This article is from the Bee Gees FAQ, by David Garcia firstname.lastname@example.org with numerous contributions by others.
David Garcia writes...
The Bee Gees are three brothers: Barry Gibb, Robin Gibb, and
Maurice Gibb. From 1967 to 1969, they were joined by Vince
Melouney and Colin Petersen. In 1970, while Robin pursued a solo
career, the album "Cucumber Castle" was released with just Barry
and Maurice as the Bee Gees.
Contrary to popular belief, younger brother Andy Gibb was
never a member of the Bee Gees as such, although his brothers
lent assistance in songwriting, producing and backing vocals on
his three solo albums.
The brothers Gibb were born in the Isle of Man, an island
located between Great Britain and Ireland. Barry was born on
September 1st, 1946. Robin and Maurice, twins, were born on
December 22nd, 1949. The family later moved to Manchester,
England, where Andy was born on March 5, 1958.
According to a 1979 TV Bio, as children the three boys used
to perform in Manchester theaters. They called their singing
trio "The Rattlesnakes", and later "Wee Johnny Hays and the Blue
Cats." Their harmonies were so natural that, one day at home,
their mother mistook their singing as a radio on in the next
In 1958 the Gibb family, with infant Andy, sailed to
Australia. It was there that the brothers started pursuing
professional careers as singers and songwriters. Their father,
Hugh Gibb, and been a professional drummer and bandleader in his
youth. The brothers' talent caught the attention of a local DJ,
and soon they were performing at racetracks, beach resorts, and
on local radio and TV broadcasts. Around this time they named
themselves the BG's, and later, the Bee Gees.
In 1963, Festival Records signed the Bee Gees to their first
record contract. Though hits as a group were slow in coming,
Barry put his songwriting talents to good use writing for other
singers and groups.
In 1966 the Bee Gees had their first number one single in
Australia, "Spicks and Specks." The following January the Gibb
family boarded a ship back to England.
The brothers had sent demo tapes to NEMS, the group managing
the Beatles. One night Robert Stigwood sat down and listened to
a few demo tapes from the pile. He liked what he heard, and
wanted to see about signing them up.
The 1967 album "Bee Gees First" was a tremendous debut
success. The first single, "New York Mining Disaster 1941", was
believed by many to be recorded by the Beatles under a different
name. American record executives started using this as a
technique to spark interest in the record, saying only that the
name of this group began with a "B" and ended with an "S". With
the follow-up success of "Holiday" and "To Love Somebody", people
soon knew quite well who the Bee Gees were.
Later that year, the Bee Gees -- now the three brothers and
fellow Australians Vince Melouney and Colin Petersen -- recorded
the album "Horizontal". The single "Massachusetts" topped the UK
charts. In 1968, the "Idea" album soon followed with the
classics "I Started a Joke" and "I've Gotta Get a Message To
As was often the case with sixties pop groups, the first
flash of success soon after brought dissension and clashes of
egos -- what Barry calls the "First Fame" syndrome. Despite
years of performing together as brothers, the sudden rise to fame
soon overwhelmed the Bee Gees.
In 1969, with the "Odessa" album, there were conflicts over
the release of "First of May" as a single. Robin thought that
"Lamplight" should be the a-side. Other divisions ensued, and
eventually resulted in Robin departing to pursue a solo career.
Around this time Vince Melouney and Colin Petersen also split
from the band.
Robin's solo debut, "Robin's Reign", was a modest success in
Europe. The single "Saved By The Bell" did particularly well in
Germany. Meanwhile, Barry and Maurice continued together as the
Bee Gees. Their album, "Cucumber Castle", also coincided with a
UK television special. Soon after, however, Barry and Maurice
went their separate ways as well.
The reconciliation was a gradual one. Barry once remarked
that, if they hadn't been brothers, they probably never would
have got back together. The "Two Years On" album seemed more
like an anthology of three soloists than any sort of group
effort. The song "Lonely Days", however, did show that they
could still work together as a group.
On their next album, "Trafalgar", the reconciliation process
continued. The Bee Gees finally had their first #1 single in the
US, "How Can You Mend A Broken Heart". The success of this
classic showed that the brothers Gibb were far more successful as
a group than they would ever be as soloists.
As evidenced by the 1972 album "To Whom It May Concern", the
Bee Gees were now drifting into a musical pattern of soft
ballads. The songs "Run To Me" and "My World" were typical of
the group's sound of this time. Eventually the Bee Gees decided
to break away from the London scene and start afresh in the
In the US, the Bee Gees started in new directions musically.
Unfortunately, these new directions were bereft of commercial
success. The 1973 album, "Life in a Tin Can", saw meager sales
of its single, "I Saw A New Morning". Finally, when "Wouldn't I
Be Someone", the single from "A Kick In The Head Is Worth Eight
In the Pants", failed to climb the charts, the record company
chose not to release the album.
Soon after this, the talents of accomplished record producer
Arif Mardin were brought to the group's assistance. As producer
of their next album, "Mr. Natural", he helped the Bee Gees to
evolve their creativity, "open their ears", and explore musical
forms quite different from the warm ballads they had grown
accustomed to. The "Mr. Natural" album turned out not to be the
commercial breakthrough the Bee Gees were seeking, but with
tracks like "Heavy Breathing", "Dogs", and "Charade", it was
obvious that the brothers were finding their way down new paths