MIAMI BEACH, Fla. – About 200 mourners, including singer Michael Jackson and other celebrities, joined family members Wednesday at a private funeral service for Maurice Gibb as the county medical examiner disclosed it was reviewing the sudden death of the Bee Gees band member at a local hospital.
Gibb, 53, who played keyboards and bass in the Bee Gees, died Sunday at Mount Sinai Medical Center three days after doctors made what his brothers have called a "questionable" decision to operate on a blocked intestine just after he suffered cardiac arrest.
There was no mention of those allegations during the service at the Riverside Funeral Chapel, said several mourners who attended. Robin Gibb, one of the two surviving brothers of the British pop trio best known for '70s hits like "Stayin' Alive" and "More Than a Woman," spoke briefly about his love for his twin brother.
"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 Jennifer Valoppi, a television news reporter who attended the service as a friend of the Gibb family. Reporters were not allowed inside to cover the funeral service.
Jackson, a longtime friend of the Bee Gees, and Harry Wayne Casey, the KC of KC and the Sunshine Band, were among the celebrities who joined Maurice Gibb's wife, Yvonne, his son, Adam, as well as his older Brother and Bee Gees partner, Barry Gibb, at the funeral service.
Pictures of Maurice and his family hung from the walls, along with the jacket he used to play his favorite sport of paintball, Valoppi said.
Some of those attending the service said the Bee Gee's humor and music will stay alive in their hearts.
"He'd talk to anybody. He was just a genuine real person. You'd never think that he was as big a star as he was," said James Haddaway, of Miami Beach, who said he met Gibb at an Alcoholics Anonymous meeting.
Nat Kipner, who managed the Bee Gees early in their career in Brisbane, Australia, had traveled by coincidence to South Florida on the same day Maurice Gibb died.
"I heard right away that Maurice had died and I couldn't believe it," he said after the service.
Kipner spoke fondly of his memories of the Bee Gees, who recorded some on his Spin Records label as young teenagers. They decided to return to their native England in 1967, and had asked Kipner to come with them, he said.
"But I had a business in Australia and I didn't want to go. So I gave them their contract back. One of the dumb things I've done," he joked.
The Bee Gees, short for the Brothers Gibb — Maurice, Robin and older brother Barry — were a falsetto-voiced disco sensation during the 1970s, with a slew of hits from the movie Saturday Night Fever, including "Stayin' Alive" and "Night Fever."
Carol Peters, a spokeswoman for Bee Gees manager Allen Kovac, said the family hasn't made a decision on whether to cremate or bury Maurice Gibb's remains.
Meanwhile, the Miami-Dade medical examiner's office said Wednesday it is investigating Gibb's death and should complete its findings by Friday. The medical examiner investigates all deaths when a body is going to be cremated, according to Florida Statute. The county also investigates cases when the death is not caused by a readily recognizable disease, said Dr. Joe Davis, former director of the Miami-Dade County Medical Examiner's Office.
Larry Cameron, director of operations for the county medical examiner's office, did not return phone messages left at his office and cell phone Wednesday.