ROBIN GIBB OF THE BEE GEES
AND HIS MOTHER BARBARA TELL HOW THEY ARE STILL STRUGGLING TO COME TO TERMS WITH THE LOSS
OF MAURICE AND ANDY
(By Peter Robertson & Sharon Krum, Hello,
"The most painful part of my whole
life has been losing Maurice. He was not just a brother and friend but also a creative
colleague who shared our aspirations and goals through our whole life"
Almost 2 years after the unexpected death
of Maurice Gibb at the age of 53, his family are still reeling from the shock. "For
me, everything dates from when Maurice died," declares his twin brother and fellow
Bee Gee, Robin. "It's my personal 9/11."
His mother Barbara is also struggling with the loss of her son. "I do my crying at
night," she admits. "During the day you have to carry on. You have to be strong
for your family."
As much as the Gibb family has enjoyed musical success, wealth and fame in the past
four decades, it has also endured its share of sadness and loss.
Maurice passed away from complications after being admitted to a Florida hospital with
stomach pains in January last year.
He was the second of the Gibb brothers to die. Andy, the youngest, succumbed to years of
drink and drug abuse in 1998 at the age of 30. "It's been a horrible 15 years for
us," says 83 year old Barbara softly, speaking from Robin's home in Miami where she
lives for part of the year. "First Andy, then Maurice."
Despite the family's loss, Robin has declared that the show must go on. We spoke to
the 54 year old at his home in Oxfordshire, where he lives with his wife of 19 years Dwina
when they are not in Florida. The pop star has just completed his first concert dates
since Maurice died and there are plans for him and his eldest Bee Gee brother Barry to
work on a new album for Barbara Streisand. A compilation of Bee Gee hits, Number Ones,
has just been released, and a musical of the famous trio's story, covering their music
from the beginning of their career to today, is planned for Broadway next year.
Robin has understandably mixed feelings about developing his life story
for the stage and the memories it may unlock. "To watch is going to be easier than
talking about it," he says. "The most painful part of my whole life has been
losing Maurice so early and so soon in perfect health. It would be hard for any family,
but it is particularly so for me because he was not just a brother and a friend but also a
creative colleague who shared our aspirations and goals through our whole life. That's
harder to bear than, say, a brother who lived miles apart in a different world altogether.
Maurice is an integral part of my life and that of the Bee Gees," he says.
It will also feel strange, he admits, to be working only with Barry. "Of
course, that's natural. It's something that we accepted quite quickly because we know
that's the way it's got to be. But my relationship with him is very much the same.
Maurice's death has not affected it. Obviously, we're the two remaining brothers now
-there's no one else after me and Barry. So it's very important that we give each other
the emotional and professional support that we need. It's difficult but that's the way it
is. Life goes on and we'll work together."
But while Robin's attitude to work hasn't changed, his outlook on life has. "I
don't feel as spiritual as I did before," he says. "With Maurice suddenly going,
I realised 'Hey, this is all we have, right now... we don't have yesterday or tomorrow,
only the moment we're living in -and we've got to use it ' that's what I'm doing."
Work, he finds is a form of therapy. "It's all you really have. There is
nothing else as far as I'm concerned. I'm not a party person or someone who likes to sit
in clubs and drink all night and never really have been. I have a good time through
Robin and his brothers Barry and Maurice were always natural
performers. Gifted as young children -Barbara fondly recalls them singing in harmony in
their bedroom- they embarked on their career after moving to Brisbane, Australia, from
England in 1958. They signed their first record deal in 1963 and 3 years later had their
first number one with Spicks and Specks. They then moved back to the UK to further
their careers. "They had each other, that was the key," says Barbara.
The hits came thick and fast, but there was a dark side to the Bee Gees success as
Maurice developed a drink problem. "When he was drinking I was heartbroken, as were
his brothers. They begged him to get healthy," remembers Barbara who would even go
with him to AA meetings, which enabled him to give up drink for the last 12 years of his
She also tried to rescue her youngest son Andy, who was following in his musical
brothers' footsteps with hits including Shadow Dancing and I Just Want To Be
Your Everything -but his addiction to drugs had gone too far.
"Andy had an inferiority complex. He didn't think he was as good as his
brothers. He felt he couldn't measure up and drugs filled that ache. I also think Andy was
unhappy he had nobody. He hadn't got a girl and a family like his brothers", says
She went with him to Narcotics Anonymous meetings and family therapy at the Betty
Ford Center. He was clean of drugs for a year before he died in 1988 of heart failure.
"The damage had been done," says Barbara.
The family was rocked by Andy's death and when his father Hugh Gibb died three
years later, many believed it was from a broken heart. The next album the Bee Gees
recorded was in memory of Andy, but Barbara says it took years for the family to find its
By the early 1990's things were looking up. Maurice was sober, the boys were
happily married and raising families, they were writing songs for artists such as
Streisand and Diana Ross, and performing in sell-out concerts around the world.
Barbara said that she had, on some level, made her peace with Andy's death when
Maurice died, she says. "As upset as I was, I was more upset for Robin and
Barry," she remembers. "Those three boys were inseparable."
The entire family, she says, is still raw with grief. "It's been sad and hard,
but you have to keep going, that's what Maurice would have wanted."
Robin admits that Maurice's death has changed him. "I think I've matured. I don't
take things lightly anymore. I've always had a great sense of humour, but I actually see
the more serious side of things more now. I don't
take things for granted, because everything feels more fragile. It's made me wonder about
mortality and how long you've got somebody in the world. I'm more fearful than I used to
His mother believes that work will prove a solace for both Robin and Barry.
"That's where I know they will find peace of mind," she says.
To that end, her surviving sons are planning a tribute concert for Maurice in the
new year. However, Robin, who insists he is determined to find ways to enjoy life again,
admits that his lost twin will never be far from his mind. "In a sense, everything I
do is a tribute to Maurice," he explains. "I couldn't have done anything in my
life if he hadn't been there."