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Bee Gee Robin Gibb Dies Of Cancer At 62

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Robin Gibb of the Bee Gees has died.

Gibb died Sunday after a long battle with cancer and intestinal surgery, according to a statement on his official website.

"The family have asked that their privacy is respected at this very difficult time," the statement said.

Robin and his brothers Barry and Maurice Gibb racked up dozens of hit songs in their five decade career. Robin Gibb, who had cancer, was 62.

The Bee Gees might be forever linked to the 1970s, the era of polyester outfits and blow-dried hair, thanks to the songs they wrote and performed for the movie Saturday Night Fever.

Disco, however, didn't make the Bee Gees. Their vocal harmonies and songwriting skills were hugely popular a decade earlier, like on their first U.S. release in 1967, New York Mining Disaster 1941.

Robin, Maurice and Barry Gibb were born on the Isle of Man in the Irish Sea. Later, the family moved to Australia. Their father was a dance band leader, and growing up, the Gibb brothers were big fans of close harmony by The Mills Brothers and The Everly Brothers. When they were big stars, the Bee Gees would occasionally perform Lollipop, one of their favorite songs from their childhood.

Robin Gibb came across as the more serious of the three Bee Gees. He himself said he was the shyest, and many of the songs on which he sings lead have a melancholy tone.

Over the decades, the Bee Gees had many ups and downs both personally and professionally. In 1969, they broke up. Robin Gibb said their sibling squabbles were exacerbated by their individual ambitions.

"That was a period where we had tremendous egos for success where we just stopped talking to each other," Gibb said. "We had people saying that 'you're responsible for the success of the group,' and 'he's successful,' so we all had our own sort of court."

During the split, Robin Gibb recorded a solo album, but eventually he and his brothers realized they were better together than apart.

The Bee Gees music and Saturday Night Fever came to define the late 1970s, and it's among the best selling soundtrack albums of all time.

In a documentary about The Bee Gees, the longtime producer of The Beatles, Sir George Martin, said the Gibb brothers were adept songwriters.

"I think there's an affinity between the Bee Gees and the Beatles, particularly with their earlier material, in the linking of very good hooks, very good melodies which stick in the mind," Martin said. "That within itself is an extraordinarily difficult thing to do."

The Gibb family suffered a number of personal tragedies. Brother and solo singer Andy Gibb died at the age of 30 in 1988. Robin's twin, Maurice, died after complications from a twisted intestine in 2003. Robin Gibb continued the tradition of working with family up until this year. He and his son wrote The Titanic Requiem, which premiered with the Royal Philharmonic.

Copyright 2012 National Public Radio. To see more, visit http://www.npr.org/.

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