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The Bee Gees: their history

Barry, Robin & Maurice Gibb were born on the Isle of Man (UK).

In 1958 they emigrated to Australia with their parents and began their career.

They took the name The Bee Gees (The Brothers Gibb) and were seen on TV performing one of their first singles, "The Battle of The Blue & Grey", in 1963.

After being scored various minor hits in Australia and seeing some of their song being played by other artists, the Gibbs returned to Britain in 1967, while they finally scored a big hit in Australia with "Spicks and Specks" (#1), that also reached UK #3.

After signing with Robert Stigwood for management, the group's first UK single was "New York Mining Disaster 1941", which was also a hit in America. The single was off their 1st" album.
Later in that year, they topped the UK chart with "Massachusettes", and ended a triumphant year with another Top 10 hit, "World".

In 1968, The Bee Gees was in the UK Top 10 and the US Top 20 with "Words", which was also their first Italian top 3 single.
In the summer of the same year, the group reached the US Top 10 for the first time with "I've Got A Message To You", which also became their second UK chart-topper.

In 1969 came another US Top 10 hit, "I Started A Joke".
"First Of May" became their next UK Top 10 item, but was somewhat smaller US hit.

Robin left the group in the spring of 1969, while Barry and Maurice decided to continue without their brother, and released a new single, "Tomorrow Tomorrow".
In the meantime Robin had a Top 3 hit with his first solo single, "Saved By The Bell", of which exists the very rare Robin' Italian version ("Salvato dal campanello"). Robin also did the Italian version of another song included in his "Robin's Reign" 1969 album. The song was "Agosto Ottobre" ("August October").
In the summer of that year, Barry and Maurice starred in a TV special titled "Cucumber Castle", in which they performed their next big hit, "Don't Forget To Remember" (UK #3).

In 1970, Robin returned in the group and the trio's only significant hit was "Lonely Days" (USA #3), while in Italy they had their second top 10 single, "IOIO" (#8)
The start of 1971 brought triumph as "How Can You Mend A Broken Heart" became their first US # 1.

After 1971, The Bee Gees lost most of their popularity especially in Britain and US, but not in Italy, where they were very successful. Despite the fact worldwile in those years they seemed to be in a big crisis, the Italian audience was very warm with all of their outputs, album and singles, showing a strong fidelity. This is a very direct Italian peculiarity in Bee Gees history. Many Italian fans, including me, became to love them in that period. Their hits were "Run To Me" (UK top 10 and US top 20, Italy #2), "My World" (UK and US top 20, Italy #1 for 3 consecutive weeks, their first Italian chart topper). "Saw a new Morning", (Hong Kong #1) was a top 20 single in Italy, and in 1972 the "Trafalgar" album was their first top 3 album in Italy. and in 1973 "Life in a tin can" was a significant top 10 album in Italy.

In 1974 the Gibbs made an album ("Mr. Natural"), that although was very underrated, was the beginning of the collaboration with Arif Mardin, famed American producer.

The second album made with Mardin, "Main course" was a huge success, and spawned big hits like the #1 smash single "Jive Talkin'" and the top 10 hits "Nights On Broadway" and "Fanny (be tender with my love)". The Bee Gees were again very popular...

The good trend was confirmed by another successful album, 1976' "Children of the world" (Italy top 10) that included one of the most known Bee Gees' big hits "You should be dancing" (US #1, UK #5, Italy #3). The album contained also the wonderful "Love so right" (US #3) one of the most airplayed Bee Gees' song in Italy. Also the "Boogie child" single was a top 30 hit in Italy.

Also the double live album "Here...at last... Bee Gees Live" (US top 10, Italy top 30) had good results. The single "Edge of the universe" reached Italian top 20.

Disco-music was the soundtrack of the late 1970's and the music of the Bee Gees, very R&B influnced after the Mardin teamship, was oriented to embrace easily also the disco phenomenon.
So Stigwood decided to use some new Bee Gees' songs for the soundtrack of "Saturday Night Fever", a movie starring John Travolta. The movie was a tremendous success, but still today I think that nobody, including Stigwood and the Bee Gees, could even imagine the incredible dimension of the success of the double album soundtrack, that was the all-time best seller album till Micheal Jackson' "Thriller".
The album contained #1 Bee Gees' singles "How deep is your love", "Stayin'alive" (probably the most played Gibb song) and "Night fever", and other two Gibb penned #1 singles: Yvonne Elliman' "If I can have you" and "More than a woman" by Tavares. "Jive Talkin'" and "You Should Be Dancing" were also included in the soundtrack.

At the same time, the youngest member of the Gibb family, Andy , had several hits of his own , before his tragic death later in 1988. I love to remember the #1 song "I just want to be your everything" and the incredible smash #1 hit "Shadow dancing" (also Italian top 15), written by all four brothers.

