Barbara Gibb is 91 years old and I can't truly contemplate the notion that she may have to bury the third of her four sons.
I'm a huge Bee Gees fan. All the backlash and critical brickbats surrounding their "disco years" is rubbish. Their records —from all three phases of their career–are brilliant, and as songwriters in the Rock Era, only Lennon & McCartney, Holland-Dozier-Holland, Bacharach & David, Smokey Robinson, Dylan and Brian Wilson rival them for success and ubiquity.
I'm also a fan of the Gibb Family. I was a close friend of Andy's; his parents, Hugh and Barbara were always lovely to me, and I knew the three elder Gibb brothers slightly, and to varying degrees. Hands down, Maurice was the nicest, funniest and friendliest of the bunch. And like most families, they all had their issues, but fame and fortune aside, they are basically like any other extended clan you might meet. And this is why the seemingly imminent loss of Robin Gibb is so tragic.
This family has weathered so much. Andy's death at 30 sent his father Hugh into such an emotional tailspin that he died a few years later, poignantly, on Andy's birthday. Maurice was the glue that held the Bee Gees together. Not only their finest musician, he was close to both his older brother Barry and his fraternal twin, Robin, and frequently mediated disagreements between his two brothers who often had a fractious relationship. When Maurice died, the Bee Gees, for all intents and purposes, were no more. Barry and Robin grieved in different ways and, as being in one another's company only reminded them of Maurice's absence, they rarely saw one another for six years. As their mother Barbara said, she almost grieved more for Barry and Robin than she did for her own loss.
But Barry and Robin had reconciled in the past year or two, and they looked forward to making music together again, as much in tribute to Maurice as anything else. Robin's cancer diagnosis in 2010 was a severe blow, but he battled the odds with great courage and the treatments seemed to be working. But he was just so damn weak, and in such a state, pneumonia is opportunistic. And now Robin seems to be at death's door.
He has such a unique voice and he has been a part of one of the greatest songwriting and performing teams ever, but my version of a prayer is that Robin will defy the odds and prevail, for his wife and children's sake, for his brother and sister, and especially for his mom. We've had so much loss this past week. If I am entitled to one miracle that I could pull out of a hat, I'd gladly grant it to Robin Gibb.