This pre-disco 1968 Bee Gees performance of ‘Words’ is astonishing

28 September 2021, 12:57

Bee Gees on The Ed Sullivan Show in 1968
Bee Gees on The Ed Sullivan Show in 1968. Picture: The Ed Sullivan Show

By Mayer Nissim

The Bee Gees doing 'Words' in high definition on Ed Sullivan is a perfect pop time capsule.

The Bee Gees are rightly hailed as disco icons after their shift to the genre in the late 1970s, with their appearance on the Saturday Night Fever and Staying Alive soundtracks helping to take disco to the mainstream.

But of course, the Gibb brothers had a career pre-disco, releasing a dozen-odd albums before they fully shifted through psychedelic rock, to soft pop, funk and soul.

And one of their very greatest songs came nearly a decade before they went disco, of course, with the standalone single 'Words' being a massive international hit, and their third UK top 10 in 1968.

To support the release in the US, the Bee Gees performed it on The Ed Sullivan Show on March 17, 1968.

Gold's Hall of Fame: Bee Gees

The tape has been given a high definition remaster, so you can enjoy it in all its glory, especially the youthful appearance of the Barry Gibb, who was just 21, and twins Maurice and Robin, who were only 18.

"'Words' reflects a mood, It was written after an argument," Robin explained.

"Barry had been arguing with someone, I had been arguing with someone, and happened to be in the same mood.

"[The arguments were] about absolutely nothing. They were just words. That is what the song is all about; words can make you happy or words can make you sad."

Read more: The strange story of when Robin Gibb quit the Bee Gees and they released an album without him

The Bee Gees recorded 'Words' on October 3, 1967, and the song features lead vocals from Barry.

Barry also plays guitar on the song, while Maurice offers bass, piano and Mellotron and Robin does harmony vocals.

Backing up the Gibbs are Vince Melouney on guitar, Colin Petersen on drums, and Bill Shepherd's orchestral arrangement.