This morning, the world is grieving the loss of yet another music icon. Robin Gibb of the Bee Gees passed away May 20 after a long battle with colon cancer. He was 62.
Eerily, Gibb is the second icon of the disco era to leave us in the past three days, following Donna Summer, 63, who died of cancer on Thursday.
Besides his work with the Bee Gees (which included twin brother Maurice and elder brother Barry), Robin Gibb also explored a solo career (most notably in the late 1960s when he departed the Bee Gees due to friction with Barry, then returned a few years later). He went on to release numerous solo records and collaborations over the years. Late in life, he ventured into classical composition, penning the Titanic Requiem to mark the 100-year anniversary of the sinking of the Titanic. The piece was premiered last month by the Royal Philharmonic Orchestra, but failing health prevented Gibb from attending.
Gibb’s death came on the heels of renewed hope, as he had previously been given a 10 percent chance of survival after a bout with pneumonia about a month ago. He miraculously awoke from a coma, and his odds were reportedly increased to 50 percent. Those hopes were dashed on Sunday as he finally passed on.
While the Bee Gees will forever be associated with the disco era for hits like “Stayin’ Alive,” “Night Fever” and “Jive Talkin’”, the trio’s career actually began much earlier. Their first wave of success came as a pop group in the 1960s; their trademark falsetto harmonies were actually part of a complete re-invention of the group’s sound in the early 1970s, which turned out to be the best career decision they could have made at the time. In a career spanning nearly 6 decades, the Bee Gees have sold over 200 million records worldwide, and their contributions to music earned them a spot in the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame in 1997.
Robin Gibb’s passing leaves Barry (the eldest) as the only surviving brother. Robin’s twin Maurice died unexpectedly in 2003 from complications due to a strangulated intestine; the trio’s younger brother Andy Gibb, who had seen phenomenal success as a solo artist and teen idol in the 1970s, died in 1988 at age 30 of heart inflammation due to a viral infection. Robin Gibb is survived not only by brother Barry, but also by his second wife Dwina, four children, his sister Leslie Evans, and his mother Barbara.
RIP, Robin Gibb, and thank you for all the music.