Night Fever

The brothers Gibb started singing in three-part harmony when they were just kids, and their drive to become stars carried them to international success.

Barry, and twin brothers Maurice and Robin Gibb, moved with their family from the United Kingdom to Australia in 1958. The following year, the three boys began singing in public at the Redcliffe Speedway where they were discovered by racing driver Bill Goode and his friend DJ Bill Gates.

Gates suggested the name BGs (later becoming Bee Gees) for the group and played their songs on his station. However, the boys struggled to make a hit in Australia and eventually decided it was time to move back to the U.K. and try for a record deal there.

Robert Stigwood immediately signed them to a five-year contract in 1967 and they released “Bee Gees 1st,” which contained their first international hit, “New York Mining Disaster 1941.” The Bee Gees’ next single, “To Love Somebody,” found success in the U.S. breaching the Top 20.

They followed that up with their second album, “Horizontal,” and a European tour. They also performed on the “Ed Sullivan Show,” along with several other prominent appearances in the states and Europe. However, there was turmoil in the group as their success was rising and Robin left in 1969.

After trying solo careers, the brothers realized they were better together and the Bee Gees reformed in 1970. They steadily released albums throughout the early ‘70s, and received their first No. 1 single in the U.S. with “How Can You Mend a Broken Heart.”

The Bee Gees next few albums were hit or miss, and they were in need of a transformation. The young men, now in their 20s, moved to Miami and fell into the disco trend, which they would be most remembered for. Barry found his falsetto and the result was two Top 10 hits, with “Jive Talkin’” peaking at No. 1 on the charts and “Nights on Broadway,” hitting No. 7. Their following album “Children of the World,” contained the megahit, “You Should Be Dancing.”

In 1977, the Bee Gees reached their height of fame after writing and recording for the “Saturday Night Fever” soundtrack.

Three singles on the soundtrack —”How Deep Is Your Love,” “Stayin’ Alive” and “Night Fever” — hit No. 1 in the U.S. They also wrote the song “If I Can’t Have You,” sung by Yvonne Elliman on the soundtrack, which became a No. 1 for her.

The soundtrack became the highest-selling album in recording history at that time and still is among music’s top five best-selling soundtrack albums.

The Bee Gees won five Grammy Awards for “Saturday Night Fever” over two years: Album of the Year, Producer of the Year (with Albhy Galuten and Karl Richardson), two awards for Best Pop Performance by a Duo or Group with Vocals (“How Deep Is Your Love” and “Stayin’ Alive”), and Best Vocal Arrangement for Two or More Voices for “Stayin’ Alive.”

For nine months, seven songs written by the Bee Gees held the No. 1 position on the U.S. charts for 27 of 37 consecutive weeks, including three of their own releases, two for their brother Andy Gibb, the Yvonne Elliman single, and “Grease,” performed by Frankie Valli.

Disco began to die as the 1980s approached and the Bee Gees fame started to wane. They still performed and had success with the 1983 “Stayin’ Alive” soundtrack, the sequel to “Saturday Night Fever,” but perhaps their greater success in the ‘80s came from their undeniable writing prowess. Several artists, from Barbra Streisand, to Dolly Parton and Kenny Rogers recorded hit songs written by the Gibb’s, from “Islands in the Stream” to Dionne Warwick’s “Heartbreaker.”

The Bee Gees continued recording in the ‘90s and 2000s, however Maurice suffered a heart attack and passed away in 2003. Robin was diagnosed with liver cancer and lost his battle in 2012. Younger brother Andy had died in 1988, which leaves Barry as the sole Gibb brother.

The Bee Gees had left their mark on the world, and their iconic music continues to be passed down through generations. The younger crowd, as well as those who were alive during the height of Bee Gees fame, can now get the Bee Gees concert experience through an outstanding tribute, the Australian Bee Gees.

This group formed in 1996 in Melbourne, Australia, with founding members Wayne Hosking as Maurice, Michael Clift as Barry, David Scott as Robin and Tony Richards on bass.

“Well we were already a band before we started the Bee Gees, in Melbourne, Australia,” Hosking said. “We were a cover band and doing some original songs and we even had an Eagles tribute there for a little while. We were full-time musicians and there just wasn’t enough work in Australia, so we had an idea. We thought no one had ever covered the Bee Gees before, because it’s so difficult to do and the voice harmonies are so difficult to do.”

