“I feel my heartbeat…
When you run your fingers through my hair.
I can tell you…
I can feel you by my side when you’re not there.
Just as my life fades to darkness…
You make me see the light.”
There are musical groups in every genre that find their roots in family. It is a bond that cannot be broken, as siblings share a common history that evolves over a lifetime. Influences are similar, as are the life experiences that shape an artist’s world view. Musical language becomes unspoken, providing an instant connection to the magic that occurs on the stage and in the studio. The Bee Gees are three brothers that come to us from England, via their childhood home of Australia. Their commercial beginnings go back to their adolescence in Sydney and their professional debut in 1958. While most pop culture fanatics know the group as the kings of the seventies disco era, more savvy musical connoisseurs look at their fifty years of songwriting consistency as a goldmine of pop masterpieces. From the British pop of their sixties singles to the R&B stylings of their 21st century renaissance, Barry, Maurice and Robin Gibb have mastered the art of the pop single. Above all else, the Bee Gees are a perfect combination of three part harmonies and soulful singing, musical expertise and pop craftsmanship.
The early days for the Bee Gees saw them shepherded by famed British producer and manager Robert Stigwood. His guidance and their talent established them as one of the preeminent groups in British pop. Chart success in the US and around the world was defined by singles ‘Lonely Days’, ‘To Love Somebody’, ‘I Started A Joke’ and ‘Massachusetts’, among others. Their success waned by the early seventies amid breakup rumors, giving way to one of the biggest comebacks in pop history. They regrouped with producer extraordinaire Arif Mardin to record a string of albums in the US, as opposed to recording in their native England. Albums “Main Course”, “Children of the World”, “Saturday Night Fever” and the 30 million selling “Spirits Having Flown” established the brothers as the best selling act of the seventies. The albums were laden with pop hooks, soaring vocals and expert production. Labeled as disco by the media, the group held true to their roots in pop and R&B, creating albums inspired by the Philadelphia soul they were exposed to while recording in Miami and New York City. By combining the pop sensibilities of master writer Barry Gibb with a seventies R&B production, a new genre had been created that became generation defining.
By the early eighties, the Bee Gees had moved on from their most commercially successful period ready to pursue new goals. Barry Gibb began to write for other artists, having huge pop hits by producing Barbara Streisand, Dionne Warwick, Diana Ross, Kenny Rogers and Dolly Parton, among others. Years passed and the public was again enjoying the Bee Gees, via these other performers. Leaving their mislabeling as a disco group behind them and witnessing the tragic death of younger brother Andy, they recorded the album “One” in 1989. The album was a return to form and signified a return to the pop and R&B markets. The title track was written by the three Gibb brothers and brought them back to stages around the world with material as catchy and melodic as anything in their extensive catalog. As a part of their new chapter of hit making, the Gibb brothers were inducted into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame in 1997.
The group released several albums throughout the nineties to great commercial success before the untimely 2003 death of brother Maurice. Respectfully, Barry and Robin Gibb have refrained from touring and recording as the Bee Gees since that tragedy. In an effort to continue to pass their music to a new generation, a massive reissue effort has been undertaken. Their early albums have been released in both Mono and Stereo versions, nicely packaged with hardbound books reflecting on the group’s legacy as musical legends. By relying on their brotherly bond, the Bee Gees have flourished as a musical partnership. In a time when art and commerce are so diametrically opposed, it is interesting to witness the evolution of a group whose most innovative sounds happen to have been massive commercial successes.