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Robin Gibb of the Bee Gees dies

By Catholic Online (NEWS CONSORTIUM)
May 21st, 2012
Catholic Online (www.catholic.org)

In a weekend marked by the passing of disco diva Donna Summer, Robin Gibb of the Bee Gees - who likewise milked the Seventies fad of disco music with such hits as "Stayin' Alive" and "Night Fever" has lost his battle with cancer and pneumonia. He was 61.

LOS ANGELES, CA (Catholic Online) - The Bee Gees, short for the "Brothers Gibb" - were formed in 1958 with Robin Gibb, his twin brother Maurice and their elder brother Barry. The group became one of the most successful pop entertainment acts ever. The Bee Gees won multiple Grammy Awards, selling more than 110 million albums and putting 23 songs in the top 20 of Billboard's Hot 100 charts from 1967 to 1979.

While the Gibb brothers were known for their escapist dance hits in the later part of the Seventies, it wasn't always that way. Born in England but raised in Australia,  they initially had a Beatles-influenced pop style/ IN the Sixties, they had a run of hits in their adopted homeland of Australia, they had lighthearted pop songs such as "Spicks and Specks" in their playlists. 

On the opposite end of the spectrum, the Bee Gees mined dour folk anthems such as "New York Mining Disaster 1941" in 1967, that was inspired by a Welsh mine cave-in, and "I've Gotta Get a Message to You" in 1968, in which a convict awaits his execution. The Bee Gees at this time combined somber, melodramatic storylines with lush orchestral accompaniments.

Robin Gibb's signature song, "I Started a Joke" (1969), dealt with the embarrassment of someone who has said something horribly wrong. The quavering vibrato in his voice helped underscore the song's neurotic, self-conscious lyrics.

The Bee Gees' love ballad "To Love Somebody" written by Robin and Barry and originally intended for soul singer Otis Redding, became one of the era's most recorded love ballads. While Redding died before he could record it, the song was covered by such performers as Janis Joplin, Tom Jones, Dusty Springfield and the Flying Burrito Brothers.

The band broke up briefly but later reformed "I think it was partly the fact that we'd always lived with our mother and father and we were just becoming adults and looking to be free of each other," Robin Gibb told reporters in 2001.

Their dance hit "Jive Talkin'" paved the way for their entry into the disco market, and the songs they composed for the Saturday Night Fever" soundtrack in 1977 insured their pantheon in popular music.

Even then, the signature turn "Stayin' Alive" bespoke a dark subject. Under a bouncing beat, the lyrics paint an existential quandary - "I'm goin' nowhere. Somebody help me. I'm stayin' alive."

Maurice Gibb is now the only surviving member of the band. 

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