The Bee Gees were a pop music group formed in 1958. The group’s line-up consisted of brothers Barry, Robin and Maurice Gibb. The trio were successful for most of their decades of recording music, but they had two distinct periods of exceptional success: as a popular music act in the late 1960s and early 1970s, and as prominent performers of the disco music era in the late 1970s. The group sang recognisable three-part tight harmonies; Robin’s clear vibrato lead vocals were a hallmark of their earlier hits, while Barry’s R&B falsetto became their signature sound during the late 1970s and 1980s. They wrote all of their own hits, as well as writing and producing several major hits for other artists.
Born on the Isle of Man to English parents, the Gibb brothers lived in Chorlton, Manchester, England, until the late 1950s, and formed the Rattlesnakes. The family then moved to Redcliffe, in Queensland, Australia, and then to Cribb Island. After achieving their first chart success in Australia as the Bee Gees with “Spicks and Specks” (their 12th single), they returned to the UK in January 1967 where producer Robert Stigwood began promoting them to a worldwide audience.
The Bee Gees have sold more than 220 million records worldwide, making them one of the world’s best-selling music artists of all time. They were inducted into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame in 1997; the presenter of the award to “Britain’s first family of harmony” was Brian Wilson, historical leader of the Beach Boys, a “family act” also featuring three harmonising brothers. The Bee Gees’ Hall of Fame citation says “Only Elvis Presley, the Beatles, Michael Jackson, Garth Brooks and Paul McCartney have outsold the Bee Gees.”
Following Maurice’s sudden death in January 2003 at the age of 53, Barry and Robin retired the group’s name after 45 years of activity. In 2009 Robin announced that he and Barry had agreed that the Bee Gees would re-form and perform again. Robin died in May 2012 at the age of 62, after a prolonged struggle with cancer and other health problems, leaving Barry as the lone surviving member of the group.