How the Bee Gees Changed the Title of ‘Saturday Night Fever’

Lots of bands and artists have created music for films. Sometimes, a film becomes an integral part of a band’s career. For example, the Bee Gees became closely associated with Saturday Night Fever.

The classic drama Saturday Night Fever captured the zeitgeist of the disco era in a way few films have. The Bee Gees’ music features prominently in the film. Surprisingly, the band had some say in the final title of the movie.

The Bee Gees | Michael Ochs Archives/Getty Images

How the Bee Gees got involved with ‘Saturday Night Fever’

Saturday Night Fever helped to make the Bee Gees a permanent part of pop culture. It’s impossible to understand the band’s history without understanding the film. However, the Bee Gees weren’t looking to be involved in the project. Their manager, Robert Stigwood asked them to write music for the film.

Bee Gees member Maurice Gibb told the Los Angeles Times “We weren’t looking at ‘Fever’ as a career vehicle. We just got caught up in the Robert Stigwood syndrome: Anyone he managed he also wanted involved in his film projects, as opposed to keeping them separate, and I think we got blinded by that. He asked for three songs, we gave him three songs off what would have been our next studio album.”

“Stayin’ Alive” by the Bee Gees

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Barry Gibb, another member of the group, said the band wrote music for Saturday Night Fever even though they had no knowledge of the film’s plot. “We didn’t know what the film was about. We didn’t know there was a conflict of images which could perhaps hurt us later on. In those days, you didn’t think too much about images.”

According to AllMusic, the band ultimately performed six songs on the film’s soundtrack: “Night Fever,” “How Deep Is Your Love,” “More Than a Woman,” “You Should Be Dancing,” “Jive Talkin'” and “Stayin’ Alive.” The latter song become the band’s calling card. It’s widely associated with the film’s opening scene, where John Travolta’s character struts to the rhythm of the song.

How the Bee Gees changed the film — and made music history

Promotional material for Saturday Night Fever | Paramount/Getty Images

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The Billboard Book of Number 1 Hits reports Stigwood was originally going to call the film Saturday Night. The Bee Gees disliked the title. They had already written a track called “Night Fever,” but Stigwood wasn’t keen on naming the film Night Fever. Eventually, Stigwood came up with a title that served as a compromise: Saturday Night Fever.

The film is a classic and its soundtrack became a gigantic hit. According to Mental Floss, the Saturday Night Fever soundtrack sold over 15 million copies in the United States, making it the most successful soundtrack released up to that point. Barry said the album’s cover had something to do with those sales numbers. “If our picture hadn’t been on the front of the album, I’m sure it would have been a different story.” The Bee Gees were the most famous of the artists who contributed to the soundtrack and putting them on the album cover was apparently a smart move.

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