Monday, May 21, 2012

Robin Gibb

Robin Gibb 'Shows Flickers Of Life After Brother Sings To Him'
(The Telegraph website,  April 20, 2012)

Bee Gees singer Robin Gibb has shown “flickers of life” after his brother Barry sang to him to help wake him from his coma, it has been claimed.  His family continue to keep vigil at his bedside.  As his wife Dwina said music appeared to be helping. She said his brother had been singing to him, while his children played music to “try and bring him back to us”.

The Sun newspaper has reported a “source close to the 62-year-old music legend” as saying there have been hopeful signs of recovery but that he was “not out of the woods yet.”  The source said: “There were flickers of life from Robin. His eyes moved and there was an attempt at speech.”  The singer has been in hospital in Chelsea, west London, since he lost consciousness last week, after contracting pneumonia in his fight against cancer.  

His wife Dwina, who is at his bedside with their daughter Melissa, 37, and sons Spencer, 39, and Robin-John, 29, has thanked fans for all their support.  In an interview with Northern Irish publication the Impartial Reporter, she said: “Thousands of people are saying prayers every day.  “His brother Barry, his wife Linda and son Stephen came over from America. Barry was singing to him.”  She added she had taken inspiration from her husband’s latest work, a song to commemorate the Titanic called “Don’t Cry Alone” in which a fallen husband reassures his wife “he is only a whisper away”.  A statement on the singer's website said: "Sadly the reports are true that Robin has contracted pneumonia and is in a coma. We are all hoping and praying that he will pull through.”

Robin Gibb has enjoyed a musical career spanning six decades, from humble beginnings as part of a sibling trio in 1950s Manchester to his most recent classical venture, the requiem for The Titanic.  In the interim, he sang some of the 1960s and 1970s greatest hits, including Massachusetts, I've Gotta Get A Message To You, Lonely Days, How Can You Mend A Broken Heart, How Deep Is Your Love and Stayin' Alive. Gibb last performed on stage in February, supporting injured servicemen and women at the Coming Home charity concert held at the London Palladium.

He had been due to premier his classical work, The Titanic Requiem, this month with son Robin-John, but the event went ahead without him due to his poor health.  Gibb had surgery on his bowel 18 months ago for an unrelated condition, but a tumour was discovered and he was diagnosed with cancer of the colon and, subsequently, of the liver.  It had been thought his cancer was in remission as early as last month, but the latest deterioration in his health coincides with reports of a secondary tumour.  His twin brother and bandmate Maurice died from the same bowel condition that initially led doctors to operate on Robin.

Gibb's band the Bee Gees will be best remembered for their contribution to the soundtrack of 1977 film Saturday Night Fever, which turned disco music into a worldwide phenomenon and placed the distinctive look of the era's hairstyles and outfits into pop culture legend.

Robin Gibb Of Bee Gees Dies At 62
(By Elysa Gardner, USA TODAY, May 20, 2012)

One of the most beloved trios in pop history is now down to a single surviving member. Robin Gibb, 62, died Sunday of colorectal cancer — following twin brother Maurice, who died in 2003 after suffering a blocked intestine and cardiac arrest.  Robin Gibb, who had been hospitalized for pneumonia and had surgery to remove a growth from his colon, was central to the group's success both as a songwriter and a vocalist. He was the original lead singer, and his tangy, tremulous tenor and older brother Barry's deeper, breathier, falsetto-prone voice were constants as the Bee Gees traversed a wide range of musical styles.

Though the family act first gained attention in the '60s for Beatle-esque pop tunes, they moved into orchestral rock and then the soaring disco that made them superstars in the late '70s. Their contributions made 1977's Saturday Night Fever soundtrack a No. 1 album for 24 weeks, earning them chart-topping singles in Stayin' Alive, Night Fever and How Deep Is Your Love.  Gibb nodded to the Bee Gees' different phases and the shifting tastes of pop audiences in his solo career, which predated the band's commercial heyday and continued after his twin's death. In 1969, he had a No. 2 hit in the U.K. with the lush, pining Saved By the Bell. In 1983, the lithe, danceable Juliet became a fan favorite, while 20 years later Gibb incorporated a rap segment into Please, a minor hit in England.  He also collaborated with Barry Gibb in writing Woman in Love, a No. 1 single for Barbra Streisand in 1980. The brothers worked on hits for artists from Dionne Warwick (Heartbreaker) to Dolly Parton and Kenny Rogers (Islands in the Stream).

