Who Was Maurice Gibb?
Part of a musical family, Maurice Gibb started out performing with his brothers Barry and Robin at a young age. The trio, eventually known as the Bee Gees, had their first international hit in 1967. The group enjoyed a second, bigger wave of success in the 1970s with such songs as "Staying Alive" and "How Deep Is Your Love." The brothers kept recording and performing until Maurice's death in 2003.
As part of the Bee Gees, Maurice Gibb enjoyed tremendous pop success while maintaining somewhat of a lower profile than his brothers and bandmates Barry and Robin. He was known for his sense of humor and his musical talents.
Gibb started his life as a part of duo, being born roughly half an hour after his twin brother Robin on December 22, 1949, on the Isle of Man, United Kingdom. In addition to the fraternal twins, the family also included older sister Lesley and older brother Barry. The youngest son, Andy, was born in 1958.
Music was an important part of their family life. Their father Hugh worked as a bandleader and a drummer. Not long after Andy's birth, the Gibb family moved to Australia in 1958. There Gibb and his two older brothers first tasted musical success. They hosted a television show and released their first single, which featured their soon-to-be trademark vocal style. The three Gibb brothers, eventually known as the Bee Gees, sang most of their songs in three-part harmony with Maurice handling many of the higher parts. Maurice was also a skilled musician, playing bass guitar on some of their songs.
To advance their career, the trio moved to England in the late 1960s to participate in the thriving rock scene there. They soon landed on the charts in 1967 with "New York Mining Disaster 1941," their take on psychedelic rock, which became an international hit. A few months later, their first album Bee Gees First (or sometimes referred to as Bee Bees 1st) made it into the top 10 in both Britain and the United States. The recording also featured the ballad "Massachusetts."
Gibb wed fellow pop music star Lulu in 1969, but their union didn't last long. At the time, he engaged in a partying lifestyle, which strained his marriage. The couple divorced in 1973. Relations between Gibb and his brothers also faltered around this time. Robin briefly left the group, and Maurice and Barry recorded one album without him. Maurice also worked on a solo project, but it was never officially released.
In 1971, the reunited trio scored another of their famous hits with the soft ballad "How Can You Mend a Broken Heart." The Bee Gees then went on to achieve an even greater level of success, riding a wave of new music called disco. "Jive Talkin" went to number one in 1975, and the group soon had more successful singles from their contributions to the Saturday Night Fever (1977) soundtrack. They also won several Grammy Awards for the project. Over the coming years, fans could not get enough of their catchy dance music and moving ballads. Their next album, Spirits Having Flown (1979), sold 35 million copies.
A recovering alcoholic, Gibb suffered a relapse after the death of his youngest brother in 1988. Andy had enjoyed great success as a solo artist, but he had problems with drug and alcohol abuse, which contributed to his death. It took Maurice some time to tame his own demons. In 1991, he threatened his second wife, Yvonne, and their two children with a gun. The chilling incident led Gibb to recommit himself to sobriety.
Gibb continued to work with his brothers as the Bee Gees despite their waning popularity. They enjoyed some success overseas with such albums as E.S.P. (1987) and One (1989). In 1997, the Bee Gees reached an important career pinnacle when they were inducted into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame.
This Is Where I Came In (2001) proved to be the Bee Gees' last album together. In early January 2003, Gibb was at his Florida home when he started experiencing abdominal pain. He went to the hospital to have surgery to remove an intestinal blockage, but he had a heart attack before the procedure. Despite his heart problem, the doctors decided to proceed with the operation. Gibb died on January 12 at a Miami Beach hospital. His family ordered an investigation into Gibb's medical case, concerned over possible malpractice in the matter.
After his death, his surviving brothers decided to retire the Bee Gees name. Nearly 200 people, including Michael Jackson, attended his funeral. Gibb and his brother Barry had been working on a project with Jackson in the weeks before his death. Friends and family remembered Gibb for his outgoing personality, good sense of humor and musical versatility.
To the world at large, Gibb has been remembered as part of an impressive pop music phenomenon. Gibb and his brothers sold more than 100 million records during their career, securing their place in music history.
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