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Too Much Heaven: The Music and Memories of the Bee Gees

Updated on October 15, 2012
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There are some voices that I could always listen to and never tire of their songs or their voice or both. And to me the Bee Gees fall into this category simply because the combination of their voices is something that I would imagine hearing in heaven.

While they all possess unique talents: Maurice's vocal abilities, Robin's musicianship and Barry's songwriting there was nothing like them coming together. And while they may have started the disco craze, they also helped immortalize it.

And while I wish I could say that this hub was inspired by my love of their harmonies and music or the thirty fifth anniversary of Saturday Night Fever- it is also the result of the failing health of Robin Gibb.

I have always loved the sound of music. And as a kid, I had alot of great memories of music and dancing. I had to be around seven the first time I heard the Bee Gees and I was completely mesmerized. I do not remember hearing anything like it before or since. The harmonies were lush and the melody was dynamic.

Everytime one of their songs came on the radio, I listened closely. There was not a part of it I did not enjoy or find interesting. The Bee Gees were one of a kind. I became fascinated by their style and their approach to music.

I finally got to learn some of the answers watching an episode of Biography. And while it seemed easy that they shot to the top with the success of Saturday Night Fever, it was a long and winding road to get there.

Humble Beginnings and Early Successes

The Bee Gees formed in the early 1960s when Barry Gibb, the second of five siblings and the oldest Gibb brother and his younger twin brothers Maurice (pronounced Morris) and Robin decided to professionally pursue singing. They were natives of England but their family relocated in the late 1950s to Australia.

Originally named the Brothers Gibb, they gained notoriety on Australian television performing simple pop songs in three part harmony. However, they did not gain chart success until the late 1960s, with the single, "Spits and Specks". They also produced covers of Beatles' hits and other notable songs of the day. While their success helped them breakthrough in Europe, it still would be awhile before they broke in the US.

However, in the early 1970s that changed with the single "Lonely Days" which peaked at number three. That was followed up by the number one hit "How Can You Mend a Broken Heart." These songs had more of a mellow, singer-songwriter vibe with its emphasis on lyrical structure and simple guitar licks.

But by the mid 1970s they had stumbled on a new sound after relocating to Miami. The sound was known as disco. Characterized by light rhythms and repetitive patterns, it was the beat to which the drug and sex laced club culture of the 1970s. It also gave the brothers their second number one with, "Jive Talkin'" a play on a pop culture phrase of the time. They scored another top ten success with "Nights on Broadway."

This was just the beginning as more success was just around the corner.


Saturday Night Fever

The same producer they collaborated with for "Jive Talkin'" and "Nights on Broadway" approached the brothers about doing a soundtrack for a movie about a young Brooklyn dreamer who had ambitions of moving out of his parents' house.The movie starred a young actor then only known for his television accomplishments. John Travolta, was fresh faced and ready to take on the world as Tony Manero and the Bee Gees provided the perfect soundtrack.

The cultural impact of Saturday Night Fever cannot be understated. It became one of the premiere combinations of movie and soundtrack in history. The album was number one for six months straight from January to July and remained on the charts for a draw dropping total one hundred and twenty weeks. The album was certified fifteen times platinum.

It was due in part to the natural swagger of Travolta's character as well as the stylistic beats and harmonies of the brothers. In addition to singing six tracks on the soundtrack, they wrote seven tracks.

Most recently the Bee Gees and the other artists of Saturday Night Fever were honored in a Glee tribute episode where the kids of McKinley High do a send up of the disco classic.

It is hard to pick a favorite but to be honest most the favorites I have are by the Bee Gees. From the swagged out strut of "Stayin' Alive" or the pulsating rhythm of "You Should be Dancing," they definitely set the standard for disco hits.

After the Fever

The Bee Gees had another number one after the Saturday Night Fever soundtrack success. "Too Much Heaven" was released in 1978 and became the group's single for UNICEF. I would be hard pressed to say this is my favorite Bee Gees tune of all time. The harmonies are soaring but the lyrics touch your heart in a way that few other songs do.

The Bee Gees continued to tour and release material in the 1980s and 1990s selling out all over the world, but they never were able to match the soaring success they attained in the 1970s. But in all honesty, it would be impossible for them to do so. That would be like Michael Jackson selling Thriller type numbers again.

