One of My Guilty Pleasures
Posted: June 5, 2014
I admire anyone that is a success in two or more different genres regardless of their chosen endeavor. That is especially true of artists and music groups. In my mind, that dual success demonstrates the merit of the artist. So when I say that I consider The Bee Gees to be in this category I’m met with one of two reactions, people look at me nonplussed in their disbelief or they run to the medicine cabinet for some Pepto-Bismol to settle their stomachs.
The Brothers Gibb: Barry, Robin and Maurice were a pop band back in the late 1960s early 1970s who scored hits like: Idea, To Love Somebody, How Can You Mend A Broken Heart, Massachusetts, I Started A Joke, Run to Me and New York Mining Disaster among others. In those days it was Robin Gibb who was mostly singing the lead vocals and they gained a world wide following with their combination of soulful balladry and pop sensibility. Let’s face it though, they’re better known for their disco-driven, dance floor anthems of the mid to late 1970s when brother Barry took over the lead vocals with his high-pitched falsetto and they scored Grammy Awards, Platinum Albums and superstardom.
I suppose if you followed the Bee Gees for any length of time before their pinnacle, you would have seen the disco phase coming. This is especially true when Barry began taking over the lead vocals on their 1974 Album Mr. Natural. But it was their 1975 album Main Course in which they injected a couple of soul-tinged dance floor songs, Jive Talkin’ and Lights on Broadway amid their usual pop melodies that their disco phase really began. This laid the groundwork for their 1976 album, Children of the World; which was firmly rooted in disco with songs like: You Should Be Dancing, You Stepped Into My Life and Boogie Child. It was also this year that their youngest brother Andy began his very successful teen idol recording career, with the help of all three older brothers, of course.
This all culminated with their 1977 soundtrack to the movie Saturday Night Fever which drop kicked the disco craze right out of the park and they were crowned the Kings of Disco. In a 2010 interview with Robin Gibb, the New Zealand Herald had this to say, “The Bee Gees always recoiled from the word “disco” but Robin seems no less comfortable with the suggestion that the continued success of many of their songs is because they are dance-driven. “You say that, but we didn’t think when we were writing any of our music that you would dance to it. We always thought we were writing R’n’ B grooves, what they called blue-eyed soul. We never heard the word ‘disco’, we just wrote groove songs we could harmonize strongly to, and with great melodies. The fact you could dance to them, we never thought about.” My first thought is, Oh come on Robin, of course you thought about that, but I digress.
So here it is, 2014 and the only remaining member of the four brothers is Barry. Robin died in 2012 of cancer, Maurice died in 2003 of a heart attack while awaiting surgery, and Andy died in 1988 as a result of a drug dependency brought on by constant depression.
- The Bee Gees leave behind more than just a stack of old disco tunes, they wrote songs that were performed by other singers, and here is a partial list:
- Ain’t Nothing Gonna Keep Me From You by Teri DeSario
- Buried Treasure by Kenny Rogers (backing vocals The Gatlin Brothers)
- Chain Reaction by Diana Ross
- Come on Over by Olivia Newton-John
- Emotion by Samantha Sang and by Destiny’s Child
- Gilbert Green by Gerry Marsden
- Grease by Frankie Valli
- Guilty and Woman in Love by Barbra Streisand
- Heartbreaker & All the Love in the World by Dionne Warwick
- Hold On to My Love by Jimmy Ruffin
- I Will Be There by Tina Turner
- If I Can’t Have You by Yvonne Elliman
- Immortality by Celine Dion
- Islands in the Stream by Kenny Rogers and Dolly Parton
- Morning of My Life by Abi and Esther Ofarim and by Mary Hopkin
- Only One Woman by The Marbles
- Rest Your Love on Me by Conway Twitty
- Sacred Trust by One True Voice
- Warm Ride by Graham Bonnet and by Rare Earth
Of course the Bee Gees were not The Beatles, Pink Floyd, The Stones, Led Zeppelin or any other musician that radically changed the pop world. But whether you liked them or not, The Bee Gees did, for a while anyway, record over twenty hit songs in both the pop and dance music charts over the course of a couple of decades thereby securing a place for themselves in pop history. Now that’s true merit.