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Members include brothers Barry Gibb (given name, Douglas; born on September 1, 1947, in Manchester, England), and Maurice Gibb and Robin Gibb (twins; born on December 22, 1949, on the Isle of Man, England; Maurice died on January 12, 2003, in Miami, FL); sons of Hugh Gibb (a bandleader). Addresses: Record company--Universal Records, P.O. Box 73, Kenmore, NY 14217. Website--The Bee Gees Official Website: http:// www.beegees.net.
From lyrical ballads to falsetto-sung disco hits and beyond, the Bee Gees have always displayed a unique style of elaborate harmony and melodic structure. Despite a career setback due more in part to a perceived disco lifestyle and flavor precipitated by the media than to actual musical direction, the group persevered, reminding listeners that long before there was Saturday Night Fever, there was a group comprised of three talented brothers once hailed by Robert Stigwood as "the new Beatles." They disbanded following the death of Maurice Gibb on January 12, 2003, from cardiac arrest following abdominal surgery.
Popularly believed to have hailed from Australia, the Bee Gees were actually born in England; Barry (born Douglas) in Manchester, England, in 1947, and the twins, Maurice and Robin, on the Isle of Man in 1949. The brothers began performing as the Blue Cats at an early age, continuing their musical act when the family emigrated to Australia in 1958. After debuting on Brisbane's ABC-TV channel, the Gibbs won their own weekly television series and the "Bee Gees" quickly became the favorite group of Australia's teens and preteens. Their first single, "Three Kisses of Love," was released by Festival Records in 1963 and made the top 20 in Australia, to be followed by a number of hit singles over the next few years. Returning to England in 1967, the group signed with Robert Stigwood of NEMS, adding drummer Colin Peterson to their group and having a sell-out debut at the Saville Theatre in London.
The group's first LP released in the United States, The Bee Gees First, followed the successful singles "Spicks and Specks" and "New York Mining Disaster--1941" in 1967. As their record sales increased, the group toured extensively in Europe and the United States, promoting a series of hit songs such as the melodic "I Started a Joke" and one of their best sellers, "Words." In 1969, after their concept album Odessa went almost unnoticed, Robin Gibb parted company with his brothers for a brief solo career, rejoining them in 1970 for the hit single "Lonely Days." The following year found them touring again, promoting a new album and enjoying their number-one hit on the American charts, "How Can You Mend a Broken Heart."
The next two years were modest ones, with little changing in the group's focus until they began to use a R&B sound that would soon lead to the disco sound the group became associated with in the mid-1970s. "But we weren't after disco," Maurice pointed out in a 1989 interview in the Detroit Free Press. "We were into this new kind of music out of New York, real tough and sensual grooves. Disco to us was K.C. & the Sunshine Band; light dance is what we called it." No matter what they called it, after the Main Course album in 1975 and popular disco-styled hits "Jive Talkin'" and "Nights on Broadway," the group was consistently on the charts, ascending to an even higher level of popularity after their involvement in the Saturday Night Fever film and soundtrack album in 1977. Produced in only two weeks, the album featured what would become some of the Bee Gees' biggest hits--including "Night Fever," "How Deep Is Your Love," "Stayin' Alive," and, for Yvonne Elliman, "If I Can't Have You." Said John Rockwell in the New York Times, the Gibbs' sound was "both telling and instantly identifiable amidst the other disco pap one encounters on the radio." The group was to follow their success in 1979 with another chart-topping disco-style album, Spirits Having Flown.
Though the group's participation in Fever was casual, the immediate success of the album, which sold more than 40 million copies, linked the Bee Gees directly to the disco sound and the white suit, gold chain image created by the film. This image would prove more difficult to shake after ten years than their participation with Peter Frampton in 1978 in the ill-conceived and -received movie version of Sgt. Pepper's Lonely Hearts Club Band. Said Barry, "I think what people don't like is the whole disco syndrome, which is more about style and not about the music. A lot of people tend to have forgotten that there's more to us than that stuff. We were probably on our fourth platinum album by the time the 'Fever' thing came along."
