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Disco is a genre of dance-oriented pop music that originated and was popular in Europe, United States, and Canada in the 1970s. Disco songs included a steady four-on-the-floor beat, along with a distinctive bass line and orchestral instruments were often used for the melodies instead of lead guitar.


The first traces of "disco" appeared in the 1920s. Popular jazz featured lavish orchestrations and was first played in black nightclubs. Also, the disco ball was first used in clubs during this period.

Disco's roots came from the late 1960s' soul music, especially the Philly and New York soul, both of which were evolutions of the Motown sound. By 1972, the elements of what we now call disco music had already been shaped. The term disco was first used in print in an article by Vince Aletti in the September 13, 1973 edition of Rolling Stone Magazine titled "Discotheque Rock '72: Paaaaarty!" DJs such as Tom Moulton, Nicky Siano, Shep Pettibone, Larry Levan, and Walter Gibbons remixed music with new sounds, percussion, and breaks to bring disco to distinctness.

By the late 1970s many cities in the US had thriving disco scenes centered around discotheques and nightclubs. Films such as Saturday Night Fever and Thank God It's Friday contributed to disco's rise in popularity. The DJs played mixesof long single records to keep people dancing all night long. Some of the most prestigious clubs had elaborate lighting systems that throbbed to the beat of the music.

Well-known mid-1970s disco performers included Cheryl Lynn, Evelyn "Champagne" King, Tavares, Chic, Bee Gees, Donna Summer, Grace Jones, Gloria Gaynor, Diana Ross, the Village People, Sylvester, the Jackson 5, and Barry White. Also, many non-disco artists started recording disco songs, hoping to produce hits.

Though disco music had enjoyed several years of popularity, an anti-disco sentiment manifested in America. This sentiment proliferated at the time because of over saturation and the big business mainstreaming of disco. Worried about declining profits, rock radio stations and record producers encouraged this trend.

Music historians generally refer to July 12, 1979, as the "day disco died" because of an anit-disco event that was held in Chicago between games of a White Sox doubleheader. Rock station DJs Steve Dahl and Garry Meier, along with Michael Veeck, staged Disco Demolition Night, a promotional event with an anti-disco theme. During this event, which involved exploding disco records, the raucous crowd did considerable damage to Comiskey Park. Although the event was against disco altogether, the Bee Gees seemed to be the main target, as they were the most famous disco band.

During the early 1980s, dance music dropped the complicated melodic structure and orchestration which typified the "disco sound." Disco evolved into house music, which in turn, generated an offshoot, techno. From the early 1990s to the late 2000s, numerous "disco revival" hits have been released, including albums dedicated to disco.

Bee Gees' influence[]

The Bee Gees first showed their disco style in their 1975 album Main Course, from which they produced four hits in the US. In 1977, Robert Stigwood asked the Bee Gees to participate in the creation of the Saturday Night Fever soundtrack. It would be the turning point of their career. The brothers agreed, although they had never really heard the term "disco" and most of the songs on the soundtrack were already written.

The cultural impact of both the film and the soundtrack was tremendous not only in the United States but also in the rest of the world, and it brought the disco scene into the mainstream. The Bee Gees were the "center" of disco, with 6 songs at No. 1. Their international success was at its peak in 1979, then it plummeted. After the anti-disco backlash, the Bee Gees lost most of their popularity, and were virtually ignored by radio stations who refused to play their songs. To prevent losing popularity and to keep producing hits, the brothers decided to write songs for other artists, such as "Islands in the Stream" for Kenny Rogers and Dolly Parton, which reached No. 1.