Maurice Gibb was born December 22, 1949 on the Isle of Man, the son of a bandleader and a nightclub singer. He, his twin brother Robin and older brother Barry spent their younger days actually working as a miniature gospel/soul troupe, singing outside of movie theaters. Their name and sound evolved over the years, beginning as The Blue Cats and then integrating the rising skiffle sound into their new band, The Rattlesnakes. In 1958, now properly named The Brothers Gibb, the family moved to Brisbane, Australia. They continued to perform around town, eventually shortening their name to The Bee Gees ("BG" = Brothers Gibb, get it?) and signing to Festival Records.
Of course, detailing that band's career would best be served in its own node, but Maurice's contributions to the band were invaluable: besides playing bass on all of their releases, he also played keyboard, organ, Mellotron, and provided a warm tenor to the middle of the famous Bee Gees harmonies. What often set The Bee Gees apart from most harmony-driven vocal bands of their day was their spot-on reproduction of their work live; very few bands even attempted this, and most did not succeed like the Gibbs did. Maurice was also known as the jokester in the group, providing a sly British wit to almost every performance and interview.
In 1969, upon Robin's exit from the band, Maurice took over co-lead vocals with Barry, the two performing as a two-man Bee Gees. Still, Maurice felt creatively challenged, and began work on a solo album. Collaborating with friend Billy Lawrie, he wrote the single "Railroad", a Top 40 hit in Britain in 1969. That same year, he began dating and eventually married Billy Lawrie's sister, the singer Lulu. Gibb begin working in earnest on the full album in 1970, garnering studio support from, among others, ex-Beatle Ringo Starr, the band Tin Tin (whose eponymous album Gibb had produced that year), and Les Harvey of the progressive pop band Stone The Crow. The album (tentatively titled The Loner) never saw the light of day. The only song released from those sessions, the title track, appeared on the soundtrack to Bloomfield, a light comedy starring Richard Harris, and credited to a fictional band, The Bloomfields. The sessions have emerged lately in bootleg form, but no official release exists.
By the end of 1971, the brothers had patched up their differences and reformed The Bee Gees. Although the band found newfound success playing funk and dance music (which eventually merged into disco), Maurice still suffered from an addiction to alcohol, and his marriage to Lulu came to a messy end in 1978. He had reached such a low point that he was removed from bass-playing duties for The Bee Gees' seminal release, the soundtrack to Saturday Night Fever.
After the enormous success of that album, the Bee Gees continued to perform, and to cap off an era of ups and downs, Maurice kicked the bottle and remarried, this time to model Yvonne Spencerley. Maurice again went solo in 1984, releasing the single "Hold Her In Your Hand" and working on the score for the movie A Breed Apart. He played a bit part in the movie The Supernaturals, a courtesy role after his proposed score for the movie had been rejected.
1988 brought on sadness for Maurice: both his father and his younger brother, Andy, passed away with little warning. These deaths reunited the Gibbs once again, and they released One, making the way for a triumphant returning to the touring circuit. Maurice still served as the joker in the group, remarking, "We've been in and out more times than a sewing needle," at the Bee Gees' induction into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame.
Sadly, Maurice passed away January 12, 2003 after suffering cardiac arrest arising from complications with a blocked intestine. From soul troupe to pop aficionados to psychedelia to dance and disco and modern balladry, Maurice served as an important part of one of the most respected and widely heralded artists in modern rock history. He will be missed.