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Forgotten solo gems

june 29 2015

Dwina Gibb with Robin
Dwina Gibb with Robin
Reg Little on the decade-long quest to reveal Robin Gibb’s complete work to the world
On one of his many visits to America, Bee Gee Robin Gibb happened to catch an old interview with John Lennon on television.
The former Beatle was meant to be plugging his new record Imagine. But the album in his hands was not his own record: it was in fact Robin’s Reign, the solo album that Robin Gibb had made in the late 1960s following a traumatic break-up with his brothers.
Robin Gibb’s widow Dwina recalls her husband’s delight to stumble across this touching endorsement from John Lennon, which somehow he had never before seen.

“Robin had known nothing about it. He was really surprised and pleased,” she said. “He knew the Beatles. They all shared the same management and were always running into each other. And John always said that he enjoyed Robin’s voice. I’m sure he had meant Robin to see it. He was sending a ‘well done Gibby’ message.”
As a member of the Bee Gees, Robin, along with brothers Barry and Maurice would enjoy monster hits with dance floor classics such as Saturday Night Fever, Stayin’ Alive and How Deep is Your Love?
However, Robin’s own brief but prolific period as a solo artist – when the brothers Gibb went their separate ways – has been largely overlooked, until now.
Following her husband’s death three years ago, Dwina, who still lives in the 12th century home that they shared for many years near Thame, has been heavily involved in a project to put that right, and ensure her husband’s complete musical legacy is properly celebrated.
The album held up by Lennon all those years ago is now being released. But so is a second album of songs recorded by her husband, Sing Slowly Sisters, which for all its brilliance and originality was never released, and regularly features high on any list of great Lost Albums.
The newly-released three-CD box set Saved By The Bell – The Collected Works of Robin Gibb, featuring 63 songs, is completed with a disc of rare recordings made between 1968 and 1970.
It has taken more than a decade to bring the project to fruition.
Much of the music had been missing for years, with some of the precious tapes having ended up in the hands of collectors spread across the globe. It all began with the opening of huge wooden crates from Germany back in the winter of 2005, and finally completed with the mastering of the discs earlier this year.
In the months before his death, Robin Gibb had been more focused with producing new music at The Prebendal, his Oxfordshire home, including an album of classical music composed with his son R J Gibb, The Titanic Requiem, written to commemorate the centennial of the sinking of the Titanic in 1912.
“After being diagnosed with cancer Robin just threw himself into everything. He thought work was good for him.”
She reveals that after being diagnosed with cancer, he had desperately wanted to get back with Barry, the only surviving member of the trio of brothers.
Herald Series:
But the new CDs offers music from a Robin Gibb that the world does not know.
Long before becoming the kings of disco music, as teenagers in the 1960s the Bee Gees had enjoyed huge success as teenagers, recording four albums in two years but a fall out of the choice of single led to a temporary break up of the fraternal bond.
Robin’s time apart from Barry and Maurice is best known for his song Saved By the Bell, which charted at number two.
But it is now known that over little more than a year, songs poured from him, in what some now view as his most creative and experimental period.
Producer Andrew Sandoval said: “Making sense of Robin’s solo work from March 1968 to April 1970 was an epic quest.”
In June 1970 when Robin, Barry and Maurice were reunited, with solo careers forgotten, including some solo pop gems from the saddest Bee Gee.
As for his widow she is just glad one of her favourite albums, Sing Slowly Sisters, is finally available.
“Robin’s vocals have such a beautiful haunting quality,” she said.
“I previously only had a demo tape. It has come out really nicely.”


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Image credit:  Getty Images
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