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
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
The Andy Gibb Memorial Foundation
c/o Dade Community Foundation
200 South Biscayne Blvd.
Miami, Florida 33131-2343