This was called "Drive Talking" in its early stages, but producer Arif Mardin suggested the change to "jive" to play to teenage sensibilities. "Jive Talkin'" is a term for slang.
The rhythm was inspired by the chunka-chunka-chunka sound of a car rolling over a bridge crossing Biscayne Bay near Miami. Robin Gibb explained to The Mail On Sunday November 1, 2009: "We'd already thought up the title for this song, but it wasn't until Barry, Maurice and I drove from Biscayne Bay to Miami that we realized what the tune was going to be. We had the idea as we passed over a bridge. Some tar noises made a rhythmic sound on the wheels of our car, which created the feel to the type of song we wanted to write. We finished the song at the Criteria studios that day."
This was the first big disco hit for The Bee Gees. They became icons of the era, singing in falsetto harmonies over dance beats. They had seven more #1 hits in the disco era, but the band went out of style at the same time as white leisure suits. The group, which had considerable success before the disco era, took a lot of heat in the press. This criticism would weigh on them in later years as they felt that accusations of selling out and creating popular schlock were out of line. They would often point out that disco became homogenized in the years after they got to it, and that their sound was really an extension of R&B.
This was a comeback song for the group. They were very successful as contemporary singers in the late '60s and early '70s, but the two albums they released before Main Course flopped, and it looked like their careers were over.
Knowing that a new Bee Gees single would be met with scepticism by radio programmers, their label sent promotional singles to stations with plain, white labels, giving no indication as to what the name of the song was, or who it was by. The plan worked: the song was added to playlists and revived the fortunes of the group.
Along with several other Bee Gees hits, this was featured on the soundtrack to Saturday Night Fever in 1977. Along with "You Should Be Dancing," it was one of two previously released Bee Gees songs used - they wrote five more specifically for the film. The set became the best-selling soundtrack album of all time, until it was outsold by The Bodyguard soundtrack.
This was an R&B track that did very well in the black charts in America. The Bee Gees were one of the first white groups to explore that territory.
Former Fugees singer Pras sampled this on his song "Blue Angels."