Gibb Family to Launch Hospital Probe

01/13/2003 AT 08:27 AM EST

Bee Gees singer and bassist Maurice Gibb, 53, died after suffering a heart attack while preparing to undergo abdominal surgery to remove an intestinal blockage, his family said on Sunday, later adding that they intend to look "relentlessly" into the manner of his medical treatment.

He "experienced cardiac arrest" before his surgery, according to a statement released to Reuters by Miami's Mount Sinai Medical Center. The time of the musician's death appears to have been late Saturday or early Sunday. The hospital did not furnish details.

Brother Barry Gibb, 55, told the BBC late Sunday that the family would fight to discover the truth about Maurice's death.

"The fact that they had to operate on Maurice during the shock of cardiac arrest, is very questionable, and we will pursue every factor, every element, every second of the timeline of the final hours of Maurice's life," he said.

Authorities at the Mount Sinai Medical Center could not be reached for comment.

The British-born Gibb brothers formed the Bee Gees as youngsters in 1958 in Brisbane, Australia. The group hit the height of its fame with the soundtrack to the 1977 John Travolta movie "Saturday Night Fever," featuring the hits "Stayin' Alive," "More Than a Woman," and "How Deep Is Your Love."

The group included Maurice, his twin brother Robin and older brother Barry. The youngest brother, Andy, died of a heart attack in 1988 at the age of 30, following years of alcohol and drug problems.

Gibb is survived by his second wife, Yvonne Spenceley, and their two children, Adam and Samantha.

Gibb's first marriage, to the pop singer Lulu, lasted from 1969-73. Their divorce was blamed, in part, on his alcoholism.

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