They maintained their musical profile by working with several artists including Barbara Streisand, Diana Ross, and youngest brother Andy. From his debut in the late 70s, it was quite obvious that Andy was a Gibb brother.

With hits like "Shadow Dancing" and "I Just Want to Be Your Everything", he was an instant star. My favorite song by him was actually co-written by Barry. (Our Love) Don't Throw It All Away is a sweet ballad that is easily intertwined with his brothers' catalog of hits. The Bee Gees recorded a version of it that was released in 1979. Unfortunately, he had a taste of the high life and overindulged in drugs. He died at the all too young age of 30 in 1988 due to a heart condition called myocarditis, an inflammation of the heart muscle.

As part of a tribute, Barry, Robin and Maurice performed "(Our Love) Don't Throw It All Away" in their acclaimed One Night Only Tour blending their vocals with Andy's. Sadly, the brothers would suffer another tragic loss when Maurice passed away due a twisted intestine in 2003.

After Maurice's death, Robin and Barry decided to end the long career of the Bee Gees. The same year of their brother's death, they were honored with the Grammy Legend Award an a vocal group by N'Sync.

In 2012, it was revealed that Robin Gibb was in a three day coma but later awoke. He is currently still battling colon cancer in advanced stages.

As much as we all longed for the music to live on, it did but in a new and clever way that spoke to the younger generation.

Talkin' Them Up!

In 2003, the death of Maurice Gibb still fresh- the surviving brothers Robin and Barry were saluted and parodied by two young stars on Saturday Night Live.

In October 2003, Jimmy Fallon and Justin Timberlake took on the 1970s chest hair and medallioned mantle of Barry and Robin on the Barry Gibb Talk Show where they sing a them in tune with "Nights on Broadway". This was created by writers Ken Scarborough and Steve Higgins and was partly inspired by Fallon's manic love of Saturday Night Fever in college in which he watched the film at least once a day.

With Fallon as the authoritative and domineering Barry and Timberlake the more docile and quiet Robin, they helped introduce the Bee Gees to a generation who may have not been familiar with them. It was an instant hit skewering modern politicians who did alot of jive talkin' to Barry. They have since aired five episodes of the skit.

In 2012, the fever continued when Glee took on the songs of Saturday Night Fever, once again bringing a younger generation to know the inescapable harmonies of the Bee Gees.

When we hear the term, the soundtrack to our lives, the Bee Gees actually did it. I used to strut walking to class in college to "Stayin' Alive." And to me their music not only defines a generation but also legitimized disco and dance music as a style that can have real value and meaning.

Here's to you, Robin, Barry and Maurice!


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    • Alecia Murphy profile image
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      Alecia Murphy 5 years ago from Wilmington, North Carolina

      Hi epigramman,

      Thanks so much for coming by and commenting! I enjoy writing these hubs and hearing feedback from readers like you.

    • epigramman profile image

      epigramman 5 years ago

      Hello Alecia - love your passion and sweet sweet knowledge of all kinds of music and this is an essential and rather definitive tribute and overview to one of my favorite groups - thank you for your research and world class enthusiasm and I will glady and madly share, link and post this beauty to Hubpages FB group -sending you warm wishes and good energy from lake erie time ontario canada 10:09pm and favorite tune by Bee Gees - Run to me - because it reminds me of my old cat - and How deep is your love - is sublime

    • Alecia Murphy profile image
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      Alecia Murphy 5 years ago from Wilmington, North Carolina

      Hi Nell,

      I'm glad you enjoyed this hub! Thanks for coming by and commenting :)!

    • Nell Rose profile image

      Nell Rose 5 years ago from England

      This was great! and I remember them so well from back in the late 70s especially night fever, that was my era and it was wonderful! lol!

    • Alecia Murphy profile image
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      Alecia Murphy 5 years ago from Wilmington, North Carolina

      Thank you so much Denise! I'm glad you enjoyed reading it :).

    • Denise Handlon profile image

      Denise Handlon 5 years ago from North Carolina

      Wonderful hub, Alecia. I love the BeeGee's music. I think you did a great job relating the history of this group. Rated up/I

    • Alecia Murphy profile image
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      Alecia Murphy 5 years ago from Wilmington, North Carolina

      Thanks so much Cogerson!

