The Null Device
Robin Gibb, one of the members of long-running pop group the Bee Gees, has died, aged 62. While they're best known for some overexposed disco-pop from the 1970s, Robin, by all accounts the eccentric of the group, was a much more interesting figure than one might believe:
"I'm also doing the musical score for a film called Henry the Eighth," he told Fabulous, "and I'm making my own film called Family Tree. It involves a man, John Family, whose grandfather is caught trying to blow up Trafalgar Square with a homemade bomb wrapped in underwear." In July 1969 the NME announced Robin was "fronting a 97-piece orchestra and a 60-piece choir in a recording of his latest composition To Heaven and Back, which was inspired by the Apollo 11 moonshot. It is an entirely instrumental piece, with the choir being used for 'astral effects'." Robin Gibb was still only 19 years old.
Age barely mellowed his eccentricity. In the 90s he left his brothers speechless when, during an interview with all three of them on Howard Stern's show, he announced his wife Dwina was bisexual and they enjoyed threesomes. He quickly said it was a joke, then changed his mind again a week later. With their cocooned, peripatetic upbringing (Isle Of Man, Manchester, Australia), the Gibbs never had an instinct for cool pop moves. And Robin Gibb's music - untutored and isolated (I can picture most of it being written on a harpsichord in a dimly lit 12th century living room) – has come out without any of the usual dulling rock'n'roll filters. Who else could have written Odessa (City on the Black Sea) about a man stranded on an iceberg, writing a letter to his wife who loves "that vicar more than words can say"? Frankly, no one.Gibb was predeceased by his twin brother and bandmate Maurice Gibb, who died in 2003.