The Day The Bee Gees Wrote Three Billboard Number One Hits

Talk about a good day’s work. According to Songfacts, the Bee Gees were on a break from filming the ill-fated Sgt. Pepper’s Lonely Hearts Club Band movie. On one afternoon, Barry, Robin, and Maurice Gibb wrote two of the Bee Gees’ Billboard number one hits: Too Much Heaven and Tragedy. That evening, the brothers composed Shadow Dancing for their younger brother, Andy Gibb. Shadow Dancing also went to the top of the Billboard chart.

In contrast to “Too Much Heaven’s” almost miraculous conception, the gestation of the recording took longer than other Bee Gees tracks of the same period. This is not surprising when you learn that the finished song had an incredible nine layers of three-part harmony. That’s right, there are 27 voices on the song, with the distinctive high falsetto layers higher in the mix. There were four high falsetto layers: one was three takes of Barry’s lead, the rest featured all three Bee Gees. Let’s watch:

Isn’t it great to see the Bee Gees in their prime, remastered in HD, without the blurry, washed-out look of many vintage music videos? The Bee Gees debuted “Too Much Heaven” at The Music for UNICEF’s “A Gift of Song” Concert in January 1979. “Music for UNICEF” was the brainchild of the Bee Gees, their manager Robert Stigwood, and British television personality David Frost. ABBA (Chiquitita) and the Bee Gees (Too Much Heaven) lip-synched. The event was broadcast the day after the concert and an LP was released.

“Too Much Heaven” soon appeared on “Spirits Having Flown,” the 13th Bee Gees album (February 1979). The song, the lead single from the LP, knocked Chic’s “Le Freak” off the top of the Billboard chart for a fortnight until the seminal Chic track regained the top spot. As “Music Man” readers know, “Too Much Heaven” was a hit around the world. I wonder how many “Music Man” readers remember the song that the Bee Gees wrote for their brother on the evening of the day they wrote three #1s? Here is Andy Gibb.

Interestingly, “Shadow Dancing” opens with the line “You got me looking at that heaven in your eyes.” Who was the heavenly person who inspired the Gibbs on such lyrical flights? According to American Songwriter, Barry Gibb was the primary songwriter of these tracks. Barry was married to his second wife, former Miss Edinburgh Linda Gray, at the time. They married in 1970 and are still together.

Andy Gibb died in 1988 after a much-publicized battle with addiction. In 2020, Barry Gibb told The Guardian that he witnessed the impact of fame on his brothers. “My brothers had to deal with their demons, but I was married to a lady who wasn’t going to have it. She never allowed me to go in that direction. I had to deal with my brothers being pretty much out there, but I was lucky.”

Barry Gibb and Linda Gray have four sons, a daughter, and seven grandchildren. Thanks to Linda, of all his brothers, Barry was the Gibb who found a little bit of heaven on earth.

If you’re a fan of the Bee Gees and want to see more of their timeless hits and performances, be sure to follow their journey on their official YouTube Channel. You can also stay up-to-date with their latest news and posts on their Facebook and Instagram pages. To delve deeper into the world of Bee Gees, visit their website.

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