The Bee Gees were inducted into the Songwriters Hall of Fame in 1994 and the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame in 1997. In 2001, they released their final album, This Is Where I Came In. After Maurice died, the surviving brothers retired the name but had reconsidered in recent years. They appeared together at a 2006 concert in Florida and again on Dancing With the Stars in 2009 to promote a retrospective, The Ultimate Bee Gees.  This spring, Gibb made his classical album debut with Titanic Requiem, co-written with his son RJ. He was too sick to attend the work's world premiere April 10 in London.  In a 2001 Bee Gees interview with USA TODAY, Robin proved the impish wit of the group, quipping at one point, "We're comforted by the fact that most of our critics are dead. … We've outlived them."  Certainly, the music will do so.

Robin Gibb Dies: Former Bee Gees Member Helped Define ’70s Disco Subculture
(By Terence McArdle, Washington Post, May 21, 2012)

 Robin Gibb of the Bee Gees, a trio that helped define the disco subculture of the 1970s with such hits as “Stayin’ Alive,” “Night Fever” and “How Deep Is Your Love,” died May 20. He was 62.  His death was announced on his Web site. Mr. Gibb reportedly had cancer and pneumonia and had been hospitalized in London.  The Bee Gees — a play on the “Brothers Gibb” — were formed in 1958 with Mr. Gibb, his twin brother Maurice and their elder brother Barry. The group became one of the most successful pop entertainment acts of its era, winning multiple Grammy Awards, selling more than 110 million albums and putting 23 songs in the top 20 of Billboard’s Hot 100 charts from 1967 to 1979.

With a Beatles-influenced pop style, they had an initial run of success in Australia in the 1960s with songs that included “Spicks and Specks.” They later brought disco music into the pop mainstream and set fashion trends with their polyester suits, open collars and flowing hairstyles.  During their 1997 induction into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame, the Bee Gees were described as “pop’s ultimate chameleons” because of their work in several musical genres.  On recordings such as “New York Mining Disaster 1941” (1967), a song inspired by a Welsh mine cave-in, and “I’ve Gotta Get a Message to You” (1968), in which a convict awaits his execution, the Bee Gees combined somber, melodramatic storylines with lush orchestral accompaniments.

Mr. Gibb’s signature song, “I Started a Joke” (1969), dealt with the embarrassment of someone who has said something horribly wrong. The quavering vibrato in his voice helped underscore the song’s neurotic, self-conscious lyrics.  Other performers took notice of their songwriting. “To Love Somebody” (1967), co-written by Mr. Gibb and his brother Barry and originally intended for soul singer Otis Redding, became one of the era’s most recorded love ballads.  Although Redding died before he could record it, the song was covered by such performers as Janis Joplin, Tom Jones, Dusty Springfield and the Flying Burrito Brothers.  Disputes between Mr. Gibb and his brother Barry over who should sing lead culminated with Mr. Gibb’s departure from the group in 1969 to pursue a short-lived solo career. The other brothers split up shortly after the filming of a television special, “Cucumber Castle,” which aired in 1970.  “I think it was partly the fact that we’d always lived with our mother and father and we were just becoming adults and looking to be free of each other,” Mr. Gibb told Billboard magazine in 2001.  The group reemerged with a ballad reportedly inspired by their reconciliation, “How Can You Mend a Broken Heart” (1971).

Within a few years, the Bee Gees found a new, highly profitable direction. Producer Arif Mardin pushed Barry Gibb to sing in a piercing, falsetto style — the group’s new trademark — with the song “Jive Talkin’ ” (1975), a breakthrough hit in the disco market. The soundtrack to the movie “Saturday Night Fever” (1977) followed and was estimated to have sold 40 million copies worldwide.  By the end of the decade, there was a critical and popular backlash against the Bee Gees — a result of their domination of the airwaves and a reaction against the disco subculture.  Their starring roles in a disastrous 1978 movie inspired by the Beatles’ album “Sgt. Pepper’s Lonely Hearts Club Band” further alienated rock fans. Rock stations advertised Bee Gees-free days. A parody record by the Hee Bee Gee Bees was titled “Meaningless Songs (in Very High Voices).”

