“Have You Heard The Word” used to appear—frequently—on Beatles bootlegs as a ‘long lost’ Beatles recording. It’s not, but it’s easy to see why the bootleggers thought that it was. In fact the song was recorded by Maurice Gibb, who showed up at a recording session for an Aussie band he was working with called Tin Tin, the story goes, totally fucked up on painkillers after he’d broken his arm falling down the stairs of the mansion he shared with his then-wife, Lulu.
Taking advantage of some booze around the studio, the well-lubricated Bee Gee, his brother-in-law Billy Laurie and the two members of Tin Tin, Steve Kipner and Steve Groves, crowded around the mics and did, apparently, a single take of “Have You Heard The Word” with Gibb very deliberately doing his absolutely spot-on John Lennon impression.
It was a bunch of drunk guys clowning around, too drunk to sing properly, just having a good time. Never intended for release, nevertheless the song appeared on a 45 in 1970 on the Beacon record label in the UK credited to “The Fut” with an (unrelated) instrumental on the b-side. How it got released remains mysterious to this day and although the initial release should surely be considered a bootleg, the single was sold in regular record stores at the time.
As would later happen with an album release by the Canadian prog rock group Klaatu, the single was rumored to be a “clandestine” Beatles number. Again, it’s fairly easy to see why folks might have thought this.
In 1975, “Have You Heard The Word” was released AS an unreleased Beatles number on a bootleg of the same name and then it kept appearing on subsequent Beatles boots.
In 1985, Yoko Ono tried to register a US trademark on “Have You Heard The Word” as a John Lennon composition, but the request was refused due to a 1974 US copyright that had already been granted to the composers, Kipner and Groves. Even when certain Beatlemaniacs would know, for sure, that it wasn’t the actual Fab Four on the track, they still had no idea who was behind this rather convincing Beatles pissed-take and it wasn’t until the Internet era that the real story was sorted out.
Steve Kipner went on to write and produce Olivia Newton-John’s “Physical” hit and write “Genie in a Bottle” for Christina Aguilera. He’s also worked with acts like Heart, Janet Jackson, Diana Ross, Neil Diamond, Laura Branigan,The Temptations, America, Cheap Trick, LFO, Westlife, Huey Lewis & the News, Joe Cocker, Al Jarreau, Wilson Phillips and Rod Stewart.
Now here’s the odd part, found on a newsgroup:
On Saturday, October 13, 2007 3:22:24 PM UTC-7, Steve Worek wrote:
I was just flipping through “Tales From The Brothers Gibb”, that several hundred page massive official biography of the Bee Gees, and something caught my eye - on page 265, Maurice Gibb, despite stories to the otherwise, actually ADMITS that John and Paul were on “Have You Heard The Word”! He tells a story about how they showed up to the session drunk, and with Maurice and the members of Tin Tin had a little jam session… which is what came out on the record.
The exact quote: “It was me, Steve Kipner, and Steve Groves, Tin Tin guys.. [John and Paul] turned up and we were having drinks. We were just jamming, everyone just started jamming, and the tapes were going. John was smashed as usual, and everyone was pissed.” He then goes on to mention that while John denied his involvement in the record, Paul didn’t! (Bizarrely, the book goes on to COMPLETELY contradict this on the very next page, by claiming that the vocals were simply Maurice doing a Lennon impression.)
Stranger and stranger… that book also claims that the word “fuck” pops up in that song too, but being that it’s total gibberish, who could tell?!
Let’s take Steve Kipner’s word for it, shall we? What’s really odd about this is why did Maurice Gibb feel the need to embellish the story to say that Lennon and McCartney were present???