The Gibbs had other two #1 smash singles as songwriters, "Emotion" by Samantha Sang, and "Grease" by Frankie Valli.

At the end of 1978, after all of this hits, their next single "Too Much Heaven" almost predictably topped world charts and particularly the US, UK and Italy charts, and was followed in 1979 by two further number ones, "Tragedy" (Italy #1 for 8 consecutive weeks!!) and "Love You Inside Out", for a total of six (!) consecutive #1 songs...
"Spirits having flown" album, that contained these songs is also the best seller Bee Gees album in Italy (#1 debut position and #1 for 12 consecutive weeks!!!)

A greatest hits package named "Greatest" was released, and (of course) it reached #1 position...

Unfortunately, stayin'alive in too much heaven was very difficoult even for Barry, Robin and Maurice and (most of all) for their management, since they made their biggest mistake of their incredibly great career: "Sg.t Pepper..." the movie (a total flop), and the double soundtrack album, that , even if was a top 20 album worldwile, Italy included, was, of course, nothing compared to the stellae expectations after the "SNF" and "Spirits" incredible sales.
The result was the beginning of a decline that later caused also the breakup with Stigwood's management.

The 1980's began with the start a new phase for the Brothers Gibb, since they began to write songs and produce albums for other artists.

The first of this projects was the Barbra Streisand's 1980 "Guilty" album (US, UK and Italy #1), a smash hit album, that provided #1 songs like "Woman in Love" (#1 for 4 weeks in Italy), "Guilty" and significant hits like "What kind of fool". Still today Streisand remember that album like one of the most important thing she did in her stellar career.

The "Living Eyes" album (1981) (Italy #8), the first album after "Sgt Pepper'" disaster and the Disco death, despite the strong change of musical style into country-rock directions was inevitably underrated, even if it contained the Italian top 10 rockish single "He's a liar"

Anyway the brothers continued to work with other stars and in 1982 wrote and produced the "Heartbreaker" album for Dionne Warwick, her most significant and successful album in a decade.
The Warwick's same titled single, together with another Gibb penned tune, "Heart (Stop beating in time)", sung by the English singer Leo Sayer, was heavily airplayed in Italy and very well accepted by Italian critics, giving the Bee Gees great credibility as songwriters.

In 1983 the brothers wrote and produced an album for country star Kenny Rogers, "Eyes that see in the dark", probably his most successful album.
The album contained the multiplatinum smash #1 single "Island in the stream", a duet with another country icon, Dolly Parton.
This song is STILL TODAY the most successful country single of all the times.

Robin had a huge hit with the 1983' "Juliet" single (Italy #1) taken from the European top 5 album "How old are you".
In the same time the "Stayin'Alive" soundtrack (the "SNF" prosecution) provided the US and Italy the top 30 single "Woman in you".
An important Italian critic stated: "incredibly, Robin Gibb has beaten the Bee Gees in the charts..."

In effects the Robin solo single and album was by far more successful than the soundtrack, and he did same trick in 1984 with the dance-oriented "Secret agent" (Italy top 10) which contained the beatiful Italian top 5 single "Boys (do fall in love)" while the wonderful solo effort by Barry, "Now voyager" was sadly underrated, by exception for the "Shine shine" single.

In 1985 the Gibbs made an album with R&B star Diana Ross ("Eaten alive").
The same titled first single, co-penned with Micheal "Thriller" Jackson was not a big hit, but "Chain reaction", the second single from the album, was a smash hit, expecially in UK (#1 for 3 consecutive weeks, the first Ross' number one since 1981' "Endless Love") and lead the album to success all over Europe.

1985 is also the year of another solo album by Robin ("Walls have eyes") not so successful as the previous two albums, while 1986 "sees" a Maurice album production for Swedish artist Carola ("Runaway"), a fair album ignored (not in Sweden where the same titled single reached top 10).

In 1987 the brothers decide to team up again as the Bee Gees.
I remember very well a Barry's TV interview in which he stated: "it's time for us to do the Bee Gees again..."
It was another crucial point in Bee Gees career, so they changed record label (Warner instead of Polydor) and teamed up again with Arif Mardin.
The result was the 1987' "E.S.P." album, which included the smash Euro-hit "You win again" (UK #1 for 3 consecutive weeks, Eurochart #1 for 4 consecutive weeks, Italy #8), their first big hit (as the Bee Gees) in 1980's!

In 1988, (sad year: Andy died), in Europe was released the second solo album by Barry, the soundtrack for the Timothy Dalton' featured movie "Hawks".
Despite the commercial failure, the album contained the very airplayed (in Italy) single "Childhood days".

In 1989 it was released the self-produced album "One" and a successful world tour was raised.
Unfortunately, the two Italian dates (Rome and Milan) were cancelled, after 8000 reservations, due to temporary Barry's health problems.
The "One" single reached #7 in the US chart, the first (and the last, as the Bee Gees...) top 10 hit in US in the 1980's.

