5:02 PM GMT 17/05/2013
Photo: Getty Images
Robin Gibb, who died last night following a lengthy battle with cancer, was a master pop writer and the Bee Gees' secret weapon. Possessed of a unique, tremulous voice that magically blended with the silken singing of his brothers Barry and Maurice, Gibb brought a compelling sadness to the group's twinkling melodies. He sounded weird and he knew it. "I don't sing with my voice, I sing with my heart," he told journalist Keith Altham in 1969. "I sing how I feel. I know I haven't got a great voice but I manage to touch something inside other people that they understand."
Born on the Isle Of Man on December 22, 1949, Gibb's journey into music began before he hit his teens when he started singing with his twin brother Maurice and older sibling Barry. The family moved to Manchester before relocating to Australia in 1958 where they soon began honing their skills with a gruelling schedule that often saw them performing up to 20 times a day. Signing to Festival Records in 1963, the newly-christened Bee Gees found success with their 13th single, Spicks And Specks - an Australian Number 1 in 1967. They returned to England the same year, falling under the wing of Robert Stigwood, then MD of Brian Epstein's NEMS empire. The release that April of UK debut single, New York Mining Disaster 1941, marked the start of a run of chart hits that included the Robin-led Massachusetts and I Started A Joke.
The trappings of life in the pop star fast lane and a rift with brother Barry forced Robin to quit the group following the release of their double epic Odessa in 1969 ("We had egos," he told MOJO in 2003). Although Saved By The Bell - a solo smash taken from the orchestral dark of the Robin's Reign album - hit the UK Number 2 spot, Gibb found working on his own tough: "I was alone and not having fun". He rejoined his brothers in 1970 and helped the group rise to Number 3 in the US charts with Lonely Days and Number 1 with How Can You Mend A Broken Heart.
The Bee Gees mid-'70s rejuvenation began with proto-disco cut Jive Talkin' in 1975 and continued through the globe-straddling success Saturday Night Fever and its small army of Number 1 singles. By January 1979, the album had racked up an astonishing 25 million sales.
The early-to-mid 1980s were the backdrop for three more Gibb solo albums - How Old Are You? (1983), Secret Agent (1984) and Walls Have Eyes (1985). The Bee Gees made their ensemble return in 1987, but tragedy struck the family the following year when younger brother Andy - a recording star in his own right - died of a heart attack shortly after his 30th birthday.
The death of twin brother Maurice in 2003 was also to hit Robin hard. "He was part of the fabric of my life," Robin said. "We were kids together, and teenagers. We spent the whole of our lives with each other because of our music. I can't accept that he's dead. I just imagine he's alive somewhere else."
Speaking to MOJO in the same year, Gibb asserted: "Out of the three brothers I have the most energy that I need to offload." Energy, melancholy and a vibrato voice that sounded quite unlike anyone else - it was a mix of these qualities that made Robin Gibb a complete one-off. MOJO's thoughts are with his family and friends.
Here are just a few of Robin Gibb's finest moments on film below:
I Started A Joke
Saved By The Bell
1969 Robin Gibb interview
Posted by Ross_Bennett at 12:42 PM GMT 21/05/2012