The Bee Gees were a pop music group formed in 1958. Their lineup consisted of brothers Barry, Robin, and Maurice Gibb.
The trio was 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 mid-to-late 1970s. The group sang recognizable 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 mid-to-late 1970s and 1980s. The Bee Gees 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. There, in 1955, they 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, when producer Robert Stigwood began promoting them to a worldwide audience.
As of July 2013, the Bee Gees have sold more than 220 million records worldwide, placing them among 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, another “family act” featuring three harmonizing 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 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 the Bee Gees would re-form and perform again. Robin died in May 2012, aged 62, after a prolonged struggle with cancer and other health problems, leaving Barry as the only surviving member of the group’s final line-up.
Sometimes appearing with the title “(The Lights Went Out In) Massachusetts,” The Bee Gees wrote and had their first UK #1 with this song in 1967, but it wasn’t until some years later, during a chance meeting in London between the Seekers lead singer Judith Durham and Maurice Gibb, that Judith learned the amazing truth that “Massachusetts” was originally intended to fulfill The Bee Gees’ dream of writing a hit for The Seekers.
Upon arriving in London from Australia (following in the path of the Seekers, who had arrived several years earlier) the Bee Gees had been unsuccessful in getting the song to the group, so they recorded it themselves. After reuniting and touring Australia again perhaps for the last time in 2003, the Seekers were moved to perform the song as a tribute to Maurice after his untimely death. So popular was the song there that the group decided to finally record it and it was included on their Ultimate Collection CD released that same year. It fits perfectly with what the Seekers themselves selected as their best classic songs of the mid 60’s, having been recorded almost 40 years later.