Robin Gibb of the Bee Gees has died. The 62-year-old member of the famed brothers Gibb passed away on Sunday, May 20. A statement from his rep reads:
"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. The family have asked that their privacy is respected at this very difficult time."
Last month, Gibb was comatose for more than a week after being hospitalized for pneumonia.
Gibbs' health had been in serious decline for years. In 2010, he underwent a series of surgeries for a life-threatening intestinal condition, the same that killed his twin brother, Maurice [Morris], in 2003. Earlier this year, he announced that he'd been battling liver cancer and was in remission. But then in March, he underwent further intestinal surgery.
Formed in Australia with brothers Robin, Barry and Maurice, the Bee Gees were a hit as early as 1960, while still in their teens. However, it wasn't until they sent a demo tape to then-Beatles manager Brian Epstein in 1967, who in turn passed it on to their eventual longtime producer Robert Stigwood, that their career took off.
The Bee Gees' first hit was the 1967 single "New York Mining Disaster 1941," though international stardom came in the 1970s, when they locked in their now-familiar sound with hits like "How Do You Mend a Broken Heart," "Lonely Days," "Run to Me," "Jive Talking'," "Nights on Broadway" and "You Should Be Dancing."
The Bee Gees were catapulted to international super-stardom with the 1977 release of the soundtrack to the John Travolta movie Saturday Night Fever. The album ultimately went 15 times platinum on the strength of number-one Bee Gees hits "Night Fever," "How Deep Is Your Love" and the signature track, "Stayin' Alive." It earned the Bee Gees Grammys in both 1978 and 1979 and made them the most sought-after songwriters and producers in the industry.
Such was the popularity of Saturday Night Fever, and the Bee Gees, during that era, that on March 25, 1978, five songs written by the brothers Gibb were in the U.S. top ten simultaneously: Their own "Night Fever," "Stayin' Alive" and "If I Can't Have You," plus "Emotion," which they wrote for Samantha Sang, and "Love Is Thicker than Water," a hit they'd written for their little brother Andy Gibb. That level of chart domination hadn't been seen since 1964, when the Beatles locked down the top five spots on the U.S. singles chart.
Saturday Night Fever proved to be a mixed blessing for the Bee Gees. The trio was caught in the eventual 1980s backlash against disco, with Saturday Night Fever's success casting the brothers as the embodiment of disco culture. In the follow years, while continuing to write and produce hits for other artists, including Barbra Streisand, Kenny Rogers, Dionne Warwick and Diana Ross, the Bee Gees kept a low profile as a group -- at least in the U.S. -- until the 1990s, when it became cool to like them again. They were inducted into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame in 1997.
After the death of Maurice, Barry and Robin Gibb said initially that they intended to carry on as the Bee Gees, but then decided to retire the name, which they felt represented all three of them as a group. Still, they continued to perform on and off together at special events, and Robin continued to write, produce and perform as a solo artist, despite his health issues. He joined Barry Gibb in 2009 for a performance on ABC's Dancing with the Stars, in celebration of their 50th anniversary, and in 2010 for a widely-praised performance on American Idol. In April, the Fox show Glee saluted the Bee Gees with an episode devoted to their music.
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