In 1990 was released in Europe (outside Italy) the "Very best of the Bee Gees", a greatest hits package that was a huge success.
In Italy was released "Bee Gees Story", a similar compilation that reached #1 and that is the second best seller Bee Gees' album in Italy since "Spirits having flown".

These compilations clearly demonstred the strong Gibb influence in the musical scene and the intact commercial potentiality of the Gibb's tunes.
New artists, teen bands and even consolidated stars began to cover heavily the Gibb tunes and several tribute albums were released.
The 1990's list includes #1 or top 10 covers (not in any order) by artists like George Micheal, Jimmy Sommerville, Micheal Bolton, Kim Wilde, N'trance, Take That, Boyzone, Steps and 911.

The "High civilazation" album, in 1991, included the single "Secret love" (UK #5). The albun was incredibly ignored in US, even if it contained AC gems like "When he's gone" and "The only love" (France top 5).
A tour followed the album and, for the first time in my life, I had the immense pleasure to see a Bee Gees concert, in Paris (21 june 1991)!! It was a wonderful and very powerful show!

After this album , the Bee Gees signed again with Polydor and two years later, in 1993, was released "Size isn't everything", one of the most beautiful album in the Bee Gees' career. The first single, "Paying the price of love", is definately the most airplayed Bee Gees single in Italy.
The second single "For whom the bell tolls" (UK #4, Eurochart #7), was rewiewed as a Bee Gees' masterpiece. In effect is one of the most beatiful ballads in the 90's.
Also the third single, "How to fall in love", was an European top 30 single, even if in some country was released "Kiss of life" as a single (not a big hit).

After a big pause, probably due also to Barry's illness, in 1997 was released "Still waters" (UK #2, US #11, Eurochart # 5, Italy #18), anticipated by the hit single "Alone" (UK #3,US #28, Eurochart #8) and spawned other two top 15 singles in UK ("I couldn't love you more" and "Still waters run deep").
1997 was a very important year for the Gibbs.
They received several important awards (American Music Awards, Brit Awards, Rock'n Roll hall of fame' induction, World Music Award), and, most of all, they were well accepted again in the music business, even if the radio stations continued to play their songs with no continuity.

A concert was played in Las Vegas (the first "One night only" show) followed in 1998 and 1999 by a serie of live events worldwile.
I saw my second huge Bee Gees concert in London (Wembley Stadium, 5 september 1998, 63.000 people!), an incredible experience...
Two days after this great concert, it was released the live albun "One night only" (UK #3, Eurochart #3, USA platinum, Australia multiplatinum), a huge success.
It seems it has sold more copies than "Still waters"...

In late 1998 was released (not in Italy) "Gotta get a message to you", another tribute album featuring covers of Bee Gees songs by artists like Robbie Williams, Space, Lightning Seeds, Orb, Cleopatra, 911 (their "More than a woman" cover went to #2 in UK), Steps (their "Tragedy" stayed in the UK charts for six consecutive months and sold more copies than even the original Bee Gees version...)

In 1999, after ending their "One night only" world tour, the Bee Gees started to work on a new album, "This is where I came in", released in march 2001. The album, that reflects the brothers individualities, even reaching the top 10 in many European countries (not in Italy, unfortunately) and being top 15 in USA, does not repeat the commercial success of "Still waters", due also for the lack of promo activities.

In the end of 2001 a new greatest hits package is released, the double cd-set "The Record, Their Greatest hits", and the Bee Gees end their contract with Universal Records (former Polydor). The album goes well all over the world (UK #5, USA goes platinum) and in Italy reach the top 30.

In January 2002 Barry, Robin and Maurice are awarded CBEs (Commanders of the British Empire) by the Queen.

Robin works on a new solo project (the first since 1984). The album, called "Magnet", contains songs written by other artists and the re-makes of "Wish you were here" (originally included in "One") and "Another lonely night in NY" (originally in "How old are you").

On January 2003 (12), Maurice Gibb dies at the age of 53. Maurice had suffered a heart attack during emergency surgery for an intestinal blockage. An autopsy report has shown Maurice died from a congenital condition that caused his small intestine to twist, cutting off the blood supply. Barry and Robin are devasted. "The Bee Gees will not disintegrate because we've lost Mo", said Barry and Robin in a BBC interview few hours after Maurice's death. But just few days after, (22 January) Robin told the press "anything Barry and I do we will do together, but it'll be as brothers and not under the name of the Bee Gees. That will be reserved in history as the three of us."

Traduzione in Italiano


Nuovo DVD con interviste inedite a Barry e Robin
Bee Gees -"In our own time" - DVD

Bee Gees Italy © 1998-2017 Enzo Lo Piccolo