    • Cogerson profile image

      Cogerson 5 years ago from Virginia

      A nice tribute to the Bee Gees.....I learned many things from reading this hub....somehow I missed them growing up.....I knew about the soundtrack for Saturday Night Fever of course but the rest of the history was a huge blank for me.....but thanks to you and your excellent hub that is no longer the case....voted up and interesting.

    • Alecia Murphy profile image
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      Alecia Murphy 5 years ago from Wilmington, North Carolina

      Hi unknown spot,

      I agree that song is great! Thank you!

    • Alecia Murphy profile image
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      Alecia Murphy 5 years ago from Wilmington, North Carolina

      Thank you Daisy for coming by and linking your hub as well!

    • unknown spy profile image

      IAmForbidden 5 years ago from Neverland - where children never grow up.

      we even made a video of this song.. i love it because the song is great.

    • Daisy Mariposa profile image

      Daisy Mariposa 5 years ago from Orange County (Southern California)

      Alecia,

      What a great Hub! Thanks for writing such a comprehensive article.

      I included a link to your article from my *Dance Music of the 1970s* Hub.

    • Alecia Murphy profile image
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      Alecia Murphy 5 years ago from Wilmington, North Carolina

      Hey PDXKaraokeGuy! Thanks for coming by and commenting. I think we're too quick to put the Bee Gees in the box of disco because that was that their most successful era but it's obvious that they had a lot more to offer.

    • PDXKaraokeGuy profile image

      Justin W Price 5 years ago from Juneau, Alaska

      great work, alecia. Up shared, I and B. I recently downloaded the entire bee gees catalog and I never realized the range of music they created. They did great vocal harmonies in the sixties reminiscent of the beatles and straight ahead love ballads. they weren't a simple disco group. Thanks for pointing that out!

    • Alecia Murphy profile image
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      Alecia Murphy 5 years ago from Wilmington, North Carolina

      Thank you midget38! I'll have to look that up :).

    • Alecia Murphy profile image
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      Alecia Murphy 5 years ago from Wilmington, North Carolina

      Thanks so much mary615!

    • midget38 profile image

      Michelle Liew 5 years ago from Singapore

      There is the latest vid of them on YouTube - Barry wrote a wonderful song called Daddie's Little Girl. Very touching number!

    • mary615 profile image

      Mary Hyatt 5 years ago from Florida

      What a tragic story of these men. They were so talented. I've always loved their music, and of course, Staying Alive is one of my favorite movies of all times.

      Great Hub. I voted it UP

    • Alecia Murphy profile image
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      Alecia Murphy 5 years ago from Wilmington, North Carolina

      Thank you heavenleigh707! I wish I could've seen them live. I heard about the Barry Gibb/MJ song but I've yet to hear it completely- I'm sure it's beautiful.

    • Alecia Murphy profile image
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      Alecia Murphy 5 years ago from Wilmington, North Carolina

      Thank you midget38! I agree it is sad they won't ever reunite but I know more than that Barry misses his brothers.

    • heavenleigh707 profile image

      Heaven L Burkes 5 years ago from The Invincible Heart of Neverland

      Alecia - I love this! Thank you for doing such a beautiful tribute to them. I was able to see them at The Shoreline Amphitheater in the Bay Area - around 1991-92. Truly amazing! Yes! I have always loved them too. Wonderful Hub!

      Did you know that Barry and Michael actually wrote/sang a song together? "All In Your Name." :) http://youtu.be/1Ue3fVxlQus

    • midget38 profile image

      Michelle Liew 5 years ago from Singapore

      Hi Alicia,

      Thanks for writing this lovely gents who contributed so much to the disco fever - it is really sad that we won't be hearing from them any more as a group. Voted up!

    • Alecia Murphy profile image
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      Alecia Murphy 5 years ago from Wilmington, North Carolina

      Hi Jaye,

      That was a crafty trade your son engineered- but if you don't remember what you got-I think that might not be too great. Thanks for coming by and commenting!

    • Alecia Murphy profile image
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      Alecia Murphy 5 years ago from Wilmington, North Carolina

      Thanks Jools!

    • JayeWisdom profile image

      Jaye Denman 5 years ago from Deep South, USA

      Super tribute to the Bee Gees, Alecia! Voted UP and AWESOME.