Turning their attention to songwriting and production, the Gibbs opened a Miami recording studio, Middle Ear, and produced successful recordings by their younger brother, Andy Gibb. They were prolific tunesmiths, penning songs for Barbra Streisand, Diana Ross, Dionne Warwick and Kenny Rogers throughout the 1980s.  The Bee Gees’s last top 10 hit was the single “One” in 1989. They released their last album, “This Is Where I Came In,” in 2001. That same year, the Bee Gees were knighted as Commanders of the British Empire.  

Robin Hugh Gibb was born Dec. 22, 1949, in Douglas, on the Isle of Man. His father, Hugh, led a dance band on ferry boats. His mother, Barbara, was the band’s singer. The family moved to Manchester, England, where Mr. Gibb and his two brothers made their debut at a movie theater.  With the addition of a couple of friends, the brothers formed a skiffle group, the Rattlesnakes. However, Mr. Gibb and his brother Barry were repeatedly in trouble with the police for truancy, break-ins and fire setting.  “One day I was walking home,” Maurice Gibb once said, “and all the billboards on the main street in Chorlton [their Manchester neighborhood] were blazing away, firemen and police running around everywhere. That was Robin, the family arsonist.” 

The family packed up for Australia in 1958 when the brothers were threatened with jail time.  Andy Gibb, who also had a successful singing career, died in 1988 of myocarditis. Maurice Gibb, Mr. Gibb’s twin, died in 2003 of a heart attack after surgery on an obstructed colon. Mr. Gibb’s cancer was disclosed shortly after he underwent the same procedure in 2011.  He struggled with substance abuse and said he was addicted to amphetamines for many years.  Mr. Gibb said in interviews that he and his wife, Dwina Murphy-Gibb, who has been described as an ordained druid priestess, believed in open marriage. In 2008, he had a daughter by his housekeeper, Claire Yang, according to British media reports.  His first marriage, to Molly Hullis, ended in divorce.  In addition to his wife and daughter, survivors include two children from his first marriage; a son from his second marriage; his mother; and his brother Barry.


Robin Gibb: Recommended Listening

(By Edna Gundersen, USA TODAY, May 20, 2012)

 Best known as one-third of the Bee Gees, Robin Gibb will be remembered most for the Australian brothers' 1977 soundtrack Saturday Night Fever, especially its defining disco-era hits Night Fever and Stayin' Alive. Check out these other choice cuts spotlighting Robin's vocal gifts.

Lead vocals on Bee Gees songs:

 •New York Mining Disaster 1941 (from Bee Gees' 1st, 1967)

•I Started a Joke (from Idea, 1968)

•Lamplight (from Odessa, 1969)

•Alone Again (from 2 Years On, 1970)

•Come on Over (from Main Course, 1975)

 •Love Me (from Children of the World, 1976)

•Bodyguard (from One, 1989)

Shared lead vocals on Bee Gees songs:

•How Can You Mend a Broken Heart (from Trafalgar, 1971)

•Run to Me (from To Whom It May Concern, 1972)

•Too Much Heaven (from Spirits Having Flown, 1979)

Solo career:

•Oh! Darling (from Sgt. Pepper's Lonely Hearts Club Band soundtrack, 1978)

•Juliet (from How Old Are You, 1983)

•Boys Do Fall In Love (from Secret Agent, 1984)

•Robot (from Secret Agent)

•Toys (from Walls Have Eyes, 1985)

Robin Gibb: A Bee Gees Voice Filled With More Than Just Disco
(By Randall Roberts, L.A. Times, May 21, 2012)