They were up for the challenge, and as it turned out, they had just the right band members to fill the parts.

“So we had a look at it and we realized that Michael, our guitar player, could do falsetto, I was a piano player and I could sort of play Maurice’s parts, and everyone sort of slipped into the right roles. We rehearsed for a couple of months and then we booked a tour of Hong Kong — two weeks of shows in Hong Kong completely sold out. Every show that we did they were selling out and the show just sort of built and grew from there. The success just kept growing, so we knew we had something at that point.”

Learning all of the material and moves in the age before Internet proved to be a little more difficult, but the group kept at it, determined to emulate the Bee Gees experience.

“It took a long time, especially because back when we put the show together in ’96 there was no Internet so we had to buy books, buy records, buy VHS videos and just sit and watch their movements, watch their characteristics,” Hosking said. “So we studied them pretty closely. It’s a work in progress for us — we’re constantly honing the show and updating things. The harmonies were the hardest part, just how to get that falsetto, get that sound.”

The show features a chronology of the greatest hits, including “More Than A Woman,” “Night Fever,” “Stayin’ Alive” and “How Do You Mend A Broken Heart.” The Australian Bee Gees have captured the look, the sound and the personality that defines one of the most successful acts in musical history, mastering the enormous catalogue of the Bee Gees.

“Once we started rehearsing the stuff and realizing how prolific they are as songwriters and just how many hit songs they have, we realized that we had so much material to work with,” Hosking said. “I mean we could do two full shows with all new material — they’ve just got that many songs. That’s what people always say to us, ‘I just had no idea that the Bee Gees had that many songs that I remember.’”

Hosking said the most difficult song to perform is “Stayin’ Alive,” but his group put in the effort to be able to reproduce the song just as it should be.

“The production of the song ‘Stayin’ Alive’ in the studio is sort of renowned to be a production marvel,” he said. “The magic that happened to make it sound the way that it does, to get that groove, that push, is a really difficult thing to emulate live. So it’s a lot of work to make it right, if you want to play ‘Stayin’ Alive’ correctly. We make sure that we go down to the finest details to do so.”

Everything the Australian Bee Gees does is with attention to “the finest details.” On stage they become Maurice, Barry and Robin, from the vocals to the stage presence and costumes. And it has paid off with an 11-year residency at the Excalibur in Las Vegas, where they have played more than 3,000 shows thus far. Twice the group has been named Best Tribute Show in Las Vegas.

They are so popular that they have multiple casts to perform in Las Vegas and a touring company. The originals, Hosking and Clift will be coming to the Riverside Resort June 23-26, along with Alex Fetzko as Robin.

“We all love coming to Laughlin, we always make a holiday of it. We always make sure the primary cast comes and does Laughlin,” Hosking said. “I love the atmosphere and being on the water down there. The people are so friendly, it’s kind of a different world in Laughlin. We hire jet skis and we have some friends come up and visit us and it’s just a nice break for us.”

Hosking said guests can expect a multimedia show with video screens in the background and all of the Bee Gees hits through the years.

“If you were going to go to a Bee Gees concert, that’s the experience that we’re giving you,” he said.

For their costumes, they have updated to a modern take on the Bee Gees.

“If the Bee Gees were still performing now and they were on stage, what would you expect them to be wearing? That’s how we approach it,” Hosking said. “It’s loosely based on the ‘One Night Only’ concert movie where they’re all wearing black and Maurice is wearing a big long dragging coat, but we’ve modernized it a little bit.”

After 25 years, the Australian Bee Gees find that their show is just as popular as when they began, because people just love the music.

“It’s timeless. There’s not a lot of music today that’s being written that’s as timeless as the Bee Gees music is and that’s why they stayed so strong for so many years,” Hosking said. “It’s really kind of special now that it’s being passed on through generations. We get people who come to our show that bring their kids and the kids are mouthing all of the words to the songs. It’s really impressive to see. There’s a whole new generation of kids that are coming up having grown up listening to the Bee Gees, which is pretty awesome.”