Everyone should be dancing
Stayin’ Alive is not only the Bee Gees’ Grammy award-winning hit for best arrangement of voices but the pop trio’s secret to success.
“They’ve accomplished a lot more than people think they have,” says Zac Coombs who is Barry Gibb in tribute act The Bee Gees Night Fever.
“They wrote for the era they were in.”
Before the disco years the Bee Gees are most famous for, the Gibb brothers were English lads who in 1955 formed skiffle/rock and roll group the Rattlesnakes. When the family Gibb moved to Australia the boys managed to land a recording deal under the name Bee Gees. Despite developing as recording artists the Gibbs were frustrated by their lack of success and left Australia to go back to England. En route, they learned that their single Spicks and Specks had been awarded Best Single of the Year in Australia. Meanwhile, in Britain The Beatles’ manager Brian Epstein smoothed the way for a five-year recording contract for the Bee Gees. Their second British single, New York Mining Disaster 1941, was so Beatles-inflected some DJs assumed the song was a mopheads’ recording and gave it high rotation.
The Bee Gees’ next single was the soulful ballad, written in 1967 for Otis Redding, To Love Somebody. Sung by Barry Gibb the song peaked at No. 16 in the US Top 20.
Fast forward a few decades and in 2001 the Bee Gees produced their 22nd and final studio album This Is Where I Came In. The album’s title song has a portion of British 60s pop but brings in a streak of The Eagles and a seam of funk. Other artists who have seen something going on with the Bee Gees sound include Destiny’s Child who in 1998 picked up the song Emotion and brought out its pop-soul heart. In 2009 country singers Kenny Rogers and Dolly Parton took the Manchester trio’s 1967 toe-tapper, Islands in the Stream to another level.
The Bee Gees’ “ballady hits” of the 1960s, through the disco years of the 1970s to upbeat pop, are the major points of The Bee Gees Night Fever tribute show, says Coombs.
To develop his role as the king of falsetto he has spent the past six months researching the band, learning their mannerisms and sense of humour.
And his own favourite Bee Gees song?
“Jive Talkin’. It’s a very groovy song that gets to me every time. Everyone should be dancing.”
The Bee Gees Night Fever, Sunday, November 10, 7pm. Tickets $32.50 - $71, available from https://www.ticketdirect.co.nz/