After spending much of the 1980s producing artists such as Dionne Warwick, Barbra Streisand, and Diana Ross, the Bee Gees reemerged in 1987 with the album E.S.P., which sold three million copies in Europe but failed to gain much popularity in the United States. In 1988, promoting a new album (One), the group began touring the United States, battling what remained of their disco image. According to Barry, "We want to re-establish ourselves on the forefront of American music, where we at least believe we have a place. We want to erase the illusion of 'Saturday Night Fever' and the effect it's had on us. We're going to stay active, stay as visible as possible ... as long as there are people out there who like what we do."
In 1988 the Gibbs were devastated by the death of their younger brother, Andy Gibb, who committed suicide at age 30; their father died not long afterward. They came back to release High Civilization in 1991, followed by Size Isn't Everything in 1993. Although these albums didn't chart in the United States, they performed very well in Europe. In 1997 the group released their twenty-fifth album in the United States, Still Waters. "We're not a nostalgia act," Robin was quoted in USA Today. "We're still making contemporary music."
Although theirs was not entirely the same comeback enjoyed by Saturday Night Fever associate John Travolta, 1997 was nonetheless a banner year for the Bee Gees. The veteran pop group appeared on the American and British television airwaves, including VH-1's Storytellers, CBS's 48 Hours, the Oprah Winfrey Show, Saturday Night Live, and the soap opera General Hospital. A new video documentary based on their career was released. Paramount Pictures attempted to recapture the disco craze by rereleasing Saturday Night Fever that fall. The trio had originally planned a tour of the United States for that time, but canceled, instead scheduling a special "one time only" event televised on pay-per-view.
In May of 1997 the Bee Gees were inducted into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame. "It's like the pinnacle of everything you've worked for," Maurice Gibb said in Entertainment Weekly. Of their performance at the World Music Awards, David Adelson of Hits magazine said, "The Bee Gees are once again a combination of cool and kitsch. They evoke favorable memories and seem to have won renewed respect, proving that longevity enables certain artists to become hip again. If you survive long enough, you can thrive again."
The Bee Gees released their second live album in 1998, One Night Only, and in 2001 released This Is Where I Came In, the group's twenty-eighth studio album. Liana Jonas of All Music Guide wrote, "[T]he Bee Gees, again, inspire audiences with their ability to make music that is fresh, yet familiar, and ahead of their peers in terms of sound, song structure, and style." The group released a greatest hits collection, Their Greatest Hits: The Record, in 2001.
Maurice died on January 12, 2003, from complications following surgery to remove an intestinal blockage. Barry and Robin immediately retired the name "Bee Gees," CNN.com reported. "The Bee Gees to us was the three brothers. In Maurice's name we would respect that and not be the Bee Gees any more," Robin said.
by Meg Mac Donald
The Bee Gees's Career
Began performing in England under various names, including the Rattlesnakes, the Bluecats, and Wee Johnny Hays and the Bluecats, 1955; family moved to Brisbane, Australia, 1958; began performing as the Bee Gees (for Brothers Gibb), 1958; signed first recording contract with Festival Records, 1962; hosted own television show in Australia, 1960s; international recording artists, 1967-2003; group disbanded, 2003.
