On this day in music history: March 18, 1978 – “Night Fever” by the Bee Gees hits #1 on the Billboard Hot 100 for 8 weeks, also peaking at #8 on the R&B singles chart on May 13, 1978. Written by Barry, Robin & Maurice Gibb, it is the sixth US chart topper for the British born family trio. Written for the film “Saturday Night Fever”, the brothers write and record the basic track at the Château d’Hérouville outside of Paris, France in the Spring of 1977. The vocals, strings and additional overdubs are recorded at Criteria Studios in Miami, FL. Released in late January of 1978, heavy airplay as an album cut forces RSO Records to rush release the song as a single while the soundtrack albums then current release “Stayin’ Alive” is still climbing the charts. Like its two predecessors, “Night Fever” is another immediate smash. Entering the Hot 100 at #76 on February 4, 1978 (on the same day that their previous single “Stayin’ Alive” hits number one), it rockets to the top of the chart six weeks later. The week it tops the pop singles chart, it makes further history as Barry Gibb is also the co-writer and producer of the songs in the #2, #3, and #5 spots on the chart. Those songs are the Bee Gees’ own “Stayin’ Alive”, Samantha Sang’s “Emotion” and Andy Gibb’s “(Love Is) Thicker Than Water”, the latter of which “Night Fever” unseats from the number one spot. One week later on March 25, 1978, Yvonne Elliman’s “If I Can’t Have You” also co-written by Barry Gibb, enters the top ten, increasing the number to five singles in the Billboard pop top ten at once. “Fever” is the Bee Gees third consecutive single to sell over two million copies in the US, with “How Deep Is Your Love” and “Stayin’ Alive” both topping that sales plateau during the first two months of 1978. At the time of its release, a promotional music video is shot for “Night Fever” at the time of its release, featuring a clean shaven Barry Gibb. The clip features the Gibb brothers singing the song in a studio with film footage of Motel Row in Sunny Isles Beach, FL chroma key projected over them. However, it is not shown at the time and is not released until 2004. “Night Fever” is certified Platinum in the US by the RIAA.
On this day in music history: January 6, 1979 – “Too Much Heaven” by the Bee Gees hits #1 on the Billboard Hot 100 for 2 weeks, also peaking at #10 on the R&B singles chart on February 17, 1979. Written by Barry, Maurice and Robin Gibb, it is the seventh chart topping single for the pop music family trio from the Isle Of Man, UK. Taking a conscious step away from their recent uptempo singles, the Bee Gees record the soulful, lush ballad mid way through the sessions for their next album at Criteria Studios in Miami, FL in June and July of 1978. The group also enlists the assistance of Chicago’s horn section including James Pankow, Walt Parazaider and Lee Loughnane to play on the track. The Bee Gees spend the better part of the two months it takes to complete the song working out and recording the vocal harmonies on the song, which features nine tracks of three part vocal harmony (the equivalent of twenty-seven voices). “Too Much Heaven” is issued as the first single from the Bee Gees forthcoming album “Spirits Having Flown” in early November of 1978, the official follow up to the phenomenally successful “Saturday Night Fever” soundtrack. Entering the Hot 100 at #35 on November 18, 1978, it races to the top of the chart seven weeks later. The group perform the song live on the television program “Music For UNICEF” on January 9, 1979, with the brothers donating all of their royalties from the publishing and sales of the single to UNICEF. The single generates over $7 million for the children’s charity. “Too Much Heaven” is certified Platinum in the US by the RIAA.
On this day in music history: December 24, 1977 – “How Deep Is Your Love” by the Bee Gees hits #1 on the Billboard Hot 100 for 3 weeks, also topping the Adult Contemporary chart for 6 weeks on November 26, 1977. Written by Barry, Robin and Maurice Gibb, it is the fourth number one single for the trio of brothers from The Isle Of Man. While the Bee Gees are working on the follow up to their previous album “Children Of The World”, they receive a call from their manager Robert Stigwood, requesting songs for a film he’s producing. Having already written “How Deep Is Your Love”, the group originally intend to give the song to Yvonne Elliman to record, but Stigwood insists that they record it themselves upon hearing their demo recording. Instead, Elliman is given “If I Can’t Have You”, also written by the brothers which she records with producer Freddie Perren for the soundtrack. The Bee Gees own version of that song appears on the B-side of their next single “Stayin’ Alive”. Recorded at the Château d’Hérouville outside of Paris, France in February 1977, it is the first single released from the blockbuster film and soundtrack to “Saturday Night Fever” in early September of 1977. Entering the Hot 100 at #83 on September 24, 1977, it climbs to the top of the chart thirteen weeks later. “How Deep Is Your Love” makes Billboard chart history when it spends an unprecedented seventeen consecutive weeks inside the top 10 on the Hot 100 (thirty three weeks total on the chart), at the time making it the longest run for any single since the chart was initiated in August of 1958. “How Deep Is Your Love” is certified Gold in the US by the RIAA.
