20 May 2012 marked a very sad day for disco-era music lovers, as it was the day that Robin Gibb of the Bee Gees left the world. Let’s look at his achievements alongside his brothers throughout their mighty years.
The Bee Gees was created by three Gibb brothers – Maurice, Robin and Barry, who were born on the Isle of Man, but then immigrated to Queensland, Australia, where they started performing at an early age to earn extra pocket money. Although they were featured in numerous radio and TV shows, they failed to gain the attention of the Australian public, apart from their first major hit ‘Spicks and Specks’. Since they didn’t have much success with the Australian music scene, they decided to return to England to try their luck in 1966. Because of the similar music and songwriting technique; they were initially thought to be the Beatles performing under a different name. Though this was very frustrating for them, it actually helped to jumpstart their career.
By 1969, the Bee Gees had released three albums (Bee Gees 1st, Horizontal and Idea) with multiple Top 20 singles in the US and UK music charts. However, at this time Robin Gibb abandoned the group to pursue a solo career, leaving Maurice and Barry to continue performing as the Bee Gees. Luckily, all hope was not lost as Robin decided to reunite with his brothers in the early 1970s and they begun a new journey as the Bee Gees, relocating to Miami, Florida, and creating a new album, Children of the World, that focuses on their falsetto voices and disco beats and this brought them to a greater level of stardom in the US, but it greatly disappointed their die-hard fans of the 1960s.
Their career started to peak when they decided to participate in the creation of the Saturday Night Fever soundtrack during the late 1970s, which brought the disco scene mainstream. Following the success of the soundtrack, three Bee Gees singles reached No. 1 (‘How Deep Is Your Love’, ‘Stayin’ Alive’ and ‘Night Fever’) not only in the US but all around the world and thus began the Golden Age of Disco. They released and wrote countless songs that reached No. 1 in the US and UK charts, but alas, by the end of 1979, they realized that their American career is ending.
In the 1980s, Robin and Barry Gibb tried to pursue solo careers but failed to achieve much success. Barry Gibb ended up co-producing and co-writing for many singers, including Barbra Streisand, Dionne Warwick and Diana Ross, who had achieved notable success with their albums. Robin Gibb was sometimes involved in the song writing process too. During this period, the band also released three new albums – Living Eyes, E.S.P and One – with the last one featuring a song dedicated to their brother Andy Gibb, who died at an early age of 30, as a result of Myocarditis. After the album’s release, they embarked on their first world tour in a decade.
Throughout the next ten years, the Bee Gees released three more albums, and received the award for Outstanding Contribution to Music in the 1997 BRIT Awards. During the years, it was found out that Barry Gibb suffered from a serious back problem as well as severe arthritis and it was doubtful that he could ever play the guitar again. Also, Maurice Gibb finally sought treatment for his alcoholism with the help of Alcoholics Anonymous. The band closed the decade with what turned out to be their last full-sized concert, known as BG2K.
Heartbreaking as it was, their final album was released in 2001 (This Is Where I Came In) as Maurice Gibb passed away on 12 January 2003, at age 54 from a heart attack, hence leaving his brothers no choice but to discontinue their music career as the Bee Gees. On 23 February of the same year, the Bee Gees received the Grammy Legend Award and was accepted by Robin and Barry Gibb, along with Maurice Gibb’s son Adam, in a very emotional ceremony. This marks the start of the Bee Gees hiatus, but Robin still went through with his solo career and continued touring throughout 2004 and 2005. Only in 2006 did Robin and Barry come together again to perform for the first time since their brother’s death, for a Miami charity event.
In September 2009, Barry and Robin Gibb claimed to have re-formed the Bee Gees and would perform again. There were also confirmations that the Bee Gees story was to be made into a Hollywood movie by Steven Spielberg. Sadly, on November 2011, it was announced that Robin Gibb was diagnosed with liver cancer, at 61 years old. On 14 April 2012, Robin had contracted pneumonia and had slipped into a coma that lasted for six days. Upon his awakening, his condition seemed to have improved and he was seen communicating with his family members. Alas, he passed on 20 May 2012 and Barry became the last surviving Gibb brother.
All in all, the Bee Gees have been a musical phenomenon over the past 40 decades, having been featured in many Halls and Walks of Fame, as well as receiving numerous awards from notable organisations such as the Grammy Awards, the American Music Awards, the BRIT Awards and more. They have sold in excess of 200 million records worldwide and at least 2500 artists have recorded covers of their songs. It is a very sad ending to a beautiful career that had touched millions of souls, whether dead or alive, and it is for sure that everyone will remember the Bee Gees as much as they remember The Beatles, ABBA, Boney M and other remarkable artists who have left us. One thing is for certain; right now the whole world is mourning the loss of a wonderful, soulful and inspiring person – Robin Gibb, the “musical giant” behind The Bee Gees.
Robin Gibb lived up to 62 years old. He is survived by his 4 children and his evergreen music with the Bee Gees.