Certainly, “Saturday Night Fever” made them iconic in movies as well as music … but over several decades, the Bee Gees’ sound encompassed much more.
Surviving member Barry Gibb made harmonious magic with his late twin brothers Maurice and Robin, and the enduring results of their collaborations fuel the new CBS special “Stayin’ Alive: A Grammy Salute to the Music of the Bee Gees’’ Sunday, April 16. Barry himself takes the stage to perform several numbers, joining a roster that includes Celine Dion, Keith Urban, Ed Sheeran, Demi Lovato, John Legend, Stevie Wonder, Little Big Town, Nick Jonas, Tori Kelly, Katharine McPhee, DNCE, Andra Day, Kelsea Ballerini, Thomas Rhett, Jason Derulo, Tavares, Panic! At the Disco and Pentatonix.
John Travolta also makes an appearance during the show, signaling the huge significance “Saturday Night Fever” – which gets a new 40th-anniversary DVD and Blu-ray release on May 2, and earned five Grammys for its soundtrack – had to the group’s career and his own. Here’s a look at some of the songs from that score, and others in which all three siblings were involved, that have lasted as Bee Gees milestones.
“To Love Somebody” (1967): The second single to become a Bee Gees success, written by Barry and Robin, had been earmarked for Otis Redding …and Barry claimed it was inspired by his deep respect for Bee Gees manager Robert Stigwood.
“I’ve Gotta Get a Message to You” (1968): Another of the Bee Gees’ successful “story songs,” this one told of a death-row prisoner trying to make final contact with his wife during that “one more hour and my life will be through.”
“How Can You Mend a Broken Heart” (1971): Another song that might have gone to someone else, since it was offered to Andy Williams, this ballad has gotten renewed life in recent years from its inclusion on the soundtrack of “American Hustle.”
“Jive Talkin’ ” (1975): Heard now, this remedy to a fallow period hit-wise for the Bee Gees sounds like a definite precursor to the reshaped musical success they were about to enjoy.
“You Should Be Dancing” (1976): Though it would be pivotal to “Saturday Night Fever,” in an iconic scene that shows Tony Manero (Travolta) in his solo dance-floor glory, this actually preceded the movie by a year.
“Stayin’ Alive” (1977): It’s almost impossible to separate this song from the opening-titles image of Manero strutting his stuff through the streets of Brooklyn, swinging cans of paint or chowing down on slices of pizza, as “Saturday Night Fever” gets under way.
“How Deep Is Your Love” (1977): A ballad that’s a counterpoint to much of the other “Fever” music, this is used to underscore the growing relationship between Manero and dance partner Stephanie (Karen Lynn Gorney).
“Too Much Heaven” (1978): How the Bee Gees would follow a colossal triumph like “Saturday Night Fever” was a real question, and they answered it by going back to their roots with this dreamy ballad.