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Robin Gibb

Robin Hugh Gibb, CBE (22 December 1949 20 May 2012) was a singer and songwriter, best known as a member of the Bee Gees, co-founded with his twin brother Maurice and older brother Barry. Their younger brother Andy was also a singer.

Born in the Isle of Man to English parents, the family later moved to Manchester before settling in Brisbane, Australia. Gibb began his career as part of the family trio and when the group found their first success they returned to the United Kingdom where they achieved worldwide fame. In 2004, the Bee Gees received their CBEs from the Prince of Wales at Buckingham Palace for their "contribution to music".[1] With record sales estimated in excess of 200 million units, the Bee Gees became one of the most successful pop groups of all time.[2] Music historian Paul Gambaccini described Gibb as "one of the major figures in the history of British music" and "one of the best white soul voices ever".[3]

After a career spanning six decades, Gibb last performed on stage in February 2012 supporting injured British servicemen and women at a charity concert at the London Palladium.[4] On 20 May 2012, Gibb died at the age of 62 from liver and kidney failure.[5]

Contents


Early life

Born to Barbara (n e Pass) and Hugh Gibb (d. 1992) on the Isle of Man, Robin was the fraternal twin brother of Maurice Gibb, and the older of the two by 35 minutes. The third-born of five children, Gibb had one older sister, Lesley Evans (born 1945), and three brothers: Barry (born 1946), twin Maurice (1949 2003), and Andy (1958 1988).

Gibb was the subject of an edition of the BBC genealogy documentary series Who Do You Think You Are? first broadcast on 21 September 2011. The programme revealed that Gibb's paternal great-grandfather was born into poverty in Paisley and went on to become a decorated soldier and his paternal great-grandmother was a midwife.[6]

Gibb's mother, Barbara (n e Pass), was born in Worsley, Salford; one of her grandfathers was an Irish immigrant.[7] In 1953, the family returned to Manchester, England.[8] The family lived on Keppel Road, Chorlton-cum-Hardy and it was here that the young Gibb brothers sang together and performed in local theatres.[8] In late 1958, the family moved to Brisbane, Australia. The family travelled to Australia on the same ship as Australian musician Red Symons. The brothers' music careers began in Australia and flourished when they returned to England in 1967.[9]

Solo career

Robin Gibb performs on the Dutch television network AVRO programme TopPop in 1973. Traditionally, Gibb's role in the Bee Gees was lead singer, for which he vied with Barry during the group's first period of British success in the late 1960s. This rivalry eventually prompted Robin to leave the group and begin a solo career. The final irritant was when his song "Lamplight" was relegated to the B-side of Barry's song "First of May". Meanwhile, there were rumours during this period that he was dealing with drug abuse problems, leading his parents (allegedly) to threaten legal action to make him a ward of court (the UK age of majority at that time being 21, while Gibb was only 19).[10]

In his solo career, Gibb was initially successful with a number 2 UK hit, "Saved by the Bell", which sold over one million copies and received a gold disc.[11] However, Robin's first solo album, Robin's Reign, was less successful and he soon found that being a solo artist was unsatisfying. Maurice played bass guitar on the song "Mother and Jack", but was subsequently removed from the project by producer Robert Stigwood. Despite having almost completed a second solo album, Sing Slowly Sisters, Gibb reunited with his brothers, who then revived the Bee Gees. The group came back on a high note, reaching No. 3 on the US charts with the song "Lonely Days" in 1970. In 1971, the Bee Gees had their first US No.1 hit, "How Can You Mend a Broken Heart", but after that their popularity started to ebb.

In 1974, with new producer Arif Mardin, the Bee Gees reinvented themselves with the song "Blue-Eyed Soul". The group now entered their second period of phenomenal success in the disco-era late 1970s.[12]

In 1978, Gibb performed on the Sesame Street Fever album for the Sesame Street children's TV program. He was one of the singers on the "Sesame Street Fever" title track, he sang a song called "Trash" for the character Oscar the Grouch, and spoke with Cookie Monster at the beginning of "C is for Cookie".

