Stephen M. Silverman
January 12, 2003 10:42 AM

Bee Gees singer and bassist Maurice Gibb, 53, died after suffering a heart attack while preparing to undergo abdominal surgery to remove an intestinal blockage, his family said on Sunday.

On Thursday, Gibb had collapsed in his Miami home and was rushed to the hospital after complaining of stomach pains.

He “experienced cardiac arrest” before his surgery, according to a statement released to Reuters by Miami’s Mount Sinai Medical Center, where Gibb was listed in critical condition from the time of his heart attack until his death.

“His love, enthusiasm and energy for life remain an inspiration to all of us,” his family said in a statement.

A hospital spokeswoman, Kathleen Dorkowski, confirmed Gibb’s death but would furnish no further details. The time of death appears to have been late Saturday or early Sunday, said the news service.

The British-born Gibb brothers formed the Bee Gees as youngsters in 1958 in Brisbane, Australia. The group hit the height of its fame with the soundtrack to the 1977 John Travolta movie “Saturday Night Fever,” featuring the hits “Stayin’ Alive,” “More Than a Woman,” and “How Deep Is Your Love.”

The group included Maurice, his twin brother Robin and older brother Barry. The youngest brother, Andy, died of a heart attack in 1988 at the age of 30, following years of alcohol and drug problems.

Gibb’s wife, Yvonne, and two children survive him.

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