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The Bee Gees Biography

Home > Music > B > Bee Gees, The > Biography

Years Active: 1958–2003, 2009–present
Genres: Pop, Soft Rock, Blue-Eyed Soul, Disco

Bee Gees are a musical group that was originally made up of three brothers: Barry, Robin, and Maurice Gibb. Born in the Isle of Man to English parents, the Gibb brothers lived their first few years in Chorlton, Manchester, England, then moved in the late 1950s to Brisbane, Queensland, Australia, where they eventually began their musical careers.

After achieving their first chart success in Australia with "Spicks and Specks" (their 12th single), they returned to the United Kingdom in January 1967 where producer Robert Stigwood promoted them to a worldwide audience.

The trio was successful for most of their forty plus years of recording music, but they had two distinct periods of exceptional success: as a harmonic "soft rock" act in the late 1960s and early 1970s, and as a foremost act of the disco music era in the late 1970s.

The group sang three-part tight harmonies that were instantly recognizable with Robin's clear vibrato lead as a hallmark of their earlier hits, while Barry's R&B falsetto became their signature sound during the late 1970s and 1980s.

The brothers co-wrote all of their own hits, as well as writing and producing several major hits for other artists. They have had at least one top-ten U.S. hit in each of five decades: "I've Gotta Get a Message to You", "I Started a Joke" (1960s); "Nights on Broadway", "How Deep Is Your Love", "Stayin' Alive" (1970s); "One" (1980s); "Alone" (1990s); and "This Is Where I Came In" (2000s).

The Bee Gees participation in the creation of the “Saturday Night Fever” soundtrack would be the turning point of their career. The cultural impact of both the 1977 film and the soundtrack was seismic, not only in the United States but in the rest of the world, bringing the nascent disco scene mainstream. Three Bee Gees singles from the film ("How Deep Is Your Love", "Stayin' Alive", and "Night Fever") reached #1 in the United States and most countries around the world, launching the most popular period of the disco era. They also penned the song "If I Can't Have You" which became a #1 hit for Yvonne Elliman, while the Bee Gees' own version was the B-Side of "Stayin' Alive." During an eight-month period beginning in the Christmas season of 1977, the brothers wrote six songs that held the #1 position on the US charts for 25 of 32 consecutive weeks—three under their own name, two for brother Andy Gibb, and the Yvonne Elliman single.

Fueled by the movie's success, the soundtrack broke multiple industry records, becoming the highest-selling album in recording history to that point. With more than 40 million copies sold, “Saturday Night Fever” is among music's top five best selling soundtrack albums. It is currently calculated as the 9th highest-selling album worldwide.

It has been estimated that the Bee Gees' record sales total more than 200 million, making them one of the best-selling music artists of all time. They were inducted into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame in 1997 by presenter Brian Wilson of the Beach Boys. The Bee Gees Hall of Fame citation says "Only Elvis Presley, The Beatles, Michael Jackson, Garth Brooks and Paul McCartney have outsold the Bee Gees".

Following Maurice's sudden death on 12 January 2003, Barry and Robin Gibb ended the group after forty-five years of activity. On 7 September 2009, however, Robin announced that he and Barry had agreed that the Bee Gees would reform and perform again.