The Bee Gees formed in 1958 and the Gibb brothers – Barry, Robin, and Maurice. The three main members throughout the band’s life. They sell more than 120 million records around the world, with estimates pegging that number as high as 220 million.
But despite all the success they had, the Bee Gees also had more than their share of heartache and tragedy. And none more than Barry Gibb, the last surviving Gibb brother.
In this video, we’re going to look at some of the tragic events that have shaped Barry Gibb’s life, especially over the last few years. Be sure to watch until the end to find out what his plans are next.
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Barry Gibb is the sole surviving member of the Bee Gees. He loses his brothers Maurice, in January 2003, and Robin, in May 2012. And while he wasn’t a member of the band, Gibb’s younger brother Andy died much younger in 1988.
Barry haunts by their deaths, to the point that he avoids taking even the slightest risk. He’s afraid of things as common as a pot of boiling water.
Barry’s younger brother Andy died in 1988 at the age of 30 after years of drug abuse. He isn’t a member of the Bee Gees, he holds his successful recording career with huge hits in the 1970s.
Songs like “Shadow Dancing” and “(Love Is) Thicker Than Water” hit the #1 spot on the Billboard pop charts in 1978, as did his debut record “I Just Want to Be Your Everything.” Having three #1 hits with his first three releases still stands as a record today and it was a sign of good things to come.
Unfortunately, Andy’s drug and alcohol abuse got the better of him and he was never able to repeat that success. By the time he dies in 1988, he is popular as a “singer from the 70s”.
Maurice passed away in the hospital at the age of 53 in 2003, from complications related to a twisted intestine. At the time, his brother Robin described him as the outgoing, gregarious member that held the Bee Gees together.
The last few weeks of his life, he spends it working on an album with Barry and Michael Jackson. He enjoyed the high life, partying with the likes of Michael Caine, David Bowie, and the Beatles. His own struggles with alcohol but aside from a reversion when Andy dies in 1988, Maurice overcomes his drinking problem.
Robin Gibb died 9 years later at 62 years old after a long struggle with cancer. He was diagnosed with liver and colon cancer and had been in a coma earlier in the year as he battled pneumonia.
And if losing three brothers wasn’t enough, Barry’s mother Barbara died in 2016 at the age of 95. Barry still has one sibling, his sister Lesley who is two years older.
Gibb’s biggest regret is that he wishes he had spent more time with his brothers before their deaths. He says he goes to see Robin when he knows he is almost out of time and Maurice dies within a couple of days of his health taking a turn for the worse.
Gibb says you can’t predict these things, it just happened. The same happened with Andy in the late 80s, which was devastating for him.
Barry has a fear of fire than he traces back to an incident where his sister caught fire when he was young. The event was so terrifying that he never really got over it.
Barry’s fear of boiling water stems from an incident with a kitchen pot when he was a child. In an interview with Piers Morgan in 2017, he said he still avoids boiling water.
If he gets near boiling water something happens and he just has to back away. He doesn’t attribute it to his age, he believes anything can happen. He doesn’t do anything dangerous, even something as common as riding a rollercoaster.
“I’m a safety-first type of person,” he said. He doesn’t drive fast and is very nervous about anything that could prove fatal. He attributes it all to the boiling water incident as a child.
Gibb was close friends with Michael Jackson before his untimely death. He became a shoulder for Michael to cry on during his 2005 sex abuse trial, but they were close friends long before that.
Barry says that Jackson was the only artist who truly understood him.
As far as the accusations about Jackson were concerned, Barry said he never saw anything about his life that was disturbing. “I only believe someone is guilty when a court finds them guilty,” he says.
He never saw any of the behavior Jackson accuses of with his kids even though they are around him in close quarters.
Gibb says Jackson would call him on the phone and ask him to sing “How Can You Mend a Broken Heart” and he would sing it for him.
Barry was also close friends with Cliff Richard, another popular singer who was accused of sex abuse. These accusations hit much closer to home for Gibb.
He felt it was a scary situation. “Can you imagine someone saying that about you when it might have been 30 years ago and you can’t prove they were wrong or fight it?” he said.
He believes it’s wrong to destroy someone’s life with accusations if there’s no conclusive evidence. He thinks it’s a serious danger in today’s culture.
Cliff is one of his closest friends and he’s shocked by it. They’ve known each other for many years and Gibb never saw any of the behavior Richards is accused of. He thinks the whole thing is appalling and shouldn’t be fodder for gossip and rumors.
Another big name in the music business that was accused of sexual abuse, DJ Jimmy Savile, introduced Gibb to his wife Linda Gray, who was Miss Edinburgh at that point, in September 1967. The Bee Gees were guests on the television show Top of the Pops and she was a 17 year old guest hostess.
Gibb recalls that they “had a cuddle in Doctor Who’s Tardis” at the time. That turned into a fling and Barry invited Linda to a party hosted by the Bee Gees manager to celebrate their first number one single in the UK.
Gibb married Linda 3 year later in 1970 and they had five children together. They’re still married today, over 50 years later.
When interviewed by Piers Morgan in 2017, Gibb was hesitant to talk about Jimmy Savile. Rather than mention the shamed DJ, he simply shared the story of how he and Linda first met.
He said when they first saw each other, he thought it was love at first sight. He says he thought, “That is the woman I am going to spend the rest of my life with.” That meant more to him than show business.
He credits his wife with keeping him on the straight and narrow when drugs were so readily available around him. He never got into hard drugs, only marijuana which he says brings out the creativity in him.
If he ever showed up with pills, Linda would immediately flush them down the toilet.
Gibb is as popular as ever. The 74 year old singer released his third solo album in January 2021, featuring Bee Gees songs reimagined as duets with country singers.
When his latest album was released, he became the oldest artist (at 74 years, 4 months, and 17 days) to peak at number 1 on the Australian ARIA Albums Chart.
In spite of his continued popularity, Gibb’s touring days are mostly behind him. He says retirement is getting very close and admits he needs to wear hearing aids most of the time.
According to Gibb, a lot of musicians his age suffer from hearing problems caused by the in-ear monitors worn on stage. They cause a lot of damage because they’re so close to your eardrums.
He notes that Billy Joel is one of the only artists he knows who refused to wear these types of monitors.
HBO released a new documentary about the Bee Gees last year called “The Bee Gees: How Can You Mend a Broken Heart.” Barry gave some interviews for the documentary but admits he hasn’t seen it.
It’s too difficult for him to watch in its entirety. He did the interviews and everything that was asked of him. But he’s quick to say that he can’t vouch for anyone else’s opinion in the documentary.
Since Gibb is the last surviving member of the Bee Gees, he’s well aware he’ll never be able to top their glory days.
He’s not quite ready to give up yet but he recognizes that once his music starts dropping in the charts rather than reaching the top, he’ll be ready to take a seat, grab the remote, and hang it up as a pop artist.
He mostly wants to be remembered as one of the Bee Gees. He knows his solo work will never be as well-known as the Bee Gees were and he’ll never be able to reproduce that magic. It all has to come to an end at some point.
What’s your favorite Bee Gees song? Let us know in the comments below!
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