Harmony, Hits and Hell: The Tragic History of the Bee Gees

No disco act saw more success than the three Gibb brothers from Australia, but they also had more than their share of heartbreak and tragedy

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No disco act saw more success than the three Gibb brothers from Australia. Formed by Barry, Robin and Maurice in 1958, the group sold over 220 million albums worldwide and had countless number one hits, ranging from the sublime ’60s pop of “Words” and “To Love Somebody,” to funky ’70s mainstays like “Stayin’ Alive” and “Tragedy.”

But tragedy has also marked their personal lives.

The Gibb’s youngest brother, Andy—a singer in his own right—occasionally performed with the group, and saw solo success with his 1976 hit, “I Just Want to Be Your Everything.” But the promising star battled a terrible addiction to cocaine, and his career eventually fizzled. In 1988, at age 30, Andy died from complications owing to years of drug abuse.

The Bee Gees, though mourning their little brother, continued recording and performing, and experienced a late-career comeback with the Top 10 hit “One” in 1989.

Tragedy struck once again in 2003 when Maurice suffered a heart attack, dying in Miami at age 53. His funeral was star-studded—good friend Michael Jackson was present at the service, riding in the limo with the remaining Gibbs brothers.

Robin and Barry stopped recording after Maurice’s death, claiming that they were too devastated to continue. In 2012, Robin—Maurice’s twin brother—died at age 62 after a long battle with cancer.

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“Mo was gone in two days,” Barry told the Daily Mail in 2016, opening up about his brothers’ deaths. “Maybe that’s better than long and tortured, which is what Robin went through. Andy went at 30. All different forms of passing—and, for our mum, devastating.”

Barry, now 70, never expected to perform again as the sole survivor of the popular band. “After Rob died, I just sat moping around thinking that was the end of it and I would just fade away,” he admitted.

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Instead, he joined Coldplay on stage at Glastonbury and to massive applause in 2016, and decided to record an album that was released later that year—his first solo record in 30 years. As for how he gets through the days now without his brothers, he’s said he thinks about them everyday: “Live in the moment. Grab every moment, because you see what happens.”

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