The world of music was once more thrust into mourning yesterday when it was announced that Robin Gibb, a member of the highly successful and much loved group the Bee Gees, had died after a lengthy battle against cancer, aged 62.
Born Robin Hugh Gibb in the Isle of Man in December 1949, the lead vocalist of the band had enjoyed incredible chart success in over the course of five different decades alongside his twin brother Maurice, who died in 2003 due to complications of surgery and his surviving brother Barry. Noted for the incredible output of music that he and the band produced during this time, Robin Gibb will be chiefly remembered for the disco hits that defined a generation struggling to come to grips with the harsh times of the 1970’s and by being a spokesman for that period put a smile on the faces of those that defied the trend and wanted to party.
After leaving the Isle of Man, the family briefly moved to Manchester and on advice to get the young Maurice, Barry and Robin out of Manchester lest they get into serious trouble with the law, the family emigrated to Brisbane, Australia. They weren’t away for very long as the music writing began to pay dividends they returned to the United Kingdom and the phenomenon of the Bee Gees propelled them to the top of the charts.
It wasn’t without the usual family fall out and drama early into their career and after critical success, Robin, frustrated by the sibling rivalry, left the band to go solo and despite an impressive first single, Saved By the Bell, which reached number two in the U.K. charts, the album that followed, Robin’s Reign didn’t trouble the charts. Robin re-joined the band that would make his name and reached number three on the U.S. charts with the song Lonely Days.
If life as a solo artist was unsatisfying then under new producer Arif Martin, life was going to become unrecognisable for the man who came from humble beginnings. The disco era happened for the Bee Gees at exactly the right time and between 1977-1979, the band had six Number 1’s in America, an untold feat at the time. The success transferred itself this side of the Atlantic as well as the band gate crashed music writing during the late seventies. The 14th studio album, Children of the World contained the smash hit, You Should Be Dancing as well as Love So Right and Boogie Child. During this period they also took the world by storm with the platinum selling album Saturday Night Fever which took the band truly global. The singles that were spawned from this outstanding album could make other jealous but no one really could have recorded How Deep Is Your Love, Stayin’ Alive, Night Fever and More Than a Woman with the type of justice or panache that the Bee Gees effortlessly managed.
In 2002 Robin Gibb was made a Commander of the Order of the British Empire in the New Year’s Honours list
An ardent supporter of the British Labour Party, Robin Gibb launched a rally in Huddersfield ahead of the 2005 British election. As a close friend of the then Prime Minister, he caused a storm of criticism for inviting Tony Blair to stay at his mansion over the festive period in 2006.
In January of 2012 Robin gave an interview to the Mail on Sunday and spoke for the first time of the cancer. “For more than 18 months, I had lived with an inflammation of the colon; then I was diagnosed with colon cancer, which spread to the liver. I have undergone chemotherapy, however, and the results- to quote my doctor- have been ‘spectacular’. It’s taken its toll, naturally, but the strange thing is that I have never felt seriously ill…” It was a very brave moment in the life of Robin Gibb and one that should be congratulated for his desire to speak out about the disease.
Marcella Detroit, fellow musician and one half of the 90’s music sensation Shakespeare’s Sister wrote on her Facebook page last night, “R.I.P Robin, you wonderful talented soul. My most sincere condolences to his family and friends.”
It will be for his music that he will best and fondly remembered. As a member of one of the most iconic bands of their time, Robin Gibb’s music will certainly be listened to for a long time to come.
Robin Gibb, Born 22nd December 1949, Douglas, Isle of Man. Died 20th May 2012.
Ian D. Hall