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Mourners Recall Bee Gee Maurice Gibb

By John Pain
Associated Press Writer
Wednesday, January 15, 2003; 9:25 PM

MIAMI BEACH, Fla… About 200 mourners, including singer Michael Jackson and other celebrities, joined family members Wednesday at a private funeral for former Bee Gee Maurice Gibb as the county medical examiner’s office disclosed it was reviewing the Bee Gee’s sudden death.

Gibb, 53, who played keyboards and bass in the band, died Sunday at a hospital three days after doctors decided to operate on a blocked intestine after he suffered cardiac arrest.

His brothers have said they believe that decision was a mistake. Officials at Mount Sinai Medical Center have declined to comment on the allegation, citing patient privacy laws.

A spokeswoman said Wednesday that the hospital will cooperate with family members as they try to learn how Gibb died. “We want to see this come to a positive resolution,” Kathleen Dorkowski said. “We want to see the family has its questions answered.”

There was no mention of the controversy during Wednesday’s service at the Riverside Funeral Chapel, said several attendees. Robin Gibb, one of the two surviving brothers of the British pop trio, spoke briefly about his love for his twin, they said.

“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 family friend Jennifer Valoppi.

Jackson and Harry Wayne Casey, leader of KC & The Sunshine Band, were among celebrities who joined Maurice Gibb’s wife, Yvonne, his son, Adam, and his older brother Barry at the service.

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

Nat Kipner, who managed the Bee Gees early in their career in Brisbane, Australia, traveled by coincidence to south Florida the same day Gibb died. The brothers decided to return to their native England in 1967.

“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, were a falsetto-voiced disco sensation during the 1970s, with a string of hits from the movie “Saturday Night Fever,” including “Stayin’ Alive” and “Night Fever.” Their contributions to the album in 1977 made it the best-selling movie soundtrack ever, with more than 40 million copies sold.

Meanwhile, the Miami-Dade medical examiner’s office said Wednesday it is investigating Gibb’s death and should complete the review by Friday. The medical examiner routinely reviews deaths when a body is going to be cremated or when a death is not caused by a readily recognizable disease.

The family hasn’t yet decided whether to create or bury the remains, said a spokeswoman for Bee Gees manager Allen Kovac.

Also Wednesday, the county coroner’s office said its expects to release autopsy results Friday.

© 2003 The Associated Press