Thursday, August 11, 2011

Worth Another Listen • The Bee Gees

The BeeGees

Before there was Saturday Night Fever, before the remake of Sgt. Pepper, before duets with Barbra, before disco ruled the airwaves, there was a trio of brothers who moved with the family from England to Australia, and were soon on their way to take over music. Barry and his twin brothers, Robin and Maurice, were making music in the late 60s in Australia, but seemed unable to get a foothold in the business. Much earlier, they were talking with radio DJ Bill Gates and promoter Bill Goode, who gave them the name Bee Gees, not because they were the 'Brothers Gibb' as is often thought, but because it was the initials of the men.

They went back to the UK, only to discover they had their first hit with the song Spicks And Specks was a hit Down Under, and earning the boys awards. Shortly after their arrival in England, the boys were signed to a label, and in April of 1967 they released their first single, New York Mining Disaster 1941. It was released to radio in a white sleeve with black lettering for the song title, and immediately started getting airplay, for many assumed it was The Beatles. It rose to #14 on the US Billboard Hot 100 chart, their first hit.

The album was called The Bee Gees 1st, which was a bit of a misnomer, since the band had released two albums in Australia. On the heels of the first success, the second single was released, and it seemed to be a song the world was waiting to hear. Written by Barry and Robin Gibb for singer Otis Redding, but once done, was recorded for their own album. To Love Somebody became a song that would be a standard, a song that has since been covered by some of the top names in the music industry. It was their second forray into the Billboard Top 20.

The fourth single released would be yet another song that would become a signature song for the band. Just after Massachusetts was recorded, Beatles manager Brian Epstein heard it, and told Barry that it was beautiful, and he expected it to be the hit of the summer of 1967. Those were the last words Barry heard from the man, as he passed away a short time later. But his words were prophetic, as the song made it to # 11 on the US Billboard chart, and hit #1 throughout Europe and Canada.

In January of 1968, it was time for the next single. The Bee Gees had a new song they had not put on an album yet, but it was released as a single. Once again, it quickly became a signature song for them, as Words scored another hit, taking the #15 spot of the US Pop chart.

So, in their first year back in the UK, the Bee Gees not only firmly established their careers in British music, they also were leaving their imprint on the ears of fans worldwide. There is much more music to come, but for now, I will just say to learn more about the Bee Gees, visit their official website here. I am sure I will have more music from the prolific men soon.


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