The Bee Gees' singer/bassist/keyboardist Maurice Gibb died Sunday; he was fifty-three.
Gibb collapsed January 9th at his home in Miami and was hospitalized for intestinal blockage. Just before surgery, he also suffered cardiac arrest. Gibb's brothers and band mates Robin (his twin) and Barry are publicly questioning his care at the Mount Sinai Medical Center.
The son of an English bandleader, the brothers Gibb (which would eventually inform their band's name) began singing together in the mid-Fifties. After the family relocated to Australia, the group began to record, with their high harmonies and rich melodies as their trademarks. The Bee Gees returned to England and broke through in 1967, with their first U.S. hit "New York Mining Disaster 1941" (Number Fourteen) and their first album Bee Gees First (Number Seven). The group had five Top Forty albums and eight Top Forty Singles before 1970.
Despite their pop success, which ran fairly uninterrupted into the mid-Seventies, it was the 1977 Saturday Night Fever soundtrack that would prove to be the band's blessing and curse for the next twenty-five years. The Bee Gees contributed six cuts to the album, which has been certified fifteen-times platinum. Three of the album's songs, "How Deep Is Your Love," "Staying Alive" and "Night Fever," were Number One hits.
The album was an international phenomenon, and, as a result, the Bee Gees were arguably the biggest band of the era. But they also took the biggest hit with the crack of a fierce disco backlash. That backlash wasn't immediate, though, as the group landed another trio of Number One singles ("Too Much Heaven," "Tragedy" and "Love You Inside Out") in 1978 and 1979. The Bee Gees' last U.S. chart success came with the 1983 soundtrack to Staying Alive, which climbed to Number Six, though the group continued to be well received, and sell albums, internationally.
Like the band, Gibb persevered through the decade. A recovering alcoholic, he was hit hard by the 1988 death of his younger brother, Andy, who suffered from a heart ailment, and suffered a brief relapse. But Gibb rallied and the band forged forward releasing One in 1989, High Civilization in 1991 Size Isn't Everything in 1993 and Still Waters in 1997; all four records were hits in the U.K. and Germany. In 1997, the Bee Gees were also inducted into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame. The group's last studio album was 2001's This Is Where I Came In, and the same year saw the release of the two-CD retrospective, Their Greatest Hits: The Record, which offers a cross-section of pop sounds by an always-evolving band.
Gibb, who was married to British pop singer Lulu from 1969 to 1973, is survived by his wife, Yvonne, and two children.
In lieu of flowers, contributions can be sent in Gibb's name to:
The Andy Gibb Memorial Foundation
c/o Dade Community Foundation
200 South Biscayne Blvd.
Miami, Florida 33131-2343