Happy 75th birthday to the man responsible for my sexual awakening at age eleven: Barry Gibb.
Sir Barry Alan Crompton Gibb was born on September 1, 1946 in Douglas, Isle of Man. In 1958, the Gibb family – father Hugh (also a musician), mother Barbara, older sister Lesley, Barry, twins Robin and Maurice, and baby brother Andy – moved to Australia. The three older brothers, then a skiffle group called The Rattlesnakes, changed their name to Bee Gees (for Brothers Gibb) and began playing gigs in and around Sydney. The Bee Gees returned to the UK in 1967 to record their debut album, Bee Gees’ 1st.
The Bee Gees’ early music was purely pop with a hint of psychedelia, but in the mid-70s, the band went in a new direction: the burgeoning disco sound. Starting with the release of 1975’s Main Course (with its #1 smash hit “Jive Talkin'”), Bee Gees were on their way to becoming one of the most successful vocal groups of all time.
In 1977, Bee Gees were asked to provide songs for Saturday Night Fever. The resulting soundtrack album, featuring five new Bee Gees songs as well as another Gibb composition, Yvonne Elliman’s “If I Can’t Have You”, sold forty million copies, spent twenty-four consecutive weeks at #1 and won the Grammy Award for Album of the Year. It remains the second-most successful soundtrack album of all time, after 1992’s The Bodyguard.
Over the next two years, Bee Gees had a string of six consecutive #1 hits: “How Deep Is Your Love”, “Stayin’ Alive” and “Night Fever” from Saturday Night Fever; “Too Much Heaven”, the band’s contribution to the “Music for UNICEF” fund; and “Tragedy” and “Love You Inside Out” from 1979’s Spirits Having Flown. As a songwriter, Barry Gibb is responsible for sixteen #1 Billboard Hot 100 hits; he is the second most-successful songwriter of all time, behind only Paul McCartney.
Along the way, Barry and his wife Linda had five children. His eldest, Steve, is a musician in his own right.
Barry is the sole surviving Brother Gibb: Andy died at just thirty from myocarditis, after a years-long battle with drug addiction; Maurice died in 2003 when a twisted intestine caused his heart to fail; and Robin passed away in 2012 from kidney failure.
Barry continues to write and record music. His latest album, Greenfields, is a collaboration with various country artists, including Dolly Parton, Miranda Lambert, Jason Isbell and Alison Krauss.
Happy birthday, Barry! I created a fun little playlist in honor of the occasion.