Study Guide

Stayin' Alive

Stayin' Alive Introduction

In a Nutshell

You may not know the name of the band who did it, but we're going to bet you know the beat and the dance moves. The Bee Gees' "Stayin' Alive" is disco at its finest—or a musical abomination, depending on whom you ask.   

Nobody can deny, though, that the Bee Gees were a powerful force on the late-1970s charts. The three brothers who started out singing soft rock harmonies edged their way into the American consciousness with tracks bursting with energy and catchiness, and when "Stayin' Alive" made it onto the soundtrack of the movie that brought disco to the masses, Saturday Night Fever, it was all over. 

You won't be getting this song out of your head any time soon.

About the Song

ArtistBee Gees
Year1977
LabelRSO
Writer(s)Barry, Maurice, and Robin Gibb
Producer(s)Bee Gees, Albhy Galuten, Karl Richardson
Musician(s)Barry Gibb (vocals, guitar), Maurice Gibb (vocals, bass guitar), Robin Gibb (vocals), Dennis Bryon (drums), Alan Kendall (guitar), Blue Weaver (keyboard)
Learn to play
AlbumSaturday Night Fever

Music Video

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Influences on Bee Gees

The Beatles
Mills Brothers
Everly Brothers

Influenced by Bee Gees

Brit Daniel
Brian Wilson

Stayin' Alive Resources

Books

Melinda Bilyeu, Hector Cook, Andrew Mon Hughes, The Bee Gees: Tales of the Brothers Gibb (2000)
This is nice biography written by nice people about a group of nice guys. If you are a fan, you will love it. If you're looking for an analytically sharp look at the Bee Gees' contributions to music history, that book has not yet been written.

Alice Echols, Hot Stuff: Disco and the Remaking of American Culture (2010)
If you are interested more in disco from an historical and sociological point of view, read this book from American Studies professor and Janis Joplin biographer Alice Echols.

Albums

Bee Gees 1st (1967)
This was their first album released outside of Australia and New Zealand. It reached #7 on the American charts and illuminates the soft-pop early years that earned the Bee Gees a reputation as sort of Beatles Light. It includes the hit singles "Holiday," "New York Mining Disaster 1941," and "To Love Somebody."

Saturday Night Fever (1977)
Clear the dance floor, strap on the platforms, and either relive the excitement or try to figure out what it was all about. With more than 40 million copies sold, this remains the best-selling soundtrack of all time.

This is Where I Came In (2001)
This was the groups' last album before Maurice Gibb's death. They go back to their soft-pop roots in the title track.

Images

Long before the Bee Gees went disco
Barry, Maurice, and Robin as kids.

Disco in all its glory
Robin, Barry, and Maurice Gibb, c. 1977.

The signature move
John Travolta and Karen Lynn Gorney.

Movies & TV

Saturday Night Fever (1977)
Hear the Bee Gees and learn how to strut in this 1977 classic starring John Travolta.

Staying Alive (1983)
Haven't had enough? This sequel to Saturday Night Fever also starred Travolta and used music from the Bee Gees. But it was a bit late for disco; the film was ripped by the critics.

Bee Gees: This is Where I Came In (2000)
If you are a fan looking for a feel-good time, you'll enjoy this documentary, which is filled with interviews and performance footage. It's more of a love-fest than hard-hitting investigation.

Websites

Bee Gees Official Website
There isn't a lot here, but it does include links to individual members' websites.

Gibb Service International
This elaborate fansite offers just about everything you could imagine about the Gibb family, including an extensive family history, Barry Gibb's poetry, and special tribute pages to deceased family members Maurice and Andy Gibb.

Disco Dance Moves
Fancy giving disco a try? You can avoid embarrassment on the dance floor by learning a few basic disco steps here.

Video & Audio

"Stayin' Alive," studio version
The track from the album with a promotional video.

"Stayin' Alive," live version
The Bee Gees live in 1996.

The famous dance
Watch John Travolta in action in Saturday Night Fever.

Is this the first disco song?
Manu Dibango's 1972 hit "Soul Makossa."

"New York Mining Disaster 1941" (1967)
This is the Bee Gees' first American hit. It's a far cry from the songs that would bring them disco fame.