The Bee Gees
he June 7, 1976, issue of New York magazine featured an illustration of a Manhattan crowd dancing the night away. The headline underneath the magazine's logo read, "Tribal Rites of the New Saturday Night by Nik Cohn."
"About six months before that story was published, Nik came to me," Robert Stigwood revealed in the Bee Gees' authorized biography, written by David Leaf. "I'd known him from his days in England. He told me he wanted to write a movie, or write a story for a movie, so I said, 'O.K. If you have an idea, come and see me again and we'll talk about it.' Six months later, I picked up New York magazine and saw this cover story and Nik's name. So I immediately read it. And I thought, 'This is a wonderful film subject.' So I called Nik up and said, 'You're crazy. You come to me about writing a story for a picture. This is it.' And I made a deal with his agent in 24 hours to acquire the rights."
"We never saw any script," Barry said in Leaf's biography. "(Robert) said, 'It's about a bunch of guys that live in New York.'" The first song written after Stigwood's call was "How Deep Is Your Love," but it was meant for Yvonne Elliman, not the film. The Bee Gees were not even aware of a love scene in the film, but Stigwood heard the song and was adamant the Bee Gees record it themselves.
Stigwood arrived at the Chateau a couple of weeks later and gave the brothers a very rough, verbal outline of the film's story. He stressed it was about a young guy who lives for Saturday night, when he can spend his weekly wages and go dancing. "So that's all we knew, except it was John Travolta playing the part," Maurice Gibb explained in the Bee Gees' biography. "We'd done 'If I Can't Have You' and 'How Deep Is Your Love' and we were thinking to ourselves, 'Wow! A disco film. Let's get into some good disco songs.' It took about two-and-a-half weeks to write them and put them down as demos. When Robert heard them, he said, 'You hit the nail right on the spot. That's perfect.'"
The Bee Gees remained in France while the film -- titled Saturday Night Fever -- was in production in the States. When Stigwood left the Chateau, he took with him the rough mixes of the songs that would be used in the picture as is.
"How Deep Is Your Love" was the first single issued from the soundtrack, prior to the actual release of the film. It entered the Billboard Hot 100 at number 83 on September 24, 1977, and moved into the number one position (for three weeks) 13 weeks later, on Dec. 24. It remained in the top 10 for 17 consecutive weeks, the longest run of any single since the Hot 100 was initiated on August 8, 1958.
- Fred Bronson, The Billboard Book of Number One Hits, Billboard, 1988.
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