Bee Gees' Robin Gibb influenced music beyond disco

(CBS News) The pop music world has lost another giant.

Robin Gibb, of the Bee Gees, died Sunday after a long battle with cancer. He was 62.

It happened just a few days after the death of Donna Summer.

Gibb and his brothers had a career, and influence, that went far beyond the disco era.

From 1967 to 1979, the Bee Gees were responsible for five platinum albums and more than 20 hit songs, and they're still the only musicians to place five songs in the top 10 at one time.

In 2009, Robin Hugh Gibb, celebrated songwriter and founding member, reunited with his eldest brother, Barry, at the Miami recording studio where they once carved out a new sound -- and some of the most recognizable hits of the 1970s.

"Were you consciously trying to reinvent yourselves?" CBS News correspondent Anthony Mason asked them at the time.

"I don't know if we thought about reinventing ourselves. It was just about writing something that got us excited," Barry Gibb replied. "Recording something that got us inspired."

"And being inspired,"

Barry Gibb added.

Mason witnessed one of the final performances of the surviving Gibb brothers.

It was just months before Robin was rushed to an Oxford hospital, in which he received emergency surgery on his intestines for the same condition that led to the sudden death of his twin brother and Bee Gee bandmate, Maurice, in 2003.

After already losing their youngest brother, Andy, in 1988 to alcohol abuse, the passing of Maurice nearly split the two remaining brothers.

"You said you were afraid of him?" Mason asked Robin.

"I was afraid, because I knew where Barry was, emotionally. And I knew his way of expressing himself was by not going forward, by not being a Bee Gee."

"I wanted to keep the Bee Gees as the three of us," Barry Gibb admitted.

The Bee Gees sold more than 200 million records, 40 million copies of "Saturday Night Fever" alone, but when fans turned on disco, the Brothers Gibb became the favorite target of popular enmity.

"You know," Barry Gibb said, "I can't wear a white suit. We can't wear things around our necks. Other people can, but we can't."

But their influence on popular culture never waned.

In 1997, the Bee Gees were inducted into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame.

And just last month, the Royal Philharmonic Orchestra premiered "Titanic Requiem," Robin's only classical composition, which he penned with his youngest son, RJ (short for Robin-John).

"A lot of this requiem was written in the hospital bedrooms with my father because of course he was diagnosed while we were in the middle of composing the requiem."

Also last month, at the Olivier Awards, the British theatre honors, famed songwriter Tim Rice, co-writer of "The Lion King" and "Jesus Christ Superstar," spoke about the ailing musician.

Rice, who won the award for Outstanding Contribution to Musical Theatre, said, "Robin Gibb is one of the great song writers -- you know the Gibbs -- up there with the best."

In January of this year, Robin Gibb revealed in an interview that he had been battling colon and liver cancer for 18 months, about the time he had begun rehearsing with Barry.

As recently as March, the disease appeared to be in remission, and he was planning to attend the premiere of "Titanic Requiem."

  • Elaine Quijano

    Elaine Quijano was named a CBS News correspondent in January 2010. Quijano reports for "CBS This Morning" and the "CBS Evening News," and contributes across all CBS News platforms. She is based in New York.

Comments

CBSN Live

pop-out
Live Video

Watch CBSN Live

Watch CBS News anytime, anywhere with the new 24/7 digital news network. Stream CBSN live or on demand for FREE on your TV, computer, tablet, or smartphone.