The prolific Australian managed the Bee Gees and produced some iconic films of the '70s and '80s.

5 Jan 2016 - 3:59 PM  UPDATED 5 Jan 2016 - 3:59 PM

Rock opera and disco impresario Robert Stigwood, who produced Grease and Saturday Night Fever and managed the Bee Gees, died Jan. 4 at 81. Stigwood also produced Broadway shows including Jesus Christ Superstar and Evita.

Bee Gee Robin Gibb's son Spencer Gibb confirmed the news on Facebook.

"I would like to thank Robert for his kindness to me over the years as well as his mentorship to my family. 'Stiggy,' you will be missed," he wrote.

Born in Australia, Stigwood moved to England and launched a theatrical management agency, soon turning to music. He managed hit bands Cream and the Bee Gees during the late 1960s and early '70s, and then started producing for Broadway.

"Jesus Christ Superstar," the first show from Andrew Lloyd Webber and Tim Rice, was a huge Broadway hit in 1971. He also produced the 1996 film version that starred Madonna. The vogue for "rock operas" continued with the 1975 film Tommy, adapted from the Who album and directed by Ken Russell.

While remaining involved in theatre, he launched RSO Records in 1973, working with Eric Clapton and the Bee Gees, who both saw career revivals. Stigwood recruited the Bee Gees to provide music for the soundtrack of 1977's Saturday Night Fever, starring John Travolta. The soundtrack topped the charts for six months and popularised disco music around the world.

The next year, Travolta starred again in Stigwood's Grease, which remains the top grossing movie musical ever.

Stigwood also produced a couple of films that proved setbacks to Travolta's career: 1978's Moment by Moment, also starring Lily Tomlin, and Saturday Night Fever sequel Staying Alive (1983).

Also in 1978, Stigwood produced a film adaptation of Sgt. Pepper's Lonely Hearts Club Band, starring Peter Frampton and the Bee Gees, as well as many rock and film stars in cameos. Problems began early in production, the director was replaced but the film was nevertheless a flop.

Stigwood micro-managed the production of 1980 film Times Square, which was a rock musical-cum-teen girl "buddy movie." The film failed at the box office, but the soundtrack became a cult favorite thanks to the new wave acts included: Patti Smith, the Pretenders, Talking Heads and Roxy Music.

In 1981 Stigwood produced stalker thriller The Fan, starring Lauren Bacall and James Garner, and Peter Weir's iconic World War I movie Gallipoli, starring a young Mel Gibson (Stigwood co-produced the movie with Patricia Lovell).

Gallipoli: Cheat Sheet
Despite its strident anti-war themes, Peter Weir's 1981 classic shifted our cultural conversation around ANZACs. We revisit the movie on the anniversary of its subject matter.

After the disaster of 1983's Staying Alive, Stigwood produced the 1984 film comedy Young Lust, starring Fran Drescher, and then stayed away from movies except for the Evita adaptation in 1996.