The family of the singer Robin Gibb was keeping vigil at his hospital bed in Chelsea in west London last night. The 62-year-old Bee Gees singer was fighting for his life after contracting pneumonia and falling into a coma. He recently suffered cancer of the colon; subsequently, the disease spread to his liver.
It was thought as recently as last month that his cancer had been in remission. Earlier this year he said he was making a good recovery: he told the Radio 2 disc jockey Steve Wright that he felt better than he had done for a decade.
"The prognosis is that it's almost gone and I feel fantastic, and really from now on it's just what they could describe as a 'mopping-up' operation," he said. "I am very active and my sense of well-being is good."
But last week he was forced to miss the London premiere of his classical composition "Titanic Requiem" because of illness. This latest deterioration in his health coincides with reports of a secondary tumour. Sources close to Gibb confirmed he is very ill in hospital, but his agent declined to comment on reports that the star might have only days to live. His son, Robin-John Gibb, said the family was praying for him and hoping for a speedy recovery.
The Bee Gees – the Gibb brothers Robin, Barry and Maurice – were born on the Isle of Man but were raised in Australia. Their musical success – worldwide sales topped 200 million – includes hits such as "How Deep Is Your Love" and "Stayin' Alive". Their soundtrack for the film Saturday Night Fever was one of the best-selling albums of the 1970s.
Since the 1980s, the family has suffered repeated tragedy. Gibb's twin brother, Maurice, died from the same bowel condition that initially led doctors to operate on Robin. Gibb's younger brother, Andy, who was not part of the Bee Gees but a successful singer in his own right, died in 1988 from heart failure at the age of 30.
Robin Gibb has enjoyed a musical career spanning six decades and singing some of the greatest hits of the 1960s and 70s, including "Massachusetts", "I've Gotta Get a Message to You", "Lonely Days", "Words", "How Can You Mend a Broken Heart", "Tragedy", "Jive Talkin'" and "Night Fever".
Gibb's publicist, Doug Wright, declined to comment last night but Gibb's son acknowledged publicly that the musician was seriously ill.