The Bee Gees — a play on the “Brothers Gibb” — were formed in 1958 with Mr. Gibb, his twin brother Maurice and their elder brother Barry. The group became one of the most successful pop entertainment acts of its era, winning multiple Grammy Awards, selling more than 110 million albums and putting 23 songs in the top 20 of Billboard’s Hot 100 charts from 1967 to 1979.
With a Beatles-influenced pop style, they had an initial run of success in Australia in the 1960s with songs that included “Spicks and Specks.” They later brought disco music into the pop mainstream and set fashion trends with their polyester suits, open collars and flowing hairstyles.
During their 1997 induction into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame, the Bee Gees were described as “pop’s ultimate chameleons” because of their work in several musical genres.
On recordings such as “New York Mining Disaster 1941” (1967), a song inspired by a Welsh mine cave-in, and “I’ve Gotta Get a Message to You” (1968), in which a convict awaits his execution, the Bee Gees combined somber, melodramatic storylines with lush orchestral accompaniments.
Mr. Gibb’s signature song, “I Started a Joke” (1969), dealt with the embarrassment of someone who has said something horribly wrong. The quavering vibrato in his voice helped underscore the song’s neurotic, self-conscious lyrics.
Other performers took notice of their songwriting. “To Love Somebody” (1967), co-written by Mr. Gibb and his brother Barry and originally intended for soul singer Otis Redding, became one of the era’s most recorded love ballads.
Although Redding died before he could record it, the song was covered by such performers as Janis Joplin, Tom Jones, Dusty Springfield and the Flying Burrito Brothers.
Disputes between Mr. Gibb and his brother Barry over who should sing lead culminated with Mr. Gibb’s departure from the group in 1969 to pursue a short-lived solo career. The other brothers split up shortly after the filming of a television special, “Cucumber Castle,” which aired in 1970.
“I think it was partly the fact that we’d always lived with our mother and father and we were just becoming adults and looking to be free of each other,” Mr. Gibb told Billboard magazine in 2001.
The group reemerged with a ballad reportedly inspired by their reconciliation, “How Can You Mend a Broken Heart” (1971).
Within a few years, the Bee Gees found a new, highly profitable direction. Producer Arif Mardin pushed Barry Gibb to sing in a piercing, falsetto style — the group’s new trademark — with the song “Jive Talkin’ ” (1975), a breakthrough hit in the disco market. The soundtrack to the movie “Saturday Night Fever” (1977) followed and was estimated to have sold 40 million copies worldwide.