Bee Gees

Tunes on Tuesday

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If you have ever been to a superstore, I'm sure you've noticed the music piped through the building. Maybe popular music of a decade ago or instrumental interpretations of your favorite tunes from the 1960s can be heard wherever you are. If you're lucky, it remains in the background.  But, if you notice it it may stick with you all day.  The American Treasure Tour is also always playing music, but ours is definitely NOT pumped in.  Our mechanical musical machines (nickelodeons, band organs, dance hall organs and music boxes) actually play instruments using complex and fascinating devices we won't even begin to try to explain here.  While some of the many songs you can hear here may be new to you, much of it is iconic.  Today, the blog is going to honor one of the songs currently echoing through my head:  "Alexander's Ragtime Band."

The famous songwriter Irving Berlin wrote this song in 1910, and it became his first major hit the next year. He never conclusively explained his inspiration for it, so there's only conjecture today, but it is believed that he wrote it in honor of a man named Alexander Joseph "King" Watzke, a musician from New Orleans, and one of the first white bandleaders to popularize the new African-American ragtime sound.  Watzke's career peaked between 1904 and 1911. There is an argument that Berlin may have borrowed from Scott Joplin in creating the song, but ultimately the credit went to Berlin and to Emma Carus, a famous vaudeville performer for whom "Alexander's Ragtime Band" became her signature song. That is not to say other singers didn't embrace the catchy tune, too.  In fact, dozens of artists have recorded their own renditions of it over the more than a century since it was first published, including Louis Armstrong, Bing Crosby, Ella Fitzgerald and, of course, the Bee Gees.  

Andy Gibb

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QUESTION:  Andy Gibb had four siblings, including older brother Barry.  Who of the following was not one of them?
A)  Maurice
B)  Lesley
C)  Cynthia
D)  Robin

Anyone with an appreciation for the music of the seventies has definitely heard of the Gibb brothers.  Three of them would become international superstars in their own band, called the Bee Gees.  The Bee Gees formed in 1958, the same year their younger brother Andy was born. He was nine years old when they had their first number one hit called "Massachusetts," in their native United Kingdom.  It wouldn't be until 1971 before they reached number one in the United States, with "How Can You Mend a Broken Heart."  Andy was thirteen. Their star dominated the musical skies by 1977, when their soundtrack to the film Saturday Night Fever proved disco would last forever.  By that time, Andy had been the lead singer of a few different bands. None of them took off, but his solo career did.  With the help of older brother Barry, Andy released his first record, Flowing Rivers, which included his "I Just Want to Be Your Everything" and garnered the youngest Gibb some positive attention.

Andy's second album, the subject of today's blog, is called Shadow Dancing. It came out in April 1978, by which time he had become a teen heart throb.  It would be his hugest success. The songs were all written by Andy and his three brothers and gave Gibb four top-twenty hits. Andy would only record one more album - 1980's After Dark - prior to his untimely death at the age of thirty. Some diagnoses of Gibb's death claimed he died of natural causes, although it is likely his heart failed in part due to complications from years of cocaine abuse. Sadly, of the four Gibb brothers, only the oldest, Barry, remains with us today, but we have their music with us always.  Come to the American Treasure Tour and admire Andy's sophomore album, displayed on our vinyl wall in the Music Room.

ANSWER:  C)  Cynthia.  

The Bee Gees - August 28, 2014

Forty-three years ago, the Bee Gees had their first number one hit in the U.S. with “How Can You Mend a Broken Heart.” The band, consisting of brothers Barry, Robin, and Maurice, experienced some success as singers/songwriters in the 1960s, especially in Australia and their native England. They took off like a rocket, however, when they turned to disco in the mid-1970s. They wrote half of the songs on the blockbuster soundtrack to Saturday Night Fever and five of the six songs they sang became number one hits: “Stayin’ Alive,” “How Deep is Your Love,” “Night Fever,” “Jive Talkin’,” and “You Should Be Dancing.” “More Than a Woman” peaked at 32. The Bee Gee’s-penned “If I Can’t Have You” was a number one hit for Yvonne Elliman.

Who doesn't love a gold   lamé outfit? Shirts optional. 

Who doesn't love a gold lamé outfit? Shirts optional. 


A Bee Gee’s song has been adopted by the American Heart Association to assist those performing hands-only CPR (as opposed to including mouth-to-mouth resuscitation). Humming which song allows chest compressions at the recommended speed and rhythm?

a)   “Night Fever”

b)   “Jive Talkin’”

c)    “You Should Be Dancing”

d)   “Stayin’ Alive”

Answer below!


Check out the very groovy pre-disco Bee Gees in all their 1971 finery performing “How Can You Mend a Broken Heart.”


Well, you can tell by the way I use my walk,

I'm a woman's man: no time to talk.

Music loud and women warm, I've been kicked around

Since I was born.

And now it's all right. It's OK.

And you may look the other way.

We can try to understand

The New York Times' effect on man.


Whether you're a brother or whether you're a mother,

You're stayin' alive, stayin' alive.

Feel the city breakin' and everybody shakin',

And we're stayin' alive, stayin' alive.

Ah, ha, ha, ha, stayin' alive, stayin' alive.

Ah, ha, ha, ha, stayin' alive.

~The Bee Gees, “Stayin’ Alive”


Of course we have the Saturday Night Fever soundtrack! Think you can find it among our thousands of records?