      I adored the music of the Bee Gees at a time when my teenage children enjoyed it as well. In fact, I had all the albums until my younger son negotiated an astute trade of music albums with me so that he got all of the Bee Gees' music! I can no longer recall what I got out of that deal, but remember "borrowing" the Bee Gees albums from him for a few years.

      Their music, lyrics and harmonies made them a phenomenal group. I will always enjoy their songs.

    • Jools99 profile image

      Jools99 5 years ago from North-East UK

      Great hub Alecia! Voted up and shared.

    • Alecia Murphy profile image
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      Alecia Murphy 5 years ago from Wilmington, North Carolina

      Hi Greensleeves,

      I agree with you-the Bee Gees adjusted properly to the times. To be honest, I never really listened much to their earlier works- but I did see the tribute song that Barry used for Robin in his YouTube posting and it was very sweet.

      Thank you so much for coming by and sharing your thoughts.

    • Greensleeves Hubs profile image

      Greensleeves Hubs 5 years ago from Essex, UK

      Alecia;

      Nice tribute to one of the most successful, and (more importantly for me) most talented singing/composing bands of the pop era.

      The greatest genius of the Bee Gees perhaps was their versatility. How they adapted their music to suit the times, re-inventing themselves on several occasions - when you listen to some of their hits, it's hard to imagine they are all by the same artists, and I've no doubt if they were all still around, they would still be having hits today (though who knows what musical style they would be adopting?!)

      I must admit my favourites are the early melodies from the 60s and early 70s, with songs like 'Saved by the Bell', 'New York Mining Disaster', 'Massachusetts' and the sentimental 'I started a Joke' (glad you featured that one). I must admit I'm not very keen on disco, and I didn't like the falsetto singing style they later developed, but through the 80s and 90s they continued to produce gems of songs. Personal favourites from the later period include 'You Win Again', 'Secret Love' and 'This is Where I Came In' released as recently as 2001.

      Sad that Robin Gibb died so recently. He was a key song writer and singer with a very distinctive voice. 'Saved by the Bell' was, I believe, entirely his own work, and possibly my favourite of all their hits.

      Alun

    • Alecia Murphy profile image
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      Alecia Murphy 5 years ago from Wilmington, North Carolina

      I know. I feel for Barry and his sister.

    • Sunshine625 profile image

      Linda Bilyeu 5 years ago from Orlando, FL

      And then there was one...

      Their mom is 91 yrs old and outlived three of her four sons. Wow!

    • Alecia Murphy profile image
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      Alecia Murphy 5 years ago from Wilmington, North Carolina

      I just heard, so sad.

    • Sunshine625 profile image

      Linda Bilyeu 5 years ago from Orlando, FL

      R.I.P. Robin :(

    • Alecia Murphy profile image
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      Alecia Murphy 5 years ago from Wilmington, North Carolina

      Thank you so much Maria! And I'm so glad Robin is still fighting :)!

    • marcoujor profile image

      Maria Jordan 5 years ago from Jeffersonville PA

      Dear Alecia,

      I love everything these guys ever did, preferring the earlier hits..."I STARTED A JOKE", by far is my all time favorite.

      You did an amazingly comprehensive tribute-- great song choices, girlfriend! Voted UP & UABI, Hugs, Maria

    • Alecia Murphy profile image
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      Alecia Murphy 5 years ago from Wilmington, North Carolina

      Thanks Ttoombs08! Their music never gets old.

    • TToombs08 profile image

      Terrye Toombs 5 years ago from Somewhere between Heaven and Hell without a road map.

      Great tribute to the Bee Gees, Alecia! I, too, grew up listening to their music, and their younger brother, Andy. Nicey written hub, voted up. :)

    • Alecia Murphy profile image
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      Alecia Murphy 5 years ago from Wilmington, North Carolina

      Thanks Cyndi! I understand about having the Bee Gees stuck in your head all day!

    • cclitgirl profile image

      Cynthia Sageleaf 5 years ago from Western NC

      Oh man, I LOVE the Bee Gees! I'm going to have "Stayin' Alive" in my head all day. Hehe, when I'm singing this to myself, I'm going to think of you and this fabulous hub. Who knew Saturday Night fever would become such a pillar of cultural icon richness! :)

    • Alecia Murphy profile image
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      Alecia Murphy 5 years ago from Wilmington, North Carolina

      Thanks pongogirl2!

