Over his decades-long music career, Bee Gees co-founder Barry Gibb has faced a number of serious health issues. Now in his mid-70s, Gibb has overcome several near-death experiences and chronic conditions. Examining Barry Gibb’s health problems provides insight into the many challenges he has survived.
Childhood Brushes with Mortality
Gibb’s early health troubles began in his native Australia before the Bee Gees rose to international fame. When he was just 18 months old, Gibb pulled a pot of boiling tea off the stove, resulting in severe third-degree burns. This early accident nearly claimed his life. Later, as a young boy, Gibb was confined to his bed for a year as he battled tuberculosis. These childhood brushes with death foreshadowed the health obstacles ahead.
Battling Drug Addiction
At the peak of the Bee Gees’ popularity in the late 1970s, Barry Gibb developed dangerous addictions to amphetamines and barbiturates. He believed the drugs fueled his songwriting creativity. However, his substance abuse took a toll on his wellbeing. Gibb eventually overcame the addiction after suffering occasional relapses. He later reflected that fame and success did not guarantee happiness and fulfillment.
With the untimely death of his younger brother, Andy Gibb, at just 30 years old, Barry Gibb sank into a long depressive episode through the late 1980s and early 1990s. The loss of Andy so soon after the passing of his other brother, Robin Gibb, left Barry grief-stricken and isolated. He immersed himself in work during what he later called his darkest days, in an attempt to cope with the pain. For more interested queries click here.
Emergency Intestinal Surgery
Starting in his 60s, Gibb experienced recurring intestinal blockages that caused agonizing abdominal pain. Despite several hospitalizations, the cause remained a mystery until doctors discovered Gibb’s entire large intestine had died. To save his life, they performed emergency surgery to remove the organ. The colostomy was a major ordeal, but Gibb survived.
Arthritis Causing Chronic Pain
Around the same time as his intestinal issues, Gibb began battling severe arthritis. The inflammation caused debilitating pain in his hands, knees, and wrists which made playing instruments and performing difficult. Doctors treated the arthritis with oral steroids and anti-inflammatory medication, which Gibb continues to take to manage the chronic pain.
Staying Heart Healthy
With a family history of heart disease, Barry Gibb has prioritized maintaining cardiovascular health. His brothers Robin and Maurice Gibb both died unexpectedly from heart attacks. Since entering his 50s, Gibb has focused on exercise, healthy eating, and controlling high blood pressure to remain heart-healthy despite his age and genetics.
For over 50 years, Barry Gibb has created timeless pop music against the backdrop of constant health struggles. From early brushes with death to overcoming addiction, depression, and emergency surgery, Gibb’s survival is a testament to his resilience. Now in his mid-70s, he continues performing while carefully managing his health. Barry Gibb has certainly endured his share of health problems but still keeps overcoming the odds.