Gibb turned disco into global force

Bee Gees singer Robin Gibb died last night of cancer at the age of 62.

Alongside his brothers in the group, he provided decades of chart hits and helped to turn disco into a worldwide phenomenon with tracks such as ‘Night Fever’ and ‘Stayin’ Alive’.

With his twin brother Maurice, who died in 2003, and elder brother Barry, Gibb notched up dozens of hits and sold over 200m records.

It will be the group’s contribution to the late 70s disco boom — and in particular the Saturday Night Fever soundtrack — which will long be seen as his and the group’s most enduring legacy.

They sang on fewer than half the songs on the soundtrack to the 1977 film, but it brought recognition that was far removed from their beginnings as a young trio performing in theatres in Manchester in the 1950s.

Robin and his twin Maurice were born on the Isle of Man on Dec 22, 1949, three years after their brother Barry.

The trio started out as a child act and continued performing when the family moved to Brisbane, Australia, in 1958.

They took the name Bee Gees, an abbreviation of Brothers Gibb, and released a series of singles while in their teenage years. They returned to the northern hemisphere in the mid-1960s.

It was the group’s manager Robert Stigwood who brought them on board for Saturday Night Fever, a film he was producing, and the songs were written in little over a weekend.

Songwriting for others also yielded chart hits including Dionne Warwick’s ‘Heartbreaker’, Diana Ross’s ‘Chain Reaction’ and ‘Islands In The Stream’ for Dolly Parton and Kenny Rogers.

Younger brother Andy died in 1988 of heart failure at the age of 30.

Maurice’s death due to a complication from a twisted bowel also hit Robin particularly hard.

In an interview seven months later, Robin said: “He was part of the fabric of my life. We were kids together, and teenagers. We spent the whole of our lives with each other because of our music.

“I can’t accept that he’s dead. I just imagine he’s alive somewhere else.”

Robin later suffered the same condition, leading to his own ill health.

He last performed on stage in February at a charity concert for injured soldiers. He was to premier a classical work, The Titanic Requiem, in April with son Robin-John, but the event went ahead without him due to his poor health.

A man with a passion for history, when not touring or recording, he divided his time among homes in Oxfordshire, Miami, and the Isle of Man. He married twice, to Molly Hullis from 1968 to 1980, then to Dwina Murphy-Gibb, an author and artist. He had three children: Spencer, Melissa, and Robin-John.


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