The Bee Gees
David N. Meyer
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Buy *The Bee Gees: The Biography* by David N. Meyeronline

The Bee Gees: The Biography
David N. Meyer
Da Capo Press
416 pages
July 2013
rated 4 of 5 possible stars

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This is the tale of one of history's most successful and creative bands. Emerging in the 1960s, they brought together unique harmonies and instrumentation that sounded like no one else. But the Bee Gees, like so many other bands of that era, fell beneath the long shadow cast by The Beatles, and it would be a blanket they'd be forever trying to throw off. With the success of Saturday Night Fever, they'd become arguably the most popular band in the world but everything that goes up must come down. Author David N. Meyer chronicles both the rise and descent of Australia's most famous sons.

Very early on, it became apparent that Barry Gibb--the eldest brother--was the alpha male. He got the looks and the personality, and fraternal twins Maurice and Robin would forever be foot soldiers carrying out the orders of General Barry. It would cause friction and splinters as well as drug and alcohol addictions.

All of that is detailed here. Meyer is a fine writer who has done a lot of research, though (similar in style to most biographies) he has not personally interviewed the very subjects about whom he's writing. The author obviously loves the band, and there's nothing wrong with that. Writing a book is a painstaking undertaking, and if you don't truly admire and/or even adore the people you're writing about, why write the book at all?

There are some minor problems in Meyer's hyperbolic statements. In a statement about the band's wonderful song "To Love Somebody," he makes this comment:

If you gathered the top songwriters of 1967, locked them in a room and told them to write a song for Otis (Redding), none of them--Sly Stone, bob Dylan, Smokey Robinson, Carole King, Paul Simon, Booker T., Laura Nyro, Brian Wilson, Lennon and McCartney, Leonard Cohen, Holland-Dozier-Holland, Lou Reed, Randy Dixon, Norman Whitfield or Neil Young--could have written a song as soulful, yearning, memorable and yet so attuned, for emotion and commerce, to Otis's voice, breathing, timing and performance style. Maybe Van Morrison could have, back then. But nobody else.

It's a preposterous statement bordering on the insane. For starters, Otis covered a litany of Beatles' songs, including "Day Tripper," "A Hard Day's Night" and others. It's simply a ridiculous thing to say.

Additionally, Meyer says that the Bee Gees were the first band to use a drum loop in their music (for the Saturday Night Fever soundtrack). This is not true. The Beatles were using loops as far back as "Tomorrow Never Knows," which pre-dates SNF by many years.

Still, it's a fun book, and you'll discover what this band really went through. Definitely worth checking out.

Originally published on Curled Up With A Good Book at Steven Rosen, 2013

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