Robin Gibb, a member of the group the Bee Gees, died Sunday at the age of 61. The musician was best known for his contributions, along with his brothers, to disco in the 1970s. The genre, both loved and hated, was in part defined by Gibb and the Bee Gees, notes Maura Judkis of Style Blog:
“No one dominated disco more than the Bee Gees, whose soundtrack to “Saturday Night Fever” cemented their place in history and changed the defining sound of the era.
The Bee Gees had nine singles reach number one on the Hot 100 chart — which, according to Billboard , puts them in third place for the most number ones in history, after the Beatles and the Supremes.”
The group traveled to Washington in September, 1979, two years after the release of its seminal album, “Saturday Night Fever.” In a Washington Post review of the concert, writer Geoffrey Himes detailed the wild reactions of female fans:
Some singers have a falsetto pitch that can break glass. Barry Gibb of the Bee Gees has a falsetto pitch that sets off female screams. Every time he hit that pitch at the Capital Centre last night, squeals split the air.
One of the screamers was 18-year-old Alice Severe of Baltimore. “I just can’t help it,” she said in a hoarse voice. “It just comes out. I want them to know I’m their fan. Nothing can top them -- not the Beatles, not nobody.” She broke off to leap with fist in air at the opening of “Can’t See Nobody.”
Many of those fans who grew up with the genre, as well as fellow musicians, have expressed their thoughts and reactions to Gibb’s passing through social media, says Sarah Anne Hughes of Celebritology:
Duran Duran @duranduran Sorry to hear about the passing of Robin Gibb of the BeeGees. Our condolences to his friends and family
David Boreanaz @David_Boreanaz R.I.P. Robin Gibb. The Bee Gees, one of the most successful groups in pop music history. Pure genius.
Lance Armstrong @lancearmstrong RIP Robin Gibb. Continues to sadden me to see cancer take our loved ones. Gotta put a stop to it.
The Bee Gees star is the latest in a string of famous entertainers who have died in recent weeks. And as Jen Chaney of Celebritology writes, it can seem overwhelming for mourners:
But for those whose childhoods unfolded to the tune of their life’s work, it’s a lot to process.
As I wrote shortly after Houston’s death, we often take celebrity deaths personally because their work was, indeed, so personal to us. For those of us who grew up in the 1970s and 1980s, in the eight-track and cassette tape era, we are starting to realize that from now on, more of these high-profile losses will feel especially personal. These people who are dying, the Gibbs, the Summers, the Yauchs and the Houstons, gave us the music that we hear every time we think back to boy-girl parties and roller rink free-skates, to station wagon rides and August days spent soaking in backyard wading pools while the radio blared the staticky sounds of WPGC, Q107 or WAVA.
We knew when Michael Jackson and John Hughes died in 2009 that we were starting to lose the ones that really meant something to us. Three years later, we have to come to terms with the fact that losing the famous artists who defined us is now the new, and very sad, normal.
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