Maurice Gibb of the Bee Gees, one of pop’s best selling and longest enduring acts, died Sunday (January 12) after undergoing abdominal surgery in Miami. The singer was 53.
Twin brother of Bee Gee Robin Gibb, Maurice collapsed at home on Wednesday and was taken to the city’s Mount Sinai Medical Center, where he was operated on for an intestinal blockage. He experienced cardiac arrest before the surgery began.
The singer’s family issued a statement to fans on Sunday. “With great sadness and sorrow we regretfully announce the passing of Maurice Gibb this morning. His love, enthusiasm and energy for life remain an inspiration to all of us. We will all deeply miss him.”
Along with older brother Barry, Robin and Maurice created the Bee Gees as teens in Brisbane, Australia, in 1958. They made their initial impact on pop during the Beatles-led British invasion of the mid-’60s, sending “New York Mining Disaster 1941″ into the top 20 and beginning a string of hits that would last through 1972’s “Run to Me.” The ’71 smash “How Can You Mend a Broken Heart” reached the top of the charts.
The Bee Gees’ style shifted during the disco era, and their success with funky, dance-oriented pieces such as “Jive Talkin'” and “You Should Be Dancing” set them up for the pop juggernaut of Saturday Night Fever.
With falsetto vocals and irresistible rhythms, the trio became one of disco’s most resonant symbols. Three Bee Gees songs from the film’s soundtrack, “How Deep Is Your Love,” “Stayin’ Alive” and “Night Fever,” reached #1 on the Billboard chart. The Saturday Night Fever album is pop’s best-selling soundtrack, having moved over 40 million copies.
Maurice’s voice was crucial to the Bee Gees’ singular harmonies during all phases of the group’s career. He also played bass and keyboards with the band. The Bee Gees were inducted into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame in 1997. Their latest release is the 2001 double-disc package Their Greatest Hits: The Record.