While continuing in the Bee Gees, Gibb also promoted his new solo career. During the 1980s, Gibb released three solo albums (How Old Are You?, Secret Agent, and Walls Have Eyes). These three albums were more successful in Europe than in the UK or US, with How Old Are You? spawning the hit single "Juliet". However, Gibb's 1984 single "Boys Do Fall in Love" did reach the Billboard Magazine top 40 list of hits. Gibb also recorded several extended versions of dance songs, including "Boys Do Fall in Love", "Secret Agent", "Like a Fool" and the rarest, "You Don't Say Us Anymore"; many of these extended versions were released to radio disc jockeys only.

On 27 January 2003, fifteen days after Maurice's death, Robin released a solo album, Magnet in Germany on SPV GmbH, and worldwide shortly afterwards. Magnet featured the Bee Gees song "Wish You Were Here" (from the 1989 album One) in a new acoustic version. The lead single, "Please", had coincidental lyrics about "loss". After Maurice's death, Gibb and Barry again disbanded the Bee Gees; however, in late 2009, the two brothers announced that they would reform and perform again as the Bee Gees whenever they could. In recent years, Gibb sang the vocals to the opening titles to the British ITV show The Dame Edna Treatment.[13]

He also was a special guest of the United States Independence Day Concert called "A Capitol Fourth" held on the west lawn of the US Capitol as the lead singer of "How Deep is Your Love" and "Stayin' Alive".

Gibb performing in Leipzig, Germany in 2009. On 18 May 2008, Gibb released the song "Alan Freeman Days" in tribute to the Australian DJ Alan Freeman. The song was issued as a download only track, although a promotional CD was issued by Academy Recordings. In December 2008, "Alan Freeman Days" was followed by another downloadable song titled "Wing and a Prayer", which shared the same name as a song from the 1989 One album. However, the new song was actually a reworking of the song, "Sing Slowly Sisters", that had remained unreleased since 1970.[14] Later in December, Gibb issued another song, "Ellan Vannin (Home Coming Mix)", featuring the King William's College Choir from the Isle of Man. ("Ellan Vannin" is the Manx name for the Isle of Man.)

In 2008, Gibb completed a new solo album entitled 50 St. Catherine's Drive, but it was never released. However, in August 2009, a 50-second video clip of "Instant Love" from 50 St. Catherine's Drive appeared as a preview. "Instant Love" was a collaboration with Gibb's son Robin-John. A second version of "Instant Love" featuring Robin-John on vocals appeared in a short film called Bloodtype: The Search in which Robin-John appeared.[15]

Gibb and Robin-John also wrote the score for The Titanic Requiem, recorded by Royal Philharmonic Orchestra for the 2012 100th Anniversary of the sinking of the Titanic.[16] Gibb was due to attend the piece's premier on 10 April 2012 at the Central Hall, Westminster, London but his failing health kept him away.[17]

In 2010, Gibb was also a guest mentor on the Australian version of The X Factor, alongside TV host Kyle Sandilands, actress/singer Natalie Imbruglia, and singers Ronan Keating and Guy Sebastian.[18]

Collaborations

In August 2003, Gibb announced the release of a new single of "My Lover's Prayer", a song first recorded by the Bee Gees in 1997, with vocals by Gibb and singers Wanya Morris and Lance Bass. "My Lover's Prayer" was played on the radio, but was never actually released. In October 2003, Gibb recorded a second version of this song as a duet with singer Alistair Griffin, a runner-up in the UK television program Fame Academy on which Gibb had appeared as a judge. In January 2004, the new "My Lover's Prayer" was released in the UK as a double A side CD single. It eventually reached number 5 in the UK music charts.

In January 2005, Gibb joined his brother Barry and several other artists under the name One World Project to record a charity single in aid of Asian tsunami relief, titled "Grief Never Grows Old". Other artists who performed on the single included Boy George, Steve Winwood, Jon Anderson, Rick Wakeman, Sir Cliff Richard, Bill Wyman, America, Kenny Jones, Chicago, Brian Wilson of The Beach Boys, Russell Watson and Davy Spillane.

In June 2005, Gibb joined X Factor runner up band G4 at a sell-out concert at the Royal Albert Hall in London, singing the Bee Gees song "First of May". In December 2005, a recording of this performance was released as part of a double A side single, credited as "G4 feat Robin Gibb" together with G4's cover version of the Johnny Mathis song "When a Child is Born". "First of May" also appeared on the platinum selling album G4 & Friends, which reached number 6 in the UK album charts.

