Gibb funeral draws 200 friends, family

Robin Gibb, left, and his wife, Dwina, enter a funeral home in Miami Beach on Wednesday to attend a service for his twin brother, Maurice.

(AP Photo)
Published: Thursday, January 16, 2003 at 6:01 a.m.
Last Modified: Thursday, January 16, 2003 at 12:15 a.m.

MIAMI BEACH - About 200 mourners, including singer Michael Jackson and other celebrities, joined family members Wednesday at a private funeral service for Maurice Gibb as the county medical examiner disclosed it was reviewing the sudden death of the Bee Gees band member at a local hospital.

Gibb, 53, who played keyboards and bass in the Bee Gees, best known for '70s hits such as ``Stayin' alive'' and ``More than a woman,'' died Sunday at Mount Sinai Medical Center after doctors made what his brothers have called a ``questionable'' decision to operate on a blocked intestine just after he suffered cardiac arrest.

There was no mention of those allegations during the service at the Riverside Funeral Chapel, said several mourners who attended. Robin Gibb, one of the two surviving brothers of the British pop trio, spoke briefly about his love for his twin brother.

"It was emotional, there was humor . . . everybody talked about how this was a man who really celebrated life and so this was a celebration of his life,'' said Jennifer Valoppi, a television news reporter who attended the service as a friend of the Gibb family. Reporters were not allowed to cover the funeral service.

Jackson, a longtime friend of the Bee Gees, and Harry Wayne Casey, the KC of KC and the Sunshine Band, were among the celebrities who joined Maurice Gibb's wife, Yvonne, his son, Adam, as well as his older brother and Bee Gees partner, Barry Gibb, at the service.

Pictures of Maurice and his family hung from the walls, along with the jacket he used to play his favorite sport of paintball, Valoppi said.

Some of those attending the service said the Bee Gees' humor and music will stay alive in their hearts.

"He'd talk to anybody. He was just a genuine, real person. You'd never think that he was as big a star as he was,'' said James Haddaway, of Miami Beach, who said he met Gibb at an Alcoholics Anonymous meeting.

Nat Kipner, who managed the Bee Gees early in their career in Brisbane, Australia, had traveled by coincidence to South Florida on the same day Maurice Gibb died.

``I heard right away that Maurice had died and I couldn't believe it,'' he said after the service.

The Bee Gees, short for the Brothers Gibb - Maurice, Robin and older brother Barry - were a falsetto-voiced disco sensation during the 1970s, with a slew of hits from the movie ``Saturday Night Fever,'' including ``Stayin' Alive'' and ``Night Fever.''

Carol Peters, a spokeswoman for Bee Gees manager Allen Kovac, said the family hasn't made a decision on whether to cremate or bury Maurice's remains.

Meanwhile, the Miami-Dade Medical Examiner's Office said Wednesday it is investigating Gibb's death and should complete its findings by Friday.

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