Born on this day: December 22, 1949 – Twin brothers Robin and Maurice Gibb of the Bee Gees (born Robin Hugh Gibb and Maurice Ernest Gibb in Douglas, Isle Of Man). Happy Birthday to Robin and Maurice on what would have been their 69th Birthdays.
On this day in music history: November 14, 1997 – The Bee Gees perform in concert in Grand Garden Arena at the MGM Grand Hotel in Las Vegas, NV. It is the final live concert in the US performed by the legendary pop music trio. The show is originally to be the bands’ farewell live performance due to Barry Gibb’s chronic back problems have left him unable to stand the rigors of extensive touring. The concert features music from all phases of the Bee Gees storied career including material from their most recent album “Still Waters”. The performance also features a tribute to their late younger brother Andy Gibb, with the brothers performing “(Our Love) Don’t Throw It All Away”, with footage of Andy synched up to the live musicians and singing the songs’ second verse and bridge. Pop singer Celine Dion also appears, performing the Gibb brothers penned song “Immortality” with the trio. The concert is released as a live album (in edited form) and home video release featuring the complete concert titled “One Night Only” in September of 1998.
On this day in music history: November 2, 1993 – “Size Isn’t Everything”, the twentieth album by the Bee Gees is released (UK release is on September 13, 1993). Produced by Barry, Robin, Maurice Gibb and Femi Jiya, it is recorded at Middle Ear Recording Studios in Miami, FL from Early – Mid 1993. The twentieth album by the brothers Gibb is recorded during a particularly difficult time their lives which includes the death of their father Hugh (ironically on the same date their younger brother Andy dies five years before), Maurice struggling to overcome his problems with alcohol, and Barry’s wife and newborn daughter (born prematurely) also experiencing health issues, as well as Barry who is suffering from serious back pain that requires surgery. The album is well received in the UK and is regarded as the brothers strongest album since “Spirits Having Flown” fourteen years earlier. In spite of good critical notices in the US, it will not be a commercial success. It spins off two singles including “For Whom The Bell Tolls” (#4 UK) and “Paying The Price Of Love” (#23 UK, #74 US Pop). “Size Isn’t Everything” peaks at number thirty three on the UK album chart, and number one hundred fifty three on the Billboard Top 200.
On this day in music history: September 4, 1976 – “You Should Be Dancing” by the Bee Gees hits #1 on the Billboard Hot 100 for 1 week, also peaking at #4 on the R&B singles chart on the same date. Written by Barry, Robin and Maurice Gibb, it is the third US chart topper for the trio of brothers from the Isle Of Man, UK. Issued as the first single from the bands fourteenth album “Children Of The World”, the single and album mark a major turning point in the Bee Gees career. Having previously worked successfully with producer Arif Mardin on their comeback release “Main Course”, Mardin is not able to work with the group on the follow up, when the Bee Gees label RSO Records changes distribution from Atlantic Records to Polydor in 1976. Mardin is an Atlantic staff producer exclusively at the time and isn’t permitted to work with artists not on the label. Having gained experience from all they have learned about producing records from their mentor, the Bee Gees take over the production duties themselves with assistance from engineers Albhy Galuten and Karl Richardson who become their co-producers. “You Should Be Dancing” is recorded at Criteria Studios in Miami, FL in early 1976 with the Bee Gees band including Alan Kendall (lead guitar), Blue Weaver (keyboards), Dennis Bryon (drums), Joe Lala (percussion) along with Barry Gibb (rhythm guitar) and Maurice Gibb (bass). Stephen Stills of Crosby, Stills & Nash happens to recording his album “Illegal Stills” in adjoining studio, also sits in on a session playing percussion. Entering the Hot 100 at #67 on July 4, 1976, it climbs to the top of the chart nine weeks later. A little more than a year after its release, “You Should Be Dancing” is featured prominently in the film “Saturday Night Fever” when it is used in an electrifying dance sequence featuring John Travolta, that is one of the films highlights. At the time of the singles original release, a slightly longer version of “Dancing” is issued as a promotional 12" single. Also featured on another promo 12" single issued to promote the “Saturday Night Fever” soundtrack in 1977, this mix finally sees its first commercial release in 1990 on the box set “Tales From The Brothers Gibb – A History In Song – 1967 – 1990”. The extended mix is also reissued on vinyl for Record Store Day in April of 2015, on a limited edition 12" single titled "Bee Gees: Extended EP". "You Should Be Dancing" is certified Gold in the US by the RIAA.
