Compiled by: Bill Oakes

Track listing: Stayin’ Alive / How Deep Is Your Love [Bee Gees] / If I Can’t Have You [Yvonne Elliman] / A Fifth of Beethoven [Walter Murphy] /Jive Talkin’ [Bee Gees] / Klee [M. F S. B.] / Calypso Breakdown [Ralph MacDonald] / More Than a Woman [Tavares] / Night Fever [Bee Gees] / Boogie Shoes [K.C. & the Sunshine Band] / Disco Inferno [The Trammps] / You Should Be Dancing [Bee Gees] / Open Sesame [Kool & the Gang] / More Than a Woman [Bee Gees] / Manhattan Skyline / Night on Disco Mountain / Salsation [David Shire]

Saturday Night Fever

January 21, 1978
24 weeks

Al Coury will never forget the day he received a call at his New York hotel room from Robert Stigwood. At the time, Coury was an executive at Capitol Records and Stigwood was attempting to woo him to his recently established RSO Records. “He called me and told me to go down to the lobby and pick up New York magazine with an article by Nik Cohn in it called ‘Tribal Rites of Saturday Night.’ I went down to the lobby to get it and he called me back and said, ‘I’m going to take that story and make a movie and you are going to have the biggest soundtrack ever.’ ”

Stigwood’s predictions were not too far off the mark. Saturday Night Fever topped Billboard’s Top Pop Albums chart for a whopping 24 weeks and spawned four Number One singles: the Bee Gees’ “How Deep Is Your Love,” “Night Fever,” and “Stayin’ Alive,” and Yvonne Elliman’s “If I Can’t Have You.”

According to Coury, a large part of the success was due to the unique collaborative effort between Stigwood’s record and film companies. “We were part of the same company,” he says. “We worked hand in hand. There wasn’t some big corporate umbrella we had to pierce.”

Then, of course, there was the music. The Bee Gees would serve as the centerpiece of Saturday Night Fever, performing six of the album’s 17 tracks and penning “If I Can’t Have You” for Elliman. Two versions of “More Than a Woman” would be included — the Bee Gees’ original and a remake by another group of brothers known as Tavares. Also included were “Disco Inferno” by the Trammps, “Boogie Shoes” by K.C. & the Sunshine Band, and “A Fifth of Beethoven” by Walter Murphy.

By 1977, the Bee Gees were primed for major success. After a slump in the early ’70s, the Gibb brothers racked up several hits, including Number Ones “Jive Talkin’ ” and “You Should Be Dancin’,” both of which would be included on Saturday Night Fever. The movie would also inspire new material such as “Stayin’ Alive” and “Night Fever.”

The Bee Gees recorded the new material for the soundtrack at Chateau D’Herouville in France. Stigwood, who had managed the group since 1967, guided the sessions with the film in mind. “Robert would tell them what the scene was about and what tempo and rhythm to use and the boys would write it the way they he wanted it.”

Says Coury, “The music was so strong and it perfectly suited what it was depicting. It became one of the major stars of the film.” Yet Saturday Night Fever was more than just a soundtrack — it was the ultimate disco album, taking a pulsating beat and subculture that grew out of the urban gay nightclub scene to middle America. Ironically, the album’s incredible popularity also led to a backlash that ultimately spelled disco’s demise. And, although the Bee Gees would go on to have two more Number One albums, Saturday Night Fever was a mixed blessing. “It gave them too much exposure,” says Coury. “We had to wait more than a year before they came out with a new album.”

Week of January 21, 1978

1. Saturday Night Fever, Soundtrack
2. Foot Loose & Fancy Free, Rod Stewart
3. All ‘n’ All, Earth, Wind & Fire
4. Out of the Blue, Electric Light Orchestra
5. Rumors, Fleetwood Mac