|Wednesday, 15 January 2003|
Fun-loving Bee Gee Maurice Gibb dead at 53
by Michael Connor
MIAMI, (Reuters) Singer Maurice Gibb of the Bee Gees, the three brothers who provided the soundtrack to the disco era in a career that spanned more than 40 years, has died after abdominal surgery, his family said on Sunday. He was 53.
Gibb, whose harmonies with his twin Robin and older brother Barry, 55, helped create one of the best-selling groups of the rock 'n' roll era, collapsed on Thursday at his Miami home after suffering intense stomach pain and was rushed to Mount Sinai Medical Center.
He "experienced cardiac arrest" before his surgery on an intestinal blockage, the hospital said. After the operation and until he died, he was listed in critical but stable condition.
"His love, enthusiasm and energy for life remain an inspiration to all of us," the family said in a statement issued at the hospital. "We will deeply miss him." No time of death was given but it appeared to have been very early on Sunday.
Maurice, who always wore a hat and an Alcoholics Anonymous lapel badge, was the most outgoing member of the Bee Gees.
"I used to be a real terror," he told Reuters in a 1997 interview. "I just enjoy life to its fullest now. There's two days a week I don't worry about now, and that's today and yesterday."
Youngest sibling Andy Gibb, who did not sing with the Bee Gees but had two No. 1 hits in the late 1970s, "I Just Want To Be Your Everything" and "Shadow Dancing," died of a heart infection in 1988, aged 30.
Maurice told Reuters in 1998 that Andy's death brought the brothers closer together, and made them appreciate life.
"At that funeral, we made that pact that we can't let anything come between us, and take life as it is - have fun."
Born on the Isle of Man and raised in Manchester, the Gibbs emigrated to Australia with their parents in 1958. They called themselves the Bee Gees (for Brothers Gibb) and toiled in obscurity until the late 1960s. By then, the trio had moved back to Britain and enjoyed such early hits as "To Love Somebody" and "Words."
As would be the case throughout the career, the Bee Gees often fell out of favor. They broke up briefly around 1970, and suffered a series of flops for the first half of the decade.
"We've been up and down like yo-yos," Maurice recounted years later. They entered pop immortality with their 1977 soundtrack to the film "Saturday Night Fever," which sold more than 40 million copies. The album yielded such hits as "Stayin' Alive," "Night Fever" and "How Deep Is Your Love."
"I must admit when I first saw it, it didn't impress me," Maurice said of "Saturday Night Fever," which made a star of John Travolta. "I thought it was a nice film, but..."
When disco died out in the late 1970s, the Bee Gees suffered a backlash. But the brothers were never defensive. Maurice once recalled John Lennon telling him he wished he could have had as much success as the Bee Gees did.
Produced by Lake House