    • pongogirl2 profile image

      Jasmine Pena 5 years ago from California, USA

      love The BeeGees music:) so unique and amazing.

    • Alecia Murphy profile image
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      Alecia Murphy 5 years ago from Wilmington, North Carolina

      I always love the Barry Gibb Talk Show as well Heather Says! And I agree Jive Talkin' never gets old :).

    • Alecia Murphy profile image
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      Alecia Murphy 5 years ago from Wilmington, North Carolina

      Hi MPG Narratives! Thank you so much. I've never seen Australian television but it's quite obvious that they are more sons of Australia than England.

    • Alecia Murphy profile image
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      Alecia Murphy 5 years ago from Wilmington, North Carolina

      Thanks teaches12345! I agree, I miss positive love songs on the radio but I'm glad we still have theirs to cherish :).

    • Alecia Murphy profile image
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      Alecia Murphy 5 years ago from Wilmington, North Carolina

      Thanks Ytsenoh, I agree the Bee Gees are still amazing!

    • Alecia Murphy profile image
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      Alecia Murphy 5 years ago from Wilmington, North Carolina

      Hi Fpherj48! I love How Can You Mend a Broken Heart as well! Such lovely melodies! Thanks!

    • Alecia Murphy profile image
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      Alecia Murphy 5 years ago from Wilmington, North Carolina

      Thanks billybuc!

    • Alecia Murphy profile image
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      Alecia Murphy 5 years ago from Wilmington, North Carolina

      Thanks BuyaBiz for coming by and commenting!

    • Alecia Murphy profile image
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      Alecia Murphy 5 years ago from Wilmington, North Carolina

      I was so happy to hear that Robin woke up, but I agree the Bee Gees definitely have a special place in my heart. Thanks :)!

    • Heather Says profile image

      Heather Rode 5 years ago from Buckeye, Arizona

      Jive talkin is one of my all time fav songs and I loved the Bary Gibb Talk Show. I laugh just thinking about it. Their singing in the skit was pretty good. Great hub!

    • MPG Narratives profile image

      Marie Giunta 5 years ago from Sydney, Australia

      What a lovely tribute to The Bee Gees. They were very popular in Australia during the 60's and appeared on many TV shows of the time. I remember Saturday Night Fever and those outfits! I wore a few of them too. LOL.

      Only recently a music quiz show titled 'Spicks and Specks' ended on Australian TV, it was on air for 7 years. The Bee Gees will always have a special place in Australian music. Good luck Robin.

    • teaches12345 profile image

      Dianna Mendez 5 years ago

      My sisters loved the Bee Gees and it was all we heard around the house they back then. They did have a unique style of music. Miss those songs that were so positive about relationships.

    • ytsenoh profile image

      Cathy 5 years ago from Louisiana, Idaho, Kauai, Nebraska, South Dakota, Missouri

      "Lonely Nights" was an awesome song. Remember when Barry Gibb had the duet album with Barbara Streisand...good grief that was a long time ago and I was young, but I remember my mother liking that album. Great memory hub, Alecia. Thanks for doing this. I sill love the BeeGees! How can you not love the performers that were part of your growing history? Thumbs up.

    • fpherj48 profile image

      Paula 5 years ago from Beautiful Upstate New York

      Alecia.....Love the BeeGees.....Sat. Night Fever...memories. I have the OLD OLD....LP albums! I'd have to say my favorite was "How Can You Mend a Broken Heart.".....was that the name of it? Very nice hub, Alecia. UP++

    • billybuc profile image

      Bill Holland 5 years ago from Olympia, WA

      Great hub! I much preferred their early music; when I heard "New York Mining Disaster" I thought there were a true force to come. Great hub!

    • BizVT34 profile image

      BizVT34 5 years ago from USA

      For me the Bee Gees disco era was the low point of their music. The early Bee Gees stuff was magical. Keep fighting Robin....

    • Sunshine625 profile image

      Linda Bilyeu 5 years ago from Orlando, FL

      If it wasn't for Saturday Night Fever I might have never heard of the Bee Gees. I've been a fan of the Brothers Gibb since I was 15. That's a long time ago. Kinda. Barry, Maurice and Robin will always have a special place in my heart. I heard yesterday that Robin awoke from his coma, he's a fighter. Outstanding tribute Alecia!