Their hits could fill an entire Saturday night, last until the first church bell rang on Sunday morning and provide a sweat-drenched workout on the dance floor that broke only for the slow numbers. Even more remarkable was that each classic gem of the Bee Gees, whose co-founder Robin Gibb died Sunday after a long battle with cancer, would be packed with feeling.  There’s “Jive Talkin’,” the group’s frenetic ode to a lying lover, which highlights a skeptical Gibb’s sweet tenor. “How Deep Is Your Love” finds Gibb, who co-founded the Bee Gees in 1958 with brothers Barry and Maurice (Robin’s fraternal twin), describing him and his lover “living in a world of fools breaking us down,” when they should really just leave them alone. That song alone was responsible for countless dark-corner slow dances.  The climax, of course, would hit with the first few notes of “Staying Alive” from “Saturday Night Fever,” the 1977 double-album soundtrack that made Robin and his brothers  international superstars and helped define disco — and the 1970s.

The song, with its heaving R&B rhythm, captured the spirit of 1977, when the dance music born in New York, Philadelphia and Miami was being translated by poppier groups such as the Bee Gees and dipping into the mainstream. Younger brother Robin’s midrange tone tethered Barry’s wild falsetto, and they combined to create one of most instantly recognizable vocal teams in pop music.  Studio 54’s cocaine-fueled evenings became “Today” show fodder, and the Bee Gees’ feathered hair a look half the planet strove for. “Night Fever,” “More Than a Woman,” “Nights on Broadway” and “You Should Be Dancing” all became songs that could pack the dance floor. 

But the group’s sound was more than just “disco.” There’s a misconception that the Bee Gees made their move into music with “Saturday Night Fever,” but it’s more accurate to say that disco became a name for the style of music the band had been migrating toward for half a decade.  Long before a white-suited John Travolta shuffle-stepped his way across a lighted dance floor, Robin, Barry and Maurice were experimenting with the R&B sounds coming out of the gay and straight discotheques in urban centers and combining them with rhythms so far removed from the group’s earlier hits that it might as well have been a different band. 

In a sense, it was different bands. After a successful career in the ’60s rising alongside the British Invasion acts and finding success, Robin left the Bee Gees late in the decade, a symptom of a sibling rivalry that would drive their energy for the rest of the 1970s and ’80s. He pursued a solo career, one that yielded the baroque pop gem “Robin’s Reign” in 1969.  He returned to the Bee Gees in 1970, but while many of their post-British Invasion contemporaries continued along predictable paths, following the Beatles’ lead in the late ’60s, then moving into harder rock or country rock, the Bee Gees in the early 1970s, under the guidance of influential British music impresario and film producer Robert Stigwood, dived into the dance-floor sounds being born in America. Recording at Criteria Studios in Miami, the band stitched complicated Caribbean rhythms — and cowbell — into its innate pop sensibilities and the soul and funk of Curtis Mayfield, the O’Jays, MFSB and James Brown.  It was this distillation that half a decade later resulted in “Saturday Night Fever,” the double album released in November 1977 that went on to generate at least 10 disco classics, sell more than 15 million albums and transform the entire pop landscape. Working with those joyous, exuberant harmonies in service of long, life-affirming grooves like on “You Should Be Dancing,” the trio became the voice of Saturday night.

That influence continues. No matter how hard critics and the rock establishment tried to kill disco, after the Bee Gees’ peak success — shattered by the debacle that was their film version of “Sgt. Pepper’s Lonely Hearts Club Band” and too many cheesy Rod Stewart crossover songs — the music went back underground, rising from time to time as a reminder of its spirit. In 2012, the beat-driven genre is cited by artists as an influence just as often as punk rock, which supposedly “killed” disco.  It didn’t. The evidence lies within the grooves that Robin and his brothers created, as vital, life-affirming and human as ever.

Robin Gibb's Unconventional Family
(By Luchina Fisher,, April 19, 2012)

As Bee Gee Robin Gibb remains gravely ill in a coma, his devoted wife, Dwina Gibb, has remained steadfastly at his bedside.  The couple once avowed their open marriage -- he fathered a child with their former housekeeper and she openly stated her preference for women -- but their love and loyalty for one another is still apparent after 28 years.  "However absurd their relationship may appear, there's never any question that they are very, very bonded," writer and film professor David N. Meyer, who is writing an unauthorized biography on the Bee Gees, told "He has relied on her in a number of ways. She is no joke to him. Their love for one another is very tight."

