BBC - January 12, 2003

Robin and Barry Gibb have given an emotional interview to the BBC about the death of their brother, and fellow Bee Gee, Maurice.

The interview was conducted in Miami, Florida, on Sunday evening (12 January 2003) by the BBC's Miami correspondent Fergal Parkinson, soon after Maurice died.

The interview was granted to the BBC by the family on an exclusive basis, with the understanding that a text transcript of the interview would be made publicly available.

Interview between Fergal Parkinson / Robin and Barry Gibb

FP: "This cannot be easy for you. How are you both coping right now?"

RG: "... I think the answer to that is that we're both devastated. We've actually been in shock for the last few days since Maurice was taken ill, and so this has all gone too fast for us, so we're actually ..."

BG: " the twilight zone ... we're in a very strange head space ... I think it's really good that we have each other, you know, and we're taking a lot of strength from each other right now, you know ..."

FP: "Could you just talk me through the past twenty-four, thirty-six, forty-eight hours, you know ... how did you find out he was ill, and then talk me through the course of events ..."

BG: "You see, whatever I tell you, it's still subject to question, because I wasn't there, you know, and I think that ... and Robin was in London at the time, and I got the information from Dick Ashby that Maurice didn't feel very well, and wanted to go down to the hospital to be checked out and they did that, and they kept him overnight. But about four o'clock in the morning, he suffered suddenly a cardiac arrest, and between four and eight o'clock that morning, the physician arrived, the doctors arrived, the surgeons arrived and decided that whatever caused the cardiac arrest was the reason that they should act immediately, even though Maurice was in shock, and so they did that, they made that decision to go and examine what was going on inside Maurice's stomach and ... this is only my version once again ... that his intestines were twisted and this may indeed be a birth defect, and it may not be. But as far as we know, it's a birth defect of some form, and so consequently, they removed eighty percent of his stomach and that's the percentage they put on it, and said there's very little left and he suffered a cardiac arrest, and the fact they had to operate on Maurice during the shock of cardiac arrest..."

RG: "is questionable ..."

BG & RG: "It's very questionable, and 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."

FP: "Do you believe he should have never have been operated on in that state?"

BG: "No, we believe that mistakes were made - period."

RG: "We believe mistakes were made and time was wasted."

BG: "... and whatever happened, and we allege, we don't condemn - we allege ... that things went wrong. Protocol was not followed. Someone is responsible for the death of one of the world's ... to our minds, one of the world's greatest recording artists ..."

RG: "... totally unnecessary ..."

BG: "... and our brother, and it wasn't necessary. We will question it to the end of our days. We will question it, we will examine it and we will bring the truth out, no matter what ..."

RG: "... and someone will be held to account ..."

BG: "... and somebody will have to account for this."

FP: "When you say it was unnecessary, what part are you ... do you believe that the wrong decision was made?"

BG: "Immediate action, I think, would have been ..."

RG: "Maurice went in at five o'clock Wednesday afternoon. He was still not being treated for his ..."

BG: "... we shouldn't go any further ... we really shouldn't ... but the point is ... the point is that Maurice is not the kind of person ... Maurice is like every other guy. He won't go near a hospital. He won't go near a doctor, not because he doesn't love them, but because none of us want to go to a doctor and none of us want to go to a hospital. So for Maurice, we know Maurice. It would take an awful lot for Maurice to go to a hospital, so he felt in distress and we feel that he should have been attended to immediately and someone should have had a diagnosis within the first hour as to what was going on with Maurice, and somehow, none of the timelines, none of the minutes, none of the sequence of events have yet made sense to us. We will make sense with that."

FP: "... and Robin, it must have been incredibly difficult for you being so far away from him at the time ... how did you find out?"

RG: "I found out ... I was being kept abreast of everything by phone, phoned almost by the hour, so I knew everything that was going on. But obviously yes, very difficult. I still can't come to terms with it now. It's just almost like a dream. It's like a nightmare that you wake up to every day. That's all we can say. It's just devastating. It's going to take a long time even just for it to sink in."

FP: "... and even more difficult for you because he was your twin ...?"

RG: "Yeah, of course. You know, we'd just had a birthday, he was ... you know, he still had a future out of him and all I can is he was just one of the most beautiful people in the world ... a very gifted man and it's a loss to the world, not just for us."

FP: "People know Maurice as a member of the Bee Gees. They know him as one of the world's greatest recording artists, as you say. But describe to me Maurice the man, the man that you knew."

RG: "He was the most sweetest, generous of people you could ever meet ..."

BG: "Maurice was a silly man. Maurice liked being silly. I think his whole grasp of life was silly, and I think we all are, but Maurice really excelled. He was an extrovert and he would always be the person ... he would never walk into a room, Maurice. Maurice would prance into a room, you know, and his presence was immediate. Chill out, were you waiting for me ... that's Mo ..."

FP: "... and millions of people around the world have taken his death badly, they're very shocked by it. What do you think it was about him that people loved and people could ..."

BG: "He was the average guy. Maurice, I think, reflected every man. He didn't reflect the glamour side of the pop business ... he was a very down to earth person, and you could see that sometimes in his performance and in his normal attitude to life. He never really lost his Lancashire accent. He never lost his roots, you know. Maurice was the one who, as bad as Robin and I were ... Maurice was the one who would never steal. When we were kids, we were always stealing. But Maurice was the one who never would, and I think that says something about the spirit of this person ..."

FP: "It must have been very important for you to have your family around at the time in the hospital as he was laying there ..."

