Robert Stigwood, music mogul behind Bee Gees and Eric Clapton, dead at 81

Robert Stigwood (left) with Andrew Lloyd Webber (right) and Hal Prince at the opening night of the musical Evita in 1980.
Robert Stigwood (left) with Andrew Lloyd Webber (right) and Hal Prince at the opening night of the musical Evita in 1980.PHOTO: TWITTER/ ANDREW LLOYD WEBBER

SYDNEY (REUTERS) - Australian-born music mogul Robert Stigwood, who managed the Bee Gees at the height of their fame and guided musician Eric Clapton's successful solo career while producing musicals for the stage, has died aged 81, friends said on Tuesday (Jan 5).

The announcement of his death was made on Facebook by Spencer Gibb, a son of Bee Gees' band member Robin Gibb.

Further details about his death were not immediately available.

"I would like to share the sad news with you all, that my godfather, and the longtime manager of my family, Robert Stigwood, has passed away," Gibb wrote.

Stigwood, who was born in South Australia state, worked with a staggering number of groundbreaking acts, both on the Broadway stage and on the pop charts, producing counterculture stage hits Hair and Jesus Christ Superstar.

He produced the groundbreaking film of The Who's rock opera Tommy and Saturday Night Fever, which introduced disco music and a young John Travolta to audiences around the world, while propelling the Bee Gees to global stardom.

But he was most closely associated with his work with fellow Australians the Bee Gees, whom he guided at the height of their fame in the 1970s.

Tributes for the towering industry figure poured in on Tuesday.

Broadway musical producer Andrew Lloyd Webber, with whom Stigwood worked on multiple projects, praised him on Twitter .

"Farewell beloved Robert, the great showman who taught me so much. With love, ALW," he wrote.