Encore: The world loses Andy Gibb -- Barely 30, the pop paragon died in the middle of a comeback attempt

March 11, 1994 at 05:00 AM EST

Coming five days after his 30th birthday, the news of Andy Gibb’s death was a shock, but not necessarily a surprise. The youngest of the famed Gibb brothers (a.k.a. the Bee Gees), he’d gone straight to the top of the teen-idol heap with his first three hit singles — 1977’s ”I Just Want to Be Your Everything” and ”(Love Is) Thicker Than Water” and 1978’s ”Shadow Dancing” — only to fall almost as fast. Unprepared for the pressures of sudden fame, Gibb undermined his sparkling but brief career with years of cocaine abuse. When he died March 10, 1988, Gibb was a presumed drug casualty, though the real cause of death turned out to be truly unexpected — an inflammation of the heart brought on by a virus.

Born in England but raised Down Under, Gibb was briefly (1976-78) married to Australian secretary Kim Reeder — with whom he had a daughter, Peta, now 16 — early in his career. During his pinup-poster-boy phase, he was romantically linked to older women, including British actress Susan George, before finding his everything with Dallas‘ Victoria Principal, eight years his senior, in 1981. Gibb praised Principal as ”a very special lady” and celebrated their love in a duet, ”All I Have to Do Is Dream,” a modest chart hit.

When the affair ended after 13 months, Gibb was devastated. ”When we broke up, I gave up everything,” he confessed on Good Morning America. ”I didn’t care about life.” Erratic behavior cost him a stint as cohost on TV’s Solid Gold in 1982. Seven months later, he was replaced by David Cassidy in Broadway’s Joseph and the Amazing Technicolor Dreamcoat after missing 12 shows in six weeks. Gibb blamed his problems on the breakup; Principal blamed them on cocaine.

Visits to two rehabs supposedly cured Gibb, whose costly habit (up to $1,000 a day) and withered career led to bankruptcy. The idol who’d earned more than $3 million by the age of 21 pulled in an income of only $7,755 two years before his death.

Nevertheless, Gibb was attempting a comeback and working on an album when death intervened. Said his brother Barry a year afterward, ”Andy’s problem wasn’t drugs or alcohol. He had forgotten how to grab life.”

March 10, 1988
Tom Wolfe’s The Bonfire of the Vanities burned up the best-seller list. Robin Williams spun box office gold in Good Morning, Vietnam. George Michael’s ”Father Figure” topped the charts. The Cosby Show got the yuks on TV.

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