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.
On this day in music history: July 22, 1978 – “Sgt. Pepper’s Lonely Hearts Club Band – Original Motion Picture Soundtrack” is released. Produced by George Martin, Maurice White and Jack Douglas, it is recorded at Cherokee Studios in Los Angeles, CA, Northstar Studios in Boulder, CO, The Record Plant in New York City, Abbey Road Studios and AIR Studios in London from September 1977 – May 1978. In 1977, RSO Records founder Robert Stigwood having produced the musicals “Hair” and “Jesus Christ Superstar” in London, moves into film. Making film versions of the musical “Grease” and “Tribal Rites Of The New Saturday Night” (“Saturday Night Fever”), he also adapts another property for the big screen. “Sgt. Pepper’s Lonely Hearts Club Band On The Road”, an off-Broadway musical featuring the music of The Beatles, stars Ted Neely (“Jesus Christ Superstar”), Alaina Reed Hall (“Sesame Street”, “227”) and David Patrick Kelly (“The Warriors”). The producer decides that it is a perfect film vehicle for the Bee Gees and Peter Frampton. Beatles producer George Martin is hired to produce the majority of the soundtrack. Michael Schultz (“Car Wash”, “Which Way Is Up?”) one of the first successful African American film directors, helms the production. It features a cast of star performers including George Burns, Steve Martin, Frankie Howerd and Donald Pleasance. It also features Billy Preston, Alice Cooper, Paul Nicholas, Earth, Wind & Fire, Aerosmith and Stargard. The soundtrack consisting of twenty nine re-recorded Beatle classics, and is thought to be an assured blockbuster. However it is troubled from the outset, with the Bee Gees and Frampton begging to be let go from the film, but their requests are denied. RSO Records goes all in on the album release, with “Saturday Night Fever” and “Grease” both enjoying unprecedented box office and album sales, everyone believes “Sgt. Pepper’s” will do the same. The lavish double album set is shipped with more than four million copies landing in record stores. Though it produces hits with Earth, Wind & Fire’s dazzling remake of “Got To Get You Into My Life” (#1 R&B, #9 Pop), Aerosmith’s rocking “Come Together” (#23 Pop) and Robin Gibb’s take on “Oh Darling!” (#15 Pop), the instant and overwhelming negative word of mouth about the film, kills the album’s momentum quickly. It is returned by retailers in record numbers, with RSO destroying and recycling most of them, with the remainder of the $15.98 list soundtrack being sold to cut out vendors for a mere 25 cents a unit. It becomes a symbol of music industry excess, and harbinger of the epic crash of the music industry that follows in 1979. Surprisingly, the album is remastered and reissued on CD in 1998, having become something of a cult classic over time. “Sgt. Pepper’s Lonely Hearts Club Band – Original Motion Picture Soundtrack” peaks at number five on the Billboard Top 200, and is certified Platinum in the US by the RIAA.
On this day in music history: July 14, 1967 – “Bee Gees 1st”, the US debut album by the Bee Gees is released. Produced by Robert Stigwood and Ossie Byrne, it is recorded at IBC Studios in London from March 7 – April 14, 1967. Following their breakthrough success with their twelfth single release “Spicks And Specks” (#3 AUS Pop) in Australia in late 1966, The brothers father Hugh sends demo tapes of their work to The Beatles manager Brian Epstein. Epstein passes the tapes on to Robert Stigwood (Cream), who invite the band to come to England in February of 1967 to audition for him. Impressed by what he hears, Stigwood becomes the bands manager, with the Bee Gees moving back to their native UK. He secures them recording contracts with Polydor Records in the UK and Atlantic Records subsidiary Atco in the US. The album is actually the third full length release by the band, but is their first to be released internationally. It spins off three singles including “New York Mining Disaster 1941” (#14 Pop), and “To Love Somebody” (#17 Pop) the latter of which is originally intended for Otis Redding. The albums’ cover is designed by artist and musician Klaus Voorman. The album is remastered and reissued in 2006 as a two CD set featuring the original mono and stereo mixes, along with unreleased tracks from the sessions and early takes. “Bee Gees 1st” peaks at number seven on the Billboard Top 200.
On this day in music history: June 9, 1979 – “Love You Inside Out” by the Bee Gees hits #1
on the Billboard Hot 100 for 1 week, peaking at #57 on the R&B singles chart on June 2, 1979, and #15 on the Adult Contemporary chart on June 16, 1979. Written by Barry, Robin and Maurice Gibb, it is the ninth and final chart topping single for the family group from The Isle Of Man, UK. Written during the sessions for the brothers fifteenth album “Spirits Having Flown”, the sensual, down tempo R&B flavored “Love You Inside Out” differs noticeably from the genre defining disco sound of their hits from the “Saturday Night Fever” soundtrack. Released as the third single from “Spirits” in April of 1979, it quickly becomes another smash. Entering the Hot 100 at #37 on April 21, 1979, it climbs to the top of the chart seven weeks later. “Love You” temporarily interrupts Donna Summer’s three week run at the top of the pop singles chart with “Hot Stuff”. The chart topping success of “Love You Inside Out” marks a major milestone in the Bee Gees career. It is their sixth consecutive number one single, tying them with The Beatles for having the most number ones in a row. Ironically, it is also their final single to reach the top of the US pop charts as artists. The band are caught up in the backlash against disco at the end of the 70’s which results in much of their music being blacklisted from radio airplay in the US. The brothers do not have another top ten record in the US under their own name until the release of “One” in July of 1989. “Love You” is sampled numerous times by Hip Hop and R&B artists including Jay-Z & R. Kelly, Snoop Dogg, Total Featuring 112, and The Game Featuring Floetry. “Love You Inside Out” is certified Gold in the US by the RIAA.
On this day in music history: June 2, 1975 – “Main Course”, the thirteenth album by the Bee Gees is released. Produced by Arif Mardin, it is recorded at Criteria Studios in Miami, FL and Atlantic Studios in New York City from January 6 – February 21, 1975. Having formed a creative alliance with Atlantic Records staff producer Arif Mardin (AWB, Bette Midler, Aretha Franklin) on their previous album “Mr. Natural”, the Bee Gees travel to Miami (at the suggestion of their manager and label boss Robert Stigwood and mutual friend and label mate Eric Clapton) to work on the follow up. The brothers rent and stay in the same house made famous on the cover of Clapton’s “461 Ocean Boulevard” in Miami. For the sessions, the Bee Gees add new musicians to their band including drummer Dennis Bryon, guitarist Alan Kendall (hold overs from the previous album) and keyboardist Blue Weaver. All three become permanent members of the brothers studio and touring band, and play an essential role in the evolution of their sound. Once in the studio with Mardin, he suggests to the brothers that they listen to more R&B music, and try writing more material in that vein. Lovers of American R&B, the Gibb brothers do just that, quickly writing all of the songs during the five weeks they spend recording the album. The end result is a brilliant amalgamation of pop and R&B that restores the Bee Gees to critical and commercial prominence, setting the stage for the phenomenal success that carry them throughout the rest of the 70’s. “Main Course” spins off three singles including “Jive Talkin” (#1 Pop), “Nights On Broadway” (#7 Pop), “Fanny (Be Tender With My Love)” (#12 Pop). The album is remastered and reissued in 2011, and reissued again 2015 as part of a five CD box set collecting the bands mid to late 70’s recordings. “Main Course” peaks at number fourteen on the Billboard Top 200, and is certified Gold in the US by the RIAA.