Maurice & Robin Gibb

Bee Gees
Photo by GAB Archive/Redferns

Maurice Gibb and his twin brother Robin were born in Douglas, on the Isle of Man (which is a very small island off the west coast of England). The family moved back to the mainland and lived in Manchester until in 1958, then emigrated to Australia where Maurice, Robin, and their older brother Barry formed the Bee Gees. They released their first hit “Spicks and Specks” in the early ’60s.

During the ’60s they were seen as a clean-cut family pop group; their 1967 hit “New York Mining Disaster 1941” saw them in the charts. Other hits followed: “Massachusetts”, “I’ve Gotta Get a Message to You”, “Words”, then it all went a bit quiet.

The turning point was the release of the movie soundtrack to Saturday Night Fever starring John Travolta. It was a massive film, but even bigger for the Gibb brothers, who saw the album sit at the top of the US album charts for almost half a year. The hits from the album kept coming, they were unstoppable: “Stayin’ Alive”, “Night Fever” and “How Deep Is Your Love”, “More Than a Woman”, “Jive Talkin'” and “You Should Be Dancing,” and the soundtrack also won a Grammy for Album of the Year.

The huge success of the album put the brothers back on top; everybody wanted a song penned by or produced by the Gibbs. The follow-up album, Spirits Having Flown, gave them three more No. 1 hits: “Too Much Heaven”, “Tragedy”, and “Love You Inside Out.”

The group sang three-part tight harmonies that were instantly recognisable; Robin’s clear vibrato lead was a hallmark of their earlier hits, while Barry’s R&B falsetto became their signature sound during the late 1970s and 1980s. The brothers wrote all of their own hits, as well as writing and producing several major hits for other artists.

During a career that spanned four decades, the Bee Gees sold more than 110 million albums. Maurice helped write and perform 19 British top ten hits, including five number ones. The Bee Gees released over 20 albums and have sold in excess of 220 million records worldwide. At one point at their peak in 1978, the Gibb brothers were responsible for writing and/or performing nine of the songs in the Billboard Hot 100.

Maurice sang harmony and backing vocals most the time, leaving the lead vocals to his brothers; an accomplished musician, he played keyboards, guitar and was always the guy in control in the studio.

In 1994, Maurice was inducted into the Songwriters Hall of Fame, and in 1997 was inducted into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame. In 2002, was made a Commander of the British Empire (CBE), along with his brothers.

Following Maurice’s unexpected death in January 2003, Barry and Robin retired the group’s name after 45 years of activity. In 2009, Robin announced that he and Barry had agreed that the Bee Gees would re-form and perform again. Robin died in May 2012 after a prolonged struggle with cancer.

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