Bee Gees fever lives on:
Forty years after Saturday Night Fever, TV airs a tribute to The Bee Gees. How deep is your love for their music?
The Bee Gees’ song Stayin’ Alive is such a durable hit that it is now being used in an advert for the British Heart Foundation.
In the commercial, the former footballer and actor Vinnie Jones demonstrates how to administer CPR to the beat of Stayin’ Alive.
That is just one of the band’s many hits celebrated in TVNZ 1’s
Stayin’ Alive: A Grammy Salute To The Music Of The Bee Gees.
This one-off special, recorded at Los Angeles’ Microsoft Theatre this year, marks the 40th anniversary of the soundtrack to the film
Saturday Night Fever.
The soundtrack became a pop culture phenomenon. In the US, it held the top spot in the Billboard 200 for 24 weeks. The album spawned four No 1 singles and five Grammys, including Album Of The Year for 1978.
Born in Manchester and brought up in Australia, the three eldest Gibb brothers – Barry, Robin and Maurice (above) – started The Bee Gees as a family group in 1958.
They proceeded to shift more than 220 million records worldwide, with nine No 1 hits in the US.
Sadly, only the eldest brother, Barry, survives. Maurice died at the age of 53 in 2003, while his twin Robin died aged 62 in 2012.
The youngest brother, Andy, who was not part of the band, died at the age of 30 in 1988. He battled drug addiction during a solo pop career in which Barry wrote and produced several hits for him. Looking back on his terrible losses now, Barry says that, “Your world turns upside down. But somehow you get through.”
Stayin’ Alive: A Grammy Salute To The Music Of The Bee Gees
features musical tributes to the band by such luminaries as Stevie Wonder, Ed Sheeran, Celine
Dion, Nick Jonas, John Legend, Demi Lovato, and Keith Urban. Barry also performs a selection of hits from the Saturday Night
Fever soundtrack. Neil Portnow, President/CEO of The Recording Academy which runs the Grammys, underscores why the band are so worthy of celebration.
“The Bee Gees were international musical icons who helped make
Saturday Night Fever an emblem of 1970s pop culture. The iconic band of brothers defined not just a genre, but a generation.”
The irony is that, for all their well-deserved current adulation, The Bee Gees were once viewed as terminally uncool. Their characteristic falsetto vocals, extravagant hairdos and outrageous disco outfits were mocked by comedians such as Kenny Everett and The Hee Bee Gee Bees, who released the cruel, but amusing spoof track, Meaningless Songs (In Very High Voices).
Barry recalls that because they were regarded as “poster boys for disco”, when the genre went out of fashion, so did the band.
“There was a time when it wasn’t cool to even be seen with The Bee Gees,” the 71-year-old singer sighs.
Now, however, they are finally receiving the praise they merit as among the greatest singers and songwriters of all time.
They are also being feted by younger, seemingly cooler musicians.
For instance, Barry reveals, “Noel Gallagher told me he always listened to my music. That to me is staggering because in the period when Oasis became big, we were gone. That was not our time.”
Now Barry and Noel are due to meet up again.
“We’re going to go for a curry,” discloses Barry, who performed in the Legend slot at this year’s Glastonbury Festival. “We can talk about what it’s like to be in a band with brothers.”
Barry, who has also composed and produced tracks for many other artists including Frankie Valli (Grease), Dionne Warwick (Heartbreaker), Barbra Streisand (Woman In Love), Diana Ross (Chain Reaction) and Kenny Rogers and Dolly Parton (Islands In The
Stream), admits that like Oasis, The Bee Gees were sometimes beset by fraternal rivalries.
“I remember lots of intense arguments, not speaking to each other for weeks and then coming back together again.
“It doesn’t stop you being brothers. We broke up in 1969, and yet my brothers came to my wedding in 1970 and we started talking again – and suddenly we were back in the studio.”
Once they had re-formed, their work proved as harmonious as their music. Barry recollects, “Everything had to be unanimous. If one of us was unhappy about anything, we
wouldn’t do it.”
“There was a time when it wasn’t cool to even be seen with The Bee Gees.” – Barry Gibb