Singer Maurice Gibb, of disco kings the Bee Gees, died in a Miami hospital on January 12th after suffering complications from an intestinal blockage. He was fifty-three.
Indulging in their love of American R&B, the Bee Gees – Maurice, twin brother Robin and older brother Barry – were disco's main architects in the late Seventies. Their biggest hits – "Stayin' Alive", "How Deep Is Your Love" and "Night Fever" – pushed the Saturday Night Fever soundtrack to the top of the charts in 1978. In the past thirty-five years, the trio has sold more than 120 million albums, putting them not far behind Elvis Presley, the Beatles and Michael Jackson.
"The Gibb brothers all have a great sense of humor, but Maurice was the funniest," says producer Arif Mardin, who worked on the band's Main Course.
The brothers also wrote songs for artists such as Dionne Warwick and Diana Ross, and their tunes have been covered by Celine Dion and Faith No More, among others. "It was an education to see them writing songs," says Mardin. "It was like watching a house being built."
Though an autopsy indicated Maurice suffered a congenital intestine problem, his brothers have questioned his care at Miami's Mount Sinai Medical Center. "We believe mistakes were made and time was wasted," says Robin Gibb, who is calling for an investigation. The surviving brothers said they will continue to work together, but not as the Bee Gees.
This story is from the February 20th, 2003 issue of Rolling Stone.