How the Bee Gees defined the disco era
Bee Gees singer Robin Gibb, with brothers Barry and Maurice helped define the disco era with their falsetto harmonies and funky beats.
The Bee Gees, were among the most successful vocal groups in rock and roll history, having sold more than 200 million albums. In 1977, they became the first and only songwriters to place five songs in the Top Ten at the same time.
The three Gibb brothers made their earliest performances at local movie theatres in Manchester in 1955, singing between shows.
After emigrating to Australia with their parents, the Gibb brothers returned to England in the mid-1960s to further their singing careers. Their early recordings, including dramatic hits such as Massachusetts (1967), drew comparisons with the Beatles.
The trio reached the Top Ten with I've Gotta Get a Message to You and I Started a Joke (both 1968) but split briefly after the relative failure of their concept album Odessa (1969).
They reunited in 1970 and had hits with Lonely Days (1970) and How Can You Mend a Broken Heart (1971), but there were several hitless years before they returned to the charts with Main Course in 1975 - in which they produced a new sound - the emphasis being on dance rhythms, high harmonies, and a funk beat.
Spearheading the new sound was Barry Gibb, who, for the first time, sang falsetto and discovered that he could delight audiences in that register.
Jive Talkin', the first single off the album, became their second American number one single, and was followed up with Nights on Broadway and then the album Children of the World, which yielded the hits You Should Be Dancing and Love So Right.
Recorded in Miami, it put the Bee Gees at the forefront of the disco movement, which their work on the sound track album of the film Saturday Night Fever (1977) would popularise and define.
The trio's contributions to the Saturday Night Fever soundtrack album pushed sales past the 40 million mark. It also reigned as the top-selling album in history until Michael Jackson's "Thriller - an album that Jackson acknowledged was inspired by Saturday Night Fever - surpassed it in the 1980s.
Saturday Night Fever and 1979's Spirits Having Flown combined to yield six number one hits, making the Bee Gees the only group in pop history to write, produce and record that many consecutive chart-topping singles.
In 1997 the band was inducted into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame and this led to a resurgence of interest, which heralded the release of the live album "One Night Only" (1998), cut at their first American concert in almost a decade.
Their success was not limited to recordings issued under their own name. Individually and together they've written and produced major hits for artists including Barbra Streisand, Diana Ross, Dolly Parton and Kenny Rogers, as well as Frankie Valli.
The Bee Gees remained active until the death of Maurice in January 2003, from cardiac arrest during surgery. Following his death, Robin and Barry decided to cease performing as the Bee Gees.