Robin and Maurice are twins. Barry is three years older.
The Bee Gees released their first ever single in Australia in 1963. It was the Johnny Horton inspired "Battle of the Blue and the Grey." They cracked the Australian and New Zealand markets within a few years. "Spicks And Specks" was their first ever #1 single, topping the New Zealand charts (#3 in Australia). The brothers left Australia for London to audition with Robert Stigwood. Stigwood was a director of NEMS Enterprises, the company owned by Beatles svengali Brian Epstein. He signed them up. "New York Mining Disaster 1941 (Have You Seen My Wife, Mr. Jones)
" was their first international hit.
In 1967, Robert Stigwood became their manager. He worked with Brian Epstein, who managed The Beatles. Stigwood was also a movie director. He put them on the soundtrack to his 1977 film, Saturday Night Fever, and cast them in the colossal flop Sgt. Pepper's Lonely Hearts Club Band the next year.
They had huge success singing disco songs in the '70s, and popularized the falsetto singing style of that era.
When Robin was 17, he was on a train in England that crashed, killing 49 passengers. He escaped with cuts and bruises.
Maurice was a paintball fanatic. He competed in tournaments.
Maurice died in 2003 after he was rushed to a hospital for stomach pains. He went into cardiac arrest, and the surgery could not save him.
The Bee Gees wrote, produced and arranged their own songs. As songwriters, they were extremely prolific, composing hundreds of songs, many of which were recorded by other artists. The group is in the Songwriters Hall of Fame in addition to the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame.
Over 2,500 artists have recorded their songs. "How Deep Is Your Love
" is the most covered of all, with over 400 versions. (thanks, Paul - UK, England)
The Bee Gees made their songs relatable by keeping the lyrics gender-neutral. Robin Gibb explained in Daniel Rachel's The Art of Noise: Conversations with Great Songwriters: "Love is not about a particular sex. A lot of people that started out in the music industry used he and she. Love is universal and we'd go out of our way not to mention he or she, so like a you or babe. It's a subtle way of doing it, but it has a way of crossing ... there's a lot of people out there who can't really relate if you do use those expressions and we want our songs to relate to as many people as possible."
Robin explained that melody must dictate the song: "We are very conscious that melody is extremely important. You've got seven notes to work with, everybody in the world has: it's the order in which you use them. But melody is the most important thing about writing a song, and then you approach the lyrics and you must work them into it."
When the Gibbs were children, they started songwriting through a game of make-believe. They would listen to the radio and pretend like they were in charge of writing the artist's next hit record. "It was a hobby that we weren't even aware of," Robin explained. "We were just playing it the same way kids throw a ball around; we were just throwing music around."
Robin thought it was important to protect a budding idea from criticism: "One problem is: don't invite anybody to say anything critical when you are developing a song. It is crucial that you don't... It can have a dramatic effect on how the song progresses, even to the point where you don't finish it."
After being diagnosed with advanced colorectal cancer, Robin died of kidney and liver failure in 2012. He was 62.