Bee Gees Fever

Bee Gees Fever

Saturday Night Fever arrived in theaters during the 1977 holiday season. Relatively unheralded when it was released, the exploration of New York’s disco subculture gained momentum in the following year, powered by a star-making performance by John Travolta and a soundtrack spearheaded by the Bee Gees.

The former was a supporting player on a sitcom called Welcome Back, Kotter. The latter had made some recent forays into R&B but were, in the public mind, a Beatlesque bunch whose biggest hits dated to the late ‘60s. Maybe the film had some potential, but, hey, another disco flick – Thank God It’s Friday, – was on its way and then it’d be time for Travolta to give up the spotlight.

Well, the film and its soundtrack became era-defining hits and the Bee Gees were suddenly the biggest thing going in an era when everything was oversized. By the spring of ’78, the two-record soundtrack had sold 10 million copies and become the biggest-grossing album in history. It’s now moved something in excess of 40 million copies and still holds a spot among the top 10 sellers of all time. Interestingly, three albums released in 1977 – Saturday Night Fever, Meat Loaf’s Bat Out of Hell and Fleetwood Mac’s Rumours – are in that Top 10 list. They pressed a lot of vinyl in those days.

That landmark phase in the career of the Brothers Gibb is captured in our new Bee Gees Opus Collection, as are other stages in a sterling recording career that spanned five decades. It’s tough to depict the flashpoint impact the Saturday Night Fever soundtrack had in its moment. The culture is more diffuse now and nobody sees those kinds of sales anymore, but SNF’s impact transcended film and music. The environment was transformed as disco, which had been losing steam, suddenly soared as a genre. Blue-collar bars were transformed into discothèques complete with dress codes, and a whole lot of unlikely artists flocked to the genre. (Anyone looking for a copy of The Ethel Merman Disco Album?)

The backlash was inevitable, and it wasn’t always pretty.

Today you can listen to the Bee Gees’ music with all that cultural hubbub in mind … or you can discard it and approach the likes of “Night Fever” and “You Should Be Dancing” as genuine milestones in the development of R&B and pop. If you do that, you might just conclude that “Stayin’ Alive,” which stayed on the top of the singles charts for four weeks and remains the signature song in the Bee Gees’ extraordinary oeuvre, is still a little underrated.

comments (14)

Comment FAQ

    • admin admin
    • 10/13/2010 3:50 PM

    mdanl73, we had to delete your comment as it contains your email address and we want to protect your privacy. But to answer your question – yes, the album will be available in Starbucks stores!

    • mdanl73
    • 10/14/2010 5:02 PM

    Thank you, Starbucks admin! I didn't realize I was doing that. And thanks for the info on the CD - I'll definitely have to pick that up.

    • merckrx
    • 10/15/2010 9:18 AM

    I enjoy listening to the music of the Bee Gees. Recently, when going through my parents (old) vinyl records, I found not only the soundtrack to "Saturday Night Fever", but other earlier albums (pre-Saturday Night), like "Main Course" and "Children Of The World". After listening to these scratchy vinyl records, I have a fondness and appreciation for their music even more. Tracks like "Wind of Change" and "You Stepped Into My Life" are other tra

    • merckrx
    • 10/15/2010 9:27 AM

    continued....tracks that deserve to be heard and listened to. The Bee Gees song writing and production impact on other artists was inevitable: Kenny Rogers album "Eyes That See in the Dark" (1983) and Barbra Streisand album "Guilty" (1980). And who could forget the soundtrack for title song "Grease" (1978), also written by Barry Gibb and sung by Franki Vali.

    • jackvf1
    • 10/16/2010 4:01 PM

    I was but a little punk kid in Junior high back when the disco scene was making its debut. My parents had a lot of albums back in the day, including Donna Summer's "Bad Girls" and the Saturday Night Fever album were the soundtrack of my life back then...good memories.

    • shiftyshiffrin
    • 10/17/2010 7:47 AM

    You guys need something progressive in your music. Tired of that "musac". Avoid Starbucks sometimes because it is the worst music around. I have talked to the young people that work there and they agree. Get some new people selecting your music...please please.

    • Mjkrehbiel
    • 10/17/2010 3:48 PM

    I LOVE The Bee Gees!! I am a HUGE fan; I have every song ever released. I miss Andy & Maurice Gibb. Thank you Starbucks!

    • nwjerseyliz
    • 10/21/2010 5:17 PM

    First I heard The Doors and tons of bad Dean Martin and now the Bee Gees.

    What has happened to you, Starbucks? I use to buy every one of your music collections, whoever was your music director had excellent taste and a knack of discovering new artists and finding unusual old R&B and big band songs that even a music nut like myself had never heard before. You played alternative country & bluegrass for goodness' sakes which was wonderful. You had unerringly good taste.

    • nwjerseyliz
    • 10/21/2010 5:18 PM

    My comment was cut off. Part 2:

    That all seemed to change a year or so ago, during the dreadful Sia promotion where that album was played so incessantly that I saw a barista with earplugs. Then there was Paul McCartney and it all went so terribly, terribly wrong. What was charming, surprising & innovative (always in a nonoffensive way), became bad Musak and Lite Adult Contemporary.

    As your previous music directors knew, there are talented, little known artists in every

    • nwjerseyliz
    • 10/21/2010 5:20 PM

    Part 3:

    As your previous music directors knew, there are talented, little known artists in every genre, from rock to polka. You can do, you've done it in the past. Return to setting a high standard to coffeehouse music and stop this continued descent into blandness.

      • wkeb55
      • 11/3/2010 6:55 AM

      In reply to: nwjerseyliz

      It's pretty clear that if you think the BeeGees and Paul McCartney aren't in good taste the problem is on you not Starbucks! These are major icons in the music industry.

    • wchace08
    • 10/22/2010 3:15 PM

    "Saturday Night Fever" was released when I was in 7th grade, listening to AM and seeing my share of movies at the mall. And there was nothing unheralded about the movie or the soundtrack. Maybe it was because I lived in So Cal, but the Bee Gees were already getting heavy rotation w/ "Jive Talking" and went on to saturate every radio playlist w/ "Staying Alive." By the time the movie was released, I already felt familiar w/ the story and actors. Its media dominance se

    • anns_starbucks
    • 10/25/2010 6:07 PM

    I've enjoyed hearing the Bee Gees in Starbucks. Takes me back to my childhood. :)

    • jstringfellow
    • 11/10/2010 7:55 AM

    Well now, I have all the other 28 original albums/CDs etc. I may as well add the new compulation CD to it. l love you guys - - Oh, I love Starbucks too, but I was loving me some Bee Gees in 1967. I was 6 and in love with Maurice. I was going to marry him, and I think I still will when I get to Heaven. Nobody gets too much Heaven you know.

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