Robin Gibb of the Bee Gees dies at 62
Tributes pour in for singer who has died in London after a long battle with cancer
ROBIN GIBB, the singer and songwriter who joined two of his brothers in forming the Bee Gees, the group that helped define the sound of the disco era with the best-selling 1977 soundtrack to Saturday Night Fever, has died aged 62.
Gibb passed away yesterday after a battle with cancer and while recuperating from intestinal surgery, family spokesman Doug Wright announced.
The Bee Gees energised the disco craze of the 1970s with falsetto-laced hits like Stayin' Alive, Night Fever, and How Deep Is Your Love? from Saturday Night Fever. But the group was well-established long before that.
The Bee Gees' four-decade pop career was a roller-coaster ride of soaring success, plunging popularity, reinvention and difficult times. The group sang nine Number 1 US singles in the 1970s, won six Grammy Awards and were inducted into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame in 1997.
Their youngest brother, Andy, who had a solo career apart from the Bee Gees, died of a heart condition at age 30 in 1988 after struggling with addiction. Robin's fraternal twin, Maurice, also died prematurely, at 53 in 2003, of a heart attack while awaiting surgery for a blocked intestine. Robin survived a horrific train wreck in 1967 and later battled amphetamine dependence.
The Bee Gees - Robin, Maurice and their older brother, Barry - were an established pop act a decade before Saturday Night Fever, with a string of hits, some of which featured Robin's plaintive, quavering vocal style, notably on I Started a Joke.
Robin and Maurice were born on 22 December 1949, on the Isle of Man, and music was always part of their household. Their father, Hugh, a drummer and big band leader, took odd jobs to support his wife, Barbara, four sons and daughter Lesley. As the boys grew up in Manchester, England, and then Brisbane, Australia, they listened to the harmonies of the Mills Brothers on their parents' radio and Elvis Presley on their sister's record player.
Barry, Robin and Maurice Gibb began honing their three-part vocal harmonies at a young age and performed in minor venues in England and in Australia, where they lived from 1958 to 1967. They called themselves the Brothers Gibb.
When the family returned to England, Robert Stigwood, a business associate of the Beatles' manager, Brian Epstein, signed the brothers to a contract. Now known as the Bee Gees, they had their first international hit with New York Mining Disaster 1941.
"As brothers we were like one person," Gibb told the Daily Mail in 2011. "Me and Barry have always been the principal writers of the Bee Gees' sound, and Maurice was the glue that kept the personalities intact. We were kind of triplets, really.
"I feel blessed I was born into a family that had Barry and Maurice in it. On a creative level it's like winning the lottery - you can't choose that."
Following Gibbs's death yesterday, musician Bryan Adams tweeted: "Very sad to hear about yet another great singer dying too young."
Singer Dannii Minogue quoted a song written by Gibb's brother Barry: "We start believin' now that we can be who we are."
Singer Sam Sparro wrote, "It was a real honour to perform with Robin Gibb at the London Proms. May he be remembered well and rest in peace."
Broadcaster Paul Gambaccini said Gibb was "talented beyond even his own understanding. Everyone should be aware that the Bee Gees are second only to Lennon and McCartney as the most successful songwriting unit in British popular music."
Former Deputy Prime Minister John Prescott wrote: "Just heard about Robin Gibb. A good friend, a brilliant musician and a man who turned all of us into wannabe Travoltas! Rest in peace Robin."