Did the Bee Gees almost reject ‘Saturday Night Fever’? The fascinating success story of the Kings of Disco

Bee Gees topped the charts from the early 1960s to the late 1970s. They gave birth to a new sound that the world wasn’t aware of and soon they became the undeniable kings of disco


                            Did the Bee Gees almost reject ‘Saturday Night Fever’? The fascinating success story of the Kings of Disco
(Getty Images)

Bee Gees became on the greatest trio in the world as they topped the charts from the early 1960s to the late 1970s. They gave birth to a new sound that the world wasn’t aware of and soon they became undeniable kings of disco. Fans can watch the same in their new documentary titled ‘Bee Gees: How Can You Mend a Broken Heart’, which will be aired on HBO Max on December 12, 2020, at 8 pm EST. The Bee Gees completely changed all the rules of the game during their successful period, which lasted for almost two decades. However, every band goes through a journey of ups and downs and, of course, Bee Gees were no different.

But can you imagine a musical group being hesitant about a project but when they take it up, it becomes one of the biggest-selling records of all time? Yes, the same happened with the iconic rock-pop group the Bee Gees when they took over the soundtrack album for the movie, ‘Saturday Night Fever’, starring John Travolta in the lead.

How did Bee Gees end up on ‘Saturday Night Fever?’

In the late '70s, the trio was going through a rough patch as the music scenario started changing. They had achieved a lot undoubtedly and were in a phase where they were nothing but stable. The music of the movie ‘Saturday Night Fever’ starring John Travolta was first planned with Boz Scaggs where the producers intended to use their song ‘Lowdown’ and Travolta had even started practicing the moves. However, representatives for Scaggs’s label, Columbia Records, refused to grant legal clearance for the same, as they eyeing another disco movie project, which never materialized. Then it was the Bee Gees who were called to produce music for the movie. However, their involvement in the film did not begin until post-production.

Popular English vocal trio the Bee Gees; from left to right, brothers Barry, Robin and Maurice Gibb (1949 - 2003). (Photo by Sydney O'Meara/Getty Images)

Why were Bee Gees hesitant to sign ‘Saturday Night Fever?’

According to The New York Post, the group was working on an album when they were approached for the movie. Luckily, their manager Robert Stigwood, who was also producing the flick, insisted the members namely Barry Gibb, Robin Gibb and Maurice Gibb to scrap the project and take over the music album of the ‘Saturday Night Fever.’ Robert at the time had said, “We were recording our new album in the north of France. And we'd written about and recorded about four or five songs for the new album when Stigwood rang from LA and said, 'We're putting together this little film, low budget, called Tribal Rites of a Saturday Night. Would you have any songs on hand?', and we said, 'Look, we can't, we haven't any time to sit down and write for a film'. We didn't know what it was about.” The brothers then eventually joined the project and wrote the songs “virtually in a single weekend” at Chateau d’Hérouville studio in France. The first song they recorded was ‘If I Can't Have You’, but unfortunately their version did not end up in the film.

70's rock/disco group, The Bee Gees pose for the photographer at a press conference April 23, 2001, in New York prior to announcing the release of their latest album "This is Where I Came In," which will be available in the U.S. April 24. From Left: Barry Gibb, Robin Gibb and Maurice Gibb. (Getty Images)

Success of ‘Saturday Night Fever’ album

The group who wasn’t thrilled at first for the project, ended up producing some of the biggest tracks from the movie album, including ‘How Deep Is Your Love, ‘More Than a Woman’, ‘Stayin’ Alive’, ‘If I Can't Have You’, ‘Boogie Shoes’ and ‘Night Fever’ among a few others. The film opened in theatres in December 1977 and 750,000 copies of the soundtrack were already sold between Christmas and the New Year. By January, it was the number one album in America. According to the New York Post, Barry Gibb recalled, “We all went a bit crazy.”

It is one of the best-selling albums in history, and remains the second-biggest selling soundtrack of all time, after ‘The Bodyguard’, selling over 45 million copies worldwide. The ‘Saturday Night Fever’ album was certified 16X Platinum in the United States, and it also stayed atop the album charts for 24 straight weeks from January to July 1978.



 

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