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Members include Tom Evans, (born c. 1948 Liverpool,England; died November 18, 1983, Weybridge, Surrey,England), bass, guitar, vocals; Mike Gibbins,(born 1949, Wales, has three children,), drums, vocals;Pete Ham, (born April 27, 1947, Wales; died April 23, 1975,Weybridge, Surrey, England, daughter named Petera), guitar,piano, vocals; Joey Molland, (born 1947, Liverpool,England, married, Kathie, two children, Joey and Shaun), guitar,vocals. Addresses: Record company-Capital Records, 5750 Wilshire Blvd., Suite 300,Los Angeles, CA 90036; Rhino Records, 10635 Santa Monica Blvd., LosAngeles, CA 90025;; Rykodisc, Shetland Park, 27 Congress Street, Salem, MA01970; Manager-Randy Erwin, Entertainment Services International, 6400Pleasant Park Drive, Chanhassen, MN 55317.
Badfinger were masters of the pop song, from soulful ballads to country-style bouncersto out-and-out rockers. So adept were they that they were touted as the successors to theBeatles when they first appeared on the scene in the late 1960s. Indeed they had muchin common with the Fab Four. They recorded their most popular albums for the Beatleslabel, Apple. At one time or another, the band worked on projects with all four individualBeatles. And like the Beatles, Badfinger's career ended in a flurry of financialmismanagement, greed, and personal recriminations that last to this day.
Badfinger got its start in 1964 when apprentice electrician and guitarist Pete Hamformed the Iveys in Swansea, Wales. The line-up consisted of Ham, drummer MikeGibbins, bassist Ron Griffiths, and guitarist Dai Jenkins. Bill Collins, a band manager fromLiverpool, heard the Iveys playing the bar circuit around Wales. With the promise of a gigbacking-up a popular singer, Collins persuaded the band to pack up and move to London.There they shared a house in Golders Green with Collins' other band, the Mojos. WhenJenkins left the band, Collins replaced him with a guitarist from Liverpool, Tom Evans.
In London, The Iveys struggled. They were perennially short of money and Collins keptthem on a short leash. They were backing up singer David Garrick who would have beena one hit wonder except his single "Dear Mrs. Applebee" was never really a hit. But Ham,Evans and Griffiths had all begun to write for the band. Their sound and songs awokeinterest in Swingin' London. Ray Davies of the Kinks expressed interest in working withthem. Collins, unfortunately, tended to interpret such interest as a threat to his power overthe group and most offers came to naught.
One offer Collins could hardly refuse came from Mal Evans. Evans, an old Liverpoolbuddy of the Beatles, took to the Iveys from the first and decided to make them his petproject at Apple, the label the Beatles had just founded. In 1968, he played an Iveys tapefor Paul McCartney who was so impressed he asked to hear more. On July 23, 1968, theIveys signed with Apple. "The ultimate goal was to get was to get a recording contract,"Ron Griffiths recalled in Mojo. "But to get one from Apple was really exciting. Yet we werestill living at Galders Green, getting eight pounds a week each."
The Iveys' first single was a bright pop ditty by Tom Evans entitled "Maybe Tomorrow."An LP of the same name followed. But for reasons never explained, it was never releasedin Britain or the United States. As they prepared to start their second album, Apple decidedthey needed a new name, one that wasn't so old-fashioned and corny. The Beatlesbounced a few around but Neil Aspinal, another Liverpool crony, suggested Badfinger,from "Badfinger Boogie," which had been John Lennon's original working title for "With aLittle Help From My Friends."
