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Barry Gibb: The Last Brother

Page 4 of 4

Maurice was the next to pass, in 2003. He'd had problems with alcohol – in the late Seventies, he used to have to run his hand along the wall just to make it to the stage. He got clean in the Nineties, but he died of a heart attack at age 53, no doubt exacerbated by a lifetime of drinking.

"With Andy, we could see it coming," says Gibb. "But Maurice was a shock." At first Barry and Robin said they would continue as the Bee Gees, but soon reversed course: "It wasn't the same. We didn't want to be the Bee Gees without Mo."

The only two left were the two who'd never gotten along. Robin and Barry tried to organize a tribute concert for Maurice, but they couldn't even agree on that. "The distance between us became more and more dramatic," Gibb says. "There were times when we didn't talk for a year."

In February 2012, Gibb played his first-ever solo show. "God bless you," he told the fans. "And say a little prayer for Rob." At the time Robin was undergoing chemotherapy. Barry went to visit him in London, where Robin told him he loved him. Six weeks after that, he was gone.

Gibb says that, when it comes to his brothers, "my only regret is that we weren't great pals at the end. There was always an argument in some form. Andy left to go to L.A. because he wanted to make it on his own. Maurice was gone in two days, and we weren't getting on very well. Robin and I functioned musically, but we never functioned in any other way. We were brothers, but we weren't really friends.

"There were too many bad times and not enough good times," he says finally. "A few more good times would have been wonderful."

The first time he lost his brothers – back in 1969 – Gibb didn't perform in public for a year and a half. Now that he's getting back on the road, he's taking his family with him. His son Stephen plays guitar in his band, and Maurice's daughter, Samantha, is a featured singer. Gibb still plays Bee Gees songs, although he won't sing any that Robin sang, out of respect. And he wants to record a new album soon. He keeps a tape recorder on his night stand in case an idea comes to him in the middle of the night. "I've got bits of paper with songs all over the house," Gibb says. "They just sit and wink at me every time I go by."

Gibb thinks about death a lot. "But I don't have any fear of it," he says, "like I might've if I'd never lost a brother." He knows his performing days are numbered: "I will not end up in a casino somewhere – I can't do that."

When his time comes, all he asks is that it's "fucking quick. A heart attack onstage would be ideal," he says, laughing. "Right in the middle of 'Stayin' Alive.'" He can tell the time is getting closer. "I have a bucket list now," he says. "I didn't used to have a bucket list." He'd like to have one more hit – "Who wouldn't?" And he'd like to see the inside of a nuclear submarine. "I'm not sure why," he says. "You can still have little dreams."

Gibb isn't sure what he thinks about an afterlife. "When people say, 'Your brothers are looking down on you and smiling,'" he says, "I don't know if that's true. But maybe, if there's any truth to that stuff, one day I'll bump into my brothers again. And they'll say, 'What kept you?'"

This is from the June 5th, 2014 issue of Rolling Stone.

To read the new issue of Rolling Stone online, plus the entire RS archive: Click Here

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