On this day in music history: August 9, 1975 – “Jive Talkin’” by the Bee Gees hits #1 on the Billboard Hot 100 for 2 weeks. Written by Barry, Robin and Maurice Gibb, it is the second chart topping single for the family trio from the Isle Of Man, UK. After the Bee Gees score their first number one single with “How Can You Mend A Broken Heart”, they score another three top 40 hits in the US before experiencing another major downturn. Things change for the band, when they are paired with Atlantic Records staff producer Arif Mardin. Mardin plays an important role in the Bee Gees moving toward a more R&B based sound. “Jive Talkin’” is inspired while Barry Gibb and his wife are driving across the bridge to Criteria Studios in Miami, FL. Hearing the rhythm of their car tires going over the road, Gibbs’ wife Linda turns to him and says “listen, it’s our drive talking!!”. Instantly, Barry begins to sing the songs hooky chorus, altering the phrase to say “jive talking”. Arriving at the studio, Barry tells his brothers and producer Arif Mardin what he has come up with. Mardin tells the Gibb brothers who are unaware (at the time) that “jive talkin’” is an African American expression for “bullsh*tting”. Mardin is also instrumental in helping establish the tempo and rhythm arrangement. When RSO Records services “Jive Talkin’” to radio stations, they repeat a strategy used to help break the brothers in the US eight years before with “New York Mining Disaster 1941”. Promotional copies of the single are pressed with no indication of the artist is or the title on the label. The plan works and DJ’s enthusiastically embrace the record. Entering the Hot 100 at #87 on May 31, 1975, it climbs to the top of the chart ten weeks later. It marks the beginning of the Bee Gees career resurgence on a worldwide basis, climaxing with the massive back to back successes of the “Saturday Night Fever” soundtrack and the album “Spirits Having Flown”. The original studio version is also included on the “Fever” soundtrack released in late 1977. However, it is removed due to a contractual dispute with RSO’s former distributor Atlantic Records who then still owned the rights to the recording. It is replaced on later pressings by the live version from “Here At Last… Bee Gees… Live”. In 1979, producer Arif Mardin files a million dollar lawsuit against RSO founder Robert Stigwood over the song, when he is not paid royalties for its inclusion on the soundtrack. The suit is eventually settled out of court for an undisclosed sum. “Jive Talkin’” is also later covered by Boogie Box High, the alter ego of singer Andros Georgiou, the cousin of pop superstar George Michael. The Boogie Box version also features former Haircut 100 singer Nick Heyward, Style Council keyboardist Mick Talbot and Michael himself on backing vocals, it hits #7 on the UK singles chart in July of 1987. “Jive Talkin’” is certified Gold in the US by the RIAA.
On this day in music history: August 7, 1971 – “How Can You Mend A Broken Heart” by the Bee Gees hits #1 on the Billboard Hot 100 for 4 weeks. Written by Barry, Robin and Maurice Gibb, it is the first US chart topper for the superstar family trio from The Isle Of Man, UK. Following the Bee Gees initial period of worldwide success in 1967 and 1968, the band implodes in 1969 when infighting and excessive drinking causes Robin to abruptly quit for a solo career, with Barry also opting for the same a short time later. After eighteen months apart, they eventually reconcile in the Summer of 1970, making a vow to each other never to part again. Inspiration comes quickly with the brothers writing numerous new songs together. Among them is the ballad “How Can You Mend A Broken Heart”. The track is recorded at IBC Studios in London on January 28, 1971, and is the first single from the bands ninth album “Trafalgar”. Surprisingly, the song fails to chart in the Bee Gees home country of the UK. But with the recent top five success of their comeback smash “Lonely Days” (#3 Pop), “How Can You Mend A Broken Heart” is an even bigger hit. Entering the Hot 100 at #73 on June 26, 1971, it rises to the top of the chart six weeks later. The single also earns the Bee Gees their first Grammy nomination for Best Pop Performance By A Duo Or Group with Vocals in 1972. In 2001, a previously unreleased alternate version of the classic song surfaces. This version features different piano and bass tracks, and with Barry singing the first verse instead of Robin. This version appears on first run UK pressings of the hits compilation “Their Greatest Hits: The Record”. This was the result of a filing error in Universal’s tape archive in London, with the wrong master being pulled from the vault. The CD is quickly withdrawn and replaced with the correct version. One the most popular and frequently covered songs by the Bee Gees, the song is also recorded by Al Green, Johnny Mathis, Cher, Teddy Pendergrass, Diana Krall, Rod Stewart, Ruben Studdard, and Michael Buble. Green’s 1971 recording of the song is made over into duet for the soundtrack of the romantic comedy “Notting Hill”, with singer Joss Stone adding her vocals to the track. The Bee Gees original version is also included on the soundtrack to the film “American Hustle” in 2013. “How Can You Mend A Broken Heart” is certified Gold in the US by the RIAA.