Barry Gibb reveals how his iconic falsetto voice came to him ‘in a dream’

8 September 2022, 11:48

Barry Gibb's falsetto became a trademark of the Bee Gees' sound.
Barry Gibb's falsetto became a trademark of the Bee Gees' sound. Picture: Getty

By Thomas Curtis-Horsfall

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Bee Gees star Barry Gibb's falsetto is synonymous with the golden era of disco music.

And it was the high-pitched vocal that pushed the legendary British pop trio Bee Gees to the top of the charts the world over.

Barry Gibb's iconic voice was very much the focal point of the Bee Gees' sound when they rose to critical and commercial fame with Saturday Night Fever, and beyond.

It certainly defined their sound from then onwards, as they evolved from a folk trio, to soft rock, to straight-up disco divas.

Introducing a falsetto into his vocals indicated the differing influences the Gibb brothers were beginning to take on board after moving from the UK to Miami in 1975.

It was certainly no accident or recording studio mishap, but rather some form of miracle or twist of fate.

Barry later revealed years after their astronomical success that his unique vocal change came to him "in a dream".

The Bee Gees are one of the biggest-selling acts in music history. (Photo by Michael Ochs Archives/Getty Images)
The Bee Gees are one of the biggest-selling acts in music history. (Photo by Michael Ochs Archives/Getty Images). Picture: Getty

Speaking on The Larry King Show in 2002, the legendary US broadcaster delves into the Bee Gees' epic career and their enormous successes through the years.

Clearly intrigued by Barry's iconic vocals, Larry King asks the brothers how his change in vocal happened and what influenced it.

"It came to me in a dream" replied Barry, sitting beside his two brothers Robin and Maurice only a year before Maurice would pass away.

"There was a request by Arif Mardin, who was like an uncle to us. He was a great record producer during the song 'Nights On Broadway,' for the Main Course album which is previous to the 'Fever' syndrome."

"And he said, 'Can any of you scream, scream in falsetto.' So, you know, give us an ad lib or a scream at the end."

He ends by saying: "So from screaming, it turned into things like, 'Blaming it all'."

Though Maurice had been harmonising in falsetto for many years prior, Mardin was reportedly stunned by the power of Barry's high-pitched voice.

As we now know, it became a trademark for the Bee Gees' music from then onwards.

Barry Gibb's falsetto became the Bee Gees' trademark. (Photo by Ed Perlstein/Redferns/Getty Images)
Barry Gibb's falsetto became the Bee Gees' trademark. (Photo by Ed Perlstein/Redferns/Getty Images). Picture: Getty

After introducing the falsetto to their sound, the trio left behind their previous iterations and focused firmly on the future.

The first single to feature Barry's unique new vocal was 'Nights On Broadway', which followed 'Jive Talkin'' in 1975 and marked a new era for the brothers.

Both tracks were considered a major "comeback" for the Bee Gees given they hadn't reached the top 10 of the Billboard Charts in the US for four years until then.

The Gibb brothers become one of the world's most beloved and successful bands only years later as they ushered in the disco boom with the soundtrack to Saturday Night Fever.

Now the Bee Gees stand as one of the biggest-selling acts in music history, with Barry Gibb sitting only second to Paul McCartney as the songwriter with most number one singles ever, either written or co-written.

No mean feat for a trio of brothers born on the Isle Of Man.