The Australian Gibb brothers first hit the world pop charts as The Bee Gees in 1967 with "New York Mining Disaster 1941." A run of major pop hits followed. The three brothers briefly went their separate ways then reunited in 1970 for a new string of hit singles. When the commercial success again faded, the Bee Gees connected with legendary producer Arif Mardin and recreated themselves as an R&B oriented pop band. Ultimately, with the success of music from Saturday Night Fever they became symbols of the disco revolution of the late 1970s.
"Lonely Days" is one of the most obviously Beatles influenced of the Bee Gees hit singles. It incorporates the shift between slow, swaying verse and uptempo, beat heavy chorus that was common on the Abbey Road album. The Bee Gees say that they wrote "Lonely Days" and "How Can You Mend a Broken Heart?" the same day after the group reunited following their late 1960s breakup. "Lonely Days" became the Bee Gees' first top 5 pop hit in the US.
The Bee Gees originally intended to give "How Deep Is Your Love?" to Yvonne Elliman to record. However, the group recorded the song for the soundtrack to Saturday Night Fever and it became the first of six consecutive #1 hit singles for the group. "How Deep Is Your Love?" won a Grammy Award for Best Pop Performance by a Duo or Group With Vocals.
For the album Spirits Having Flown, the follow up to Saturday Night Fever, the Bee Gees had become largely an act centered on Barry Gibb. The album was also an attempt to move away from the stigma of disco. The album included three more #1 hit singles of which the uptempo "Tragedy" is the best.
Robin Gibb wrote the unusual lyrics for "I've Gotta Get a Message To You" following a quarrel with his wife. They detail a man awaiting his execution for killing his wife's lover, and he begs the chaplain to deliver a message to his wife. In the recording Robin Gibb and Barry Gibb exchange lead vocals. "I've Gotta Get a Message To You" was a top 10 pop hit in the US and went all the way to #1 in the UK.
The Bee Gees' manager Robert Stigwood reportedly asked the group for a Sam and Dave style soul song to give to Otis Redding to record and the result was "To Love Somebody." Unfortunately, Otis Redding died before he could record the song. The Bee Gees released their own single version of "To Love Somebody" and it went to #17 becoming their second pop hit single in the US. The song has become a contemporary pop standard with recordings by more than 100 other artists.
"How Can You Mend a Broken Heart?" was one of two songs, along with "Lonely Days," written by Barry and Robin Gibb immediately after the Bee Gees got back together following a breakup. It was reportedly offered to Andy Williams initially, but the Bee Gees ended up recording it themselves. Robin Gibb memorably kicks off the vocals singing the first verse and "How Can You Mend a Broken Heart?" became the Bee Gees first #1 pop hit single in the US.
"Stayin' Alive" was among the first set of songs that the Bee Gees wrote for producer Robert Stigwood and his Saturday Night Fever movie. Its use in the opening sequence of the movie helped make the song a signature hit for the Bee Gees and forever identify it with the emergence of disco into the mainstream. "Stayin' Alive" hit #1 on the pop singles chart in the US and sold more than two million copies.
"Jive Talkin'" marked the Bee Gees move in a distinctly R&B influenced direction. They put together the record with producer Arif Mardin. The ultimate sound was a prototype for the disco to come. "Jive Talkin'" reached #1 on the US pop singles chart, the first Bee Gees record to do so since 1971.
"You Should Be Dancing" established the Bee Gees as disco stars. It was the third #1 hit single by the group and the first to prominently feature Barry Gibb's falsetto. "You Should Be Dancing" is the only Bee Gees song to hit #1 on the dance chart, and it spent seven weeks at the top.