Badfinger biography

Badfinger

Last updated: 18 November 2008

Lauded by many and signed to The Beatles' Apple label, Badfinger had the world at their feet in 1970.

Few bands have attracted tragedy like Badfinger. From a promising start as a late 60s pop act through to the messy legal problems that dogged their later years, it was an unfortunate fall from grace.

Listen to clips about Badfinger.

Formed in Swansea as The Panthers, they changed to The Iveys in 1964. The band developed a good reputation on the UK gig circuit and in 1967 they attracted the attention of Beatles associate Mal Evans.

Evans pushed them for the Beatles' Apple label and in 1968 they were signed - a real coup for the Welsh group. Maybe Tomorrow was their first single which was a hit in Europe and Japan, but not in the UK or US charts.

Members

  • Pete Ham: vocals, guitar, piano
  • Joey Molland: guitar, vocals
  • Tom Evans: bass, vocals
  • Mike Gibbins: drums, vocals

An album was released in some European markets, but their career seemed to be stalling. That is, until Paul McCartney gave them Come And Get It, a bitter song about Apple's finances written by Paul McCartney. Released in 1970 it reached the top five in the UK, and also appeared on the soundtrack to The Magic Christian film, starring Ringo Starr.

The band and Apple decided a name change was needed. Badfinger was chosen as the name, after Bad Finger Boogie, the working title of The Beatles' With A Little Help From My Friends. They settled on the name after rejecting The Glass Onion and (John Lennon's suggestion) The Prix.

Badfinger's links with The Beatles lasted well into the 70s. George Harrison co-produced their album Straight Up in 1971, the same year that Joey Molland and Tom Evans played on John Lennon's Imagine. Additionally, Ham, Evans and Molland played key roles in Harrison's All Things Must Pass and Concert For Bangla Desh.

They released the No Dice album - considered by the band to be their best album - in 1971, from which came the massive hit song Without You. The song, written by Ham and Evans, later became an international hit for Harry Nilsson.

In 1973 their manager Stan Polley negotiated a multi-million pound deal with Warner Bros, which soured relations between Apple and Badfinger. The band released a final album on Apple - titled Ass - and their debut for Warners, the Badfinger album, in quick succession.

However, the groups finances were in disarray thanks to gross mismanagement, with millions missing from the band's accounts. The members of Badfinger were in personal debt, and relations with Warner Bros had deteriorated to the point where their third album for the label, 1974's Head First, was never released.

In early 1975 Badfinger's contract with Warner Bros was terminated. On 23 April 1975, in despair at the turmoil within and around the band, Pete Ham hanged himself in his Surrey garage. His suicide note was addressed to his girlfriend and her son, and blamed the band's business manager Stan Polley. Ham's daughter was born one month after his death.

Over the next few years, the remaining members of Badfinger tried to control their increasingly complex legal and financial problems. In 1978 Tom Evans and Joey Molland kickstarted the band again, with ex-Yes keyboard player Tony Kaye and former Stealers Wheel drummer Peter Clarke, though without Mike Gibbins. In 1979 they released the album Airwaves, which was followed by a second album, Say No More, in 1981.

But tragedy was to hit the band again. Evans and Molland split with acrimony in 1981, and for two years operated rival bands, both called Badfinger. On 19 November 1983, following an argument with Molland and as the result of years of unhappiness with the band's business dealings, Tom Evans hanged himself.

In 1986 Molland and Gibbins reformed the band for tours, until the latter left in 1990. Joey Molland's Badfinger continues to tour.

A number of live and radio recordings by Badfinger have surfaced in recent years, in response to the still-high demand for the music of one of Wales' most popular and sorely missed groups.

In October 2005 Badfinger drummer Mike Gibbins died at his Florida home at the age of 56. A statement on his website read: " To all of Mike's fans, it is with deepest regret to inform all that he passed away October 4th, in his sleep by natural causes. He will be terribly missed by all."


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