the single 'To Love
Somebody', followed by their first UK chart topper,
'Massachusetts'. The Bee Gees then followed the
psychedelic lead of the Beatles and the Rolling
Stones and recorded 1969's 'Odessa', a double LP
which baffled most fans. Their subsequent double
A-sided single 'Jumbo','The Singer Not the Song',
also flopped. Their next single, "I've Got
to Get a Message to You," however, reached the number
one spot in the UK and produced the first of many
career resurrections experienced during the Bee
Gees' long history. 'First of May', followed, and
the brothers' Midas touch was confirmed by 'Only
One Woman', a Top Ten hit penned by the group for
Internal friction and problems with drugs and alcohol
were, however, tearing the Bee Gees apart, and in
the middle of 1969 Robin left to begin a solo career.
He had a major hit with 'Saved By the Bell'. In
the meantime, Barry and Maurice, the latter of whom
had recently married singer Lulu, continued alone,
working on film Cucumber Castle and the country
single "Don't Forget to Remember". Drummer Peterson
left also and filed a lawsuit claiming rights to
the Bee Gees name. The year-long court battle which
followed prevented the Bee Gees name being used
and the group lost virtually all of its chart momentum.
Both Barry and Maurice issued solo singles, neither
being a hit. In 1970 Robin returned to the fold,
and although the brothers' career was in grave condition
throughout Europe, their reunion yielded a pair
of American hits, 'Lonely Days' and number one hit,
'How Can You Mend a Broken Heart'. 1971's 'Trafalgar'
and 1972's 'To Whom It May Concern', flopped, however.
Acing on the advice of Robert Stigwood, the group
began adopting a more Americanized sound, producing
1973's 'Life in a Tin Can', but again, the record
was not a success and the group was reduced to playing
A new producer, Arif Mardin was recruited to helm
1974's 'Mr. Natural', a rhthym and blues flavored
effort recorded in Miami. Mardin also produced 1975's
'Main Course', where the Bee Gees completely changed
style to a dance unit defined by falsetto harmonies,
slick melodies and propulsive funk rhythms. The
results were immediate, the lead single "Jive
Talkin'" was a number one hit in the U.S. and returned
the trio to the Top Ten in Britain. The follow-up
'Nights on Broadway', was also a major hit.
The Bee Gees stayed in Miami and recorded 1976's
chart-topping 'Children of the World', which spawned
the singles You Should Be Dancing' and 'Love So
Right'. The Bee Gees were contacted to contribute
music to the soundtrack of the film Saturday Night
Fever. In addition they wrote and produced hits
for Yvonne Elliman, ("If I Can't Have You") and
Tavares, ("More Than a Woman"). A number of new
songs for Saturday Night Fever, included the number
one hits "Stayin' Alive", 'How Deep is Your Love'
and 'Night Fever'. The film established the Hollywood
career of John Travolta and completely revitalized
the disco scene, which the critics had proclaimed,
'dead'. The soundtrack quickly emerged as the definitive
document of the disco era, and topped the charts
for 24 weeks making the Bee Gees music's brightest
The Bee Gees took a part, starring in the film musical
Sgt. Pepper's Lonely Hearts Club Band. A strange
role which did little for their career. However,
the Bee Gees returned in 1979 with 'Spirits Having
Flown', yet another success which generated three
more number one singles: 'Tragedy', 'Too Much Heaven',
and 'Love You Inside Out'. 1981's Living Eyes, over
exploited disco and was not a success.
Andy Gibb, had become a major star in his own right
at the end of the 1970s, drawing away from the Bee
Gees name. Apart from a contribution to the soundtrack
of the 1983 Saturday Night Fever sequel, Stayin'
Alive, the Bee Gees spent much of the decade away
from the spotlight, writing and producing hits for
artists as diverse as Barbra Streisand, Diana Ross,
Dionne Warwick and the team of Kenny Rogers and
It was not until 1987 that the group returned with
the 'ESP', which was well received across the globe.
The LP and single 'You Win Again' hit number one
almost everywhere other than the US where the public
remebered disco-era excesses. Following the death
of Andy Gibb and Maurice's subsequent alcoholism,
the Bee Gees briefly retired, but resurfaced yet
again in 1989 with 'One', another success throughout
Europe. After 1991's 'High Civilization' and 1993's
'Size Isn't Everything', the Bee Gees again dropped
out of the public view for several years before
returning in 1997 with 'Still Waters', released
to coincide with the trio's induction into the Rock
and Roll Hall of Fame. "Live', 'One Night Only'"
Gibb brothers' younger sibling Andy began his own
solo career. Following his brothers' disco style,
Andy Gibb's first three singles ("I Just Want to
Be Your Everything," "(Love Is) Thicker than Water"
and "Shadow Dancing"), all hit number one. Three
more consecutive Top Ten hits followed, cementing
his overnight sensation status. Despite the number
four "Desire," Gibb's streak of Top Ten hits began
to slip in 1980; the following year he had his last
Top 40 hit, "Me (Without You)." After a brief stint
as the host of Solid Gold, Gibb turned to acting,
where he failed to replicate the enormous success
of his recording career. He developed a massive
cocaine addiction, which led to his death in 1988
from an inflammatory heart virus. He was 30 years
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