Final Notes

2 minute read
Catherine Mayer

Robin Gibb

He co-wrote one of the great anthems to strutting: “Stayin’ Alive.” But Robin Gibb, who died at 62 on May 20 in London from cancer and intestinal problems, never developed the preening persona often associated with pop stardom. As one-third of the Bee Gees–with older brother Barry, 65, and his twin Maurice, who died in 2003–Gibb topped charts across genres for more than half a century, taking time out only to notch up hits as a solo artist and co-author songs made famous by others, including “Chain Reaction” (Diana Ross) and “Woman in Love” (Barbra Streisand).

His nine Grammy Awards and 200 million albums sold were the product of sweat and toil, and he wanted people to know that. “We had come from a very working-class background, and we worked damn hard,” he told a biographer. Yet all that hard work yielded the appearance of effortlessness. The brothers slipped easily from their soulful 1960s canon, including “Massachusetts” and “To Love Somebody,” to 1970s hip-swivelers like “Jive Talkin'” and, of course, the Saturday Night Fever soundtrack. Late in life, Gibb turned his hand to classical composition. He was too sick to perform at the April 10 premiere of his requiem for the Titanic, but the audience heard a last recording of that pure, clear voice. “I’ll be there for you forever,” he sang, and thanks to his musical legacy, that’s true.

More Must-Reads from TIME

Contact us at