The Inspiration Behind the Bee Gees Hit ‘Massachusetts’
The song "Massachusetts" was a smash hit for the Bee Gees in 1967. First released as a single, the song was included on the 1968 album Horizontal, the Bee Gees' fourth studio album on the Polydor (Europe) and ATCO (US) record labels.
The Bee Gees, or Brothers Gibb, consisted of brothers Barry, Robin and Maurice Gibb, born in the late 1940s on the Isle of Man.
In 1955, the Gibb brothers moved to Manchester, England, and formed a rock band called The Rattlesnakes.
In 1958, Barry, Robin and Maurice changed the band's name to the Bee Gees, and the rest is rock and roll history.
The Bee Gees had great success on the pop charts during the 1960s and early '70s with mega-hits such as "Words," "To Love Somebody" and "I've Gotta Get a Message to You."
The band exploded on the disco charts in the late '70s with the release of the soundtrack to the film Saturday Night Fever, which also featured another group of brothers, Tavares, who grew up in New Bedford.
The Bee Gees had nine No. 1 hits on the Billboard Top 100, making them the third-most successful band in Billboard charts history, behind only The Beatles and The Supremes.
So what about the song "Massachusetts?"
"Massachusetts" became the first of the Bee Gees' No. 1 hits on the UK Singles Chart, reached No. 1 in 12 other countries, peaked at No. 11 on the Billboard Hot 100, and sold over five million copies worldwide.
The Brothers Gibb recalled writing the song during a U.S. concert tour that included New York in 1967.
It seemed everyone was going to San Francisco, as the song "San Francisco (Be Sure To Wear Flowers In Your Hair)" by Scott McKenzie suggested.
The lyrics to the Bee Gees song, "And the lights all went out in Massachusetts," implies that everyone has left the Bay State for the west coast.
The Bee Gees once said "Massachusetts" was written with The Seekers in mind, but the Gibb brothers decided to record it themselves.
Why Massachusetts and not West Virginia, Colorado or even South Dakota? It was all about the sound of the word "Massachusetts."
In case you are wondering, Barry, Robin, and Maurice Gibb never visited Massachusetts before writing their song.