Badfinger Biography

Originally signed to Apple Records as the Iveys, Pete Ham (27 April 1947, Swansea, Wales, d. 24 April 1975, Weybridge, Surrey, England; vocals), Mike Gibbins (b. Michael Gibbins, 12 March 1949, Swansea, Wales, d. 4 October 2005, Florida, USA; drums), Tom Evans (b. Thomas Evans, 5 June 1947, Liverpool, England, d. 19 November 1983, Surrey, England; guitar) and Ron Griffiths (b. Ronald Llewellyn Griffiths, 2 October 1946, Swansea, Wales; bass) changed their name following the release of two unsuccessful singles and Maybe Tomorrow. Griffiths left in September 1969 and was replaced by Joey Molland (b. Joseph Charles Molland, 21 June 1947, Liverpool, England). The new line-up then enjoyed an immediate hit on both sides of the Atlantic with ‘Come And Get It’, written by their label boss Paul McCartney. In order to increase their public profile, the band was invited to contribute to the soundtrack of the movie The Magic Christian, which starred Peter Sellers and Ringo Starr. The Beatles’ patronage, on which the press quickly seized, was reinforced by Badfinger’s sound, which had strong traces of the Fab Four influence, particularly on the vocals. ‘No Matter What’, another transatlantic Top 10 hit, compounded the Beatles comparisons, though it was a fine pop record in its own right, as were the albums No Dice and Straight Up. By the beginning of the 70s, Badfinger were something of an Apple house band and even appeared on three solo Beatle recordings (All Things Must Pass, ‘It Don’t Come Easy’ and Imagine) as well as appearing at George Harrison’s Bangla Desh benefit concert.

The obvious songwriting talent that existed in the band was not fully revealed until 1972 when Nilsson enjoyed a huge transatlantic chart topper with the Ham/Evans ballad, ‘Without You’. From that point onwards, however, the band failed to exploit their potential to the full. By the time of their final Apple recording, Ass, Molland was writing over half of their songs. Molland chose to leave the band after helping record Badfinger and Wish You Were Here, clearly weary of the financial and business wranglings that now dominated proceedings. Vocalist/keyboard player Bob Jackson (b. Robert Jackson, 6 January 1949, Coventry, England) was added to the line-up, but the band’s new album Head First was denied a release by ongoing business and litigation problems. Worse was to follow in 1975 when Pete Ham hanged himself after a long period of personal and professional worries. At that point the band split.

Nearly four years later, Joey Molland and Tom Evans re-formed Badfinger, changing the subsidiary members frequently over the next few years. Commercial success proved elusive and in November 1983, history repeated itself in the most bizarre scenario when Tom Evans committed suicide at his Surrey home. Like Pete Ham, he had been suffering from depression and financial worries. The Badfinger story is uniquely tragic and among its greater ironies is the now morbid chorus of the song with which Pete Ham and Tom Evans are best associated: ‘I can’t live, I can’t live anymore’ (‘Without You’). Following the discovery of some home-recorded tapes, these were finally issued as two complete albums of Ham’s songs in the late 90s. Although the quality is poor and the performance naïve, they indicate a great songwriter with a marvellous grasp of pop melody.

Source: The Encyclopedia of Popular Music by Colin Larkin. Licensed from Muze.

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