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Unassuming guy, distinct voice

Maurice Gibb was the most unassuming vocalist, but definitely a backbone of the Bee Gees. A tribute.

BROTHERS IN ARMS: Maurice Gibb (Left) and brothers Robin (centre) and Barry (right).

MAURICE GIBB, whose bass playing propelled John Travolta's pulsating opening strut-walk in Saturday Night Fever, died recently of a cardiac arrest before undergoing emergency abdominal surgery.

During a childhood spent in Australia, the British-born Maurice, along with fraternal twin, Robin and elder brother, Barry, formed rock music's most successful brother act, the Bee Gees (short for Brothers Gibb), a group that defined the1970s' disco craze. Just as George Harrison was the shy Beatle, Maurice was the unassuming vocal and musical backbone of the group.

His keyboard skills and ability to blend falsetto harmonies with his songwriter-vocalist brothers gave the group its distinctive sound.

It also earned them seven Grammys in a career that spanned 44 years and sold over 120 million albums.

SHY VIOLET: His keyboard skills and ability to blend falsetto harmonies gave Beegees its distinctive sound.

Their most famous early hits were ballads, including the Beatlesque Massachusetts (1967), and I've Gotta Get a Message to You and I Started a Joke (1968). By this time, the brothers had been singing together for a decade, and they split up briefly. In 1969, Maurice married pop star, Lulu, but the marriage soon fell apart because of his alcohol-related problems.

In 1970, the Bee Gees were back with hits like Lonely Days, How Can You Mend a Broken Heart and Run to Me. Mo's versatility kept the group's reputation intact during a period in which they experimented with funk rhythms. The funk phase realised dance hits like Jive Talkin', Nights on Broadway, Love So Right and You Should Be Dancing.

In a time of garish outfits and elaborate orchestral arrangements, the Bee Gees blended right in. In 1975, Maurice married Yvonne Spencely and the couple had two children, Adam and Samantha. The soundtrack album of Saturday Night Fever (1977), dominated by the Bee Gees with chart-topping disco anthems like Stayin' Alive, How Deep is Your Love, and Night Fever, was the biggest hit of the disco era.

It topped the Billboard charts for 24 weeks, and sold over 40 million copies worldwide, making the brothers the poster boys of an era characterised by disco, drugs, free sex and the anti-war movements.

SATURDAY NIGHT FEVER: Maurice Gibbs was the musical backbone of the group.

In 1979, the group had one final huge album with Sprits Have Flown, featuring hits like Tragedy, Love You Inside Out, and Too Much Heaven.But the disco era was fast coming to an end, to be replaced by the techno-twangs of the yuppie 1980s, and the group dropped out of sight for nearly a decade. They moved to Miami. Mo's warm, unassuming manner and ready wit made him popular with his new neighbours.

During the 80s, the brothers wrote and produced songs for Dolly Parton, Barbara Streisand, and Diana Ross. Tragedy struck the Gibbs in 1988 when Andy Gibb, their youngest brother, died at the age of 29. They made a few comeback albums, but these were feeble echoes of their greatest works.

The release of Still Waters in 1997coincided with their induction into the Rock And Roll Hall Of Fame. Maurice Gibb is survived by his wife and two children, and his mother, Barbara.


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