"They are an example of a very modern family -- maybe a little too modern," Us Weekly's music editor Ian Drew told "They are both very artistic souls, very open-minded. They get each other and they get a kick out of each other."  Their lifestyle, though, has raised more than a few eyebrows -- most recently, in 2009, after Robin, 62, fathered a baby girl, Snow Robin Gibb, with their live-in housekeeper, Claire Yang, a woman nearly half his age.  Despite their unconventional marriage, Dwina Gibb, 59, an artist, writer and druid priestess, was said to have "hit the roof."

"When the truth came out, Dwina was furious. To say she hit the roof is an understatement. She felt betrayed," a friend was quoted telling the Sunday Mirror.  "It's very funny that she was upset," Meyer said. "Maybe it goes to the king splitting his estate."  Robin Gibb, whose estate is reportedly worth more than $140 million, and Dwina Gibb have one son, Robin-John Gibb, 29. Robin Gibb also has two older children -- a daughter, Melissa, 37, and a son, Spencer, 39, with his first wife, Molly Hullis.   

His 12-year marriage to Hullis, a secretary in former Bee Gees' manager Robert Stigwood's office, almost immediately fell victim to the rise of the Bee Gees.  "Almost as soon as they got married, Robin moved to America and they almost never saw each other," said Meyer, author of "The Bee Gees: The Biography," due out this fall. "She refused to bring the kids to live in America."  She also won custody of the children and, for many years, Robin Gibb did not see them.  "It was akin to bereavement," he told the UK newspaper The Telegraph in 2008. "I felt as though I was on the verge of madness."

Eventually, he reunited with his children when they were 12 and 10. By then, he had married Dwina Gibb, his second wife, whom he met through her cousin in 1980, when she was running a beanbag factory in London while trying to make it as an artist.  "I showed him my drawings," she is quoted saying in a 2006 article in the U.K.'s Daily Mail. "He asked me to come house-hunting with him and we scampered in and out of houses together, getting to know each other. We had a lot in common. We are both interested in history, mythology, old churches and buildings. We even share the same birthday."  Raised in Northern Ireland, Dwina Gibb has a lifelong interest in Irish history and mythology, according to her website, and has published two volumes of poetry and two novels. She's a devotee of many religions, including a Hindu sect called the Daughters of Brahma, whose members are meant to be celibate, and the order of the druids, an ancient pagan practice, for which she was ordained a patroness in the 1990s.

The couple live in the Biscayne Bay mansion once owned by President John F. Kennedy and a 100-acre Oxford, England, estate, where tapestries and tarot-card tiles adorn the walls of their 12th century converted monastery and the Gibbs built a druid place of worship.  The estate was also where Robin Gibb's younger brother, pop star Andy Gibb, spent his last days before he was rushed to a hospital, where he died of a heart ailment. And it was where Robin Gibb carried on an affair with the housekeeper, until his wife learned about the pregnancy.  Yang and her daughter now live in a converted barn not far from the estate and, Meyer said, Robin Gibb provides financial support.

Unlike Arnold Schwarzenegger and Maria Shriver, who separated after news that he had fathered a son with their housekeeper became public, the Gibbs remain committed together -- in love. Since the birth of Snow Robin, they have also backed off from earlier statements they made about their infamous lifestyle.  In the 1990's, Robin famously told Howard Stern that he and his wife "like to cruise and we like to watch."  Amid talk about threesomes, he declared, "My wife is a lesbian and I love it." 

But in a 2010 interview with the Daily Mail, the couple disavowed their previous statements.  "My earlier life was kind of wild, interesting and experimental, but you go past the experimental stage and start living," Dwina Gibb said.  "You get older and other things are more important," Robin Gibb said, adding that he had never actually seen his wife "indulge in a bisexual lifestyle." 

"We actually have a very conservative relationship -- more so than the average couple. We don't drink or smoke. We're not partying all the time," said Robin Gibb, who has been sober and a vegan for decades. "Look, we're not stuffed shirts. We have a free relationship. We give each other time and space to pursue activities -- that doesn't mean other people."

No comments:

Post a Comment