Robin Gibb, one of the three singing brothers of the Bee Gees, the long-running Anglo-Australian pop group whose chirping falsettos and hook-laden disco hits like “Jive Talkin’ ” and “You Should Be Dancing” shot them to worldwide fame in the 1970s, died on Sunday in London. He was 62 and lived in Thame, Oxfordshire, England.More at the link.
The cause was complications of cancer and intestinal surgery, his family said in a statement.
Mr. Gibb had been hospitalized for intestinal problems several times in the last two years. Cancer had spread from his colon to his liver, and in the weeks before his death he contracted pneumonia and for a while was in a coma.
Mr. Gibb was the second Bee Gee and third Gibb brother to die. His fraternal twin and fellow Bee Gee, Maurice Gibb, died of complications of a twisted intestine in 2003 at 53. The youngest brother, Andy, who had a successful solo career, was 30 when he died of heart failure, in 1988.
With brilliant smiles, polished funk and adenoidal close harmonies, the Bee Gees — Barry, Robin and Maurice Gibb — were disco’s ambassadors to Middle America in the mid to late 1970s, embodying the peacocked look of the time in their open-chested leisure suits and gold medallions.
They sold well over 100 million albums and had six consecutive No. 1 singles from 1977 to 1979. They were also inextricably tied to the disco era’s defining movie, “Saturday Night Fever,” a showcase for their music that included the hit “Stayin’ Alive,” its propulsive beat in step with the strut of the film’s star, John Travolta.
But the group, whose first record came out in 1963, had a history that preceded its disco hits, starting with upbeat ditties inspired by the Everly Brothers and the Beatles, then with lachrymose ballads like “How Can You Mend a Broken Heart.”
Barry, the oldest brother, was the dominant Bee Gee for most of the group’s existence. But the lead singer for many of the early hits was Robin, whose breaking voice, gaunt frame and gloomy eyes were well suited to convey adolescent fragility. “I Started a Joke” (with the second line, “Which started the whole world crying”), “I’ve Gotta Get a Message to You,” “Massachusetts” and other heavy-hearted songs dripping with strings brought the Bee Gees to the top of the charts as one of the British Invasion’s most musically conservative groups.
“While other guys, like Ray Davies of the Kinks, were writing about social problems, we were writing about emotions,” Robin Gibb told a British newspaper last year. “They were something boys didn’t write about then because it was seen as a bit soft. But people love songs that melt your heart.”
I was in high school when the Bee Gees were tops in the pops. I think my older sister was more into them than I was, but you couldn't not like the Bee Gees. They were so crucial a cultural force.
William Jacobson has more, "Robin Gibb, R.I.P.":
This one hurts. I grew up knowing so many of the Bee Gees early songs by heart.