Another of the great singing voices has been silenced by death. Robin Gibb who, approximately one month ago had emerged from a coma, succumbed to colorectal cancer on May 20, 2012. He was 62, survived by his second wife, Dwina, his children and his older brother, Barry.
Robin, his twin brother Maurice and Barry rose to fame in the mid-’60’s, calling themselves the BeeGees (Brothers Gibb). Born in England, they began singing in Brisbane, Australia, having been moved there by their parents. Their career flourished after they returned to England in 1967. Their style was light rock, comprised of tightly-blended harmonies reminiscent of the Beatles. Some critics promoted the notion that it was indeed the Beatles using a different name.
Such was not the case however. The BeeGees became internationally successful, riding the massive sales of singles such as “New York Mining Disaster 1941”, “Holiday”, “To Love Somebody”, “Words” and “Massachusetts”.
By the mid-’70’s, their career began to fade on the heels of three horribly bland LPs (“Life in a Tin Can”, “To Whom It May Concern” and “Mr. Natural”). In 1975, they adapted their own style of disco, releasing the highly-successful “Jive Talkin'”. Two years later, their tracks from the original soundtrack of “Saturday Night Fever” propelled them back onto the charts, more popular than ever. Three standout tracks, “Night Fever”, “How Deep is Your Love” and “Stayin’ Alive” still endure as club favorites.
Robin’s journey was not always calm. He and Barry had been trading lead vocals since the beginning. In 1969, the rift exploded following the release of the single “First of May” b/w “Lamplight”. When their producer R. Stigwood deemed “First of May” would be the A-side, Robin left the BeeGees to begin a solo career. Although his own single “Saved by the Bell” sold fairly well, the LP “Robin’s Reign” did not and he returned to the BeeGees in time to ride the wave of disco.
Following Maurices’ death in 2003, Robin’s own health began to fail. He became less and less active musically but did manage to score “Titanic Requiem” with his son Robin-John. The premier for that piece was set for London on April 10, 2012, four days before he was hospitalized and placed into a medically-induced coma. On April 20, he awakened from that coma, showing promising signs for recovery.
That promise was never fulfilled. Robin Gibb’s legacy goes beyond the music. In the words of former Labour Prime Minister Tony Blair, a friend and fan, “Robin was not only an exceptional and extraordinary musician and songwriter, he was a highly intellligent, interested and committed human being.” So say we all.