The Bee Gees were a music group formed in 1958. Their lineup consisted of brothers Barry, Robin, and Maurice Gibb. The trio were especially successful as a popular music act in the late 1960s and early 1970s, and later as prominent performers of the disco music era in the mid-to-late 1970s. The group sang recognizable three-part tight harmonies; Robin’s clear vibrato lead vocals were a hallmark of their earlier hits, while Barry’s R&B falsetto became their signature sound during the mid-to-late 1970s and 1980s. The Bee Gees wrote all of their own hits, as well as writing and producing several major hits for other artists. The Bee Gees are widely referred to by many critics, media outlets and fellow artists as the “Kings of Disco”.
Born on the Isle of Man to English parents, the Gibb brothers lived in Chorlton, Manchester, England until the late 1950s. There, in 1955, they formed the skiffle/rock and roll group the Rattlesnakes. The family then moved to Redcliffe, in the Moreton Bay Region, Queensland, Australia, and then to Cribb Island. After achieving their first chart success in Australia as the Bee Gees with “Spicks and Specks” (their 12th single), they returned to the UK in January 1967, when producer Robert Stigwood began promoting them to a worldwide audience. The Bee Gees’ Saturday Night Fever soundtrack (1977) was the turning point of their career, with both the film and soundtrack having a cultural impact throughout the world, enhancing the disco scene’s mainstream appeal. They won five Grammy Awards for Saturday Night Fever, including Album of the Year.
The Bee Gees have sold over 120 million records worldwide (with estimates as high as over 220 million), making them among the best-selling music artists of all time. They were inducted into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame in 1997; the presenter of the award to “Britain’s first family of harmony” was Brian Wilson, historical frontman of the Beach Boys, another “family act” featuring three harmonizing brothers. The Bee Gees’ Hall of Fame citation says, “Only Elvis Presley, the Beatles, Michael Jackson, Garth Brooks and Paul McCartney have outsold the Bee Gees.” The Bee Gees are the third most successful band in Billboard charts history after the Beatles and the Supremes.
Following Maurice’s death in January 2003 at the age of 53, Barry and Robin retired the group’s name after 45 years of activity. In 2009, Robin announced that he and Barry had agreed that the Bee Gees would re-form and perform again. Robin died in May 2012, aged 62, after a prolonged struggle with cancer and other health problems, leaving Barry as the only surviving member of the group.