Legends & Legacies View More

Robin Gibb, Disco Superstar

Published: 5/21/2012

Since 1967, there have only been three albums that have truly affected the culture, and that's The Beatles' 'Sgt. Pepper,' 'Saturday Night Fever' and Michael Jackson's 'Thriller.' There's not many people who know what that feels like. We're like the guys who have been to the moon. –Robin Gibb

We knew Robin Gibb had been very sick, battling cancer since late last year. But when he successfully fought his way out of a coma one month ago, we cheered for him, hoping he would continue the rise back to good health.



The British singer Robin Gibb appears in Rheinland-Pfalz Open Air 2010 in Mainz (Photo by 7:08:10). Robin Gibb has died, according to his spokesman on Sunday (20:05:12) at the age of 62 after a long battle against cancer. Photo: Michael Wallrath / DAPD

The British singer Robin Gibb appears in Rheinland-Pfalz Open Air 2010 in Mainz (Photo by 7:08:10). Robin Gibb has died, according to his spokesman on Sunday (20:05:12) at the age of 62 after a long battle against cancer. Photo: Michael Wallrath / DAPD

 

 

Sadly, Gibb died yesterday, just a few days after the death of another disco icon, Donna Summer. Robin Gibb was the second of the Brothers Gibb to die – his twin brother Maurice passed away almost ten years ago. But Gibb and his brothers leave a musical legacy like few others. Their music dominated the disco era, both the songs they performed and those they wrote for others. Indeed, after Lennon and McCarthy, they're the second most successful songwriting team in the history of British music.

We think of the Bee Gees mainly as disco superstars, but true fans know that they had a solid career long before Saturday Night Fever propelled them to wild international celebrity. Their first hit single, "Spicks and Specks," came almost ten years earlier – and it sounds very different from the Bee Gees' late-1970s disco groove:

 

 

Robin Gibb found success as a solo artist as well as with his brothers. He first broke off on his own in 1969, rising to No. 2 on the British charts with "Saved by the Bell."

 

 


 

 

 

The brothers reunited in the early '70s, but it took them a few years to hit the stride that would carry them to the top of the charts. Then, in 1975, a new direction panned out – funky, danceable "Jive Talkin'" became a massive hit.

 

 


 

 

 

And then, of course, there was Saturday Night Fever. Three of the Bee Gees' own songs from the album hit No. 1 on the Billboard Hot 100, plus one written for Yvonne Elliman ("If I Can't Have You"). The songs are all fantastic, but the one that practically defines the disco era is "Stayin' Alive."

 

 

Robin Gibb remained with the band off and on through the years, also continuing his own solo career. He showed his ability to change with the times in 1983, recording the very New Wave single "Juliet."

 

 


 

 

 

Robin Gibb kept making music – most recently The Titanic Requiem, which was written with his son and debuted just this year on the 100th anniversary of the Titanic disaster – until his final illness prevented it. We've got him and his brothers to thank for some of the sounds that shape our memories.

Written by Linnea Crowther
 

 

 

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