Robin Gibb: An Interracial Musical Legacy

By Shakurah

This article is dedicated Robin Gibb, to honor his memory and legacy.

Robin Hugh Gibb, CBE of the superstar group the Bee Gees died on May 20, 2012 at the age of 62.

The outpouring of kind sentiments since his death shows that Robin was and is a much loved man for a variety of reasons.

Whether it is love of the Bee Gees music, Robin’s music as a solo artist, his sense of humor, or tremendous humanitarian spirit, many can find a reason to send blessings his way.

When you first think of Robin Gibb, you may not think of him as having an interracial musical legacy. However, if you listen closely to some of the things he has said over the years, it is clear to me that he did. Recently, I had the pleasure of watching a 2010 documentary on the Bee Gees called In Our Own Time.



During a segment of this documentary, Robin commented on the period of time during the 1970’s when the Bee Gees recorded one of their famous hits, Jive Talkin’. He mentioned the pressures that white bands, especially white American bands, had at the time to not go into so-called black areas of music.

However, as a British band, Robin commented that they did not feel the same pressures or fears. According to Robin, “Because we were English, we were less self-conscious about exploring the no-go areas…” He then goes on to say, “We didn’t think that there was any “no go” areas, it’s music!”

I could not agree more. Within this quote lies the heart of Robin Gibb’s interracial musical legacy.

I thought and felt so many things when I heard Robin say this. First, I was so grateful that he, his brothers and producers had the courage to see music this way. Imagine how many Bee Gees songs would have never been released if they had thought otherwise. It has always been a shame to me that racial segregation has crept into and corrupted something so universal as music.

There is nothing wrong with celebrating and acknowledging the racial and ethnic origins of music. The Bee Gees were fantastic at acknowledging the black American roots of their music and openly confessed their admiration of artists such as Stevie Wonder and Otis Redding.

But why should artists be banned from performing a certain type of music if they are not from a particular race or ethnic group? To do this is to cut off the creative energy that groups like the Bee Gees want to express.

There are no “no go” areas when it comes to performing music or listening to music as a fan. As a black American woman, there have been many times in my life where black friends and acquaintances would raise an eyebrow at my diverse taste in music.

If I had the audacity to express my fondness of a band such as U2 or REM, I would be met with disapproval clearly indicating I was some kind of social oddity. I guess I’m not supposed to like them according to some people because I’m black and I owe some kind of strange loyalty only to black musicians.

Well, their narrow-mindedness and racism is their problem, not mine. They are missing out on some good music. It’s too bad I didn’t have Robin’s quote handy at the time. When it comes down to it, music is an art that can take many forms, evoke a wide range of emotions and does not have a race or color, unless someone chooses to see it that way.


By 1976, “The Bee Gees’ music had successfully spanned several generations, and they were also popular with both black and white audiences, an accomplishment that is rare in rock history.

Virtually no group has enjoyed such mass popularity with such a diverse audience…” (Source- Bee Gees: The Authorized Biography by Barry, Robin and Maurice Gibb as told to David Leaf, March, 1979).

For this reason, I will always celebrate, admire and enjoy the interracial legacy of Robin Gibb and the Bee Gees, my all-time favorite rock group.

Thank you, Robin, for sharing your gifts with the world. You will never be forgotten.