Bee Gees stayin' alive

Singer Barry Gibb performing Stayin' Alive during the taping of the Stayin' Alive: A Grammy Salute to the Music of the Bee Gees in Los Angeles, California, US, on Feb 14, 2017.
Singer Barry Gibb performing Stayin' Alive during the taping of the Stayin' Alive: A Grammy Salute to the Music of the Bee Gees in Los Angeles, California, US, on Feb 14, 2017.PHOTO: REUTERS

LOS ANGELES • It's only words, and words are all I have to take your heart away - the Bee Gees promised in their 1968 hit.

On Sunday, in a tribute television show in the United States, this and other evocative lines in the band's hits were also interpreted by a host of top names in Stayin' Alive: A Grammy Salute To The Music Of The Bee Gees.

The words found a receptive ear, with the show drawing the second-highest TV audience in the US for the week ended April 16, with more than 10 million people tuning in, said tracker Nielsen.

That dispelled any thoughts that while the Gibb brothers (Barry, Robin and Maurice), who started their Bee Gees career in 1958, were big worldwide, they were not much of a top draw in the US, save for their disco venture in the mega- selling Saturday Night Fever soundtrack in 1977.

On the Sunday show, the musicians paying homage to them included younger stars such as Demi Lovato and Ed Sheeran. They joined older acts such as Keith Urban, Celine Dion, Stevie Wonder and Barry himself.

According to media reports, Urban's take on To Love Somebody stole the most viewers' hearts.

Bee Gees have sold more than 220 million albums globally and were inducted into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame in 1997.

The tribute show was also lit up with a cappella group Pentatonix's rendition of Too Much Heaven.

Barry, 70, the sole surviving member of the trio, was the first in the audience to be up on his feet to give his approval. Maurice died of a tangled intestine in 2003, aged 53, and Robin died of cancer in 2012, aged 62.

Dion, who sang Immortality which the Bee Gees had written for her 20 years ago, said: "I sing it with love for Barry and in memory of Robin, Maurice... as well as for my husband."

Her husband, music producer Rene Angelil, died last year.

A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on April 21, 2017, with the headline 'Bee Gees stayin' alive'. Print Edition | Subscribe