Paintball with 'Morris' 

He wasn't beautiful, or even essential, but Maurice Gibb was cool.

The first thing you need to know about Maurice Gibb is that his first name is pronounced "Morris." The second thing you need to know is that he was the least essential member of the Bee Gees, so there is no cause for riot. There's no reason to rent a hotel room on West Grand and watch Bee Gees videos day in and day out in the same pair of underwear you've been wearing for a week, going to pick up the Vietnamese takeout with the strains of "Fanny (Be Tender with My Love)" running through your head like a soft-focus hamster in a white satin wheel.

We don't want to see anyone reenacting the plot to the 1969 Bee Gees concept album Odessa in Frank Ogawa Plaza, complete with sailing ship and a broken picture frame holding a photo of a mariner's estranged wife.

There's also really no need to create an "At Least It's Not Barry" sandwich board and parade up and down Telegraph Avenue, swingin' paint cans in homage to the opening scene of Saturday Night Fever. The death of Maurice is not such an occasion.

Nor would it be prudent to say that something funny happened in the Gibb DNA that placed Andy and Barry at the top of the looks totem pole and Maurice and Robin way down at the bottom with the carved alligator head and the demonic Loki face.

Robin and b Maurice were b twins. They bb fought like Gallagher brothers. Maurice had a problem with the bottle. He died a seemingly excruciating death by intestinal blockage, which could lead some cynics to joke about what a pain in the ass the Bee Gees were. That's the Bee Gees ... forever the butt of people's jokes. (Oops, there we go again.)

It was actually Maurice who took the band's fall from grace after disco with complete aplomb. He himself made Bee Gees jokes. He was circumspect and candid and self-effacing in interviews, despite being described by his brothers as the "extrovert" in the group. Though he played almost all the instruments on the records, he readily stood in the background of Robin's pleasing vocal bleats and Barry's smooth falsetto, seeming to have no interest in taking center stage, even when his twin, in a huff, split off and released a solo album.

Local musician Bart Davenport once said something interesting about Robin and Maurice. Brothers, he said, make for a super-tight bond in a band. Not only are you bonded from playing together and practicing together, but also from growing up together. All the time that good bands spend learning to anticipate each other's moves becomes less necessary. Brothers start from there and take the symbiosis even further. Imagine, then, what it means to be twins playing together.

As of a few months ago, all of the Bee Gees lived on the same street in Miami, which means yes, they could've been on Trading Spaces. Maurice owned a paintball shop there called Commander Mo's, where he sold $1,300 paint guns, paintball sports bras, and sexy "paint girl" stickers. Imagine playing paintball in the swamps of Florida with Maurice Gibb. Imagine what it would be like to be Maurice's twin playing paintball in a swamp with him, anticipating his moves.

But this is not a time to look at the "if onlys" or "should haves." We will never play paintball with Maurice. If we're lucky, there may be a chance for a little foosball with Robin, but as for lying in wait in the Okefenokee for the least essential member of the Bee Gees to appear from behind a tree, that dream has died.

This isn't the first time the Bee Gees have existed with only two. During the recording of Odessa, Barry freaked out and Robin quit, leaving Barry and Maurice to Cucumber Castle it alone. That record is the least essential Bee Gees album. A movie with the same name exists out there, but it's just about as hard to come by as the Let It Be movie. Legend says that it's better than the Bee Gees', um, different take on Sergeant Pepper's Lonely Hearts Club Band in the '70s. Maurice had some funny things to say about that movie. Maurice had a good sense of humor about his band. Maurice was cool.

So let's not mourn. Maurice would've wanted it that way. We still have two Bee Gees. We should be dancing.


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