Barry Gibb and twin brothers Maurice and Robin were born on the Isle Of Man in 1947 and 1949 respectively. The family moved to Manchester, England in the mid '50s. Their mother was a singer and their father was a drummer and big-band leader. The boys interest in music started after they saw another youth lip-sync to a record at a local movie theatre. After arranging a spot for themselves, they were headed back to the theatre when Maurice dropped and broke the records that they were to mime to. Determined to go on stage, the trio sang in front of a live crowd for the first time and their fate was sealed. They began performing locally as The Rattlesnakes.
In 1958, another brother, Andy was born and six months later the family moved to Australia. The three older siblings continued to polish their act, changing their name to the B.G.s (later amended to Bee Gees) and began performing and recording professionally. Despite releasing a dozen singles and being voted the top songwriting team in Australia in both 1965 and 1966, they couldn't score a hit record. Ultimately, the family decided to return to England, where the music scene had exploded with The Beatles, The Rolling Stones, The Who and many others. In January, 1967, the Gibb family had set sail back to Great Britain and while on the ship, got word that one of their songs, "Spicks and Specks", had just reached Australia's number one.
Back in England The Bee Gees sent demo tapes of most of their Australian material, including "Spicks and Specks", to NEMS Enterprises, headed by the Beatles' manager, Brian Epstein. Unbeknownst to the brothers, Epstein and his associate, Robert Stigwood listened to the tapes and Stigwood was more than interested. The Bee Gees were soon signed to a five-year management contract with Stigwood. After adding Vince Melouney on guitar and Colin Petersen on drums, the band headed for the studio to record "Bee Gees First", which was released in mid-1967. It was the beginning of a string of hit singles executed in a brooding, soulful and distinctively British Pop style. From this period came the beautiful ballads that all made the Billboard Hot 100: "New York Mining Disaster 1941" (#14 1967), "To Love Somebody" (#17 1967), "Holiday" (#16 1967), "Massachusetts" (#11 1967), "Words" (#15 1968), "I've Got to Get a Message to You" (#8 1968) and "I Started a Joke" (#6 1969).
Eventually, egos, alcohol and drugs pulled the brothers apart and the group split up. Robin went on to have a solo hit in England called "Saved By The Bell". After eighteen months apart, The Gibbs smoothed out their differences and put the band back together again, minus Vince Melouney and Colin Petersen. They kicked off the '70s with their biggest hits to date: "Lonely Days" (#3 1970) and "How Can You Mend a Broken Heart" (#1 1971). The group then foundered commercially and creatively until 1975's "Main Course" album, which found them taking a breezy, Rhythm & Blues oriented approach that effortlessly tapped into the emerging Disco movement. Recording in Miami with producer Arif Mardin, the trio exploited their upper registers on such mid-decade Pop-Disco smashes as "Jive Talkin'" (#1 1975) and "Nights On Broadway" (#7 1975). But "Main Course" was just an appetizer compared to the awesome run of number one hits that followed from 1976 to 1979: "You Should Be Dancing", "How Deep Is Your Love", "Stayin' Alive", "Night Fever", "Too Much Heaven", "Tragedy" and "Love You Inside Out". During the late Seventies, The Bee Gees' dominated dance floors and airwaves. With their matching white suits, helium-voiced harmonies and polished, radio-friendly records, they remain one of the essential touchstones to that outgoing, ultra-commercial era.
By the time he reached his late teens, brother Andy was ready to perform, and Barry, Robin and Maurice helped out by writing songs for him. With his good looks and solid material, Andy dominated the record charts the way his brothers had with "I Just Want to Be Your Everything" ( #1 1977), "Thicker Than Water" (#1 1977), "Shadow Dancing" (#1 1978, "An Everlasting Love" (#5 1978)), "Our Love, Don't Throw It All Away" (#9 1978), "Desire" (#4 1980) and "I Can't Help It" (#12 1980).
When Disco died in the early 1980s, The Bee Gees were suddenly out of fashion, with some radio stations even going as far as advertising "Bee Gee free music". Re-inventing themselves again, the Gibb brothers turned their attention to writing songs for other artists. Individually and together they wrote and produced major hits for Barbra Streisand ("Woman in Love," "What Kind of Fool"), Frankie Valli ("Grease"), Yvonne Ellison ("If I Can't Have You") Diana Ross ("Chain Reaction") Dionne Warwick ("Heartbreaker") and Dolly Parton And Kenny Rogers ("Islands in the Stream", the most successful single in RCA Records history, and Most Played Country Single of all time.)
Meanwhile, Andy's star had also dimmed and there was some talk of bringing him into the group. Before this could happen, tragedy struck. On March 10th, 1988 Andy died at the John Radcliff hospital in Oxford, England from myocarditis, (an inflammation of the heart muscle caused by a viral infection). The Gibb family learned that Andy had been suffering from heart problems, but he never told anyone about it. He was buried at Forest Lawn, Glendale Park, Los Angeles on March 21st.
By the end of the decade, The Bee Gees had resumed their own place on center stage, releasing more hit singles, "One" (#7 1989) and "You Win Again", but were unable to tour because of Barry's severe back pain. In order to get their music to their fans, they arranged to appear just once in North America, Europe and Australia in as series of shows they called "One Night Only". These concerts were televised and recorded for release on tape and DVD.
