carried on as a duo without him to little notice. When Robin returned, How Can
You Mend a Broken Heart, featuring Robin and Barry's lead vocals, became the
Bee Gees' first No. 1 single in 1971.
Gibb had a mostly unerring ear to what worked for the marketplace. The melodies and performances took care of themselves. The sound of those records, however, came in great part thanks to Gibb's role in the studio. He was at home in that creative, often isolated environment, challenging the possibilities of making music.
"He was always interested in new vocal sounds, very open to experimentation as far as the recording process goes," said Dennis Hetzendorfer, a freelance sound engineer from Cooper City who worked alongside Gibb as an engineer in the '70s and '80s at North Miami's Criteria Studios. "We'd record his vocals in every different part of the studio and set up in the control room to do vocals, which was unusual. We'd have to be quiet in there and everyone would stay in their headphones. As far as being an artist, his ideas were so right-on and always so pop-ish. His musical ideas always lent themselves real well to current musical trends and to radio."
That doesn't necessarily mean Gibb, a member, with his brothers Barry and Maurice, of the Songwriters Hall of Fame and Rock and Roll Hall of Fame, aimed to fit the trends of the day. Rather, he had hoped to lead by example.
Throughout the '60s, '70s and '80s, the Gibbs produced hit after pop culture hit: Massachusettes, How Deep Is Your Love, Tragedy, Woman in Love and Islands in the Stream.
No one wrote like the Brothers Gibb and seemingly everyone wanted their sound on their own records.
Robin and Barry Gibb composed the majority of the songs on Barbra Streisand's Guilty in 1980. In addition, the Gibbs wrote full albums for Dionne Warwick, Kenny Rogers, Diana Ross and Swedish pop star Carola. In addition pop, R&B, jazz, blues and hip-hop acts like Celine Dion, Rod Stewart, Janis Joplin, Nina Simone, Al Green, Michael Buble, Wyclef Jean and Destiny's Child recorded Gibb songs.
Their dance music from 1977's Saturday Night Fever epitomized an entire decade. And the music endures -- the television show Glee recently devoted an episode to the movie's music.
After Maurice's passing, Gibb never reteamed with brother Barry to carry on in the Bee Gees pop music mold and, instead, ventured into classical waters. He wanted to mark the 100th anniversary of Titanic's sinking and to pay musical homage to the souls who traveled upon the ship toward new lives in America. And he wanted to do so by composing music that could have been written 300 years ago, he said.
The Titanic Requiem, a grand, stirring, mournful work, is a mostly orchestral performance by the Royal Philharmonic Orchestra with a choir singing parts from the Latin Mass for the Dead. The recording also features what will now stand as Gibb's final vocal work, the melancholic English pop ballad Don't Cry Alone.
The song, recorded when he thought he'd beaten the intestinal problems and cancers that plagued his latter years, could stand as an epitaph for its singer, both lyrically and in familiar tone.
Gibb said the song is about a husband taken by the sea after the great ship's sinking in 1912. "With all the power of his soul, he calls out to his wife not to cry alone," Gibb wrote in the album's liner notes. "He reassures her that his spirit will always guide her and their children, and begs that she never doubt him."
Surely as the sun sets
New suns are rising
As winter heralds spring's horizon
Don't cry alone.
Gibb's survivors include his wife Dwina, his children Melissa, 37, Spencer, 39, RJ, 29, Snow, 3, and sister Lesley. His brother Barry and mother Barbara, who lives in South Florida, also survive him.
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