Pete Ham, Tom Evans, Joey Molland and Mike Gibbons formed the band Badfinger, which is one of those bands “you didn’t know, you didn’t know”! However, we bet you know and loved at least one of their multiple hit singles, such as “Come and Get It”, “No Matter What” and “Day After Day”, but, did you know the strange and sad saga of this incredible English band whose connection to The Beatles is mythic?
Hailing from Wales and originally known as The Iveys. They scored their first hit which you may recall “Maybe Tomorrow” ( yes you remember that one) With their tight three part harmonies, melodic guitar fills and natural ability to write simply great pop music They scored big in the U.K. As the band started getting attention in the U.S And the comparisons to The Beatles began. It doesn’t take long before Paul McCartney gets wind of The Iveys, just as Apple records opens for business. Paul and The Beatles decide that “The Iveys” (Badfinger) will be the first band to sign with Apple.
The Iveys are thrilled. McCartney intervenes, writing and producing their first single “Come and get it” This is where the tensions within the group and Paul McCartney began. Sides were being taken as to how this new record should sound. The band found themselves at odds with Paul McCartney ( not good dear reader) But McCartney prevailed and Badfinger recorded “Come and get it” literally note for note as Paul had done on his demo. “Come and get it becomes a world wide smash, is featured in the new Peter Sellars Movie “The Magic Christian” which also stars Ringo Starr! and the Badfinger/Beatle connection grows deeper.
Just prior to the release of “Come and get it” The band is encouraged to change their name from The Ivey’s to Badfinger – Paul’s idea. “Badfinger” comes from the original working title to the song John and Paul wrote for Ringo. In fact, “With a Little Help From My Friends” was originally called “Badfinger Boogie”.
The saga continues with their next hit, “No Matter What” written by Badfinger’s Pete Ham. The record however was produced by long time Beatles road manager Mal Evans! Most of us remember Mal as the big burly “fifth Beatle” who protected the band, carried their equipment and insured that there were never top many or not enough girls for ‘the lads’. But in Badfinger/ Beatle land, Mal is the record producer! Credit, however must go to the band and Mal because they delivered another worldwide smash with “No Matter What”.
The third and final international hit for Badfinger intensified the Beatle connection with George Harrison producing and playing lead guitar on “Day After Day” George’s solo comes straight away from “All Things Must Pass” and catapults Badfinger back on the world stage. Meanwhile, dear reader, see if any of the following sounds familiar. Badfinger struggles with their money, business, and management. They eventually sign up with an American manager of dubious background and practices. He causes a great division in the band resulting with internal lawsuits within the band and of course multiple lawsuits with the manager, record label and Music Publisher. Heard that one before? But wait! It gets deeper.
At the peak of their success and height of their internal struggles, one of the original band members Joey Molland meets a girl. He becomes infatuated with her. She’s with Joey and the band constantly, rehearsals, recording sessions band meetings etc. Eventually, she and Joey marry and it is suggested by Joey and the missus that she take over managing the band! Uncanny, isn’t it? However, amid the turmoil, in fighting and lawsuits Pete Ham and Tom Evans sit down and write what Paul McCartney called ‘the killer love song of all time’.
Badfinger recorded and released “Without You” on their 1970 album “No Dice”, but it received no support or interest from anyone including the band, until a short time later. Harry Nilsson, in the middle of producing his album Nilsson Schmilsson, heard the song at a party and was told it was a new Beatle song (unbelievable ain’t it?) Straight away, Harry took the song into the studio with producer Richard Perry, and in no time ” Without You” shot to number one in the U.S.A. and several other countries around the world, where it stayed for six weeks and sold just shy of 1,000,000 units! Giving Harry, Pete and Tom the biggest hit of their careers. To date over 180 artists have recorded “Without You” including Mariah Carey in 1994.
For some, the saga of Badfinger could be dismissed as ‘the usual trappings of a successful yet doomed band’. However what makes them unique is their unrecognized abilities and their resemblance, irony and close proximity to the biggest band in history. Including the final grim chapter that history will write and read over and over. Something only unique to one band. Badfinger.
In 1975 after years of fights, lawsuits and financial problems Pete Ham, no question, the band’s creative source, committed suicide by hanging himself in his home. Pete’s wife urgently called Pete’s band mate, friend and creative partner Tom Evans to rush over with help. Tom got to Pete’s side, but too late. Tom only witnessed his dead friend’s body hanging lifeless!
Tom Evans went on to struggle with all the same demons his friend Pete dealt with, only without Pete and with the horrible vision he witnessed. In 1983 Tom began muttering out loud, things like ‘I want to be with Pete’, and by the end of the year Tom was found dead in his home, dead from hanging.
Happier Times…”Come and get it”…..