South Australian born music, movie and theatre producer Robert Stigwood has died at the age of 81.
The legendary impresario was the manager for the Bee Gees at the height of their fame and also managed Cream, The Who, Blind Faith and Eric Clapton.
Later, Robert moved from music to movies under the banner Robert Stigwood Organisations (RSO), which produced hit films including Saturday Night Fever in 1977 and Grease in 1978.
Vale Robert Stigwood: Legendary Australian-born music, movie and theatre producer Robert Stigwood has died, aged 81
Legendary manager: Robert was best known for managing the Bee Gees at the peak of their career
Under the same company, the movie producer later worked with composer Andrew Lloyd Webber on hit West End theatre productions including Evita and Jesus Christ Super Star.
Robert also produced musicals Hair, Pippin and Sweeney Todd.
The Port Pirie-born businessman is best known for developing the tactic of using rock stars in film soundtracks – most famously his clients the Bee Gees in Saturday Night Fever, which generated three Number One hits for the group.
The unprecedented success resurrected the group’s ‘dead in the water’ careers with their last minute addition to the film’s soundtrack.
Breakthrough role! John Travolta’s breakthrough role came in Robert’s 1977 movie Saturday Night Fever
Hit soundtrack: The film also spawned a hit soundtrack that resurrected the flailing career of the Bee Gees at the time and in 2010 was still in the Top Five highest-selling albums ever worldwide
Grease is the word! Robert followed up the success of the disco hit movie with Grease in 1978
Breaking multiple industry records, Saturday Night Fever the album was the highest-selling in recording history at that point, with more than 40 million copies sold.
And in 2010 it was still inside the Top Five Highest Selling Albums ever, worldwide.
Robert followed up that success in 1978 with another hit film and soundtrack, Grease, staring John Travolta and Australian actress Olivia Newton-John
His 1975 film of the rock opera Tommy, also featured his client Eric Clapton, as well as Elton John and Tina Turner, and became another box-office and album hit as well.
In 1996 he produced the film of Evita, the Lloyd Webber-Rice musical that starred Madonna as Eva Peron.
Theatre meets film: The famed producer (left) worked on the 1996 movie version of Evita, starring Madonna and Antonio Bandares (centre)
Andrew Lloyd Webber tweeted news of Robert’s passing, writing: ‘Farewell beloved Robert, the great showman who taught me so much. With love, ALW.’
The famed composer also posted a photograph of himself with Robert and US producer Hal Prince at Evita’s opening night in Adelaide in 1980.
However, it was Robert’s godson, Spencer Gibb, 43, (son of Bee Gee Robin Gibb) who announced the producer’s death on Monday via Facebook, describing him as ‘my godfather, and the longtime manager of my family’.
Paying tribute: Andrew Lloyd Webber lead the tributes on Twitter with a touching message
Long history: Andrew and Robert have worked together since the early 70s on a number of theatre productions in London’s West End
Working in the theatre: Robert began producing theatre shows in the late 1960s after seeing Hair on Broadway (Pictured at the Cats opening party with Andrew Lloyd Webber and guest in 1982)
He added: ‘A creative genius with a very quick and dry wit, Robert was the driving force behind The Bee Gees career, as well as having discovered Cream… Stiggy’, you will be missed.’
After working as a copywriter for an advertising agency in South Australia, Robert moved to London in 1955, reportedly with three pounds in his pocket.
After a string of humdrum jobs, he founded a theatrical agency, Robert Stigwood Associates, with partner Stephen Komlosy.
When one of the agency’s actors, John Leyton, scored a Number One hit with Johnny Remember Me, a song featured in the TV soap Harper’s West One, Robert began to focus more on music clients and became one of Britain’s first independent music producers.
‘You will be missed’: Robert’s godson, Spencer Gibb announced the news of his death on Facebook on Monday
Close bunch: Spencer is the son of Robin Gibb (centre) and paid tribute to the family’s long-time friend
But his career wasn’t all smooth sailing, with Robert suffering financial troubles in the mid-1960s, before climbing out of bankruptcy.
He went on to briefly become The Who’s booking agent in 1966 before moving into theatre production in the late 1960s, after seeing Hair in New York.
He staged the musical in London’s West End, where it ran for more than five years.
In the early 1970s Robert expanded his empire into television, buying a controlling interest in the writers agency Associated London Scripts (ALS), which went on to develop the hit US TV comedies All In The Family and Sanford And Son, both based on British TV shows.
Barton Manor: Robert, who never married, lived for many years on the Isle of Wight, off England’s south coast
While his 1978 film Sgt Pepper’s Lonely Hearts Club Band – featuring Beatles songs and starring Peter Frampton and the Bee Gees – was a flop that almost crippled RSO.
Robert, who never married, lived for many years on the Isle of Wight, off England’s south coast but sold his estate there, Barton Manor, in 2005.
It’s unclear exactly where and how Robert Stigwood died.
At home? It’s unclear exactly where and how Robert Stigwood died but it’s understood he wasn’t on the Isle of Wight, having sold Barton Manor in 2005