The entertainment world has led tributes to Bee Gees singer Robin Gibb after the “musical giant” lost a lengthy battle with cancer at the age of 62.
Gibb, who sold more than 200 million records and notched up dozens of hits with brothers Maurice and Barry, had recently undergone intestinal surgery.
His family announced his tragic death with “great sadness” yesterday prompting an outpouring of emotion from fans and fellow members of the music industry.
Broadcaster Paul Gambaccini said the performer and songwriter was “talented beyond even his own understanding” and dubbed him as “one of the important figures in the history of British music”.
Stars including rock star Bryan Adams and singer songwriter Mick Hucknall also paid emotional tributes.
A statement released by Gibb’s loved-ones said: “The family of Robin Gibb, of the Bee Gees, announce with great sadness that Robin passed away following his long battle with cancer and intestinal surgery. The family have asked that their privacy is respected at this very difficult time.”
The Bee Gees’ song catalogue, which includes Massachusetts, I’ve Gotta Get A Message To You, Lonely Days, How Can You Mend A Broken Heart, How Deep Is Your Love and Stayin’ Alive, led to their induction into both the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame and the Songwriters Hall of Fame.
Gambaccini said: “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.
“Their accomplishments have been monumental. Not only have they written their own number one hits, but they wrote huge hit records for Barbra Streisand, Diana Ross, Dionne Warwick, Celine Dion, Destiny’s Child, Dolly Parton and Kenny Rogers, the list goes on and on.
“What must also be said is Robin had one of the best white soul voices ever. He was singing lead on his first number one when he was 17, that was Massachusetts.”
Gibb had surgery on his bowel 18 months ago for an unrelated condition but a tumour was discovered and he was diagnosed with cancer of the colon and subsequently of the liver.
The singer fell into a coma last month after contracting pneumonia but his family later said he had “beaten the odds” just days after doctors said he “was in God’s hands” and had a 10% chance of survival.
His twin brother Maurice died of a heart attack in 2003 following intestinal surgery, while his younger brother Andy, who was not part of the Bee Gees but a successful singer in his own right, died in 1988 from heart failure at 30.
Many people took to micro blogging site Twitter to pay their respects.
A statement posted by Sony Music said: “Rest in peace, Robin Gibb. Thanks for the music.”
Canadian rocker Adams was also among the stars paying tribute, saying: “Robin Gibb RIP. Very sad to hear about yet another great singer dying too young.”
British singer songwriter Mick Hucknall wrote: “RIP Robin Gibb. A musical giant,” while former X Factor judge Dannii Minogue said: “We start believin’ now that we can be who we are – Grease is the word...RIP Robin Gibb.”
Eighties rock band Duran Duran also posted on their feed: “Sorry to hear about the passing of Robin Gibb of the BeeGees. Our condolences to his friends and family.”
Gambaccini described Gibb as one of the most influential British artists ever.
“He was one of the important figures in the history of British music – and I mean of all time, I don’t mean just the last few years or the rock era, I mean of all time,” he told BBC Radio 5 Live.
“He and Barry and Maurice wrote 23 number one records (with the exception of Maurice who wrote 22). They are the only song writers to have number ones in the last five decades. They did briefly have the number one album of all time - Saturday Night Fever. Something of this magnitude is bigger than just the last few years.”
Gibb had been due to premiere a collaborative classical work, The Titanic Requiem, with his 29-year-old son Robin-John in April, but the event went ahead without him due to his poor health.