By 1969, the Beatles were being torn apart by personal tensions while Apple was self-destructing from bad-or nonexistent-management. After the Maybe Tomorrow fiasco,everyone seemed to lose interest in Badfinger-at least until Ron Griffiths complainedabout the Beatles apathy in a British music magazine. Shortly afterwards, Paul McCartneyvisited Golders Green and brought Badfinger a song. He had written "Come And Get It" forthe film, The Magic Christian, that featured Peter Sellers and Ringo Starr. McCartneyoffered the song to Badfinger. One proviso was that Badfinger record the song exactly asMcCartney had arranged it on his demo. "This is the hit sound. Do it like this and we're allright, we've got a hit," McCartney is quoted in Dan Matovina's Without You: The TragicStory of Badfinger. Matovina also relates how McCartney produced the single andpersuaded the producers to use two additional Badfinger songs in the film. Badfinger'ssingle-virtually a note for note copy of McCartney's version included on the BeatlesAnthology 3-eventually cracked the Top Ten in both the United States and Britain.
Badfinger was suddenly world famous. But for bassist Ron Griffith the fame was shortlived. His marriage to his pregnant girlfriend had created conflict at Golders Green. On theeve of the band's first great success, Griffith was out. To simplify the search for areplacement Tom Evans agreed to switch to bass. Collins brought in another Liverpoolguitarist, Joey Molland, smoothing out the switch..
Magic Christian Music, released at the beginning of 1970, was a potpourri of differentstyles, from driving rock to doleful ballads to melodramatic music hall tunes. Griffiths playedbass on the record but his name did not appear on the record jacket; Molland's name waslisted although, as Matovina. Some songs had been recycled from Maybe Tomorrow,others were new Badfinger. The band's second album, No Dice, was released in November1970. A bracing mix of rock, pop, country and ballads, the record reached number 28 onthe Billboard charts and its single, "No Matter What," hit number 8.
But it was another song on No Dice that made the biggest impact. While Badfinger wasrecording their third album, Harry Nilsson invited them down to the studio where he wasworking and played the version of Ham and Evans "Without You" he had just finished.Badfinger's version was a bare bones guitar-organ-bass-drums arrangement, Nilsson's hada lush string arrangement and top-of-the-line production values. "They were stunned!"Nilsson later told Dan Matovina. According to Matovina, Pete Ham said afterwards "Assoon as we heard it, we knew that was the way we wanted to do it, but never had thenerve." Nilsson's version reached number one in 1972 and became one of the mostsuccessful singles of all times. Mariah Carey, relying heavily on Nilsson's arrangement,took the song to the top of the charts again in 1994.
Bill Collins, meanwhile, had brought in an American, Stan Polley, who before long hadgained complete control of Badfinger's finances. Under Polley, the band began touring theStates incessantly, an attempt to get Badfinger better established there and finally seizethe big success that was eluding the band although it seemed constantly to be within theirgrasp. They had two top ten hits after all, and written a number one hit; they had playedon John Lennon's Imagine, on George Harrison's All Things Must Pass, and on RingoStarr's single "It Don't Come Easy.". But tastes were changing. The two-minute pop songson AM radio had evolved into longer FM-oriented styles like heavy metal and progressiverock. Badfinger's crisp, well-crafted music was pass. They missed the wave that crestedin the middle sixties and were too early for the next pop wave, typified by bands like theCars and Squeeze, that hit in the late seventies.
The band recorded their third Apple LP in the midst of their grueling tour schedule onlyto have the record, produced by Geoff Emerick, rejected by the label. It looked like theproject was going to die on the vine until Beatle George Harrison stepped in spring 1971and offered to produce the album from scratch. During the sessions Harrison asked theband if he could play the lead guitar part on the song "Day After Day." To get the soundHarrison wanted he and Ham played the part in unison, live in the studio. The song wenton to be Badfinger's third Top Ten single, reaching number 4 in the USA..
Halfway through the second attempt, sessions were interrupted when Harrison left toorganize the concert for Bangla Desh. Badfinger was one of the groups that played theconcert on August 1, 1971; Pete Ham accompanied Harrison on "Here Comes the Sun."Afterwards Harrison was busy producing the album Concert for Bangla Desh and had tobow out of any further work with Badfinger. A third producer, Todd Rundgren, was broughtin to finish up the work. Opinion on Rundgren was mixed. One unnamed band member,quoted in Mojo, called Rundgren "very domineering, very egotistical," Mike Gibbins toldDennis Dalcin of Audities "I think Todd was the best producer." The album Rundgren-produced, Straight Up-with four tracks credited to Harrison-was one of Badfinger's finestLPs. It included classics like "Day After Day," "Baby Blue," "Suitcase," and "Name of theGame." The record also went one to be a sought-after collector's item. In the mid-1980s,the record collector's magazine, Goldmine polled its readers on which LPs they would mostlike to see released on CD and Straight Up topped the list, beating out even Sgt Pepperwhich had not yet been released on compact disk.
