Most Talked-About Moments
05/07/2004 AT 01:00 AM EDT
Bee Gee Maurice Gibb dies unexpectedly in January, leaving a heartbroken family behind.
Music was a family affair for the Bee Gees. From the time they were young, twins Maurice and Robin and brother Barry Gibb were "three kids who wanted to be like the Beatles," Maurice told PEOPLE in 2001. As teenagers, after the native Brits moved with their family to Australia, they got their wish, signing their first record contract in 1963.
It was the disco era that would bring the most fame for the sibling trio known for their pitch-perfect harmonies on multiplatinum-selling albums such as the Saturday Night Fever soundtrack. Yet after their enormous success in the 1970s, the Bee Gees bore the brunt of the anti-disco backlash of the 1980s. Still, Maurice (pronounced Morris), known as the funny Bee Gee, didn't let it bother him. "It only infringes on our fun if we start to believe everything people say," he told PEOPLE in 2001.
In fact, Maurice was leading a contented life when he died on Jan. 12 after having emergency intestinal surgery at Miami's Mount Sinai Medical Center. Reportedly, before undergoing surgery, Maurice had first suffered a heart attack. His brothers, who thought of Mo (as they called him) as the glue that kept them together, questioned the fact that an operation took place after he suffered from "the shock of a cardiac arrest. We believe negligence occurred," Barry told a British newspaper, PEOPLE noted in January. In August, the brothers brought a lawsuit against the hospital, charging that his death was preventable and caused by error or incompetence, the Chicago Sun-Times reported that month.
Maurice, who was married to his second wife, Yvonne, and had two grown children, Adam, 27, and Samantha, 22, had recently opened Mo's Paintball Shop in Miami. He had overcome his struggle with drinking (which had been exacerbated by younger brother Andy's death in 1988) and been sober since 1991. Maurice was also busy making music with the Bee Gees.
Though his brothers vowed to continue to work as a duo, it was clear that things would never be the same for the Bee Gees without Maurice. "Barry and Robin had the voices, but the point was the blend of the three," producer Karl Richardson told Entertainment Weekly in January. "And that sound is now history."
– SERENA KAPPES