Born on December 22, 1949 on the Isle of Man, United Kingdom, to Barbara and Hugh Gibb, singer Robin Gibb moved to Australia in 1958 with his family. He performed with his older brother Barry and twin brother Maurice as the Bee Gees, scoring some hits in Australia before moving to England in 1967. By the late 1970s, the Bee Gees became one of the top pop acts in the world, riding the disco craze. Gibb has pursued a solo career over the years, but never gained the same level of success as the Bee Gees. He died on May 20, 2012, in London, England, following a long battle with cancer.
The force behind of some pop's most legendary hits, Robin Gibb arrived in this world just 30 minutes ahead of his twin brother, Maurice. The pair, along with their older brother, Barry, would later become the dynamic trio known as the Bee Gees. Music was a large part of their family life. Their father, a bandleader, encouraged the boys' interest in performing from an early age.
In 1958, Gibb and his family emigrated to Australia, settling in Brisbane. There, he and his two brothers found some success hosting a weekly television show. They released their first single in 1963, which reflected their trademark three-part harmony sound. Gibb shared lead vocal duties with his brother Barry, and the trio was heavy influenced by such English rock acts as the Beatles. Behind the scenes, the brothers collaborated in writing most of the group's original songs.
In moving to England in 1967, Gibb's career started to take off. The Bee Gees scored several hits, including the psychedelic rock-flavored "New York Mining Disaster 1941." In 1969, Gibb went solo briefly, releasing Robin's Reign that year. "Saved by the Bell" proved to be his first hit on his own. Gibb later reunited with his brothers and scored another hit with 1971's "How Can You Mend a Broken Heart."
After falling out of favor for a time, the Bee Gees became one of the most popular groups of the 1970s. They worked with producer Arif Mardin, developing more R&B and dance-oriented music. In 1975, the Bee Gees topped the American charts with "Jive Talkin'" and more hits soon followed. They contributed several songs to the hugely successful soundtrack Saturday Night Fever (1977), a dramatic ode of sorts to the emerging disco music scene. Songs included the ballad "How Deep Is Your Love" and infectious dance tune "Stayin' Alive."
The Bee Gees continued to thrive, topping the charts with the album Spirits Having Flown in 1979. It featured their now-trademark mix of dance tracks and ballads, and sold roughly 35 million copies. As the 1980s began, however, the Bee Gees suffered a backlash as the public lost interest in disco.
Around this time, Gibb worked on a number of solo projects, including 1983's How Old Are You?. The album featured "Juliet," a hit single in Europe. He also worked with other artists as well, producing and writing for Jimmy Ruffin. With his brothers, Gibb penned hit songs for Barbra Streisand, Dionne Warwick and Dolly Parton, among others.
Gibb teamed up with his brothers for a few more Bee Gees albums, such as E.S.P. (1987) and One (1989), but they never achieved the same level of success they experienced earlier. Much maligned by critics over the years, the Bee Gees finally received some recognition for their accomplishments in 1997, when they were inducted into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame.
Gibb married Molly Hullis in 1968, and they had two children together, Spencer and Melissa. After drifting apart and separating for several years, the couple finally divorced in 1980. Gibb then married author and artist Dwina Murphy Gibb, who gave birth to his third child, son Robin-John, or RJ, in 1983.
Gibb's younger brother Andy died of myocarditis in March of 1988. After his twin brother Maurice died of intestinal complications in January of 2003, Gibb retired the Bee Gees name. He released the solo album Magnet that same year, and followed it up a few years later with a holiday recording, My Favourite Christmas Carols.
Gibb performed with his brother Barry over the years, usually for charity events. A prolific songwriter, he worked hard to make sure that artists received the royalties due for their work. From 2007 to 2012, Gibb served as president of International Confederation of Societies of Authors and Composers.
Gibb worked with his son RJ on his classical composition, and the pair wrote Titanic Requiem in 2012 to mark the 100th anniversary of the Titanic's sinking. In addition to his music, Gibb was very active in charitable causes. He sang vocals on a cover of the Bee Gees' "I've Gotta to Get a Message to You" with the Soldiers to raise money for the Royal British Legion. He was also instrumental in attracting contributions for a special monument in London, the Bomber Command Memorial, dedicated to World War II veterans.
Death and Legacy
In 2010, Gibb began to struggle with severe abdominal pain, similar to what Maurice had experienced before his death in 2003. In August of 2010, Gibb underwent emergency surgery for a blocked intestine. The following year, he was hospitalized three times. He was later diagnosed with colorectal cancer.
Gibb claimed to have beaten his illness, telling the press in February of 2012 that he had undergone chemotherapy and achieved "spectacular" results. But by late March, the singer was back in the hospital for intestinal surgery. Gibb had to cancel a number of appearances, but still hoped to make the April 10, 2012 premiere of Titanic Requiem in London.
Sadly, Gibb could not make it the concert because he came down with pneumonia. He slipped into a coma a few days later. At a London hospital, Gibb was surrounded by family, including his second wife Dwina and their son RJ. His two children from his first marriage, Spencer and Melissa, were also present. Gibb regained consciousness in late April. "It is a testament to Robin's extraordinary courage, iron will and deep reserves of physical strength that he has overcome quite incredible odds to get where he is now," one of his doctors told the press in April 2012.
Despite his determination, Gibb was not able to overcome his illness. He died in London on May 20, 2012, at the age of 62, after a long battle with cancer. Gibb will be remembered for his soulful voice, contributions to popular music and work on behalf of songwriters everywhere.
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