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Robin Gibb dies

By | Published on Monday 21 May 2012

Robin Gibb

Robin Gibb died this weekend after losing a lengthy battle with cancer. The Bee Gee had been fighting the disease for some time, and had been praised by doctors for his strength of character, especially when he regained consciousness after over a week in a coma after suffering a bout of pneumonia. But, despite a strong will to beat his various illnesses, the singer’s condition had continued to worsen in recent weeks.

Confirming his passing yesterday, a spokesman for Gibb’s family said: “The family of Robin Gibb, of The Bee Gees, announce with great sadness that Robin passed away today following his long battle with cancer and intestinal surgery. The family have asked that their privacy is respected at this very difficult time”.

In his customary commentary for the BBC when any pop great dies, Paul Gambaccini noted that while best known as performers in the Bee Gees, Gibb and his brothers were also an incredibly successful songwriting team, second only to Lennon and McCartney as “the most successful songwriting unit in British popular music”.

He added: “Their accomplishments have been monumental. Not only have they written their ownnumber one hits, but they wrote huge hit records for Barbra Streisand, Diana Ross, Dionne Warwick, Celine Dion, Destiny’s Child, Dolly Parton and Kenny Rogers, the list goes on and on. What must also be said is Robin had one of the best white soul voices ever”.

Concerns for Gibb’s health began when he was forced to cancel a series of shows in 2010 after suffering severe stomach pains. He went on to have emergency surgery for a blocked intestine, his twin brother and fellow Bee Gee Maurice having died in 2003 following complications from a similar condition. Although that surgery seemed to be successful, further concerts had to be cancelled a year later when he suffered acute abdominal pains, and he was subsequently diagnosed with cancer of the colon, and later still with cancer of the liver.

After receiving cancer treatment Gibb started to look very frail, though he insisted he go ahead with promotional work around a charity single he was involved in last October in aid of the British Legion’s Poppy Appeal, and he subsequently told reporters that he felt he was successfully fighting off his illness and that doctors had been very impressed with his recovery. There was even talk of him and surviving brother Barry returning to the stage as The Bee Gees. But further hospital stints generated more concerns, even though to the end the singer remained upbeat and resolute he could beat his cancer. Last month he spent over a week in a coma after a bout of pneumonia, but regained consciousness.

Needless to say, many musicians and other celebrities took to Twitter overnight to pay tribute to Gibb, many having only days ago tweeted their tributes to another icon of the 1970s disco era, Donna Summer. Meanwhile, noting the passing of both Summer and Gibb, Stevie Wonder told reporters at last night’s Billboard Music Awards in Las Vegas: “We live in a world with changes happening more rapidly. We won’t see them ever again. That’s a heartbreak. The blessing is we’re able to feel the pain, which means we were able to feel some love from that person; feel the experiences the music gave us”.

In the latter part of his life Gibb also worked as President of CISAC, the global organisation of collecting societies. It’s Chairman Kenth Muldin also paid tribute to Gibb yesterday, telling reporters: “Robin has been our President and the voice of CISAC for the past five years and throughout this period we have been blessed by his presence and his infectious enthusiasm. He took his role very seriously – we knew we could count on him whenever the principles of authors’ rights were under attack. On behalf of CISAC, and in the name of the whole creative community that he so brilliantly represented, I would like to offer our deepest and most sincere condolences to his wife Dwina and to his family. We will miss him immensely; we will miss his energy, his dedication to the cause of authors and, most of all, I will miss his friendship”.

Meanwhile Guy Fletcher, Chairman of the UK’s collecting society PRS, told CMU: “Few people enjoy a career in music lasting more than 50 years yet Robin Gibb was still only 62 when he passed away. With Brothers Barry and Maurice, they formed one of the most powerful song writing teams of all time. Apart from the phenomenal success of the Bee Gees, they enriched the lives of so many international stars, delivering for them some of their most enduring hits: ‘Islands In the Stream’, ‘Chain Reaction’, ‘How Deep is Your Love’ and dozens more. Robin was also very active in his support of Bomber Command charities and was president of CISAC, The International Confederation of Authors And Composers Societies. We have lost a true friend and a unique songwriter”.