The 1990s were marked by continued international success with hit albums "High Civilisation", "Size Isn't Everything", and 1997's "Still Waters" (with the worldwide top ten single "Alone"). 1998 was another banner year for The Bee Gees, beginning with Robert Stigwood's stage production of Saturday Night Fever, and was highlighted by the release of a new Greatest Hits CD. The Fall of 2001 saw the release of a Bee Gees Anthology called "For The Record", that featured all of their hit singles, from the early ballads, through the Disco era and all subsequent releases. Sadly, Maurice Gibb died in a Florida hospital on Sunday, January 12th, 2003. The 53-year-old had been in critical condition in a Miami hospital after suffering a heart attack during an operation to remove an intestinal blockage after he collapsed at his Florida home the previous week.
Although they announced that they would never appear as The Bee Gees again, Barry and Robin did reunite for a Miami charity concert on February 18th, 2006, where they played many of the hits from their thirty-five year career. The event was held to raise money for the Diabetes Research Institute. In September, 2009, Robin revealed on BBC Radio's Test Match Special cricket program that he and Barry were once again planning new projects, saying "The two of us are getting back together again as we speak." Barry and Robin performed on the BBC's Strictly Come Dancing on October 31st, 2009 and appeared on ABC-TV's Dancing with the Stars on November 17th, 2009. On March 15th, 2010, Barry and Robin inducted the Swedish group ABBA into Cleveland's Rock and Roll Hall of Fame and on May 26th, 2010, the two made a surprise appearance on the ninth season finale of the US TV show American Idol.
Plans for future appearances were in doubt when on November 20th, 2011, it was announced that Robin, at 61 years old, was diagnosed with liver cancer, a condition he became aware of several months earlier. He had become noticeably thinner in previous months and had to cancel several appearances due to issues with severe abdominal pain. In early 2012, Robin told the press that he was fighting the disease and making progress towards full recovery. However, that was not to be. After a brief rally, Robin passed away on May 20th, surrounded by wife his Dwina, sons Spencer and Robin-John and daughter Melissa. In the week following Robin's death, sales of Bee Gees' records rose 339%, with several of their albums re-charting on the Billboard 200: ("Saturday Night Fever" - #168, "Number Ones" - #70 and "The Ultimate Bee Gees" - #49). On the digital side, The Bee Gees also moved 102,000 song downloads.
In early July, 2012, Barry announced on his Twitter page that he was planning to return to the stage as a solo act and would continue to perform the Bee Gees' famous songs. His Tweet said "I will live on the music and no matter what stage I'm standing on my three brothers will be standing there with me. Our whole family appreciates your support at such a difficult time. I will miss all my brothers deeply. I'd like to personally thank all those kind people who grew up with us and enjoyed our music wherever you are in the world." In September and October 2013, Barry performed his first solo tour in honor of his brothers and a lifetime of music. Warner Brothers released a box set in 2014 called "The Warner Bros Years: 1987-1991" that included the studio albums "E.S.P.", "One", and "High Civilization" as well as extended mixes and B-sides. It also included the band's entire 1989 concert in Melbourne, Australia, available only on video as "All For One" prior to that release. In late July, 2014, Robin's wife Dwina announced that the album her husband was working on when he passed away would be released on September 29th. The last tune he ever wrote, "Sydney", was the final track on the seventeen song collection. A documentary called The Joy of the Bee Gees aired on BBC Four on December 19 2014.
On February 8th, 2015 at the 57th Annual Grammy Awards, Barry, along with the group Pentatonix, presented the award for Best Pop Vocal Album. On the 26th of March he was one of the headlining acts at a music festival called the Hard Rock Rising, Miami Beach where he performed a new song called "The Home Truth Song". Later that year, 13STAR Records released a box set which included the studio albums "Mr. Natural", "Main Course", "Children of the World" and "Spirits Having Flown". A fifth disc called "The Miami Years" included all the tracks from Saturday Night Fever as well as B-Sides, but no unreleased tracks from that era were included. In early 2016 the British newspaper The Sun reported that Barry was set to join the band Coldplay during their closing slot at Glastonbury Festival on June 26. In mid-August of that year, Barry announced that he would release his first ever solo album of new material, "In The Now", in early October.
On April 16th, 2017, America's CBS television network aired a special called Stayin' Alive: A Grammy Salute to the Bee Gees which featured acts like Ed Sheeran and Stevie Wonder covering Bee Gees classics. That program helped push the "Saturday Night Fever" album back onto the Billboard Hot 200 chart with sales of nearly 5000 units in a matter of days. The album was last on the chart dated February 15, 2014, when it ranked at #139. On December 29th of that year, Britain's Cabinet Office announced that Barry Gibb had been selected for knighthood for his service to British music.
The Bee Gees are the most successful trio in Rock And Roll history. They have sold more than 110 million records worldwide and rank amongst the all-time, top record sellers. They have had nineteen #1 singles over a career that spanned five decades, and are the only artists in history to have five singles in the US Top 10 at the same time, as well as six consecutive number one records.