Robin Gibb, Bee Gees vocalist dies at 62
Published: Friday, May 25, 2012
Updated: Monday, August 27, 2012 16:08
Disco will never be the same again. From the mid- to late '70s, the Australian pop group the Bee Gees became leaders in the disco era, drawing crowds across countries to witness thier soulful dilevery of high-energy hits.
Robin Gibb, vocalist of The Bee Gees, along with his brothers Barry and Maurice, died May 20 at the age of 62 from complications of cancer and intestinal surgery.
Originally from the Isle of Man, in 1949, the Gibb family moved to Australia in 1958 where they initially began performing as The Brothers Gibb. With the eventual name change to the Bee Gees, the trio moved back to England in 1966 scoring an international hit single with “New York Mining Disaster 1941” (1967).
In the earlier era of the band, Gibb was featured as a lead vocalist. Later on when the disco explosion of the '70s hit, he took on a supporting vocal role to his brother Barry who came to be known as a powerhouse falsetto vocalist and lead songwriter. Although Gibb became an underrated member of the Bee Gees, his high tenor voice was instrumental in the band’s songs. Gibb also showcased his talents further by taking on the role of solo artist as a side project.
While Gibb’s role as a musician was often overlooked in light of the attention his brother Barry commanded, he is recognized as “one of the best white soul voices ever.” Despite most of the Bee Gees’ success having occurred when Barry took on a more prominent role within the group, one should not ignore Gibb’s role of singing many of the emotionally raw ballads in the band’s discography.
Gibb was no doubt gifted, and people evidently recognized this when he spawned the chart-topping single “Saved by the Bell” during his solo career in which he parted ways briefly from his brothers. When they reunited in the '70s, the Bee Gees’ career flourished with their hit single “How Can You Mend a Broken Heart” (1971) and even after a slow period, they suddenly reached pop culture success with their work in the soundtrack to "Saturday Night Fever."
Songs such as “Stayin’ Alive,” “How Deep is Your Love” and “Night Fever” came to the forefront of the disco era causing the Bee Gees’ work to become solidified as a group whose music would be deemed timeless pop music classics. Although their popularity declined in the 1980s, the Gibb brothers found success in writing songs for Dolly Parton, Kenny Rogers and Diana Ross.
With a career spanning six decades, Gibb was part of a force that soundtracked an era that celebrated youth. What set the Bee Gees apart from most other disco acts of the era was their ability to soundtrack not only the fun times but the bad as well. The type of pop music they produced was genuinely from the heart and their own creation.
Even if record sales of over 200 million units, induction into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame, and six Grammy awards in the course of their career does not impress you, the legacy of the Bee Gees continues to live on. Though the contributions of Robin Gibb may not nearly get as much credit as they should, the band the Bee Gees came to be would not have as strong of an impact if it was not for them.
While our generation will never be able to experience life in the 1970s, the Bee Gees’ music remains a means for us to get a feel of how times were. It is not every day that we come across bands with the ability to capture a time so effortlessly - the Bee Gees is one of those few bands. Ultimately, it would be nearly impossible to envision the disco era without them.
Even with two-thirds of the Bee Gees deceased (Maurice died in 2003,) the Bee Gees’ (especially Robin Gibbs’) legacy will never fade away.