10 incredible cover versions of Bee Gees songs

31 August 2022, 13:52

Take That and George Michael covered the Bee Gees
Take That and George Michael covered the Bee Gees. Picture: Getty/RSO

By Thomas Curtis-Horsfall

The Bee Gees knew how to craft the perfect pop song.

And throughout their illustrious career, the Bee Gees wrote a host of the greatest songs in the history of pop music.

They're arguably the defining pop act of the 1970s given the universal success of the soundtrack to Saturday Night Fever.

But leading up to that they'd already written an assembly line of pop, folk, and funk classics that ended up as huge chart hits.

In the decade after they pinned disco music on the mainstream map, Barry, Robin and Maurice took a back seat and wrote a swathe of iconic songs for the likes of Diana Ross, Barbra Streisand, Dolly Parton and Kenny Rogers, Dionne Warwick and more.

There was seemingly no end to their talent, and numerous superstars through the years reaped the rewards.

Rather than the Gibbs simply donating their talent to others, there's a long list of artists that have decided to cover the work of the Bee Gees because of their songwriting mastery.

We've listed the 10 incredible cover versions of Bee Gees' tracks that showcase their diversity, their prowess, and the fact that the Gibbs' songs were meant for everyone.

1. Nina Simone - 'To Love Somebody'

Nina Simone: To Love Somebody

One of jazz music's most singular and distinctive voices, if Nina Simone covers a song she makes it entirely her own.

That was the case with her 1969 cover of 'To Love Somebody', which she also used for the album's title track.

It was a superb fit for Nina. The song was initially written for Otis Redding - though he ultimately didn't record it before his untimely death - but Simone elevated the gospel feel and heartfelt soul to another level.

2. Bruce Springsteen - 'Stayin' Alive'

Bruce Springsteen - "Stayin' Alive" (Brisbane, 02/26/14)

Bruce Springsteen and the E Street Band's live performances are regularly strewn with excellent cover versions of varying origin.

Knowing this, fans at his concerts will often hold up signs requesting certain tracks, and 'The Boss' and his band work out how to play it there and then.

This happened with his 2014 performance of 'Stayin' Alive' in Brisbane, Australia – the location of one of the Gibb brothers first performances at the Redcliffe Speedway in 1959.

In tribute, Bruce transformed the iconic hip-shaker into a trademark, triumphant fist-pumper.

3. Tavares - 'More Than A Woman'

Tavares - More Than A Woman (Capitol Records 1977)

Having already achieved a handful of charts hits, the Bee Gees deemed Tavares the perfect group to cover their classic 'More Than A Woman' for Saturday Night Fever.

As the millions of people who bought the soundtrack and saw the film figured out, there were two versions used - one by Tavares and one by the Bee Gees themselves.

This was because re-shoots during the film's production meant that the Tavares version was out of sync with certain scenes so the Gibb brothers' original was used.

However, we can still say that the five Rhode Island brothers inspired one of the most famous dance scenes in film history.

4. Take That - ‘How Deep Is Your Love’

Take That - How Deep Is Your Love (Official Video)

Take That helped bring the Bee Gees' songs to an entirely new generation of pop addicts in 1996 with a cover of 'How Deep Is Your Love'.

The song - which also originally featured on the soundtrack to Saturday Night Fever - was included as the lead single from their first Greatest Hits compilation.

Their recording was also rather poignant, given the impending break-up of the group after Robbie Williams departed, meaning it was their final chart-topping hit. Until their reunion that is...

5. Pet Shop Boys - 'I Started A Joke'

Pet Shop Boys - I Started a Joke

'I Started A Joke' is one of the Bee Gees' most enduring - and most covered songs - within their entire catalogue.

Likely because of the quietly pained emotion that it exudes, it perfectly fit the almost choirboy-like vocal of Pet Shop Boys' frontman Neil Tennant.

The electronic pop duo chose to cover the song in tribute to Robin who succumbed to cancer in 2012, as he was one of the pop music lyricists they most connected with.

Barry is often considered the 'main man' when it comes to the Bee Gees' songwriting, but if sheer volume of covers mean anything, Robin's songs resonate just as widely.

6. Dean Martin - 'Sweetheart'

Dean Martin - Sweetheart

Rat Pack crooner Dean Martin even had a whirl at covering the Bee Gees in 1971 for his covers-only album For the Good Times.

Dean Martin does what Dean Martin does best with his rendition, adding big band backing and swooning appeal to the Gibb's folky favourite.

When I say "the Gibb brothers", 'Sweetheart' was recorded during the period when Robin left the group, which probably explains why the album it featured on was oddly titled Cucumber Castle.

7. Candi Staton - 'Nights On Broadway'

Candi Staton ~ Nights on Broadway

'Nights On Broadway' was the Bee Gees first foray into the legendary disco-funk sound that they popularised, featuring Barry's soon-to-be focal point falsetto.

Scoring a No.1 hit single for the boys upon its 1975 release, Candi Staton jumped on the track's potential two years later in 1977.

Recording a version with far more street-strutting soul, it pushes the song's jubilant qualities to the forefront and in turn transforming the song's sentiment into one of celebration on a night out.

8. Al Green - 'How Can You Mend A Broken Heart’

Al Green - How Can You Mend a Broken Heart (Official Audio)

Al Green possessed one of the smoothest voices in soul music history, and he lent it to 'How Can You Mend A Broken Heart' in 1972.

Featuring on the same album as the iconic 'Let's Stay Together', Al Green truly made the song his own.

That's likely why Barry, Robin, and Maurice would perform the song using Green's arrangement from then onwards.

9. Boogie Box High (George Michael) – 'Jive Talkin'

Boogie Box High - Jive Talkin' (Official Video)

Released in 1987, Boogie Box High revitalised the Bee Gees' 1975 track 'Jive Talkin' as the feel-good hit of the summer.

The catchy bop, complete with squishing synths, in fact had an incredibly soulful and familiar voice at the helm: the one and only George Michael.

Boogie Box High was the project of George's long-time friend (regularly mistaken as his cousin) Andros Georgiou who convinced him to lend his superstar vocal.

Due to contractual issues, he went uncredited, but it was a taster of what was possible when George and the Bee Gees combined.

10. Janis Joplin - 'To Love Somebody'

Janis Joplin - To love somebody

If there was one quality Janis Joplin would bring to each of her performances, it was a lot of heart. In abundance.

That's what she lent to her cover of 'To Love Somebody', which is widely considered as the definitive cover version from anyone who has taken on a song of the Bee Gees.

When her gravelly, soul-shattering vocal raises the roof, you can tell every word of every lyric pours straight from her heart despite her not having written it.

That's the power of music: how words can connect with people from all walks of life and languages, and that's precisely why the music of the Bee Gees is so beloved.