Badfinger in concert this week. The first band to be signed by The Beatles’ fledgling Apple Records, they scored a number of hits as well as recording some five albums between 1968 and 1973 before getting caught in the turmoil of Apple folding, from which they never recovered.
Badfinger were a Welsh rock band formed in Swansea that were active from the 1960s to the 1980s. Often called “Beatlesque”, their best-known lineup consisted of Pete Ham, Mike Gibbins, Tom Evans, and Joey Molland. They are recognized for their influence on the 1970s power pop genre.
Badfinger had four consecutive worldwide hits from 1970 to 1972: “Come and Get It” (written and produced by Paul McCartney, 1970), “No Matter What” (produced by Mal Evans, 1970), “Day After Day” (produced by George Harrison, 1971), and “Baby Blue” (produced by Todd Rundgren, 1972). Their song “Without You” (1970) has been recorded many times, including a US number-one hit for Harry Nilsson, and decades later, a UK number-one for Mariah Carey.
After Apple Records folded in 1973, Badfinger struggled with a host of legal, managerial and financial issues, leading to Ham taking his own life in 1975. Over the next three years, the surviving members struggled to rebuild their personal and professional lives against a backdrop of lawsuits, which tied up the songwriters’ royalty payments for years. Their subsequent albums floundered, as Molland and Evans alternated between cooperation and conflict in their attempts to revive and capitalize on the Badfinger legacy. In 1983, Evans also died by suicide.
It would be easy to say a situation like this was an isolated incident in the world of Pop Music – but no, it happens more than anyone would care to admit. Although the outcomes vary considerably, the bottom line has often been; a band with all the potential in the world and the hits to prove it, took a series of bad turns with unforeseen and complicated circumstances causing it to end in disaster.
Badfinger were a competent and capable band, with a considerable amount of talent between them. They produced a string of memorable hits and had a legacy of many fine and noteworthy recordings to point to. For the outcome to be what it was is a tragedy – however, their music belies that, as it often does. Art and life are two separate things.
But for a reminder of the energy and passion of a committed band, here is that performance from June 1972, recorded by BBC Radio 1 for the In Concert series.