(The Argus, January 13, 2003)

Posted by Sarah Hutchinson

Bee Gees fans were today mourning the death of former Sussex-based musician Maurice Gibb.

Maurice, one of the three brothers in the hit-making group, died early yesterday after suffering a heart attack during an operation in Miami.

Tributes have poured in for the singer who married his second wife, Yvonne, at Haywards Heath register office in 1975.

The Bee Gee's brothers, including his twin Robin, were at the wedding and Barry was best man.

Maurice lived at Kidborough House, near Horsted Keynes.

The 53-year-old bass guitarist and keyboard player is believed to have recorded an album of solo songs during his time in Sussex in the late Seventies and early Eighties but it was never released.

Websites dedicated to the superstar brothers were today brimming with emotional messages from fans.

One, from Seaford, wrote of her shock at the death of Maurice: "The Bee Gees without Maurice is unthinkable.

"This is a sad day for all Bee Gees fans."

Having vowed never to marry again following his break-up with singer Lulu, Maurice met Yvonne Spenceley at a club in Batley, Yorkshire, in 1974.

Their wedding at Haywards Heath, involving a four-minute ceremony, followed a year later on October 17, 1975.

Maurice, who had a well-documented battle with alcoholism, was a pub regular at the former Crocodile in Dane Hill.

With Yvonne expecting their first child, the couple moved from Sussex to the Isle of Man in the early Eighties.

On October 17, 2000, the couple renewed their vows in Miami on their 25th wedding anniversary with their two children, Adam and Samantha.

Fan Mary Sage, of Hollington, St Leonards, said: "It feels like I have lost a close friend. The Bee Gees were such a big part of my adolescence."

As a member of the Bee Gees, Maurice had been one of the best-known faces in British showbusiness for four decades.

He, Robin and Barry started their singing careers in the Fifties as the Brothers Gibb.

Following a spell in Australia, where they gained their first recording contract, they returned to the UK in 1967.

Their distinctive, close-harmony singing became their trademark and hits included the soundtrack to Saturday Night Fever in 1977 and a sequel, Stayin' Alive, in 1983.

They were each awarded CBEs in the 2002 New Year Honours List.

Today Maurice's brothers said they were "devastated" by his death and questioned whether doctors had been right to operate on him.

In an emotional interview with the BBC, Barry and Robin Gibb said: "The fact that they had to operate on Maurice during the shock of cardiac arrest is questionable.

"We will pursue every factor, every element, every second of the timeline, of the final hours of Maurice's life. We will pursue that relentlessly. That will be our quest from now on."

No one from the Mount Sinai Medical Centre in Miami was available for comment.


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