Despite their growing popularity, Badfinger were not living the easy life of thestereotypical rock star. Stan Polley had them touring constantly. All band income wentthrough his accounts and group members had to settle for a meager salary. "They had twohits on the charts and 'Baby Blue' on the way," Joey Molland's wife Kathie told ParkePuterbugh of Rolling Stone, "and we were living on packaged soup." Tom Evans admittedin Mojo "We were treated like kids when it came to money." Adding to the dissatisfactionwas the unreliable old equipment Polley refused to let them replace. When Polley startedlooking for a more lucrative deal and started getting nibbles from Warner Brothers,Badfinger's days with Apple were numbered. They recorded one last Apple album, thecritically-underrated Ass, that included later concert favorites like "Blind Owl" and"Timeless." The record was the last Apple recording by an artist other than one of theBeatles.
Polley meanwhile had signed the band with Warners, a contract that required the bandcrank out albums at the backbreaking pace of two albums a year for three years. It was thebeginning of two years of grinding touring and recording. Their first Warners release,Badfinger, was released to the sound of resounding critical and popular silence. At thesame time internal personal and financial disagreements-many of the same sort thathelped destroy the Beatles-began tearing away at the band. same dissatisfaction wassimmering in the band over Polley's handling of finances. Mike Gibbins walked out for ashort time. Pete Ham left only to return when Warners said they would drop Badfinger ifhe were not in the band. And after the completion of Wish You Were Here, considered theband's masterpiece, Joey Molland quit and was replaced with keyboard player, BobJackson.
Wish You Were Here was released in 1974 to good reviews and was selling 25,000copies a week when matters took an abrupt turn for the worse. Charging Polley's company,Badfinger Enterprises, with improper use of some hundreds of thousands of dollars inadvance money, Warners pulled all copies of the record from stores. The label alsorejected another nearly completed LP, tentatively entitled Head First. It has acquired thereputation of the great lost Badfinger album. Selections appeared for the first time onRhino's 1992 Best of Badfinger Vol. II.
By 1975 the band was in dire straits. They were broke. No money was coming fromPolley; Apple, nervous at the likelihood of getting pulled into the legal maelstrom, startedpaying the band's royalties into an escrow account. All but Pete Ham had grownincreasingly mistrustful of Polley and wanted to get rid of him. Pete Ham felt himself in anuntenable position: his bandmates resented him for his trust toward Stan Polley, his band'scareer was completely stalled, he was 2000 in debt, he had a mortgage to pay off, andhis girlfriend was seven-months pregnant. On April 23rd, after a night of drinking with TomEvans, he scribbled out a brief suicide note blaming everything on Stan Polley, and hangedhimself in his garage.
The road seemed to be at an end for Badfinger. Polley and Warners eventually cameto an agreement, but the band was left out in the cold. The remaining members went theirseparate ways. Gibbins returned to Wales, eventually playing drums on Bonnie Tyler'smegahit "It's a Heartache.". Molland and Evans were back where they had started in thesixties, working day jobs as carpet layers or pipe insulators and playing music when theycould. Molland formed a group called Natural Gas in Los Angeles; Evans joined TheDodgers in England . In 1978, Molland and Evans reformed Badfinger. They asked Gibbinsto play with them, but the producer of their first LP refused to work with him. Evans andMolland recorded two albums together, Airwaves on Elektra in 1978 and their final originalBadfinger LP, the aptly-titled Say No More on Radio Records in 1981. Both labels droppedthe band unceremoniously. Molland toured as Badfinger for a short time, then Evans andGibbins put together their own touring Badfinger which was well received but plagued bylack of money, crooked managers and bad planning. On November 18, 1983, lighteningstruck for the second time. Estranged from Molland and Gibbins by disputes over "WithoutYou" royalties, and beset by his own money problems and ongoing depression over PeteHam's death, Tom Evans hanged himself.
