The Bee Gees release their first international hit “New York mining Disaster 1941” in 1967

The “beatlesque” song led many radio DJ’s to believe it was a new secret Beatles song and played the song heavily

The Bee Gees release their first international hit “New York mining Disaster 1941” in 1967

The Bee Gees might be today best remembered for their Disco string of smash hits during the late 1970’s, however, the brothers Gibb had a complete different songwriting perspective and hits in the late 1960’s, leading some to even believing their songs were secretely written and performed by The Beatles. The best known example is the “beatlesque” “New York mining Disaster 1941”, released on April 14, 1967, their first single released in the U.S. Written by Barry and Robin Gibb while sitting on a darkened staircase at Polydor Records following a power cut, echo of the passing lift inspired them to imagine that they were trapped in a mine. They were inspired by the 1966 Aberfan mining disaster in Wales, and, according to Robin, there actually had also been a mining disaster in New York in 1939, but not in 1941. The lyrics to the song recount the story of a miner trapped in a cave-in. He is sharing a photo of his wife with a colleague (“Mr. Jones”) while they hopelessly wait to be rescued. “New York mining Disaster 1941” end up being the Bee Gees first song to hit the charts in both the UK and the US, reaching top 20 in both countries. It was included on their debut international album, “Bee Gees’ 1st” in 1967. Label Atco distributed promos with a blank label and the suggestion that it was an English group whose name started with B which led many DJs to think it was a new Beatles song and played the song heavily. The song also influenced David Bowie to write his first big hit, “Space Oddity” in 1969, with similar arrangement and lyrics of “New York Mining Disaster 1941”, as “Space Oddity” is about a trapped man who is doomed to die, and the song is similarly structured as a series of statements addressed to another person. Bowie’s colleague John “Hutch” Hutchinson has said. “David knew it, and he said so at the time, the way he sang it, it’s a Bee Gees thing.”

Watch the Bee Gees performing “New York mining Disaster 1941” in 1967



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