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May 12

The Bee Gees: “Nights on Broadway”

Robin Gibb

Robin Gibb, 1949-2012

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It seems like the “in memoriam” posts are coming fast and furious lately — and I didn’t even do one for Donna Summer, as much as I like a few of her hits. But I couldn’t let the death of the Bee Gees’ Robin Gibb today at the age of 62 from cancer go unremarked, because I was a bit of a fan back in the ’70s, and heck, they were one of the most successful groups ever.

While Barry Gibb may have been the most dominant vocal presence in the group, and no one would ever accuse Robin of being the good-looking one, for me, Robin was the quintessential Bee Gee. His voice and presence in the group defined them in a way that Barry’s falsetto and flowing mane never could. (Not to give Maurice short shrift, but he was so subdued in his presence that you almost missed the fact that he was there — no offense, Maurice fans.) If it had just been three guys that looked and sounded like Barry, sure, they’d have had some hits, but they might have just been another Hudson Brothers. Don’t know who they are? My point exactly. But add in Robin’s wavery tenor and his distinctive overbite, and now you’ve got something memorable.

Not to mention that Robin was responsible for co-writing some of the great pop songs: “To Love Somebody,” “Run to Me,” “How Can You Mend a Broken Heart?” . . . the list goes on and on. And this song, “Nights on Broadway,” from the Bee Gees’ 1975 album, Main Course. I’ve chosen this one because — aside from being one of the songs that defines what the best mid-’70s pop music was all about — it illustrates my point above: Barry may have the dominant presence in the song, but when Robin comes in as lead on “Well I had to follow you/Though you did not want me to” line, I’ll be damned if that isn’t the defining moment in the song. You had to love Robin Gibb.

Other Reselected songs by the Bee Gees:Lonely Days

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