Robin Gibb - Gotta Get A Message to You
Submitted by Don Graham
Robin Gibb one third of the brotherly trio, The Bee Gees, passed away last week at the age of 62, after a long battle with cancer. That leaves only Barry left alive with Maurice having predeceased twin brother Robin. Tributes poured in from around the globe and because Disco Queen Donna Summer had passed away a few days earlier, the two were tied together, exalting their contributions to the disco era. But there was much more to singer Robin Gibb than just the disco music that propelled the Brothers Gibb to superstardom.
Although big brother Barry Gibb was the voice of the “Jive Talkin’”, “Stayin’ Alive”, Bee Gees Robin’s sensitive quaver was the signature voice of the group’s monster hits of the sixties. Starting with the icebreaker charttopper “1941 New York Mining Disaster”, followed by “Words” , “Massachusetts”, “To Love Somebody” “How Can You Mend a Broken Heart?”and “I’ve Gotta Get A Message To You”, there was a rivalry between who was the true star of the group big brother Barry or Robin. Robin’s twin brother Maurice wisely stuck to bass and keyboards and background vocals. This rivalry would eventually result in Robin leaving the band to start a solo career.
His first solo album ‘Robin’s Reign’, released in 1970, didn’t do very much so he reunited with his brothers, who had flopped with their album as a duo, ‘Cucumber Castle’. Nothing much was happening so they looked for ways to reinvent themselves.
Barry began trying to use a falsetto, and with the band playing funky, higher-tempo melodies, a new sound began to evolve. Their rebirth started with “Jive Talkin’”, which in 1975 was # 1 in America and # 5 in Britain. The following year they had “You Should Be Dancing” and in 1977, the Bee Gees got involved with the album that would change their lives and secure their place in musical history.
Barry, Robin and Maurice wrote eight songs for the soundtrack to the movie “Saturday Night Fever”, starring John Travolta. Driven by catchy bass lines, synthesized backing tracks and falsetto vocals, the album remained at the top of the charts for almost six months. It is still considered a classic must have in a record collection to this day.
Robin Hugh Gibb was born on the Isle of Man, on December 22 1949, about an hour before his twin, Maurice. Barry was already three years old. Dad was a free lance drummer and the boys grew up in relative poverty in Manchester, England. “I can remember my dad sitting under a 40-watt bulb counting pennies, trying to make them last until Friday,” recalled Robin. “The evening meal was a sixpenny bag of chips divided among us all. But kids don’t question that. We didn’t think we were poor then. We only knew we were poor later.”
After ‘Saturday Night Fever’ the Bee Gees had a further success as songwriters with the title track for the film “Grease”, performed by Frankie Valli. The popularity of disco began to wane and so did the demand for The Bee Gees music.
As songwriters, The Bee Gees became well known in the music industry. Throughout their careers, the brothers had their songs covered by countless artists, from Elvis Presley, Janis Joplin to Boyzone and Destiny’s Child.
Robin Gibb pursued his solo career, with albums including “How Old Are You?” (1983), “Secret Agent” (1984), “Walls Have Eyes” (1985), “Magnet” (2002) and “My Favourite Christmas Carols” (2006). In 2004 Gibb toured Germany, Russia, Asia and Europe, and recorded with both Barbra Streisand and Cliff Richard. In 2006 he performed with Barry at a charity concert in Miami, and later that year the two brothers teamed up again for the Prince’s Trust Concert in Britain.
Robin Gibb made it back to the top of the UK charts in 2009 when he collaborated with Ruth Jones, Rob Brydon, and Tom Jones on a new version of “Islands in the Stream”, a song they had earlier written for Kenny Rogers and Dolly Parton.
Gibb had suffered for years from agonizing stomach pains, and in 2010 underwent surgery for a blocked intestine — the same condition which led to the death of his twin brother Maurice in 2003, a blow which Robin felt deeply. “I think about Maurice at unpredictable times,” he said in 2008. “I wake up in the middle of the night thinking about him. One is a twin for life. Death can’t change that. I can be sitting here talking normally about how he is dead and then I can be sitting in the bath and it hits me. And I find it incredible that he’s no longer alive.”
In April 2011 Gibb was forced to cancel a series of concerts in Brazil after suffering severe abdominal pains. He was again taken ill in October. He had recently been undergoing treatment for liver cancer, but on February 13, 2012 returned to the stage to perform at a charity concert at the London Palladium, receiving a standing ovation.
This story is only words, but words are all we have to show our love to you.
RIP Robin Gibb.