BG: "... no question ... there's no question that Robin and me are completely pole-axed by this whole episode. But there can't be anything compared to his wife, Yvonne, his son Adam and his daughter Sammy, who are ... you know, this has really just decimated their lives and it's just destroyed them. It's going to take them years to come to terms with the loss of Mo, you know. He was everything to them. He was their world, you know, and as we've all got different families, that's what happens."

FP: "He did have a number of health problems earlier in life. He had a well-documented problem with alcohol. But in recent years, he was very fit, he was very healthy, a lot of people say they saw him, he was tanned and he was full of life ..."

RG: "Maurice had a very routine life, you know ... he was a creature of habit and he was into paint-balling. He'd go paint-balling every weekend, and he'd do things in such a routine way ... his lifestyle ... he had a good, clean, kind of wholesome lifestyle compared to other people in the music business. He didn't push the boat out, not in the last years, so it comes, you know, just absolute shock ..."

BG: "The last person you would expect. Robin or me, yeah. You'd expect that, because we're both rebels. But Maurice has always towed the line, he's always tried to look after himself."

RG: "He's always trying to keep people happy, always pleased people, even beyond the point where he didn't have to ..."

BG: "... and we're not just saying this. This was an extremely sweet person."

FP: "... and he was still working. He was still working ..."

BG: "... always still working ... always still working."

FP: "You were working quite recently on a new venture ..."

BG: "Well, we're not really doing anything at the moment except writing songs. We think that at this point in our lives, the sooner we get back to what we think our gift is, is writing songs, and it will be Maurice will be a void, always in our lives and he will always be featured as the third member of the Bee Gees, no matter what we do, but one thing I will tell you is that the Bee Gees will go on. The Bee Gees will not stop here. The Bee Gees will not disintegrate because we've lost Mo."

FP: "I was going to ask you that - what does that mean for the group?"

BG: "It means that we will go on and make another album."

RG: "You're looking at the Bee Gees right now ..."

BG: "You're looking at the Bee Gees, and we will do it in Maurice's name."

FP: "So, it isn't the end?"

BG: "No, not at all. It's the end of the beginning."

FP: "So, you're determined to carry on with the group?"

BG: "It will emerge as an abstract form of the Bee Gees. It will emerge as Robin and me doing the best we can ..."

RG: "... and as Maurice would have wanted us to."

FP: "Do you think that's what he would have wanted - you to carry on as normal?"

BG: "Absolutely ... and it's what I would have wanted, and if it had been me, it's what I would have wanted Maurice and Robin to do."

FP: "What do you think is his legacy?"

BG: "He brought a great spirit to the pop business. He was a great spirit, you know. I mean, he was never a negative spirit, always positive ..."

BG & RG: "... great qualities in the songs that he wrote with us. His melancholy, his pathos. When Maurice touched a keyboard, it was like something from a movie, magical. He would always give you something from a movie, and you'd go, what did you just play ... immediately inspirational ... writings, amazing. That's what we're going to miss. We're going to miss that."

FP: "But what's your most endearing memory of him?"

BG: "... memory of him is his whole life. That's what happens at this point when you lose someone that's close to you like this is you get like a thousand visions at once. You get thousands of things that have happened to you with Mo, things that he did ..."

RG: "It's hard to pinpoint one memory when, you know, it's the whole person."

BG & RG: "Maurice walking along a two-foot ledge in Japan, six storeys up ... but it's true ... I mean, there's just the crazy moments, and there's mum and ... little kids, you know, because we grew ... with little kids as well. So it's like the whole person, the child as well. We've been in each other's pockets our entire lives."

FP: "... and how's your mother coping?"

BG & RG: "Surprisingly well, you know ... I think this is the third person she's lost inside fourteen, fifteen years, so I mean she's bearing up probably a lot better than we are. She's holding things, it'll come out in her own way. She's that kind of woman."

FP: "For a man that was obviously full of life, very talented, how did you feel when you went in and saw him lying there in that hospital bed?"

RG: "Well, I mean, it's devastating. It's just too soon for us ... to sink in. I mean, these are visions that are just ... are still new to us. So you'll have to realise this is a very hard thing to even talk about. It only happened a few hours ago, and it's still very devastating."

BG: "I think the sense at least was that he wasn't there. He wasn't really there."

RG: "I think for anybody, any family, and I know there are families out there that are going through this even now, that it is the hardest thing in the world. Nobody is ever prepared for it."

FP: "... and thousands of fans from all over the world have been sending their support, they've been sending floral tributes, they've been e-mailing websites. How does that make you feel - is that any comfort?"

BG & RG: "It is a great comfort, it's a great comfort ... very overwhelmed, and it makes us feel that, you know, that Maurice's life has meant something, that it wasn't in vain and that it makes us feel better that everyone out there is thinking of Maurice."

BG: "I think he always felt like he was the third man on the pole, you know. He always felt like there was me and Robin or Robin and me and then Mo, and maybe he felt like he was the last UFO in Close Encounters ... the little red one at the back, you know. There was that feeling about him. This will be time for him, this will be his time, the time when he gets the respect and the admiration of his peers and the sense of loss that is occurring right now."

FP: "Do you think that would have surprised him, the sense of loss, the people ..."

BG: "I think he'd be blown away ... absolutely blown away."

FP: "If you could speak to the many fans who will be watching this and wishing you all the best, what would you say to them?"

RG: "We'd say that ... we'd just thank them wholeheartedly for their support. We're feeling as devastated as they are and nobody will ever take Maurice's place and he'll go on with us and he'll go on our music. He'll go on with us as the Bee Gees and Maurice will always be with us."

FP: "Barry ... similar?"

BG: "We're numb."

FP: "Thank you very much."

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