In November 2006, Gibb released an album of Christmas carols called Robin Gibb My Favourite Carols, backed by The Serlo Consort, a London choir. The Serlo Consort. The album also featured a new song by Gibb called "Mother of Love", which was released in Europe as a download single. The song was inspired by Maurice and was Gibb's first new composition since Maurice died. Gibb donated all royalties from "Mother of Love" to the "Janki Foundation for Global Healthcare", and dedicated the song to Dadi Janki, the organisation's spiritual leader. Gibb dedicated the album to his mother, Barbara Gibb. Robin Gibb My Favourite Carols has a bonus DVD disc titled A Personal Christmas Moment with Robin Gibb.

Gibb went back to the top of the UK charts in 2009 when he collaborated with singers Ruth Jones, Rob Brydon, and Tom Jones on a new version of "Islands in the Stream", written by Gibb, Barry, and Maurice. The new version, inspired by the BBC comedy TV show Gavin & Stacey, was created to benefit the charity Comic Relief.[19]

In September 2011, Gibb recorded the Bee Gees classic "I've Gotta Get a Message to You" with British Army men The Soldiers for a charity single in the UK, the video for which was produced by Vintage TV.[20]

Concerts

In late 2004, Gibb embarked on a solo tour of Germany, Russia and Asia, with singer Alistair Griffin as the opening act. On his return to the UK, Gibb released a CD and DVD of live recordings from the German leg of the tour, backed by the Frankfurt Neue Philharmonic Orchestra of Frankfurt, Germany. In 2005, Gibb made a solo tour of Latin America.

On 20 February 2006, Gibb and Barry performed at a concert for the Diabetes Research Institute of the University of Miami in Hollywood, Florida. This was their first joint performance since Maurice's death.[21] In March 2006, Gibb announced plans for more solo concerts in Shanghai, China and Portugal. In May 2006, Gibb took part in the Prince's Trust 30th Birthday Concert at the Tower of London along with Barry. They sang three songs: "Jive Talkin'", "To Love Somebody" and "You Should Be Dancing". In September 2006, Gibb performed "Stayin' Alive" at the Miss World 2006 contest finals in Warsaw, Poland. In November 2006, Gibb performed a solo concert, entitled "Bee Gees Greatest Hits", at the Araneta Coliseum in Manila, Philippines.

Gibb marked his return to his birthplace by playing a concert at the Isle of Man TT festival in 2007. Gibb donated all of his share of the money from this concert to the children's ward at Noble's Hospital, Isle of Man, and invited all emergency service staff and marshals for the TT to attend for free.

On 8 September 2007, Gibb performed a concert in Salt Lake City, Utah at EnergySolutions Arena for the Nu Skin Enterprises Convention, singing a set of Bee Gees hits. On 25 October 2007, Gibb performed a concert at the National Palace of Culture in Sofia, Bulgaria and sang the Bee Gees' most famous songs. On 25 October 2008, to mark the 30th anniversary of the song "Saturday Night Fever" topping the UK charts, Gibb performed with special guests including Ronan Keating, Stephen Gateley, Sam Sparro, Sharleen Spiteri, Gabriella Cilmi and Bryn Christopher at the London music festival BBC Electric Proms. In 2010, Gibb toured Australia with Bonnie Tyler as his supporting guest.[22] Together they performed at Melbourne, Sydney, Brisbane and Perth.[23] On 30 January 2012, Gibb announced his intention to appear on stage at the Coming Home Concert at the London Palladium in February to benefit British soldiers returning home from Afghanistan.[24][25] It would be his last performance on stage.[4]

Personal life

In 1968 Gibb married Molly Hullis, a secretary in Robert Stigwood's organisation. The couple had both survived the Hither Green rail crash, which killed 49 people on 5 November 1967.[26] They had two children together, Spencer (b. 1972) and Melissa (b. 1974). The couple divorced in 1980 after years of living separate lives, with Gibb almost permanently in the U.S. and Hullis remaining in the UK.[27]

