Andy Gibb’s death — His unfortunate struggle with drug abuse and depression detailed

Andy Gibb

Andy Gibb, the younger brother of the well-established musical trio ‘Bee Gees: Barry, Robin, and Maurice Gibb’, was a teen idol in the late 70s and the early 80s. The singer-songwriter saw initial success in his career with multiple chart-topping singles.

However, Andy’s thriving career was cut short as he spiraled into a cycle of addiction and depression. For a brief moment, things were looking up for him after he finally quit his drug habits and attempted to revive his career in the late 80s. However, he tragically passed away not long after.

Key Takeaways

  • On March 10, 1988, Andy Gibb died of natural causes associated with a condition known as myocarditis that caused an inflammation of his heart.
  • Gibb’s decade-long history of drug and alcohol abuse is said to have permanently damaged his heart, ultimately resulting in his death despite being sober at the time.
  • He struggled with depression and extreme cocaine addiction in the 80s, particularly after his breakup with Victoria Principal in 1982.

Andy Gibb died five days after his 30th birthday in the John Radcliffe Hospital in Oxford, England

Andy Gibb passed away on March 10, 1988, in the John Radcliffe Hospital in Oxford, England only five days after his 30th birthday. His mother, Barbara Gibb, was with him during the time of his death.

He had been admitted to the hospital after experiencing acute pain in his chest and abdomen on March 7 and was kept under observation.

On the morning of March 10, at around 8:30 am, the doctors informed Gibb about running additional tests to diagnose the cause of pain. Shortly after agreeing to test his blood, Andy fell unconscious and was proclaimed dead within minutes.

When the cause of his death was initially undisclosed, the British press was quick to jump to the conclusion that Gibb had overdosed. However, the hospital statement, as reflected in the United Press International, set the record straight and attributed Gibb’s death to natural causes, informing that he had died of myocarditis.

“Mr. Gibb died of inflammation of the heart of the sort normally caused by a virus. There is no evidence that his death was related to drink or drugs,” said the statement.

Gibb’s cardiologist, Doctor William Shell who had previously treated him for heart inflammation in 1985 and 1986, supported the diagnosis and confirmed that it was indeed “viral in nature” to PEOPLE. Moreover, Andy’s older brother Robin denied rumors of a drug overdose.

“There was no question of Andy using drugs…There is absolutely no truth in it. He was not using cocaine again,” he said.

At the time of his death, Andy Gibb was gearing up for a comeback and working on his new album

Andy Gibb | Tony Korody/Getty Images

Andy’s death was sudden but it was not unexpected. His long history of drug and alcohol addiction is considered to have heralded his untimely demise.

He had been sober from drugs for more than a year after entering a rehab center in Santa Barbara, California in 1986. This was following an unsuccessful first attempt at rehabilitation in 1985 at the Betty Ford Center where Gibb had relapsed after spending six weeks at the facility.

In 1988, Andy had signed a record deal with Island Records and was gearing up for a comeback. He settled in a cottage in the countryside outside London to work on his new album and was seemingly in better health. Hence, the news of his death came as a surprise to some of his friends.

“This is really a shock. The last time I saw him, he looked perfectly healthy to me. He was playing tennis…The doctor was going to talk to him this morning and arrange more tests, and he simply died,” said John Kozyak, Gibb’s Miami lawyer, to The Associated Press.

But in a 1997 documentary titled ‘Andy Gibb: The Story Behind the Music’, it was revealed that Andy had fallen back into his old drinking habits shortly before his death although he had not been indulging in drugs. He had been under an overwhelming amount of pressure and insecurities regarding his upcoming album and comeback.

“He was drinking again, definitively. He was getting those tiny bottles. He was ringing the local liquor store in the Thames at 2 o’clock in the morning for a bottle of vodka,” said Barbara Gibb.

Andy Gibb’s years of drug abuse caused lasting heart damage that eventually resulted in his death down the line

Andy began using drugs in 1977 when he was only 19 years old. He was then married to an 18-year-old Kim Reeder, who worked as a receptionist. His drug habit became so severe that Reeder called cocaine his “first love”.

Andrew Gibb marries Kim Reeder at the Wayside Chapel. July 11, 1976. | Photo by Martin James Brannan/Fairfax Media

As his addiction became worse, Kim and Andy divorced in January 1978 soon after the birth of their daughter Peta.

“All of a sudden Andy wanted to go to the mountains by himself. He became ensconced in the drug scene…He became depressed and paranoid. He wasn’t the man I married,” Reeder told PEOPLE.

Gibb’s struggle with drugs not only affected his personal life but also caused several career mishaps, one of which included being fired from hosting the ‘Solid Gold’ television show in 1981 after he missed many episodes of filming. And in due time, it took its toll on his physical health.

“I always knew that one day I would get a call with news like this. It was only a matter of time,” said Reeder about Andy’s unfortunate fate.

Similarly, Andy’s mother confirmed in the documentary that doctors had repeatedly warned him about the detrimental impact of cocaine on his heart. She said:

“When he died, it had nothing to do with drugs at all but the damage had been done through drugs in the first place.”

Following his breakup with Victoria Principal in 1982, Andy struggled with depression and spent “about $1000 a day” on cocaine

At 23 years old, Gibb began dating television actress Victoria Principal, who was seven years his senior, in a highly publicized relationship. After 13 months of being together, the couple broke up in March 1982 and Gibb fell into a deep depression accompanied by overtly unhealthy cocaine abuse.

“I just fell apart and didn’t care about anything. I started to do cocaine around the clock – about $1000 a day. I stayed awake for two weeks locked in my bedroom. The producers kept calling up, sending cars for me, but I refused to go… I really think the major reason I fell from stardom was my affair with Victoria,” Gibb admitted.

Andy Gibb and Victoria Principal | Photo by Harry Langdon/Getty Images

However, Victoria countered that Andy’s drug use was the cause of their breakup and not the other way around. She said:

“Our breakup was preceded and precipitated by Andy’s use of drugs. I did everything I could to help him. But then I told him he would have to choose between me and his problem.”

In the days when he was admitted, the doctors at John Radcliffe Hospital had not been aware of the long-term damage sustained by Andy’s heart after his years of cocaine abuse. As a result, they had not thought to consult his previous doctors in America.

“The English physicians could have made something more if they had known what the treatment was,” Doctor Shell said in the documentary.