In 1961 Peter Ham, a singer-songwriter-guitarist from Swansea, Wales formed a rock band with four of his Welsh friends. They performed around their hometown as The Black Velvets and the Wild Ones. In 1964 they became The Iveys and soon became the opening act for several well-known British bands such as The Who and The Moody Blues.
Bill Collins, a pipe-smoking older man heard the band and offered to manage them. By the end of 1966 they were crowded into Collins’ home in London with a band called The Mojos.
Eventually they became the first non-Beatle artists to sign with Apple Records in 1968. Later that year their first single, Maybe Tomorrow, written by rhythm guitarist Tom Evans, became a top-ten hit in Japan and several European countries. It didn’t make the British charts and only made it to 67 one the Billboard Hot 100 in the U.S..
In a music magazine interview Ron Griffiths, the group’s bass player, complained that Apple kept rejecting their songs. Paul McCartney read the article and offered the group the song Come and Get it, which he had written for the film The Magic Christian.
McCartney produced the recording and required that the band play it exactly as he wrote it, there was no room for interpretation by the band.
Griffiths was forced to leave the band during the recording sessions that included Come And Get It. He was married and had a child and it was felt that he just didn’t fit in.
So the band had to go looking for a bass player. Instead, they hired Joe Molland, a guitarist. Tommy Evans moved over to bass.
In 1969, a little before Come And Get It was released it was decided that the name The Iveys was 1) Not very cool and 2) was getting them confused with a group called The Ivy League. After going over several ideas for names, Neil Aspinall, who had been with the Beatles since
they started their ascent and was then working for Apple, suggested Badfinger.
Come And Get It was a top-ten recording throughout the world. Ron Griffiths got to hear the song that he recorded with the band while he worked in a machine shop.
In 1970 the album No Dice was released in the U.S., reaching number 28 on the Billboard chart. The hit song No Matter What was remixed and released as a single. It became another worldwide hit.
In 1972 the band was again in the studio. One of the songs they worked on was co-written by Pete Ham and Tommy Evans, with Ham writing the verses and Evans writing the chorus. The verses were great but the chorus was lame. They recorded it anyway.
The following day Harry Nilsson was in the adjoining studio working on a song. In the afternoon he asked the band to come over and listen to the song he was working on. They were flabbergasted to hear that it was the song they had just finished recording. They were totally floored to hear how good it was. The song was Without You. The words of the chorus
were the same but with Nilsson’s soaring vocal interpretation, the song could only become a massive hit. Ham and Evans recieved a “Song of the Year” award for it.
The band was about to reach the holy grail of British rock bands, a tour of the United States.
Bill Collins was in the U.S. scouting for the tour and met a New York businessman named Stan Polley. The band signed a business management contract with Polley which stipulated that all income, even royalties, would go into a private holding company controlled by him. The band would be paid a salary. Polly convinced them that he could double, or even triple, the money they made by having him make canny investments.
Allen Klein was running Apple by the time Badfinger was to finish its agreement with the company with one last album.
Klein started in the music business in 1963 when he became business manager for the late Sam Cooke. He got an agreement signed giving him all rights to Cooke’s future recordings, all revenue for concerts, all royalties (even on records made before the contract), and 10 percent
of all records sold.
In 1967 he bought a couple of struggling record companies and acquired the rights to music by The Animals, Herman’s Hermits, Bobby Rydell, ? and the Mysterians, and Chubby Checker. He also got the rights to all recordings produced by Mickie Most.
He worked his way into The Rolling Stones organization and got the rights for all of their music produced prior to 1971.
Then he became the manager at Apple Records which was in disarray following the death of Brian Epstein. Paul McCartney was the only Beatle who would not sign the management contract.
Klein turned Apple around through massive cost-cutting. He brought in Phil Spector to get the Let It Be album done. Then he bought the rights to all music produced by Spector.
It was under those conditions that Badfinger began work on their last album, Ass. They worked on it for a year and then had to fight to get it released, and it flopped.
Allen Klein had made it clear that Badfinger’s next contract would not be a generous as the first one.
Stan Polley arranged a contract with Warner Bros. records promising a $225,000 advance for each album and very generous cuts of sales.
They soon entered the studio to work on their first WB album, Badfinger. It was released at almost the same time as Ass, and was not successful.
After a couple of U.S. tours the band began recording Wish You Were Here in Colorado and at George Martin’s AIR Studio in London. But things were not going well with the band.
The wife of Joe Molland began to voice misgivings about the band’s management, asking where the money was. They weren’t getting much. Shortly before a UK tour, Peter Ham quit the band. Warner Bros. said they would not promote Badfinger if Ham wasn’t in the band.
Pete Ham had always looked upon the members of the band as brothers and he didn’t want to let them down, especially Tommy Evans, with whom he had become very close. So he rejoined the group in time for the UK tour. Molland quit the band after the tour.
According to the contract with Stan Polly, the $225,000 advance was to go into an escrow account accesable to himself, the band, and Warner Bros. Publishing. Polley refused to reveal the whereabouts of the money, so Warners sued. The band didn’t know that litigation was going on.
They recorded their next album in a very short time at Apple Studios. Polley sent the rough mixes to WB in hopes that they would cough up another big advance, but they couldn’t because of the litigation.
The band’s salaries had stopped and there was no money coming in at all. Pete Ham had just bought a house and his girlfriend was expecting his child. They tried to get local work but couldn’t because of their contract with Polley.
Ham tried to contact Polley but he would not answer the phone or return calls. He was soon informed that all of the band’s money had disappeared. They would see none of it.
Pete Ham felt somewhat responsible for what had happened. He was too nice and too trusting for the music business. He felt that he had let his brothers down.
On April 24, 1975, Peter Ham hanged himself in his garage.
Other members of the band tried to form other bands or perform as solo acts, but not much happened. By 1977 both Molland and Tommy Evans were out of the music business, but later that year they were in the U.S. working with a couple of other guys on a new album for Electra Records. The company encouraged them to call themselves Badfinger, so they did.
The album, Airwaves, was a moderate seller but the group began to fall apart.
In the early 1980s Molland and Evans were touring with two different bands called Badfinger.
In 1983 there was an argument between Molland and Evans over money that Badfinger still had in escrow from Apple. Evans was receiving songwriting royalties for Without You and Molland, Bill Collins, and Michael Gibbons who was part of the group during The Iveys days all wanted a piece of that.
The next day, November 19, 1983, Tommy Evans hanged himself in the garden of his home. He never recovered from the loss of his close friend, Peter Ham.
On this day, January 30th, 1969: The Beatles with Billy Preston played their lunchtime rooftop gig on top of the Apple building, #3 Savile Row in London. Lasting for just over 40 minutes, it was the last time The Beatles performed live.
Today’s screening: http://tinyurl.com/m5266le
Today’s quote: “I’d like to say ‘thank you’ on behalf of the group and ourselves, and I hope we passed the audition!” —John Lennon
Today’s ill-advised tattoo: http://tinyurl.com/7rfscns
Anniversary Of The Beatle’s Final “Rooftop Concert”[youtube=http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=IhHRaleljHE&w=545&h=337]
January 30 marks the…
The Rolling Stones at the Alamo in 1975, Billy Preston joined the photo shoot so Keith decided that it would be a good idea to remove the rebel flag from the photo.
The red arrow shows the pole of the rebel flag that Keith is supposed to display in the photo.