March 12, 2013
The lyrics to one of their 1976 hits ran “What you doin’ on your back/You should be dancing, yeah/Dancing, yeah …” and the following year the entire world was doing just that when three songs written by the superstar Gibb brothers in
“Stayin’ Alive”, the Bee Gees’ theme song to the phenomenally successful movie ”Saturday Night Fever”, along with two back-to-back number one hits by teen sensation Robin Gibb were all composed at the Bermuda home of Australian-born impresario and entertainment entrepreneur Robert Stigwood.
The Bee Gees — brothers Barry, Robin and Maurice Gibb — had been managed by Mr. Stigwood since the 1960s when they first found fame as a pop act. The trio later released their singles and albums on Mr. Stigwood’s independent RSO Records label which he launched in 1973.
The groups’s career was resurgent in the mid-1970s; they had moved from pop songs and ballads marked by their soaring harmonies to a more rhythmic, disco-influenced style, producing hits such as “Jive Talkin’”, “Nights on Broadway” and “You Should Be Dancing.”
In 1976 Barry Gibb, the eldest Gibb brother and the Bee Gees’ unofficial leader, along with brother Robin had spent a number of months at Mr. Stigwood’s luxurious resort home “Palm Grove” in Devonshire.
While on the island planning new projects with Mr. Stigwood, the brothers had penned several new songs — one of which was titled “Stayin’ Alive.”
Bee Gees Barry, Robin and Maurice Gibb with Robert Stigwood
The songs were originally intended for a new Bee Gees album. The group was in the midst of recording the material at
Mr. Stigwood’s transitions from a rock band manager and producer to multimedia entertainment impresario had started in the late ’60s when he saw the musical “Hair” on Broadway and decided to produce it in
He went on to produce the stage and movie versions of “Jesus Christ Superstar”, a film adaptation of The Who’s rock opera “Tommy” and brokered the deals which repackaged British TV hits “Til Death Do Us Part” and “Steptoe & Son” as “All In The Family” and “Sandford & Son” on American television in the early 1970s.
A 1976 “Rolling Stone” magazine profile described Mr. Stigwood “as constant traveler, a bachelor with homes in
When Mr. Stigwood arrived in
Starring the relatively unknown sitcom actor John Travolta, the film told the story of of a
A massive popular and critical success, the film was a cultural phenomenom. It popularised disco music around the world and turned Mr. Travolta into a superstar ["We thought we were making a little art film," the actor said in the wake of "Saturday Night Fever's" remarkable success].
The “Saturday Night Fever” soundtrack, featuring four new songs by by the Bee Gees and two previously released tracks, became one of the best selling soundtracks of all time.
Some sections of the other chart-topping Bee Gees singles from the soundtrack — “How Deep Is Your Love”, “Night Fever” and “More Than A Woman” — had been sketched out in
Speaking to a
Independently of working on new songs for themselves in
With his blonde good looks and clear, melodic voice, the youngest Gibb brother — he was then 18 — had become a pop sensation in
After Andy Gibb married girlfriend Kim Reeder in
“[Following] the reception, the new Mr. and Mrs. Andrew Roy Gibb left for a honeymoon in Bermuda at Robert Stigwood’s lavish home there,” said Bee Gees biographer Andrew Hughes “Barry and Robert Stigwood were there to meet them and to begin making plans for turning ‘The Bee Gee’ Baby Brother’ into the teen idol, Andy Gibb.
While in Bermuda, Andy Gibb signed a recording and management contract with RSO and collaborated on two songs with brother Barry — “I Just Want To Be Your Everything” and “[Love Is] Thicker Than Water.”
“[When he wasn't working] Andy and Kim found plenty of time to themselves to enjoy their honeymoon,” said Mr. Hughes. “They rode motorbikes all over the island, went shopping and took sightseeing trips.
“They went swimming in the crystal clear water and went out in catamarans. An entire day was spent out on a big-game fishing boat.
“I Just Want To Be Your Everything” was the first single released by Andy Gibb on the RSO label; released in May 1977 it reached number one in the US and Australia and was among the most played records of the year.
The follow-up Bermuda-penned song “[Love Is] Thicker Than Water” was even more successful.
Released in October, 1977 the single peaked in early 1978 during the time that the Bee Gees’ contributions to the “Saturday Night Fever” soundtrack were dominating the world charts.
Ironically, in the
While he had a handful of other hits, Andy Gibbs’ career proved to be a troubled one. Succumbing to drug abuse and the pressures of fame, he died in March, 1988 of a heart ailment in
Among the best-selling musical artists of all time, the Bee Gees continued to record and tour for many years. Maurice died suddenly on
Surviving brother Barry Gibb lives and works in
Mr. Stigwood lived in Bermuda for many years, moving from “Palm Grove” — which he had rented — to the sprawling “Wreck House” property at the West End of the island [while he was negotiating to buy that estate one of his spokesmen told a Chicago newspaper the mogul was in the process of buying "a small corner of Bermuda the size of several golf courses ... He loves it there"]
“Palm Grove”, the luxurious
While in Bermuda he went on to produce the ’50s-era rock’n'roll movie musical “Grease”, which co-starred John Travolta and Australian singer Olivia Newton-John, and the stage show “Evita” along with a later film adaptation starring Madonna.
He hosted such visiting luminaries as the Duchess of York, Mr. Travolta, film director Ken Russell and pop star Cyndi Lauper at his