Wife who mourns Bee Gee Maurice

A FORMER Thornhill Lees woman is mourning her rock star husband – Maurice Gibb, of the Bee Gees – who died on Sunday, aged 53.

Yvonne Spenceley, who met the singer at Batley Variety Club in 1974, was at her husband's side when he died of a heart attack on Sunday.

He collapsed at their Florida home after suffering an intestinal blockage.

Maurice was one of three brothers who formed the enduringly successful group.

Yvonne, formerly of Slaithwaite Road, Thornhill Lees, was introduced to Maurice when the Bee Gees played at Batley Variety Club in 1974, and it was love at first sight.

Derek Smith, owner of the former Variety Club, now The Frontier, was entertainments manager in 1974 and recalls introducing them.

He said: "I got chatting to Maurice and he confessed to feeling lonely. He was going through his divorce from the singer Lulu at the time.

"Yvonne, was very impressed with the band, and one night I asked if she'd like to meet them and she said she'd love to.

"I introduced her to the band, saying, 'Here's a young lady who'll brighten up the rest of your week'. She and Maurice hit it off tremendously."

Maurice would say later: "I just saw her eyes and said to myself, 'This is the woman I'm going to marry'."

A week later waitress Yvonne handed in her notice at the club and announced she was going on tour with the band.

Once his divorce from Lulu was completed, the couple married in October 1975 at Haywards Heath register office in Sussex, when Yvonne was 24.

In true bridal tradition, she kept Maurice waiting when she fainted before the ceremony, delaying it by some 15 minutes.

The couple moved to Florida in 1977, where they were joined by Yvonne's parents Ronnie and Betty, and enjoyed a luxurious lifestyle in Miami Beach. They had two children, son Adam and daughter Sammy.

Maurice credited Yvonne for helping him give up drinking, after a battle with the bottle which was blamed for the collapse of his four-year marriage to Lulu.

Derek added: "After they left for Florida I didn't see Maurice again but Yvonne came back many times and introduced me to the children. She said, 'Here's the man who got me and your dad together.'

"She seemed very happy. I think she and Maurice renewed their marriage vows a few years ago."

Maurice, his twin brother Robin and elder brother Barry, began their singing careers in Manchester in the 1950s.

After a spell in Australia they returned to the UK in 1967, and went on to achieve classic status when they provided the film soundtrack to the disco phenomenon Saturday Night Fever.

The band's hits also included the ballads How Deep is Your Love? and Words.

Their latest album, This Is Where I Came In, was released in 2001, and they were made CBEs in last year's New Year's Honours List.

A statement released by the family on Sunday said: "It is with great sadness and sorrow that we regretfully announce the passing of Maurice Gibb.

"His love and enthusiasm and energy for life remain an inspiration to all of us. We will all deeply miss him."