Maurice Gibb, 1949-2003

By David Browne
Updated January 24, 2003 at 05:00 AM EST

To the casual fan of the Bee Gees, Barry had the hair, Robin had the quiver, and twin brother Maurice had — what exactly? Maurice (pronounced ”Morris”) Gibb was long the enigmatic Bee Gee, the one who played bass and keyboards, cracked jokes on stage, and sang harmony, rarely lead.

On Jan. 8, Gibb, 53, experienced stomach pains at his Miami home and was admitted to nearby Mount Sinai Medical Center. The next day, before undergoing surgery for an intestinal blockage, he went into cardiac arrest; he died on Jan. 12. (He left behind a wife, Yvonne, and children Adam and Samantha.) Questioning why doctors had operated despite Gibb’s heart episode, Barry and Robin immediately announced they would investigate ”every second of the timeline” leading up to their brother’s death. (”We’re committed to cooperating with the family fully,” says hospital spokesperson Kathleen Dorkowski.) Even in passing, Maurice was hard to decipher.

Yet according to Karl Richardson, who coproduced disco-era smashes like ”Stayin’ Alive” and ”You Should Be Dancing,” Gibb’s contribution was sizable, if low-key. ”Of all three brothers, Maurice had a complete understanding of the technology involved in recording,” Richardson says. ”Maurice had one of the first Macintosh computers, back when nobody knew music and computers would come together. The guy was brilliant.”

Gibb’s death was made all the more poignant given the way he had overcome his own past excesses. ”I was the drinker of the group,” he told EW six years ago, ”…and everyone knew I drank, but they used to hide it all the time.” After what he called an ”awakening” in the late ’80s, Gibb sobered up, and other passions took over; he recently opened a Miami store, Commander Mo’s Paintball Shop, dedicated to his love of the sport. According to Barry and Robin, the Bee Gees will carry on, but as Richardson says, one of pop’s most enduring bands may never be the same. ”Barry and Robin had the voices, but the point was the blend of the three,” says the producer. ”And that sound is now history.”