(Saturday Magazine, 02-01-03)

The loss of his twin brother Maurice has left Robin Gibb utterly devastated,

but with his new album, Magnet, out this week, work is helping him overcome the pain.

"Please tell me how I'll ever get over you. Though I know you're gone, can't believe that it's true..." These sad words come from Robin Gibb's new single "Please" which was recorded before the untimely death of his brother Maurice on January 12. The haunting ballad, which hit the charts last week, has now become a poignant tribute to his much-loved twin.

In the often troubled life of Robin, the past month has been especially hard to bear, particulary as Maurice's death was so sudden. "It has been a nightmare from which I will never awake," he says. "Barry and I have had a brother, friend, band member and kindred spirit taken away from us. It's going to take a long time for it to sink in. He was the most sweet, generous of people you could ever meet."

Maurice died in a Miami hospital last month from a twisted intestine - a condition he had suffered since birth. At the time, Robin was about to throw himself into promoting his new solo album, but he flew to Miami to be by Maurice's side when he heard he'd been rushed to hospital. He managed to spend time with his brother before he fell into a coma. The pain is still etched into 53 year old Robin's face. There was talk of him putting off the release dates of his new solo single and his new album, Magnet, which comes out on Monday. But Robin has decided to press ahead with some promotion work for his new material. He sees it as a way of overcoming his grief. He explains quietly, "Whenever stress and pain come into my life, I find that working and the creative processes help to ease it. Your thoughts can never go away entirely, but you have to be occupied."

Sadly, Maurice's death now means the end of the Bee Gees. Robin says, "Anything Barry and I do, we will do together, but it'll be as brothers and not under the name of the Bee Gees. That will be reserved in history for the three of us. Our aim is to work even harder on our musical projects," he adds. "This is the only way we know to help us come to terms with it. To dwell on sadness is not our way and is not the correct way to respect Maurice's memory.

"I realise that you have to get on with life and live it to the full as well as being focused on the things you do. I am even more pleased that I have made the new album and that I am able to work hard to promote it. Lyrically, the song "Please" has additional meaning for me now, even though I did not write it, but "Wish you were here" was written by all of us, about the passing of my younger brother, Andy."

Younger sibling Andy, who also had his own musical career, suffered a seizing fit while lodging at Robin's home in 1988. He died later in hospital, just days after turning 30, from Myocarditis, an inflammatory heart disease brought on alcohol and drug abuse. Given that he had been staying with him, Robin, unsurprisingly, was racked with guilt about Andy. "There wasn't anything I could do, although I wanted to do something," he says."Guilt is a natural part of grief. I thought I should've been more instrumental in helping to save him."

There has always been something of the walking wounded about Robin, despite the Bee Gees having been honoured with CBEs and a Lifetime Achievement Award. So great was their mid-seventies rise to superstardom (the charts were practically Gibb locked for a year) that it must have felt decidedly chilly when the world lost interest in their disco records and moved on. It is perhaps significant that he looks back to his sixties albums when asked which songs in his repertoire mean the most to him. "It's tracks we did on albums that never came out as singles," he says.

However, it was escaping death in the 1967 Hither Green train crash in London - which killed 49 people and injured 78 - that shaped his attitude to life, admits Robin. "I was with my first wife, Molly, and it was November 5. We could see fireworks out of the carriage window," he recalls. "The train was doing 90mph near Charing Cross, when it suddenly skipped the rail and came off. The whole thing rolled over and over, down the embankment. I remember it coming to a stop and hearing the most awful screams. I had a bit of railway line going straight past my throat. I scrambled out through the window and the first thing I saw was all the other carriages upside down on the road. It was an appalling sight. I started helping people out and the injuries I saw were horrific. When I went to the hospital afterwards it was like a scene from a war. I was only 17 at the time, but it bred an attitude of thankfulness to be alive."

A few years later, Robin made his break away from the Bee Gees to record his first solo album. Over the years he was the most active of the three brothers in terms of solo projects, his current album being his fifth after a gap of 17 years. In 1982, his acrimonious divorce from Molly, mother of two of his children, Spencer, 30 and Melissa, 28, made the headlines and he went to live with his new girlfriend (now his current wife, Dwina) but delayed getting married again until two years after they had a child, Robin John, now 19.

He and Dwina have an unconventional marriage. They both have affairs with other women while still happily living together. Robin explains, "Right from the beginning we negotiated an open relationship. I don't worry about Dwina finding someone else and I don't feel the need to settle down with anyone else. I can share a part of my life with other women, but it's a case of them having to accept Dwina too."

Robin thinks of himself as a very spiritual person, "mentally orientated rather than materialistic." His home here is a country mansion in Thame, Oxfordshire, consisting of a four bedroomed historic house, a three-bedroomed lodge and a 12th century chapel, all set in 16 acres of land. He likes to read history books and uses reading as a form of meditation. But Dwina goes a step further, having installed a mini-Stonehenge in their back garden for her private slice of history.

Even though he can't be a resident in the UK for more than three months in a year for tax reasons, he's clearly very proud of being British. "What really gets my goat is that people in Britain aren't allowed to be patriotic. We're not allowed to wave the Union Jack - it's almost viewed as a crime," he says.

His family emigrated to Australia in the Fifties and his father found it difficult to suppourt five children (the three Bee Gees, plus little brother Andy and a sister). So it fell to the three older brothers to make money by busking. This literally threw them together musically and they began to find success and function as the family's main breadwinners.

But this early responsibility probably fell heavily on their shoulders. He admits that although the Gibb brothers were close, they were more like business partners. "We didn't really live in each other's pockets," admits Robin. "We were only together when we were writing or talking about our career and things. I don't think we were ever like other family-orientated artists where you're part of a family structure. We never had that. We were songwriters first and foremost and he had the same interests and goals in writing, which has kept us together. More so than being brothers."

With the lyrics of Robin's song, "Please", so poignant, it is clearly the biggest tribute Robin could give his late brother.

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