HELLO MAGAZINE 2004
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 .Maurices' 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 Robins' 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 realized '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 am 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 work." 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 life.
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 Barbara. 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 equilibrium again. 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 be." 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. "