"Rock 'n' Roll is here to stay," was once the
watchword, but the anthem nowadays is more like: "Disco, disco, disco," pounded
out to a heavy drum beat and accompanied by an irresistible urge to dance. The passwords
are "shake your booty" or "shake your groove thing" but they all mean
the same thing: put on your dancing shoes and get over to your local disco and do the
"freak" or the "rogue" or even the "hustle."
Disco has been heralded as "the most dramatic taste shift in popular music
history," and even such solid stars as B.B. King and the Beach Boys have realized the
truth in that statement and jumped on the disco wagon out of "survival." Rod
Stewart is a convert, so is Cher, and even jazz flautist Herbie Mann, who once claimed
that disco music was "like a porno film - good for five minutes," has been won
over to the disco beat.
But, of course, you can't talk about disco music without
mentioning the reigning family of disco - The Bee Gees. Actually the Brothers Gibb have
done more for disco than any other group. Sure, Studio 54 and Regines had all the
beautiful people in the Big Apple dancing away until the wee hours of the morning, but The
Bee Gees really brought disco to every home in America with their album from the movie Saturday
Night Fever. Estimates run rampant even now, but the best guessers claim The Bee Gees
album grossed more than $50 million and one out of every ten homes in America have a copy
of the two-record album - according to the record company they sold a mere 15 million
copies in the US alone.
The Bee Gees have been compared to the Beatles in that they
have changed the musical taste of the world. The ironic thing about the Bee Gees is that
they don't read music, their attachment to their instruments and songs is all natural.
Their co-producer Karl Richardson explains: "The Bee Gees have the tendency to
disobey the laws of music because they are not formally schooled in it. But if they'd
studied formally, they'd have never sung the melodies they do."
Saturday Night Fever is almost history by now, yet
the Bee Gees continue to rock the charts with their music and their latest album, Spirits
Having Flown. They even went on a 50-city summer-fall tour to promote the album... and
amidst all this there are rumors that The Bee Gees will break up as soon as they finish
The Bee Gees break up! Impossible! Not again!
Indeed, even The Bee Gees themselves have been adding to
the rumors what with Barry saying things like: "Success like we have now was just a
very distant dream in 1971. I mean, we thought it was all over for us then. And now we
can't really accept what we've done and where we are when we read what the magazines are
"The Bee Gees are hot. But sooner or later these
bubbles burst anyway, and I would like for the Bee Gees to stop before we wane. I don't
know if it's easy or accurate to say that in the next two years The Bee Gees will decline
or continue at this pace. None of us can say. But all bubbles have a way of bursting or
being deflated in the end."
Barry has also been quoted as saying: "I HATE disco
music. I listen to it now and all I hear is a cymbal and a back-beat. The Bee Gees are a
fly-by-night sort of group. We enjoy change and freshness, and disco was only one area
we've delved into. I don't think we'll want to do it again."
The Bee Gees give up disco? What's happening? Well,
actually the truth is that The Bee Gees are not breaking up and they are not giving up
disco, either. When Barry said those things, he and his brothers were in the middle of
deciding what other ventures they would like to pursue as artists, and he's the first to
admit that at times like that he tends to put everything else into the past. Their tour
reinforced just how much their fans love their music, especially disco, so there is no way
they will ever really put it on the shelf completely.
What The Bee Gees will do is expand into other directions,
directions that might cut into their touring time and even their time in the studio, but
The Bee Gees will never disappear from sight. As a matter of fact, their new ventures will
make them even more visible. Barry at age 32 wants to try his hand as an actor; Maurice
also wants to be seen on the silver screen, but he also wants to direct, and Robin, who is
the main songwriter for the group wants to try his hand at screenwriting.
Actually, The Bee Gees first experience with the movies was
rather disappointing. They all hated Sgt. Pepper's Lonely Hearts Club Band. Robin
says: "It should have been more like Superman. It should have had more
excitement poured into it. As we were making it, I was thinking, 'I hope they are going to
put some visual effects in here.' When I saw it, it was exactly as we shot it, nothing was
improved. On the set the camera is pointing at you and you're thinking to yourself, 'It's
gotta be more than just me sitting here in this room, 'cause nothing's happening.' But
then you see the film and that's all there IS. I knew the film wasn't going to be a big
hit... Well, better luck next time."
Another time Robin complained about the music in the movie,
saying; "I hated doing the film, recording the music, because Sgt. Pepper's"wasn't
just a Bee Gee project. We didn't have a chance to act because we didn't talk; we were
just mouthing Beatles lyrics. And I'm not happy singing other people's songs."
Brother Barry agreed wholeheartedly, saying: "It was a
blowout. It didn't have any meat on it!"
The Bee Gees are actually discussing a possible new film
project with their manager, superstar-in-his-own-right Robert Stigwood. The film would be
a movie version of the hit rock opera, Evita, based on the life of the wife of the
late dictator Juan Peron. Barry is being considered for the role of Che Guevera, the
famous, or infamous, freedom fighter. Robin is also working on some scripts with an eye
for Hollywood in the near future, but the fact is after The Bee Gees finish their American
tour, they are still booked for a world tour. Their personal manager, Dick Ashby,
explains: "After this year, they will spend next year touring Japan, Britain and
Europe, and possibly Australia. That pretty well takes care of the next two years."
Of course, ever the diplomat, he adds: "Who can say what will happen after
Of course, no one can predict the future, but it is a good
guess that The Bee Gees will also do considerable studio work on a new album some time in
the next two years, and they will look into their other options at the same time. But they
are not stupid and they will not forget who and what made them the mammoth success they
are today, they will not forget who and what gave them a second chance. Don't worry, The
Bee Gees will be discoing on for some time to come!