Badfinger’s Career Was Plagued By Death, Robbery, and Turmoil

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One Of The Saddest Stories In Rock & Roll…

During the 60s and the 70s, Badfinger from Swansea, Wales were slated to become the next big thing. From writing tons of timeless hits to inadvertently being discovered by Paul McCartney, Badfinger’s future looked as promising as ever. Members Pete Ham, Joey Molland, Tom Evans, and Mike Gibbins had it all; the look, the charisma, the charm, and above all else, the sound.

With all of this said, most of you may be asking “if this band is so great, how come I’ve never heard of them?” Sadly, it’s because their career was cut drastically short due to the worst of luck. Here’s their story…

British rock group Badfinger, London, February 1971. Left to right: Tommy Evans (1947 – 1983), Joey Molland, Pete Ham (1947 – 1975) and Mike Gibbins (1947 – 2005). (Photo by Michael Putland/Getty Images)

Badfinger’s story begins in 1961 in Swansea, Wales. Originally named The Iveys, this band quickly made a name for themselves opening for such bands as The Spencer Davis GroupThe WhoThe Moody Blues and The Yardbirds just to name a few.

Due to the band’s rising popularity, Paul McCartney quickly took notice of the band and became a fan of their unique, fresh sound. He offered them a song that he had written called “Come And Get It”. It was also then that the band needed a new name.

Fun Fact: An early version of The Beatles’ “With a Little Help from My Friends” had a working title “Bad Finger Boogie”. Apple Corps executive Neil Aspinall used that name to come up with the name ‘Badfinger’.

UNITED KINGDOM – JANUARY 01: ROUNDHOUSE (CAMDEN) Photo of BADFINGER and Pete HAM, Pete Ham performing on stage, 128 (Photo by Fin Costello/Redferns)

The band had four hits that reached the upper charts such as the aforementioned “Come And Get It”, “No Matter What”, “Day After Day”, and “Baby Blue”. The band’s popularity rose to massive heights. As they were getting all of this commercial success, they were in high demand. In 1970, the infamous Stan Polley agreed to be their manager.

Stan made a good first impression on the band and led them to believe that he would take them to new heights, only for it to be the complete opposite. Stan notoriously crippled the band financially by stealing funds for himself. This left the band with no resources or a promise of any kind of future.

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Things were getting progressively worse for the band. Aside from having no money, Pete Ham and Joey Molland’s wife Kathie were constantly butting heads and band politics were becoming an issue. This eventually led to Pete quitting the band famously saying “I don’t want Kathie managing the band! I’m leaving.”

Loss of money, a child on the way, and lawsuits pending, Pete had the weight of the world on his shoulders. His problems were only becoming worse. He hung himself in his garage on the 24th  of April in 1975. He left behind a short that read as follows…

“Anne, I love you. Blair, I love you. I will not be allowed to love and trust everybody. This is better. Pete. P.S. Stan Polley is a soulless bastard. I will take him with me”.

British rock band, Badfinger, filming a performance of ‘Day After Day’ to be used as an insert for the ‘Top Of The Pops’, music show, BBC Television Centre, London, 26th January 1972. It is unclear whether the segment was ever broadcast. Left to right: Mike Gibbins (1949 – 2005), Pete Ham (1947 – 1975), Tom Evans (1947 – 1983) and Joey Molland. (Photo by Michael Putland/Getty Images)

Sadly, this wouldn’t be the only time that suicide impacted the band. After an extensive argument with Mollend, Tom Evans too found himself under the surmounting legal and personal issues inherited by Stan Polley. Evens too hung himself and did so in his garden in the 19th of November in 1983.

Drummer Mike Gibbins also died from a brain aneurysm in his sleep at the age of 56 in 2005 leaving Joey Molland to be the only surviving member.

Plagued with death, loss of money, and turmoil, Badfinger were dealt the worst hand possible in life, but all of that will ever change the fact that they have created some of the most timeless music in rock history. It’s truly no wonder that this band was poised by Paul McCartney to be “The Next Beatles”.

This band’s career may have been cut short, but we never forget the music they have left behind for us.