Interest in Badfinger continued through the 1980s despite the fact that their albumswere only available in cut-out bins or second-hand. In 1989, Rolling Stone estimated thatthe group had sold some 14 million records worldwide. The 1990s saw a resurgence infandom, stimulated by the release of a couple of greatest hits packages and most of theApple catalog on CD. Molland continues to perform with a trio called Joey Molland'sBadfinger. He occasionally releases an album under his own name. Chances of a Molland-Gibbins Badfinger reunion are slim. They toured together in the late 1980s but as a resultof disputes over money and the band's recording legacy, the two have not spoken in nearlya decade. Each promotes his own view of the band's history. Gibbins cooperated with DanMatovina in the writing of Without You: The Tragic Story of Badfinger, an encyclopedichistory of the band. Molland has denounced the book and cooperated instead with GregKatz' in the making of Badfinger: The Documentary. Both Gibbins and Molland are said tobe writing their own histories of the group.
by Gerald E. Brennan
Pete Ham forms Iveys around 1966; signed with Apple Records, 1968; debutalbum Maybe Tomorrow, 1968 while still the Iveys; change name to Badfinger 1969.Molland joins band 1979.
Gold record for "Day Afater Day", 1972.
- Selected discography
- Magic Christian Music , Apple, December 16, 1970, reissued 1991
- No Dice , Apple, November 9, 1970, reissued 1992
- Straight Up , Apple, December 13, 1971, reissued 1993
- Ass , Apple, November 26, 1973, reissued 1996 (Great Britian)
- Badfinger , Warner Brothers, February 1974, reissued 1991 (Germany/Japan)
- Wish You Were Here , Warner Brothers, October 1974, reissued 1991(Germany/Japan)
- Airwaves , Elektra Records, March 1979
- Say No More , Radio Records, 1981
- The Best Of Badfinger, Vol II , Rhino Records, 1990
- The Best Of Badfinger , Apple/Capitol, May 1995
- After The Pearl (Joey Molland), Earthtone Records, 1983
- 7 Park Avenue (Pete Ham), Rykodisc, 1997
- A Place In Time (Mike Gibbins), Forbidden Records, 1998
- "Come And Get It," Apple, 1970
- "No Matter What," Apple, 1971
- "Day After Day," Apple,1972
- Matovina, Dan, Without You: The Tragic Story of Badfinger , San Mateo, CA: Frances Glover Books, 1994. (available from 7 West 41st. Ave. #229, San Mateo, CA 94403-5105, USA. Phone and Fax: 650-508-9585.)
- Mojo, April 1998
- Rolling Stone, August 10, 1989
- Dennis Dalcin, "Mike Gibbins Interview, available at http://audities/mag/interview/int_mgib.htm
- "Day After Day," available at http://www.scuzz.com/stardust/badfinger.html
- Straight Up, Capital, CDP 7 81403 2.
- Day After Day, Rykodisc 10189.
- Badfinger BBC In Concert, Strange Fruit SFRSCD 031.
- Best of Badfinger, Capital.
- Additional materials provided by Capital Records and Entertainment ServicesInternational..
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Visitor Comments Add a comment…
about 13 years ago
Badfinger would have been the next Beatles, but their record company and management were intimidated by the band's incredible songs. The record company was afraid that Badfinger would become so famous and wealthy, they would end up owning everything including the record company. Something had to be done to stop Badfinger from achieving stardom.
about 14 years ago
One day, a movie about Badfinger will be made and it will be very sad for any of them to be still alive to receive the recognition this band deserves. BADFINGER s' CDs are highly recomended for people who like the BEATLES, THE KINKS, OASIS, and the early WHO among others.