RIP: Robin Gibb, Bee Gees lead singer

RIP: Robin Gibb, Bee Gees lead singer

From Rolling Stone:

Robin Gibb, one-third of the Bee Gees, died Sunday after a long battle with cancer, his spokesperson has confirmed via a statement. Gibb was 62 years old.

“The family of Robin Gibb, of the Bee Gees, announce with great sadness that Robin passed away today following his long battle with cancer and intestinal surgery,” reads the statement. “The family have asked that their privacy is respected at this very difficult time.”

Two years ago, Gibb battled colon and liver cancer, but despite making what he called a “spectacular recovery,” a secondary tumor recently developed, complicated by a case of pneumonia.

Gibb was born in Manchester, England, in 1949, along with twin brother Maurice. (Maurice died in 2003 of complications from a twisted intestine; eerily, Robin had surgery for the same medical issue in 2010.) Along with their older brother Barry, the brothers began harmonizing as a trio in Australia, where the family moved in 1958. Although the Bee Gees had some success in Australia – they hosted a weekly variety show there – they didn’t truly arrive until they returned to England and signed with manager Robert Stigwood. Robin’s quivering, vulnerable voice was featured prominently on several of the group’s earliest and most Beatles-eque hits, including “New York Mining Disaster 1941,” “I Started a Joke,” “Massachusetts,” and “I’ve Gotta Get a Message to You.”

Although he looked and sounded like the meekest Bee Gee, Robin grew into the family rebel. By 1969, he and Barry were feuding over whose song should be singles, and Robin, then 20, was declared a “ward of the state” by their father when his drinking and partying seemed to take over his life. “It happened so fast that we lost communication between us,” Gibb later recalled. “It was just madness, really.”

But it also Robin who, in 1971, made the first call to Barry to reunite with his brothers. Robin’s solo career had stalled, and Barry and Maurice’s attempts to continue as the Bee Gees as a duo had floundered as well. “If we hadn’t been related, we would probably have never gotten back together,” Robin said at the time. Robin’s voice was heard, beautifully, on the chorus of their minor 1972 hit “Run to Me.”

The Bee Gees’ massive second wind arrived with their proto disco hit, “Jive Talkin’,” in 1975; two years later, their contributions to Saturday Night Fever made them bigger stars than ever. Most of the hits from that era featured Barry’s falsetto voice, but the brothers’ vocal blend remained an indelible apart of their sound.

• Robin Gibb: http://beegees.com

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