Bee Gees Book Reappraises Their ‘Other’ Career

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2017 marks the 40th anniversary of the Saturday Night Fever film and Bee Gees-led soundtrack, which won the Grammy Award for Album of the Year and was inducted into the Grammy Hall Of Fame in 2004. That album and its predecessor, Main Course, allowed the Bee Gees to spectacularly revive their career and become the biggest disco group in the world. But when the disco boom crashed, they went from icons to punch lines overnight.

Says Barry Gibb: “We didn’t know what the film was about. We didn’t know there was a conflict of image that could perhaps hurt us later on. It sort of grew, blew out of proportion.”

The band was inescapably frozen in time–all long, flowing manes, falsettos, medallions, hairy chests, and skin-tight satin trousers, with John Travolta’s finger forever pointing in the air.

But it’s easy to forget their remarkable success. The trio would ultimately achieve 15 Top 10 U.S. hits, nine of which 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.

Related: Our feature on the Bee Gees’ “Lonely Days”

The Bee Gees would spend much of the post-SNF decades trying to convince people there was more to them, growing ever more resentful of their gigantic disco success. “We’d like to dress ‘Stayin’ Alive’ up in a white suit and gold chains and set it on fire,” Barry Gibb told Rolling Stone.

A new book, Staying Alive: The Disco Inferno of the Bee Gees, coming September 19 from author Simon Spence (Jawbone Press), “finally lifts that millstone from around their necks by joyfully reappraising and celebrating their iconic disco era,” says the announcement. “Taking the reader deep into the excesses of the most hedonistic of music scenes, it tells of how three brothers from Manchester transformed themselves into the funkiest white group ever and made the world dance.” Pre-order is available here.

Watch John Travolta’s stylish opening scene from Saturday Night Fever

Spence previously collaborated with Rolling Stones manager Andrew Loog Oldham on the acclaimed memoirs Stoned (Vintage 2001) and 2Stoned (Vintage 2003)


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  1. Candyman
    #1 Candyman 12 July, 2017, 21:57

    I am seventy years old but still listen everyday to this fantastic group….

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