The Bee Gees Biography
Last updated: 05/31/2014 04:14:32 AM
A lone guitar and an unforgettable melody begin, then three voices join in harmony - it's the start of This Is Where I Came In. With that title-track and the album that follows, you're connecting again with what is best about the Bee Gees, the essence of their four decades of writing and performing pop hits, new music that's fresh and inspiring, and those incredible vocals. "Yes, it's the harmonies," Maurice Gibb says, "they're what keep people coming back to us." Harmonies, melodies, heartbeat rhythms - that's what makes the Bee Gees' songs constant in the soundtrack of our lives. We've fallen in love to the accompaniment of "How Deep Is Your Love" and "To Love Somebody," hit the dancefloor to "You Should Be Dancin'" and "Stayin' Alive," sought hope with "How Can You Mend a Broken Heart." With This Is Where I Came In, the magic continues.
Keeping the faith with their legendary past while continuing to explore new ground, the Bee Gees once more reinvent themselves. "This album is us, " Barry says, "it's very honest, and it reflects our feelings about everything that's happened to us in the past 30 years."
"With some of the songs, we go back to our roots," Maurice says of the creative process here. "We also tried something different," adds Robin Gibb. "Each of us worked on our own songs and then on songs together." It's the best of both worlds, individual talent and unified strength ("When the three of us get together, it's like we become one," the brothers say). The range of This Is Where I Came In is dazzling - from the guitar-driven "She Keeps on Coming" to the gospel-tinged "The Extra Mile" to the downright rocking "Voices in the Wilderness." Note the assurance of Maurice's singing on "Man in the Middle" and Robin's and Barry's interplay on "Wedding Day." Listen to the ensemble singing on "Walking On Air," a fond nod to the Beach Boys, and the Noel Coward-like panache of "Technicolor Dreams."
Working out of their own Middle Ear Studio in Miami, the Bee Gees produced themselves this time around. "Working that way has always been good for us," Maurice says, "ever since we began making records in a studio that was a converted butcher shop back in Australia. And we like the freshness of early takes - because they really capture the emotion."
Raised on the Isle of Man in the Irish Sea, the brothers Gibb were born into music - their father, Hugh, a bandleader, their mother, Barbara, a singer. By nine years old, Barry was already singing and practicing on a guitar his dad had given him, accompanied (on plastic banjos at first) by six year old twins Robin and Maurice. Robin's and Barry's unique vocals would become group trademarks, and Maurice would go on to distinguish himself on guitar, bass and keyboards. The late '50s saw the boys' professional debut, miming the day's hits at Saturday morning shows in local cinemas in Manchester England. Still pre-teens, they moved with their parents to Australia, where, billed as the Rattlesnakes, they performed at racetrack gigs in Brisbane. After achieving their first number one hit Down Under, "Spicks & Specks" released in 1966, the
trio now known as the Bee Gees hit Swinging London in 1967.
Managed by Robert Stigwood, a partner of Beatles' impresario Brian Epstein, the Bee Gees took England - and the '60s - by storm. Debuting with 1967's Bee Gees 1st, they became masters of the hit single, creating three-minute gems that, in the tradition of Roy Orbison and Phil Spector, remain mini-dramas of sweep and intensity. Lyrically evocative ("We were painting pictures with words," they now say) and melodically irresistible, classics like "1941 New York Mining Disaster," "I Started A Joke," "Massachusetts," "Holiday" and "Words" still stand among the greatest of that decade's songs. They balance The Bee Gees' gift for both craft and emotive.
As an early indication of their soulful direction, something that would emerge in full in the decade that followed, "To Love Somebody" was written expressly for Otis Redding, the R&B giant whom Robin cites as his chief vocal influence. As album artists, too, the trio were groundbreakers - 1969's Odessa, for instance, ranks alongside the Who's Tommy as a vanguard concept album.
With "How Can You Mend A Broken Heart" topping charts at the start of the decade, the Bee Gees soared in the '70s. By the middle of that decade, the Bee Gees had moved firmly in the direction they called "blue-eyed soul" and their falsetto vocals, rhythmic assurance and surging bass-lines signified a new R&B power. For the brothers, bringing on the funk meant reviving the passion for rhythm and blues they'd had from the beginning. Main Course , produced by Arif Mardin (Aretha Franklin, Otis Redding), electrified clubs and ballrooms in 1977 with "Jive Talkin'"and "Nights on Broadway." It was only the preamble, however, to Saturday Night Fever, which became the most popular album of the decade and went on to sell 40 million copies.
Spirits Having Flown ("Tragedy," "Too Much Heaven," "Love You Inside Out") then solidified their status as the biggest band in the world, and during this time they became the only artists in history to write and produce six consecutive number one hits and the only ones to have five songs in the U.S. Top 10 at the same time.
It was in the late '70s that another Gibb stepped forward. Taken under Barry's wing, 19 year-old Andy Gibb triumphed in 1978 with three #1 singles ("I Just Want to Be Your Everything," "(Love Is) Thicker than Water" and "Shadow Dancing."
In the '80s, the Bee Gees branched out, working on solo projects and writing. Barry and his production team of Alby Galuten and Karl Richardson spent the early part of the decade collaborating with titans: Barbra Streisand (the entire Guilty album which produced three Top 10 hits: "Guilty," "Woman in Love," "What Kind of Fool"), Diana Ross ("Chain Reaction"), Dionne Warwick ("Heartbreaker") and Dolly Parton and Kenny Rogers ("Islands in the Stream"). Bee Gees songs, Barry's productions, these partnerships resulted in some of the most successful music of the artists' careers. The cornerstone partnership - the alliance of the brothers themselves - revived spectacularly with the #1 U.K. success of "You Win Again," and with the global success of the title-track of One.
The Bee Gees headed into the '90s by returning to concert stages for the first time in a decade with a stadium tour de force on five continents. Following closely on incredible worldwide success of their "One Night Only" television special, memorialized in the platinum-selling One Night Only album and Top 10 DVD, the sold-out stadium concerts, and on the fascination for the Bee Gees generated by the broadcast of a VH1 "Legends" and A&E "Biography," This Is Where I Came In builds on one of the most enduring legacies in contemporary music, and is the first all-new studio album for the Bee Gees since the release of their platinum Still Waters album in May 1997.
With worldwide sales well in excess of 100 million albums, the Bee Gees are not just the only artists to have scored #1 hits in each decade from the '60s to the '90s, but the most successful trio in history. Saturday Night Fever remains the world's best-selling soundtrack and the template for song-driven film soundtracks to this day.
The seven-time Grammy Award winners have been honored by induction into the Songwriters Hall of Fame and Rock and Roll Hall of Fame.
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