How to Play Stayin Alive by The Bee Gees

Released in December of 1977, "Stayin' Alive" quickly became an enormous international hit and a signature song of the Bee Gees.

The song opens with one of the most recognizable and catchy guitar riffs ever written. It is very repetitive and is used throughout the entire song except for the pre-chorus and chorus. It is also extremely fun to play!

The main thing to focus on while learning how to play Stayin Alive is the constant funky disco groove that is used throughout. Focus on staying in the pocket and really locking in with the drum loop. This is especially true for the main guitar riff. You will want to really focus on timing those notes perfectly for it to have the desired effect.

From there we get to the chord used during the pre-chorus, a Bb7 chord. This chord is very low in the mix, in fact the only thing you can really hear them hit on the recording in the Ab note on the 4th string.

The chorus is also mostly reliant on one chord, F min till the very end when we have to play a Cmin7 chord. When playing this F min chord voicing, once again focus on the strumming pattern and try to lock into the groove. The fact that it is only one chord shows you how important the rhythm is to the song.

Within the chorus there are also vocal harmonies (when they sing Ah, ah, ah, ah) that use a sequence of descending triads. The string parts of the song also do this descending triad sequence.

Even though those triads aren't played on the guitar, I have included them in this lesson so you can decide whether to play them yourself of not. I think that part sounds great on the guitar and helps recreate the sound on the recording with just one guitar. Not all of us have 3 incredible vocalists and a string section available at all times. 🙂

So enjoy playing this classic Bee Gees song! Who knew playing disco could be so fun!


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How to play Stayin Alive - Bee Gees


  1. Daniel minchew on April 27, 2016 at 3:03 pm

    Carl old school great lesson…Thanks Brother…

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