Robin Gibb Dead at 62
Robin Gibb, one-third of the legendary Gibb Brothers better known to the world as the Bee Gees, has passed away today (May 20) at the age of 62. The news was given via an official statement:
The family of Robin Gibb, of the Bee Gees, announce with great sadness that Robin passed away today following his long battle with cancer and intestinal surgery. The family have asked that their privacy is respected at this very difficult time.
Gibb had been battling both liver and colon cancer, and though it was thought he had won the fight and was in recovery, things recently took a turn for the worse. Last month, he slipped into a coma following intestinal surgery. He regained consciousness a week later, but unfortunately, he was unable to make a complete recovery.
Robin was born on December 22, 1949 along with his twin brother Maurice. The family soon moved from the U.K. to Australia, where the brothers would grow up. Not yet in their teens, they joined up with older brother Barry to form a singing group. This group, that would eventually become known as the Bee Gees, started performing wherever and whenever they could, eventually attracting the attention of noted local disc jockey Bill Gates and promoter Bill Goode. The initials of both their names would provide the basis of the groups name.
They signed with Festival Records in 1963 and released a handful of singles. But it wasn’t until their 1966 single ‘Spicks And Specks,’ which shot to number one in Australia, that the flight to stardom took off. Robin was only 16 years old at the time. Things in motion, the brothers moved back to England and contacted Beatles manager Brian Epstein who in turn put them in touch with Robert Stigwood, the man who would become their longtime manager.
The band singed with Polydor in the U.K. and Atco in the States and would soon issue their classic ‘Bee Gee’s 1st’ album. Their recorded output in the 1960s is a spectacular body of work, on par with many greats of the day. Hits like ‘To Love Somebody,’ ‘New York Mining Disaster 1941,’ and ‘Massachusetts’ only tell a fraction of the story. Albums such as ‘Horizontal’ and ‘ Odessa’ are true treasures.
At the dawn of the 1970s the band was adrift, internal bickering led Robin to leave the group in late 1969, issuing his solo album ‘Robin’s Reign,’ which is an interesting artifact of the era. A second album, ‘Sing Slowly Sisters,’ was recorded, but never released (sadly, since it contains some wonderful moments — trust us, we’ve heard it!). Robin and his brothers soon set aside their differences and got the Bee Gee ship sailing again.
Though ”Lonely Days’ and ‘ How Can You Mend A Broken Heart’ shot into the Top Ten in the early-70s, the next few albums that followed, failed to do much, leaving the band pondering their next move. With their 1975 album ‘Main Course,’ and the singles ’Nights On Broadway’ and ‘Jive Talkin,’ their path was in place.
We all know what happened next, a low-budget ‘disco’ movie called ’Saturday Night Fever,’ featured a couple new Bee Gees songs. The film took on a life of its own and became the phenomenon of the late-70s. Disco was everywhere, and the Bee Gees were at the forefront. Massive hits like ’Stayin’ Alive and ‘Night Fever’ were only the beginning. The band sold millions of records and became huge stars for a second time in their career.
Eventually, tides turned, as they often do, and the oversaturation of all things disco led people to grow tired of the dance floor sounds and hence, the Bee Gees paid the price. The ‘Sgt. Pepper’ movie didn’t help either, but that’s a story unto itself. As the years moved on, all was forgiven and, though never to have any more major hits, respect for the band’s legacy grew over the years, leading to their induction into the Rock And Roll Hall Of Fame in 1997.
Bee Gees music is still everywhere. From the huge disco hits back to the early recordings, appreciation for the music Robin and his brothers made has grown and grown over the years. That appreciation and the success of those records, is due in no small part to the voice of Robin Gibb, that fragile quiver in his voice, added that certain special something to their sound. The death of Robin leaves elder brother Barry as the sole Gibb brother still alive. The youngest, Andy, died in 1988 and Robin’s twin, Maurice, passed in 2003.
Gibb is survived by his wife, Dwina, their son, Robin-John, and two children from his first marriage, Spencer and Melissa.
Thank you for the music, Mr. Gibb.
Watch the Bee Gees Singing “Massachusetts” on ‘Top of the Pops’ in 1967