Gibb's second marriage, from 1985 until his death,[28] was to Dwina Murphy Gibb, an author and artist. She is interested in the Druidry religion and is a follower of the neo-Hindu Brahma Kumaris movement. The couple had a son, Robin-John (known as RJ (b. 1983). Gibb and his wife divided their time between their homes in Peel, Isle of Man, their mansion in Miami, Florida (which was as of November 2011 up for sale[29]) and their main residence in Thame, Oxfordshire.[30]

On 10 March 1988, younger brother Andy died in Oxford, England, of myocarditis.[31] On 12 January 2003, twin brother Maurice died in Miami Beach, Florida of complications from a twisted intestine.

On 4 November 2008, he had a fourth child, Snow Evelyn Robin Juliet Gibb, born out of a private relationship with a housekeeper,[32] Claire Yang.[28]

Gibb was "an ardent vegan and teetotaller".[33]

Robin Gibb and Enzina Fuschini, in front of the painting created by Fuschini during a charity event in London on the 9th of January 2009 at the Sunseeker Ball in aid of the Outward Bound Trust, organised by Gibb. The painting, created during the same evening and sold at the charity auction, represents him, surrounded by all the other celebrities present, and was signed by all the present personalities.
Robin Gibb and Enzina Fuschini, in front of the painting created by Fuschini during a charity event in London on the 9th of January 2009 at the Sunseeker Ball in aid of the Outward Bound Trust, organised by Gibb. The painting, created during the same evening and sold at the charity auction, represents him, surrounded by all the other celebrities present, and was signed by all the present personalities.

Politically, Gibb was a supporter of the British Labour Party and launched a rally in Huddersfield, West Yorkshire, ahead of the 2005 General Election.[34] He was a close friend of the former Labour Prime Minister Tony Blair, who was criticised for staying over at Gibb's Miami mansion during Christmas 2006.[35] In 2008 Gibb publicly stated that he continued to get on "like a house on fire" with Blair, and claimed that the then Labour Prime Minister Gordon Brown regularly listened to the Bee Gees.[36] "He listens to our music every day. Gordon likes our music and I like Gordon," he told The Times.[37] In a tribute upon his death, longtime friend Tony Blair said: "Robin was not only an exceptional and extraordinary musician and songwriter, he was a highly intelligent, interested and committed human being. He was a great friend with a wonderful open and fertile mind and a student of history and politics."[38][39]

Robin Gibb was also active in many charity occasions; He was for example the organiser of the Sunseeker Ball in aid of the Outward Bound Trust.

Health problems and death

On 14 August 2010, while performing in Belgium, Gibb began to feel abdominal pains. On 18 August, he was rushed to a hospital in Oxford, England and underwent emergency surgery for a blocked intestine, the same condition that killed Maurice.[40] Gibb recovered and returned to perform concerts in New Zealand and Australia. During this time, Gibb was also involved in promoting fund-raising for the memorial dedicated to RAF Bomber Command in Green Park, London. Gibb also wrote The Titanic Requiem with his son Robin-John, which was recorded by the Royal Philharmonic Orchestra to commemorate the 100th anniversary of the sinking of the Titanic in 2012.[41] Gibb continued to make television appearances and other events following his surgery, but in April 2011 he was forced by health problems to cancel his tour of Brazil.[40] Another concert in Paris was cancelled in October 2011. On 14 October, Gibb was due to perform the charity single with The Soldiers, but was again rushed to hospital with severe abdominal pains.[42] On 18 October, following his release from the hospital, Gibb appeared on ITV's The Alan Titchmarsh Show looking gaunt and frail.[43]

On 27 October 2011, Gibb cancelled an appearance only minutes before he was due to perform at the Poppy Appeal Concert in London.[44] Later the same week however, Gibb was seen in London and quoted as saying he felt "absolutely great".[45]

In November 2011, he was diagnosed with colorectal cancer, which had metastasised to his liver, several months earlier.[46] In an interview published in The Mail on Sunday on 22 January 2012, Gibb 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 a toll, naturally, but the strange thing is that I've never felt seriously ill. I ve mostly felt great. There have been many false claims around, which I'd like to dispel. I am not and have never been 'at death's door'. Nor do I have a team of alternative doctors working on my health. That's not true, although I'm not averse to healthy remedies for any illness. I feel they can go together with conventional medicine. I do eat health foods and drink herbal teas made for me by Dwina, my wife and RJ's mother. Other than that, I am under the care of Dr. Peter Harper at The London Clinic".[47]

