Robin Gibb, who along with his brothers Maurice and Barry made up the Bee Gees, has died at age 62, according to a statement from his spokesperson which cited Gibb’s “long battle with cancer and intestinal surgery.” Gibb reportedly spent a week in a coma last month, after announcing he’d been fighting colon and liver cancer in an article in the London newspaper the Daily Mail.
Maurice, Robin’s fraternal twin, died at age 53 of complications due to a twisted intestine. Andy Gibb, the musical family’s youngest brother and solo artist, died of heart failure in 1988 at age 30.
The British-born, Australia-raised singer and his brothers rose to fame in the ’70s, thanks to the staggering popularity of disco. With such hits as “Stayin’ Alive,” “Night Fever,” and “How Deep is Your Love,” the group’s falsetto harmonies — which were drizzled like honey over infectious disco beats — turned the soundtrack to 1977’s Saturday Night Fever into a smash hit. If John Travolta emerged from that film as the era’s strutting peacock movie star, the Bee Gees were its polyester dance floor posterboys. Later, when the fad bottomed out, the band became the targets of a disco backlash. But the Gibbs’ music deserved more credit than it was usually given. They are said to have sold more than 200 million records, they had six consecutive No. 1 records during their late ’70s heyday, and won seven Grammys. In 1997, the band was inducted into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame.
Of all the brothers, Robin was probably the least likely to step forward and claim the spotlight. But his plaintive voice could hit heartbreaking notes of emotion and honesty, like in the Robin-led hit “I Started a Joke.”