The Bee Gees's Awards
The National 2UE Award (Australia), Best Group of 1966; Pop Stars of the Year, Holland, 1967; New Musical Express, Best New Group, 1967; Bravo Goldener Sieger Der Otto-Wahl, 1968, 1969; Ivor Novello Award, 1968-69; Canadian Rock Champions, 1975; Billboard, Number One Pop Singles Duo or Group, 1976; AMPEX Golden Reel Award for "Children of the World," 1976; Grammy Award, Best Pop Vocal Performance by a Group for "How Deep Is Your Love?," 1977; Grammy Awards, Album of the Year, Best Pop Vocal Performance by a Group, Best Producer of the Year (with others), and Best Arrangement for Voices, all for Saturday Night Fever, all 1978; AMPEX Golden Reel Award for "Saturday Night Fever," 1978; Billboard, Album of the Year, Soundtrack of the Year, Disco LP of the Year for Saturday Night Fever, 1978; Billboard, Group of the Year, Pop Singles Artist of the Year, Pop Singles Group of the Year, Pop Album Artist of the Year, Pop Album Group of the Year, Single of the Year, 1978; Ivor Novello Awards, Best Pop Song, Best Film Music or Song, and special award, 1977-1978; Ivor Novello Award for outstanding contribution to British music, 1988, 1997; Songwriters Hall of Fame, 1994; American Music Award for lifetime achievement, 1997; BRIT Award for outstanding contribution to music, 1997; World Music Awards, Legend Award, 1997; induction, Rock and Roll Hall of Fame, 1997.
- Selected discography
- First , Atco, 1967.
- Horizontal , Atco, 1968; reissued, Polydor, 1987.
- Idea , Atco, 1968; reissued, Polydor, 1987.
- Rare ,Precious and Beautiful , Atco, 1968.
- Best , Atco, 1969; reissued, RSO, 1987.
- Odessa (double album), Atco, 1969.
- Rare, Precious and Beautiful, Vol 2 , Atco, 1970.
- Cucumber Castle , Atco, 1970.
- Two Years On , Atco, 1970; reissued, RSO, 1989.
- Melody (soundtrack), Atco, 1971.
- Trafalgar , Atco, 1971; reissued, RSO, 1989.
- To Whom It May Concern , Atco, 1972.
- Life in a Tin Can , RSO, 1973.
- Best, Vol. 2 , RSO, 1973; reissued, 1987.
- Mister Natural , RSO, 1974.
- Main Course , RSO, 1975; reissued, Polydor, 1988.
- Children of the World , RSO, 1976; reissued, 1989.
- Gold, Vol. 1 , RSO, 1976.
- Here at Last ... Live (double album), RSO, 1977.
- Saturday Night Fever (soundtrack), RSO, 1977.
- Sgt. Pepper's Lonely Hearts Club Band (soundtrack; double album), RSO, 1978.
- Spirits Having Flown , RSO, 1979; reissued, 1989.
- Greatest Hits (double album), RSO, 1979.
- Livin' Eyes , RSO, 1982.
- E.S.P ., Warner Bros., 1988.
- One , Warner Bros., 1989.
- High Civilization , Warner Bros., 1991.
- Size Isn't Everything , Polydor, 1993.
- Still Waters , Polydor, 1997.
- One Night Only (live), Polygram, 1998.
- This Is Where I Came In , Uptown/Universal, 2001.
- Their Greatest Hits: The Record , Uptown/Universal, 2001.
- Anderson, Christopher P., The New Book of People, Perigee, 1986.
- Newsmakers 1997, Issue 4, Gale Research, 1997.
- Nite, Norm N., and Ralph M. Newman, Rock On: The Illustrated Encyclopedia of Rock 'N' Roll, Volume II, Crowell, 1978.
- Stambler, Irwin, The Encyclopedia of Pop, Rock, and Soul, St. Martin's, 1984.
- Detroit Free Press, July 30, 1989.
- Entertainment Weekly, May 23, 1997, p. 36.
- People, August 7, 1989.
- USA Today, May 6, 1997, p. 1D.
- "The Bee Gees," All Music Guide, http://www.allmusic.com (August 1, 2002).
- "Bee Gees Retiring," CNN.com, http://www.cnn.com/2003/SHOWBIZ/01/22/showbuzz/index.html (January 13, 2003).
- "Bee Gees Singer Dies," CNN.com, http://www.cnn.com/2003/SHOWBIZ/Music/01/12/bee.gee/index.html (January 13, 2003).
The Bee Gees Lyrics
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