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Barry Gibb reveals his long-lost Grease demo for film's 40th anniversary

Writing a hit song can take weeks, months, even years. But sometimes, it turns out, it’s possible to crank ‘em out in a couple of hours. Which is exactly what happened when Barry Gibb was asked to write the title track for 1978’s original high-school musical, Grease.
On the eve of a new 40th anniversary edition of the film on 4k Ultra HD, Blu-ray, DVD, and digital, which is stuffed with more extras than the background of a Rydell High song-and-dance number, we not only spoke to Gibb about recording his still-infectious hit single “Grease” (sung by Frankie Valli in the film), but also landed an exclusive listen to the eldest Bee Gee’s long-lost demo tape of the song. You can listen to it on:

When we spoke with the 71-year-old Gibb, he was at a disadvantage. He still hadn’t heard the demo in the four decades since he recorded it. But his memory of how the song came about was so clear, he didn’t have to. “I remember doing it,” he says. “I just don’t remember ever hearing it afterwards. I just remember that it all happened in one afternoon.”
ENTERTAINMENT WEEKLY: What do you remember of actually writing the song “Grease”?
BARRY GIBB: I was babysitting and my wife was out. And [Bee Gees manager and Grease producer] Robert Stigwood called up and said. “I have two wonderful new songs by John Farrar called ‘Hopelessly Devoted to You’ and ‘You’re the One that I Want.’ But what we don’t have is a song for the title of the film. Could you come up with a song called ‘Grease’?” I said, “How do you write a song called ‘Grease’? I don’t understand what direction I would take to do that.” And Robert said, “Just Grease duh-duh-duh-duh-duh, Grease duh-duh-duh-duh-duh.” So he wasn’t very helpful. But I understood that they really wanted something that was positive and sunny. It really all happened in that afternoon. I walked on the dock for a bit….

Where was this?Here in Miami, on Biscayne Bay. And so I went out on the dock and walked around thinking, Well, Grease is symbolic of that period with the Greasers and all that. And it’s really my period. My favorite time is the late ‘50s. And so it suddenly occurred to me to write about Grease as a word because it represented a time. So Grease became the word.
So how long did it take to get the lyrics down on paper?
About two hours. Because if I get an idea and my head says to me, “This is good, do it!” then I’ll just go with it. It began to make sense and it just fell into place. I can’t really explain it.

If it only came that easy all the time….It doesn’t. All songs are a little bit different. Some things come all at once — and usually in the middle of the night. Dreams, for me, give me songs. And so I have to then shape the thought. But if the thought in my head says, “You have to do this, this is good”, then I’ll go to work. But my head very often says, “Don’t do this!”
This demo was recently found after four decades. Do you know where it had been all this time?No, I don’t. Universal/Capitol has all of our demos and original recordings in house and I just don’t know what’s in there. They didn’t tell me how they found it.
Can you believe that it’s been 40 years?
Of course, I can. Don’t forget we just went through this same emotion with Saturday Night Fever.


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