Robin Gibb dead: Bee Gees singer, 62, had battled cancer
Robin Gibb -- one-third of the Bee Gees, the pop group that stood at the forefront of the disco era with its "Saturday Night Fever" soundtrack -- died Sunday after a long battle with cancer, according to a family spokesman. The singer-songwriter was 62.
Although past reports said Gibb was battling liver cancer, for a long time Gibb did not acknowledge that publicly. More recently, a spokesman confirmed that cancer was at the root of Gibb's health problems. He had seemed to be making what he called a "spectacular" recovery from surgery to remove a growth from his colon. Then, in March, he was hospitalized for intestinal surgery.
The Bee Gees –- Robin, Maurice and their older brother, Barry –- had a four-decade pop career that was a roller-coaster ride marked by huge successes, a devastating crash from popularity, and a couple rounds of reinvention. They began in Australia as young followers of the lush sounds of the Beatles in the 1960s, then flourished as champions of disco in the '70s, mixing those beats with their established three-part harmonies. A decade before 1977's “Saturday Night Fever,” which cemented their reputation forever, they had a string of huge hits worldwide, some of which featured Robin’s plaintive vocal style.
Closely associated with disco, the group later faced a backlash when the sound fell out of favor in the 1980s. But many argue that dismissing the group was a mistake. In 1997, the year the group was inducted into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame, Times music critic Robert Hilburn wrote:
"Those views are shortsighted. Barry, Maurice and Robin Gibb injected an infectious dance floor pulse into their hits of the '70s, but the records had a style, individuality and grace that made them far superior to the standard disco fare of the period."
As a group, the Bee Gees is one of the biggest-selling acts of all time, having sold well more than 120 million records. The group has had 15 top 10 records in the United States, including six consecutive No. 1 singles in the late '70s, and won six Grammy Awards.
Along with success came tragedy. Maurice Gibb, Robin's fraternal twin, died at age 53 of complications due to a twisted small intestine, which an autopsy determined was a congenital condition. (In August 2010, Robin Gibb had surgery for the same kind of blockage.) And Andy Gibb, the family's fourth brother and a solo artist, died of heart failure in 1988 at age 30 after years of struggling with cocaine addiction.
Full obituary: Robin Gibb rose to pop fame as one-third of Bee Gees
For the record: An earlier version of this post said that Gibb had not acknowledged that cancer was the cause of his illness, however, in the last few weeks a spokesman confirmed his ailment.
-- From Times staff and wire reports
Photo: Brothers Barry, left, Robin and Maurice Gibb of the pop group the Bee Gees in 2001. Credit: Randee St. Nicholas