The Bee Gees have received a lot of guff, and rightfully so, for their early-career Beatles soundalike songs. In response, the Anglo-Australian threesome have invariably held up their early childhood in Manchester to explain away the suspicious similarity they share with their fab and gear neighbors from the North of England. That doesn't really answer why certain tunes by the Brothers Gibb sound like specific Beatles numbers, even in some instances like a stitch-up of several different Fab Four faves. Take, for example, "In My Own Time" [listen to it here on Three Chord Monte (RealAudio archive)], which could be the musical result of Dr. Robert meeting the Taxman in the Rain.
Yet the most remarkable Beatles impersonation related to the Bee Gees involved a pisstake (better described as a pissed-take, in the British alcoholic sense of the term) involving Maurice Gibb, his friends Steve Groves and Steve Kipner, and an in-law, Billie Lawrie, the brother of Gibb's then-wife, Lulu. (The two Steves, who comprised the Aussie musical duo Tin Tin — not the '80s Stephen Duffy group, natch — had a Top 20 U.S. hit with "Toast and Marmalade for Tea" in 1971.) In 1969, the pair had convened in a London studio, with Gibb as producer, to record tracks for a proper Tin Tin session. However, thanks to some uncredited production assistance from John Barleycorn, the assembled musicians began futzing around with a song called "Have You Heard the Word," written by Groves and Kipner. With the stewed Steves playing all the instruments and, along with the liquored-up Lawrie, contributing the backup chorus, the gassed Gibb delivered his lead vocals in the most uncanny Lennon impersonation this side of Ron Nasty. The boozily Beatlesque result somehow found release, evidently without the permission of the principals, in 1970 as a single on the tiny U.K. label Beacon Records, with this one-off congregation identified as The Fut.
Did they do a good job? Just ask the bootleggers, who have placed the track on countless Beatles boots, hoodwinking many a rabid Fab Four obsessive.
Again, did they do a good job? Just ask Yoko Ono, who in 1985 attempted to register "Have You Heard the Word" as a John Lennon composition.
Have You Heard the Word (MP3)