Robin Gibb, a founding member with his brothers of the million-selling British pop group the Bee Gees, has died. He was 62.
He died yesterday in London from complications of cancer and intestinal surgery, according to the New York Times, citing a family statement.
Gibb co-wrote many of the Bee Gees’ hits, from 1960s pop songs such as “I’ve Gotta Get a Message to You” and “Massachusetts” to 1970s disco tunes such as “Stayin’ Alive” and “Night Fever.” His vibrato tones meshed with his twin Maurice’s musical arrangements and their older brother Barry’s falsetto.
The group became one of the most successful pop acts of all time, selling more than 200 million albums, according to the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame website. Their contributions to 1977’s “Saturday Night Fever” propelled that movie soundtrack to become the top-selling album ever, having sold more than 40 million disks, until Michael Jackson’s 1982 release of “Thriller.”
The Bee Gees remain the only pop group to write, produce and record six consecutive No. 1 hits, according to the Hall of Fame, which inducted them in 1997.
Robin Hugh Gibb was born on Dec. 22, 1949, on the Isle of Man, England, and grew up in the northern city of Manchester where the brothers began to sing in a local cinema.
Move to Australia
They moved to Queensland, Australia, in 1958. The brothers started singing to boost their meager family income and were named by disc jockey Bill Gates before having a hit with “Spicks and Specks.” They returned to Britain where their single “New York Mining Disaster 1941” started a run of success.
Robin left the band briefly and had a solo single, “Saved by the Bell,” before they reunited for “Lonely Days,” which was a U.S. No. 3 record in 1970. The band’s most successful period started in 1975 with “Jive Talkin’” and “You Should Be Dancing.”
Their youngest sibling, Andy, who was also a singer, died at the age of 30 in 1988 of a heart condition. Maurice died at age 53 in 2003 of complications following a blocked intestine.
Robin Gibb was also inducted into the Songwriters Hall of Fame and made a Commander of the Order of the British Empire, a U.K. honor directly below a knighthood.
In August 2010, he suffered abdominal pain and needed surgery for a blocked intestine, the same condition that Maurice suffered from. Robin had an inflamed colon, later diagnosed as cancer, and in November 2011, his family said that it had spread to his liver and he was having chemotherapy.
“It’s taken a toll,” Gibb told the Mail on Sunday in January, “but the strange thing is that I’ve never felt seriously ill.”
He was back in the hospital in March for more surgery, three weeks after being quoted by the Sunday Mirror saying he was “in remission” from cancer.
In late 2011, Gibb joined with his son, Robin-John, to compose a classical score for “The Titanic Requiem” being recorded by the Royal Philharmonic Orchestra. The composition marked the 100th anniversary of the sinking of the liner with the loss of 1,500 lives. Robin Gibb missed the premier of the work in London on April 10, while battling pneumonia, the Telegraph said.
As a solo artist, he released many charity records including “Islands in the Stream” in 2009 for Comic Relief and “I’ve Gotta Get a Message to You” with The Soldiers in 2011.
Gibb also gained attention for his open marriage to his second wife, Dwina, an artist interested in druidry; his friendship with Tony Blair, who stayed at Gibb’s Miami home; and his outspoken support of teetotalism and veganism.
Gibb and Dwina had one son, Robin-John. He had two children, Melissa and Spencer, with his first wife, the former Molly Hullis. He lived in Thame, Oxfordshire, England.