Maurice Ernst Gibb was a British singer-songwriter, multi-instrumentalist and a member of the British rock-pop group ‘Bee Gees’. His brothers, Barry and Robin were also members of the same band. Maurice played many instruments for the band and they became one of the most successful musical groups ever. Apart from earning name and fame, the band also bagged several honours. His family was a musical one; his father Hugh Gibb used to be a popular musician back in his times. Born in Isle of Man, then starting their career in Australia, the three brothers moved back to London in the late 60s, in order to become a part of the thriving music scene there and eventually, they became popular among the masses with hits such as ‘New York Mining Disaster 1941’ in 1967 and sometime later, their first effort at bringing out a fully fledged album became successful when ‘Bee Gees First: The Album’ reached the top 10 on charts in both the UK and the USA. Seeing ups and downs throughout their career, the band became the epitome of commercially successful but critically average musicians. Maurice tried creating a solo album when he had a fall out with his brothers, but it didn’t pan out well. Maurice died at the age of 53 due to heart attack which occurred during an intestinal surgery.
Childhood & Early Life
Maurice Ernst Gibb was born on 22nd December 1949 at Douglas, Isles of Man, England, to musician Hugh Gibb, a famed drummer, and Barbara, a homemaker. He and his brother Robin were born about half an hour apart and; the family already had a son, Barry, and a daughter, Lesley. The family had a musical soul and the children accompanied Hugh in his jam sessions and that was when the three brothers got bitten by the musical bug, which would keep them hypnotized till their last breaths.
Hugh moved his family to Manchester for a brief period of time when Maurice was a kid of 5. His parents heard the boys trying to harmonize one day and in that instant, they knew what their sons will come to do in their lives. The Gibb boys got a few neighbouring kids to join in and they created a band named Rattlesnakes. In December 1957, the Rattlesnakes made their first public appearance in a cinema and the boys mesmerized the audiences with their live rendition of the Everly Brothers’ song ‘Wake up little Susie’.
It was a good beginning for the boys and they carried on with their musical endeavours while pursuing their early education at the same time. The Gibb family moved to Australia when Maurice was 8 years old and there, the band Bee Gees was formed with Maurice, Barry and Robin, and they tasted first success while hosting a television show and releasing their very first single ‘The Battle of the Blue and Grey’. And just like that, the Gibb boys arrived on the horizon.
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Bee Gees collaborated in the early stages of their career in the early 60s with many famed musicians and came up with songs such as ‘Claustrophobia’ and in the year 1966, the band wrote their very first original song titled ‘Storm’ and in the same year, Maurice started his journey as the band’s lead guitarist and bassist. Around the very same time, Maurice came up with a solo song titled ‘All by myself’, where he played the guitar. Sandy Summers, Anne Shelton and Ray Brown were some of the band’s early collaborations and the Bee Gees released an album in 1966 named ‘Spicks and Specks’, in which Maurice received a writer’s credit for ‘Where are You’.
Soon, Colin Peterson and Vince Melouney joined the band, and in the middle of the year 1967, the band released their first studio album titled ‘Bee Gees First’. By then the band had moved to London, UK, and their album quickly became one of the absolute favourites of the year, with many critics comparing Bee Gees to the Beatles. The album topped the charts in the UK and the USA. One of the songs from the album titled ‘Massachusetts’ remained the number 1 single in the UK for weeks to come.
Maurice provided his vocals to some subsequent songs of Bee Gees such as ‘Suddenly’ and ‘Laugh in your Face’. Robin Gibb decided to go solo for sometime in the late 60s, and Maurice and Barry composed an album by themselves titled ‘Cucumber Castle’. The duo tasted some pretty high level of success with their attempt, but the things were not quite the same and in 1969, the band ‘Bee Gees’ announced that all the three brothers were going separate ways.
During the next couple of years, Maurice became an alcoholic, but kept working and released ‘Railroad’, a single by himself from his debut solo album ‘The Loner’ - an album which was doomed from the very beginning and never quite saw the light of the day. The Bee Gees couldn’t remain broken for a long time and reunited in August 1970, making a comeback with singles such as ‘Lay it on me’, ‘Country Women’ and ‘on time’.
The band then came up with ‘How can you Mend a Broken Heart’ in the early 70s and the soft romantic ballad hit all the right notes with the listeners, and it was the time when ‘disco music’ was just coming, and the band achieved even greater success with the groovy genre. ‘Jive Talkin’ became a rage when it was released in 1975 and the band continued with their successful endeavours with the ‘Saturday Night Fever’ soundtrack, which landed them several Grammy awards. The ultimate groove Bee Gees provided to their fans continued with their album ‘Spirits Having Flown’ in 1979.
In the early 80s Maurice started working on some solo projects, and one of them was the instrumental album ‘Strings and Things’, which he supposedly dedicated to his daughter, Samantha. Somehow, Bee Gees’ popularity started declining in the mid 80s and things went further downhill due to Maurice’s alcoholism. In 1984, Maurice composed the soundtrack for the film ‘A Breed Apart’ and he also recorded one instrumental for the movie ‘The Supernaturals’ in 1985 and the band started recording their new album ‘E.S.P.’ around the same time, which was a moderate commercial and critical success.
The band reached a new level of fame in late 90s when they were included in the ‘Rock and Roll Hall of Fame’ in 1997, and in the year 2001, they released their 23rd and the last album titled ‘This is where I came in’. And just around that time, Maurice’s bad health disabled him from carrying on with his musical endeavours.
Over the course of his lifetime, Maurice had many relationships. The first one to grab headlines was his relationship with the pop singer Lulu. The relationship ended in late 60s when Lulu started going out with Davy Jones, another musician. Eventually, they got married in 1969, but quickly got divorced a few years later. In October 1975, Maurice married Yvonne Gibb and the couple had two children together, Samantha and Adam.
Maurice Gibb suffered from alcoholism and was pretty notorious for his eccentric behaviour. He once reportedly threatened his wife and kids with a revolver in early 90s and Yvonne, his wife, got so scared that she went to Maurice’s brother Barry’s house and asked him to do something about his addiction, which worked and Maurice checked into rehab.
Death & Legacy
In 2003, Maurice noticed something wrong with his stomach and he went straight to the hospital for checkups. The doctors told him that he had intestinal blockage and it needed to be operated. During the surgery that followed, Maurice had a massive heart attack on 12th January 2003 and he passed away.
The remaining two members of Bee Gees stopped playing for some time, but later performed at a few events. The funeral of Maurice Gibb was attended by some big music stars such as Michael Jackson and Nat Kipner.