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The Quiet Bee Gee

Published: 1/12/2013

When Robin Gibb died last year, it reminded us that, amazingly, it had been almost 10 years since his twin brother and fellow Bee Gee, Maurice, died. Today marks that 10 year point – Maurice Gibb died on January 12, 2003, at age 53.

Maurice Gibb was known as "the quiet one" among the Bee Gees – he was much less of a front man than his brothers Robin and Barry. But don't write off his contributions to the group just because he wasn't front and center as a lead singer. He played bass guitar, guitar, keyboards and harmonica, and was a key part of the Bee Gees' songwriting, arranging and recording.
 

In this July 31, 1978, file photo, the British pop group the Bee Gees, from left, Robin Gibb, Barry Gibb and Maurice Gibb, pose for photographers, in Los Angeles. (AP Photo/Lennox Mclendon, File)
In this July 31, 1978, file photo, the British pop group the Bee Gees, from left, Robin Gibb, Barry Gibb and Maurice Gibb, pose for photographers, in Los Angeles. (AP Photo/Lennox Mclendon, File)


 

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:


 


 

When the band went through a rocky phase in 1969, Robin left temporarily. Though Maurice and Barry continued as the Bee Gees, each brother also recorded solo material. For Maurice's first solo album, 1969's The Loner, he played all the instruments – guitar, bass, piano, organ and a looping keyboard called a Mellotron – as well as singing.


 


 

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 recordings from the album hit No. 1 on the Billboard Hot 100, plus one written by them and recorded by 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."


 


 

The brothers continued to ride the wave of disco stardom through the 1970s, topping the charts again with both dance tunes and quieter ballads like "Too Much Heaven."


 


 

Maurice Gibb's later years included more work with his brothers as well as production on albums for his daughter Samantha and for Australian rock band Tin Tin. He may have done his best work behind the scenes, but Maurice Gibb's legacy is anything but quiet.

Written by Linnea Crowther
 

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