In March 2012, Gibb was hospitalised for intestinal surgery and cancelled scheduled appearances while recovering.[48][49] In April, however, he contracted pneumonia and fell into a coma.[50][51] Although he came out of his coma later in April,[52] his colorectal cancer had advanced[53] and he died in London on 20 May 2012 at the age of 62 from liver and kidney failure, three days after another disco legend Donna Summer.[3][54][55]

His funeral was held on 8 June 2012 and he was buried near his home in Thame, Oxfordshire, and a memorial service will take place at St Paul's Cathedral, London.[56][57]

Acclaim and recognition

Gibb among Jamie Oliver, Larry Hagman and others at Laureates 2010 In 1994, Gibb was inducted into the Songwriters Hall of Fame at the Grammy Museum in Los Angeles, California. In 1997, the Bee Gees were inducted as a group into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame in Cleveland, Ohio, US. At the 1997 BRIT Awards held in Earls Court, London on 24 February, the Bee Gees received the award for Outstanding Contribution to Music.[58]

In 2002, Gibb was made a Commander of the Order of the British Empire (CBE) in the 2002 New Year Honours, along with his brothers Maurice and Barry. However, the official presentation ceremony at Buckingham Palace in London was delayed until 2004 due to Maurice's death.[1]

In May 2004, Gibb and his brother Barry both received honorary doctorates of music from The University of Manchester, England.[59] In 2005, Gibb received the Steiger Award (Miner Award) in Bochum, Germany for accomplishments in the arts. On 10 July 2009, both Gibb and Barry were made Freemen of the Borough of Douglas, Isle of Man. The award was also bestowed posthumously on Maurice, therefore confirming the freedom of the town of their birth to Gibb, Barry and Maurice.[60]

The radio and television presenter, Paul Gambaccini has stated that the Bee Gees were "second only to Lennon and McCartney as the most successful songwriting unit in British popular music", and recognised Gibb as "one of the major figures in the history of British music [and] one of the best white soul voices ever".[3] Gibb was a fellow of the British Academy of Songwriters, Composers and Authors (BASCA).[61]

Discography

Gibb's entire song catalogue is published by Universal Music Publishing Group.

Albums

Year Title United
Kingdom
Germany United
States
Switzerland Canada New
Zealand
Italy
1970 Robin's Reign 19 77
1983 How Old Are You? 6 26 22 13
1984 Secret Agent 31 97 20
1985 Walls Have Eyes
2003 Magnet 43 10
2005 Live with the Neue Philharmonie Frankfurt Orchestra
2006 My Favourite Christmas Carols
2012 Titanic Requiem

Singles

Year Title United
Kingdom
Germany United
States
Austria Switzerland South
Africa
New
Zealand
Italy
1969 "Saved by the Bell" 2 3 1 1
1969 "One Million Years" 14 6
1970 "August October" 45 12 11
1978 "Oh! Darling" 15 5
1980 "Help Me!"
(Robin Gibb with Marcy Levy)
50
1983 "Juliet" 94 1 104 2 1 1
1983 "How Old Are You" 92 37
1983 "Another Lonely Night in New York" 71 16 19
1984 "Boys Do Fall in Love" 70 21 37 36 7 10
1984 "Secret Agent"
1984 "In Your Diary"
1985 "Like a Fool"
1986 "Toys"
2002 "Please" 23 51 48
2003 "Wait Forever"
2004 "My Lover's Prayer"
(Robin Gibb and Alistair Griffin)
5
2005 "First of May"
(G4 feat. Robin Gibb)
2006 "Mother of Love"
2007 "Too Much Heaven"
(Robin Gibb and US5)
7
2009 "Islands in the Stream"
(Comic Relief with Robin Gibb)
1
2011 "I've Gotta Get a Message to You"
(The Soldiers with Robin Gibb)
75
2012 "Don't Cry Alone"
(promotional video only)

References

External links

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