How the Bee Gees Stayed Alive
The 1977 album “Saturday Night Fever”, a two-LP anthology with disco hits and Bee Gees songs, became a record-breaking blockbuster. Although the disco had emerged from black music and black and gay clubs – as the documentary endeavors – the Bee Gees, smiling in their silver suits, became pop characters of the disco. By the late 1970s, the Gibb brothers’ music was everywhere: their own hits; Songs for her younger brother Andy; Songs written for others. In 1979 they toured stadiums. Little did they notice that an anti-disco backlash was building up.
For a directing boost, Miller interrupted a euphoric Bee Gees concert in Oakland in July 1979 with an event that took place two days later: “Disco Demolition Night,” sponsored by Steve Dahl, a rock disc jockey who had the sickening slogan, “Disco Sucks “. “Between playing a Chicago White Sox double header at Comiskey Park, Dahl blew up a bunch of disco records, sparking an extremely devastating rampage. In the documentary, Vince Lawrence, who worked as an usher in Comiskey Park that evening and later became a house music producer, describes the event as a “racist, homophobic book burning”.
The Bee Gees ended their tour amid bombing raids. Radio stations turned away from the dance music and avoided the Bee Gees. “We’re just a pop group, we’re not a political force,” says a defensive Barry Gibb in television footage from that time. “We just make music and I think there is no need to write us off because we existed in the 70s and we would like to exist in the 80s.”
The Gibb brothers avoided the limelight and persisted as songwriters and producers. The longtime Bee Gees sound – melodic mid-tempo ballads, powerful harmonies, distinctive chord progressions – is unmistakably expressed in songs they have written for others, including Barbra Streisand’s “Woman in Love”, Dionne Warwick’s “Heartbreaker” and the duet Kenny Rogers-Dolly Parton “Islands in the Stream.” Even in purgatory after the disco, the Bee Gees were still hit makers. And when the disco and backlash subsided (and the dance music never went away), the Bee Gees returned more humbly, making albums every few years and earning the respect they deserved. Yes, they got into the Rock & Roll Hall of Fame – but not until 1997.
Maurice Gibb died in 2003, Robin Gibb in 2012; This mixture of voices has died out. In the documentary, Barry Gibb understands exactly what his brothers and his band have achieved. “We never really had a category. We just had periods and managed to fit into different eras, ”he reflects. “We haven’t always connected. But we stayed. “