{From the archives – March 2, 1978} Bee Gees as the “Hottest record act in America”

From Globe-Democrat (March 2, 1978)

In March 1978, Robert Hilburn, music critic for Los Angeles Times spoke to Al Coury, then President of RSO Records, about the Bee Gees as the hottest record act in the U.S.A.

Here’s a quick summary:


 Hottest record act in America

When RSO Records chief Al Coury heard working tapes a year ago in Paris of theree new Bee Gees songs, he knew "Saturday Night Fever" had a chance to be more than a routine soundtrack album.


Realizing the exposure the LP would get from the film, he set some tough sales goals: A million albums and a Top 10 single.  That would put "Fever" in a class with "Rocky" and "Star Wars."
 Coury reached both goals before the picture opened.

 Since the film hit the theaters in December, he’s had to revise his projection several times.   The nation’s No. 1 album for eight weeks now, "Fever" was clearly aided by the film’s popularity.  But Coury and the album had a secret weapon – the Bee Gees.

AN ALL-BUT-FORGOTTEN pop property five years ago, Barry, Maurice and Robin Gibb – the Bee Gees – are now the hottest record act in America.  The success of "Fever" has dramatized the phenomenal ascension.

With five current Top 10 singles and its key role in the "Fever" LP, the Bee Gees are dominating the sales charts and AM radio in a way that appears unmatched since the Beatles arrived 14 years ago.
The record industry hasn’t even finished tallying the astonishing sales marks set in 1977 by Fleetwood Mac, but the brothers Gibb already are making them obsolete.  Fleetwood’s "Rumours" has sold upwards of a million copies since last spring; the Bee Gees-sparked "Saturday Night Fever" has sold nearly 6 million since November.  Courty now expects it could reach 10 to 12 miillion by Christmas.
At an average $8 discount price, the two record set ("Rumours" was a single disc) could hit the unprecedented $100 million plateau.  Paramount claims the film’s gross as of Monday to be $50 million.
COURY SMILES WHEN he think about his original sales projection: "When I was at Capitol Records, I worked on every Beatles album, (Pink Floyd’s) "Dark Side of the Moon," all the McCartney stuff … Some of the biggest albums in the history of this business.  But I’ve never seen anything take off like this.
"There’s no question in my mind: the Bee Gees are the biggest record act in America.  They are, in fact, their own competition. ‘Stayin’ Alive’ was No. 1 last week and the record they did with their brother Andy was No. 2 …"

 Some technicalities need to be pointed out.  Other groups’ music is also featured in the disco-soaked "Fever" sound track: KC and the Sunshine Band, the Trammps, Kool and the Gang, among others.
It’s the Bee Ges’ three new songs, however, that play the major musical roles in the film and have become the biggest singles hits.  The Bee Gees also wrote the only other song from the sound track currently in the Top 40; "If I Can’t Have You" (Recorded by Yvonne Elliman).

Another point.  The five Top 10 Bee Gees singles are not all techinically by the Bee Gees.  But Andy Gibb’s "Love Is Thicker Than Water" and Samantha Sang’s "Emotion" carry the stamp and sound of the trio.  Barry Gibb co-wrote and coproduced both records.

"OUR BIGGEST PREOBLEM is restraining them," says RSO’s Coury. "Everyone wants songs from them or wants Barry to produce their record.  We’ve got requests from every kind of aritst: pop, MOR, R and B, even country. But they just haven’t got time.
 They just finished the ‘Sgt. Pepper’s’ film.  Now, they’re in Miami working on younger brother Andy’s new album.  After that, they start working on their own new album.  At the end of the summer, they’re going on a big tour of America.

  All this success must be especially sweet for the Gibbs.  When they came on the pop scene a decade ago, their gently, melodic pop-rock was dismissed by many as simply an imitation of the softer side of the Beatles.  It was just one of the many career frustrations.
 HOWEVER AWKWARD THEY can be as performers and melodramatic as record makers, their songs have long been impressive.  Elvis Presley, Janis Joplin, Al Green and Sarah Vaughn are among the more than 200 singers who have recorded Bee Gees tunes.
THE FUTURE?  COMMCERCIALLY, it couldn’t be brighter for the Bee Gees.  With the added sales-exposure of the upcoming "Sgt. Pepper’s" film, the brothers’ U.S. tour should be their largest by far.
 Reduced five years ago to playing 3,000-seat halls, the Bee Gees had already bounced back in 1976 to 15,000 to 20,000-seat arenas.  This time they should be able to do two or three nights at those facilities.  (Robert Hilburn)

Well, aren’t we lucky because the Bee Gees toured Japan exactly five years before this article appeared in the U.S. press, giving us the opportunities to catch them in 2,000- to 3,000-seat halls across the nation?  I for one am glad that they were "reduced" at that time to playing at intimate venues. I’ve seen them both in huge outside arenas and stadiums and small, intimate concert halls.  Both were experiences of a lifetime, but if I could choose, I’d go for the latter any day.

{Bee Gees Days}

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