Of course we have the Saturday Night Fever soundtrack! Think you can find it among our thousands of records?


The Bee Gees had nine Billboard Hot 100 singles to reach number one. They rank third after The Supremes with 12 and The Beatles with 20.


d) “Stayin’ Alive” can help you stay alive! The song’s upbeat tempo is 103 beats per minute, the perfect rate for CPR.

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Air Supply - April 10, 2014

The primary purpose of the American Treasure Tour blog, besides addressing all of the wonderful things the American Treasure Tour has to offer that need to be seen and experienced, is to enlighten and inform.  The illustrious group of researchers who compile this daily source of valuable information strives to inspire you, as well as to connect you with our collection.  Create a collection connection, as it were.  Today, we hope to offer insight into another album on our Music Room wall, and one of the most significant cultural imports this country has ever received from down under:  the Australian band Air Supply.

Way back in 1975, two men met while performing in the rock opera Jesus Christ Superstar.  Graham Russell and Russell Hitchcock had a gift with soft rock, and they began to write and record songs together immediately. Over the years, they would hire studio musicians or enlist band members, but Air Supply was always about Russell and Hitchcock.  They released four albums, none of which did exceptionally well, before Rod Stewart invited them to open for him during an Australian concert tour.  Then, he brought them to the States.  In 1980, they released their album Lost in Love, and their melodic songs of love and loss were played on practically every radio station in the country, including one of their biggest hits, "All Out of Love." They have sold more than 100 million albums in over four decades, and are still going strong.  Their seventeenth studio album, Mumbo Jumbo, was released in 2010.


Which member of the famous Australian band Bee Gees produced and performed on Air Supply's third album, 1979's Life Support?

a)  Andy Gibb

b)  Barry Gibb

c)  Maurice Gibb

d)  Robin Gibb

e)  Michael Jackson

Answer Below


There are so many anniversaries - big and small - that occur on any given day that our blog writers often find themselves in serious turmoil trying to decide what deserves a special call out. Today, we will focus on two "firsts."  The first first is from 1866.  Inspired by the example of English humanitarians, New York City native Henry Bergh established the American Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals - the first humane society in all of North America.  Up to this point, no advocacy groups existed in the country to serve in the best interest of animals of any kind. Bergh's first focus was on the cruelty of cockfighting, but he and his Society quickly began addressing other challenges to humane treatment of animals from the tiniest pet to the toughest warhorse.  Thank you Mr. Bergh!

Our second first - one maybe more novel but not nearly as important as our first first - celebrates the premier of the first color 3-D movie ever produced in the United States: the 1953 classic House of Wax starred Vincent Price, Carolyn Jones (of The Addams Family fame) and a very young Charles Bronson, credited as Charles Buchinsky. It proved to be a massive success, and revitalized Vincent Price's career as well as the inspiration for many other 3-D films before the fad waned only a few years later.  3-D would not become popular again until the 1980s, and is currently enjoying its third major resurrection now.  We would include the plot of House of Wax in the blog, but feel it is in your best interest to watch the film yourself.  Just be careful not to watch alone - it could prove very scary!


We just talked about his involvement in securing a pedestal for the Statue of Liberty for New York Harbor yesterday, so it is only fitting that we celebrate the birth today (in 1847) of Joseph Pulitzer.  Born in an isolated Hungarian town, he enlisted in the Union Army during the American Civil War as a way to get his way to Boston paid by military recruiters.  After the war, life was rough going.  He lived in abject poverty and was often homeless as he read voraciously and taught himself English.  Then, he wrote an article about an unfortunate incident when he was scammed out of what little money he had.  The article was published, his skills as a reporter recognized, and Pulitzer's newspaper career began. By the 1880s he had become a rich man and the owner of multiple newspapers, including the New York World.  He and William Randolph Hearst competed bitterly for readership, often inspiring controversy over their techniques.  Pulitzer became a newspaper man through and through, though, and his name has since become associated with the Pulitzer Prize, given to excellence in journalism.

Eight days ago, we honored the birth of Jack Webb, Dragnet's Joe Friday. Today, we would be remiss if we did not celebrate his 1960s tv-partner Bill Gannon, played by Harry Morgan. Morgan, born Harry Bratsberg in Detroit, Michigan, 1915, had already been an accomplished film actor before taking on Dragnet, starring in such films as The Ox-Bow Incident, High Noon, and Inherit the Wind before his three year run as Friday's partner began in 1967.  Of course, he is mostly remembered for his portrayal of character Sherman Potter during his eight years (1975 to 1983) with the popular sitcom M*A*S*H, and it's not quite so popular spin-off AfterM*A*S*H.  A veteran of over 100 movies and some very popular television shows, Harry Morgan died in 2011 at the age of 93.


The power to mould the future of the Republic will be in the hands of the journalists of future generations. - Joseph Pulitzer

Answer:  b)  Barry Gibb.  Actually, the Bee Gees only consisted of Barry, Maurice and Robin. Andy had a solo career that ended with his untimely death at age 30 in 1988.  Michael Jackson was a member of the Jackson 5, and went on to a distinguished solo career that ended with his untimely death at age 50 in 2009.  Maurice died in 2003 at the age of 53 and Robin died in 2012 at the age of 62.  Which means Barry is the only one left.  May he stay with us for many more years to come!