The Bee Gees: The Biography

The Bee Gees: The Biography

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by David N. Meyer

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The first narrative biography of the Bee Gees, the phenomenally popular vocal group that has sold more than 200 million records worldwide—sales in the company of the Beatles and Michael Jackson. The Bee Gees is the epic family saga of brothers Barry, Robin, and Maurice Gibb, and it’s riddled with astonishing highs—especially as they became…  See more details below


The first narrative biography of the Bee Gees, the phenomenally popular vocal group that has sold more than 200 million records worldwide—sales in the company of the Beatles and Michael Jackson. The Bee Gees is the epic family saga of brothers Barry, Robin, and Maurice Gibb, and it’s riddled with astonishing highs—especially as they became the definitive band of the disco era, fueled by Saturday Night Fever and crashing lows, including the tragic drug-fueled downfall of youngest brother, Andy. In recent years, a whole new generation of fans has rediscovered the undeniable grooves and harmonies that made the Bee Gees and songs like Stayin’ Alive, How Deep is Your Love, To Love Somebody, and I Started a Joke timeless.

Editorial Reviews

Publishers Weekly
This exhaustive biography takes the same approach to its subject as Meyer’s critically acclaimed bio of country-rock legend Gram Parsons (Twenty Thousand Roads): the author is a fan, but he doesn’t hesitate to be critical (“Give the Bee Gees a fashion period and they always chose the worst possible options”). Meyer covers the band’s entire career—from its founding in the late 1950s by eldest “Alpha” brother Barry to the deaths of his younger brothers Maurice and Robin in 2003 and 2012, respectively—and is excellent at describing the craft of all three members, especially Barry (“a human jukebox, pouring out material shaped by the sounds of the day or by his perception of what a song-writing client should be singing”). “Their collective singing and beautiful vibrato and their unique solo strengths,” says legendary producer Arif Mardin, were the main reasons for the phenomenal success of the Bee Gees’ songs on the Saturday Night Fever soundtrack. Meyer supports Robin Gibb’s prediction that while a lot of bad records were made in the disco era, “the Bee Gees’ songs hold up and will still be in the clubs in 2050.” (July)
From the Publisher
Publishers Weekly, 6/3/13
“[An] exhaustive biography…The author is a fan, but he doesn’t hesitate to be critical”, 7/16/13
“Meyer, a film aficionado and Gram Parsons biographer, makes a compelling case for one of the world’s best-selling (and most understood) bands…The author delves into exquisite detail…The Bee Gees: The Biography is a fascinating, historically significant retrospective of one of popular music’s most enduring—yet maligned—acts.”

Sunday Daily Mail (UK), 7/21/13
“By concentrating on the music, it might help give the Bee Gees the recognition as songwriters they so justly deserve.” 

Houston Press, 7/30/13
“Does what Meyer intended it to: restore some respect and luster to a family band whose music is incredibly ingrained in a lot of people's everyday listening, embodied with craftsmanship, and far more than just a ‘disco group.’”

Record Collector, 9/1/13
“[An] engrossing account of the life and times of the brothers Gibb… It’s an emotive read, celebrating some truly enduring music (a quarter of a billion sales can’t lie), while pondering where the band fit into a bigger showbiz picture.”

Kirkus Reviews
A valiant but unsatisfying effort to reappraise a band loved by the masses and loathed by critics. The Bee Gees, Manchester-born brothers Barry, Robin and Maurice Gibb, had been performing around Australia for nearly a decade before bursting onto the British scene in 1967 with the Beatles-esque lament "New York Mining Disaster 1941." Within a year, they rivaled their idols for top spots on charts around the world. Addictions and sibling rivalry between eldest (and arguably most talented) brother Barry and the more volatile Robin caused the band to implode within three years. After reconciling, the Gibbs scored a couple more hits (including "How Do You Mend a Broken Heart?") in the early 1970s before sinking briefly back into obscurity, only to resurface in a big way with a wholly new sound rooted in the subversive beats of disco with "You Should Be Dancing" (1975). With their association with the monster hit Saturday Night Fever, the Bee Gees never had to look back--at least as far as the public was concerned. Critics, however, have always considered them imitators and also-rans. Meyer (Twenty Thousand Roads: The Ballad of Gram Parsons and His Cosmic American Music, 2007, etc.) convincingly argues that the band innovated (e.g., by inventing the drum loop on their huge hit "Stayin' Alive") as much as they imitated. Oddly, his narrative stalls when the Bee Gees are on its stage, mainly since he quotes decades-old interviews by other journalists. The book comes alive when tracing the history of disco that led to the making of SNF and telling the tragic tale of the youngest Gibb, Andy, whose growing up in public foreshadowed the reality TV culture of today. Otherwise, the history drags and repeats itself. The Gibbs quotes and connecting narrative could have used a tighter edit. This inelegant argument won't change many minds among critics or the public.

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Da Capo Press
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The Bee Gees: The Biography 1 out of 5 based on 0 ratings. 2 reviews.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
This book is an outrageously poor attempt at truth. I pre-ordered this book in hot anticipation, hoping for a neatly packaged, all grounds covered, Bee Gees biography.  When the book arrived I began to read it ravenously only to discover that even in the very beginnings of the book, the tone was degrading, opinions were thrown around  and presented as facts and the author, David N. Meyer, had the gall to say that the brothers Gibb's father was abusive, and more or less forced the boys into the spotlight,  which according to every other source from and about the Bee Gees and those close to them is fiercely contradicted. Throughout the book, countless names are misspelled,  including Davy Jones of the Monkees, and Barry's wife, Linda. Even the most casual "researcher" could manage to at least get basic names spelled correctly. Several quotes from people are reused and recycled, from chapter to chapter, creating a sense that the author was grasping for material. Meyer seemed to convey a clear preference  for Barry, which is most unprofessional in a publication that was produced to showcase the group as a whole. Meyer contradicts himself several times by complimenting the Bee Gees than  immediately criticizing them for as something as superficial as clothing choice. At the end of the book, Meyer provides a wimpy paragraph dedicated to Barry's first public appearance after Robin's death at the Grand Ole Opry. Judging by his presentation of the performance, it seems as if Meyer merely pulled up the clips from YouTube and based his opinion solely on that. Barry was far from emotionless and robotic as Meyer suggests. I should know- I was there front and center. Barry was incredibly humble and in awe of the atmosphere and being granted to guest on such a hallowed stage to which many die hard country fans might have scorned his appearance on. Overall, I feel the book was sadly constructed and researched for, by an author just writing a biography of a group for the sake of it. I find it quite interesting that it should be published so near after Robin's passing. Perhaps to cash in on the expected Bee Gees' revival from such a tragedy? This publication feels cheap in writing, bitter, and ill informed on the facts. The only redeeming quality was perhaps the nice photos on the inside and the cover. But besides that, I 'm sorely disappointed. I would hate for Barry to read such a nauseating piece of writing.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Yo yo bee gees are epic dont u dare say that chizz againi