Robin Gibb: Bee Gees singer's life, family, songs and career remembered

13 June 2024, 20:53 | Updated: 13 June 2024, 21:22

Portrait Of Robin Gibb
Portrait Of Robin Gibb. Picture: Getty

By Tom Owen

Robin Gibb was one of the defining voices of the Bee Gees.

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Born on December 22, 1949, in Douglas, Isle of Man, Robin Gibb's parents were Hugh and Barbara Gibb, and his family were steeped in music and performance.

His father, a drummer and bandleader, and his mother, a singer, encouraged their children's musical pursuits. Robin had an older sister, Lesley, and a twin brother, Maurice, alongside their younger brother, Andy, and elder brother, Barry.

In 1958, the Gibb family relocated to Redcliffe, Queensland, Australia. It was here that the Gibb brothers' musical journey began to take shape. Robin, Maurice, and Barry started performing as the Bee Gees, a name derived from the initials of Brothers Gibb.

The Bee Gees: Rise to Stardom

The Bee Gees' initial foray into music was met with moderate success in Australia, but it was their return to the UK in 1967 that marked the beginning of their ascent to global stardom.

Bee Gees
Bee Gees. Picture: Getty

Their early hits, such as 'New York Mining Disaster 1941' and 'To Love Somebody,' showcased their knack for melody and harmony, which would become their trademark. Robin's distinctive vibrato voice became a crucial element of the Bee Gees' sound.

The late 1960s and early 1970s saw the Bee Gees producing a string of hits, but it was the mid-1970s that catapulted them into the stratosphere.

The soundtrack for the film Saturday Night Fever (1977) featured songs like 'Stayin' Alive,' 'Night Fever,' and 'How Deep Is Your Love,' turning the Bee Gees into disco icons. This era defined the disco movement and established the Bee Gees as one of the best-selling music groups of all time.

Robin's voice, both plaintive and powerful, was central to the group's success, particularly on songs such as 'Massachusetts' and 'I Started a Joke' where he took the lead.

Family life

Robin's personal life was as eventful as his professional career. He married Molly Hullis in 1968, with whom he had two children, Spencer and Melissa.

Robin Gibb and wife Dwina in 1984
Robin Gibb and wife Dwina in 1984. Picture: Getty
Robin Gibb and son RJ in 2009
Robin Gibb and son RJ in 2009. Picture: Getty

However, their marriage ended in divorce in 1980. Robin later married Dwina Murphy, an artist and author, in 1985. Together, they had a son, Robin-John, known as RJ.

Beyond his music, Robin was known for his eclectic interests. He was an avid historian and a supporter of various charities. His fascination with the Titanic led to his involvement in the production of a requiem for the ship's centenary in 2012.

Robin's contributions to music and his humanitarian efforts earned him numerous accolades, including the CBE in 2002.

Health Struggles and Death

Robin's later years were marked by significant health challenges. In 2010, he underwent emergency surgery for a blocked intestine, a condition that had previously claimed his twin brother, Maurice, in 2003.

Despite the surgery, Robin's health continued to deteriorate. In 2011, he was diagnosed with colorectal cancer, which later spread to his liver. Robin remained optimistic and continued to work on music projects during his illness, but his health declined rapidly in early 2012.

Robin Gibb passed away on May 20, 2012, at the age of 62. His death was a significant loss to the music world, but his legacy lived on through the timeless music of the Bee Gees.

Robin Gibb in 2011
Robin Gibb in 2011. Picture: Getty

Robin's ability to infuse emotion into every note he sang ensured that his voice would resonate with generations to come.

The Bee Gees sold over 220 million records worldwide, making them one of the best-selling music artists of all time. Their influence extends beyond the disco era, impacting genres ranging from pop to R&B. Robin's songwriting prowess, along with Barry and Maurice, produced hits that have become standards in the music industry.

Robin's voice, characterized by its distinctive vibrato, was an integral part of the Bee Gees' sound. Songs like 'I Started a Joke,' where Robin took the lead, showcased his ability to convey deep emotion and connect with listeners on a profound level.

His work as a solo artist, though not as commercially successful as his work with the Bee Gees, further demonstrated his versatility and passion for music.