When the Bee Gees Came Back With ‘Lonely Days’

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Note the songwriting credits

Note the songwriting credits

Well before the Brothers Gibb became mega-stars with their music for the 1977 film Saturday Night Fever, Barry, Robin and Maurice were huge pop stars. They were born on the Isle of Man and then grew up in Manchester, England before moving to Australia in the late 1950s. After releasing a dozen singles there, the Bee Gees had earned their first worldwide hit with the 1967 song “New York Mining Disaster 1941.” That song was quickly followed by two more Top 20 hits, “To Love Somebody” and “Massachusetts.”

In 1968, they earned their first U.S. Top 10 singles: “I’ve Gotta Get a Message to You” (#8) and “I Started a Joke” (#6). They would ultimately achieve 15 Top 10 U.S. hits, nine of which–get this–went to #1. We can slice their chart dominance another way: from 1967 through 1979, they enjoyed 23 Top 20 singles, or roughly two a year.

Who designed the 2 Years On album cover?!?

Who designed the 2 Years On album cover?!?

When they failed to click with any of their 1969 releases, the trio briefly ended to focus on solo projects. Moods brightened and by summer of 1970, Barry Gibb announced “[we] will never, ever part again.” They returned to the studio and recorded a reunion album, 2 Years On. While the album wasn’t a commercial success, those sessions yielded at least one gem: “Lonely Days.”

The song is a ballad with Robin, Maurice and Barry enunciating the opening lyrics…

Good morning mister sunshine, you brighten up my day
Come sit beside me in your way

Over and over the trio slowly sing…

Lonely days, lonely nights.
Where would I be without my woman?

At the 1:14 mark, a string arrangement is joined by piano as the music and vocals build to a crescendo, punctuated by horns, until it settles back into a ballad with the strings. At the three-minute mark, Maurice’s piano kicks in once again for the wind-up. The orchestra and strings arrangement is by Bill Shepherd; the great production is credited to the Bee Gees and their longtime manager, Robert Stigwood.

Related: Stigwood was the first of 2016’s many prominent music deaths

Atlantic Records smelled a hit right away. Label president Jerry Greenberg said: “I heard that song and went crazy.” He was so enthusiastic that he sent tape copies to key Top 40 programmers before the single was even pressed. The Bee Gees performed the song on The Tonight Show and The Ed Sullivan Show and it became their biggest hit up until then, topping the Record World singles chart in 1970.

Our Classic Video is the promotional film for “Lonely Days”

Maurice and his twin brother Robin were born December 22, 1949. Maurice died at just 53 on January 12, 2003. Robin passed May 20, 2012 at 62. Barry Gibb was born September 1, 1946.

Related: Barry Gibb was Knighted in 2018

Watch the Brothers Gibb perform “Lonely Days” on April 6, 1973, several years after the song was released, on The Midnight Special

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  1. Todd Rowell
    #1 Todd Rowell 15 January, 2022, 06:12

    Growing up in the 70’s with so many great rock bands that I fell in love with progressive rock and had a distinct dislike for disco. But I really did (and still do) love lonely days. I’ve got to give credit where credit is due.

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