Badfinger were typical of many bands that have their origins in the sixties. After learning their trade, performing cover versions of popular tunes of the day, notably the Beatles in their case, songwriting and composing talent starts to surface and the desire to produce more home-grown material becomes more and more important.
There was, and still is albeit to a much lesser extent, amongst all up-and-coming bands, the urgent desire to become signed to a record label. In those days this was virtually sacrosanct, it had to be done if the band was to flourish.
The rise and fall of Badfinger
The band were originally from Swansea and had made a pretty good name for themselves, originally having been known as The Iveys. They appeared often at venues in their local area and were frequently billed as support for major touring bands such as The Who, The Moody Blues, The Spencer Davis Group and others of that ilk.
After considerable efforts from their manager, Bill Collins and with help and considerable intervention from Mal Evans, who was an aide and assistant to the Beatles, the band were signed to Apple – the Beatle’s own record label. They were the first act to be signed to Apple who did not originate in the Beatles.
The Iveys first single received a mixed reception ranging from good, (top ten placings in Europe and Japan), in some countries to being completely ignored in the UK and failing to chart.
The breakthrough came when Paul McCartney offered the band one of his songs, “Come And Get It” which he had written for the film, Magic Christian. It was recorded along strict guidelines laid down by Paul and, predictably, sold by the truckload, over a million copies worldwide and reaching number 4 in the UK charts.
Just prior to the single’s release, in 1969, a name change was agreed upon. Badfinger was suggested by an Apple executive and won over the other suggestions from the Fab Four which included “Home,” “The Cagney’s” and “Glass Onion.”
Pete Ham’s “No Matter What” became the next best seller, having first been declined by Apple for release as a single it went on to reach number 5 in the UK charts and was the first Badfinger written release to appear in the UK top ten. Interestingly, it is reported that this song was originally included in the film “Wayne’s World” but later edited out due to copyright issues.
No longer dependent on other songwriters to such an extent, Pete Ham and Tom Evans went on to prove this beyond any shadow of doubt when they penned “Without You” which appeared on the “No Dice” album and became a massive hit for Nilsson in 1972. Later that same year they received an Ivor Novello award for that song.
The good times, however, did not continue to roll and problems at Apple along with poor performance from the band’s management led to financial difficulties and personnel changes.
By 1975, lawsuits in progress and the band’s finances in ruin, it all got a bit too much for Pete Ham and he ended it all by hanging himself in his garage/studio at his Woking home.
Pete Ham died on the morning of 24th April 1975 leaving an unborn daughter and his girlfriend Anne Herriot.
It would be fair to say that Tom Evans never got over the death of his friend and colleague. He was involved in a reunion and reforming of the band and released a couple of albums as such but with no real commercial success. By 1983 things had deteriorated significantly and money issues were still a significant part of the band’s life.
On 19th November 1983 it all became too much for Tom and, after an argument with Joey Molland over royalties and the like, he took his own life in the same manner as Pete Ham, by hanging himself.
The financial and management matters were clearly bad and looking for blame could lead one to delve into quite murky waters but one thing remains clear – Badfinger, as a band, as songwriters and as performers did their job very well indeed – Badfinger were good, very good.
Badfinger – Essential Listening
My selections for you to become familiar with Badfinger would have to be, No Matter What (2010 – Remaster) and Come And Get It (2010 – Remaster) those two singles being pretty much essential listening. Album wise, the following will not disappoint:
No Dice – Remastered 2010: “No Matter What” came from this album and the other tracks are equally worth listening to although not always as obviously suited to single release. A pretty impressive first album though and well worth download/buying .
A compilation, “Come And Get It”: Includes “No Matter What” & “Come And Get It” good value with most of the good stuff on it.
Official Badfinger website: http://badfingeruk.com/
Tragic Marc Bolan Death Crash
Marc Bolan, born in September 1947, was killed in a car crash in London on 16th September 1977 just a few days before his 30th birthday.
Glam rock icon, guitarist and poet Marc Bolan died on 27th September 1977. He had been a passenger in a car driven by his girlfriend Gloria Jones, (Marc couldn’t drive, despite owning several cars), when it hit a tree. At least, that’s what most people were led to believe but the tree that was supposed to have caused the Marc Bolan death tragedy was not in fact to blame.
However, following the release in 2012 of Lesley Anne Jone’s Biography of Marc Bolan, entitled “Ride a White Swan: The Lives and Death of Marc Bolan” we learn that, whilst Marc certainly died that night, in his Mini as reported, the tragedy that is Mark Bolan death was not directly as a result of hitting a tree.
For all those years, since the accident occurred in 1977 up until the publication of Jones’ book in 2012, it was widely believed that Marc Bolan was killed when his car hit a sycamore tree. It is now revealed however that Marc was actually killed when his Mini collided with a steel-reinforced fence post. Whereas before we had all believed he had been crushed to death in the mini, the book reveals that, in fact, he had suffered a terrible head injury caused by one of the bolts used on the fence.<br />
All of this detail becomes even more poignant after the somewhat belated interviews given by an eye-witness to the crash, a singer called Vicky Aram. Vicky had, apparently, been invited to accompany Marc and his entourage back from a party they had all been attending, in order to discuss various musical projects. As she had her own car, she followed them, thereby avoiding a direct involvement and possibly much worse, in the fatal crash.
Aram was at the scene seconds after the impact and is reported to have seen everything that happened. As a result, we now know the full story.
The crash was, of course, a tragic accident, made even more tragic by the fact that Marc Bolan was, at the time of his death, only 29 and at the peak of his career. Admired by many, idolised by many more, Bolan had, I’m sure, much more to offer.
By the time of his death he had already transformed his persona from that of a poet for whom music was played mainly as an accompaniment to the words, to a full-blown rock star with a catalogue of successful hits and a glam-rock image that many others emulated.
As we now approach the start of the fortieth year since his death, the memory of Marc Bolan as a talented icon who no doubt still had much to offer, I’d like to raise a glass to Fee Warner, the founder of the T Rex Action Group, who purchased the land on which the “fatal” sycamore tree stands in order to prevent it from being felled and still, with help form other volunteers, preserve it to this day.
Marc Bolan death memorial
Marc Bolan & T Rex information: http://www.marc-bolan.net/
Town & Country Club Kentish Town 1985 – 1993
Dating from 1934 when it was originally constructed as an Art Deco Cinema, this large building on Highgate Road in north London has had several names over the years, including the Town & Country Club Kentish Town and it is currently part of the 02 empire known as the 02 Forum, Kentish Town.
It is, however, as the Town & Country Club Kentish Town that it is best known historically as a music venue and some very fine musicians appeared there during its lifetime as the “T&C”.
If I had to pick just one from the many concerts that were staged at the Town & Country Club it would have to be the quite extraordinary “Night Of The Guitars” which featured Jan Akkerman (Focus) Leslie West (Mountain) Ted Turner & Andy Powell (Wishbone Ash), Phil Manzanera (Roxy Music) Pino Daniele / Robbie Kreiger (Doors) Randy California (Spirit) Steve Hunter (notable session player) and Pete Haycock (Climax Blues Band). The show took place on May 04 1989. It should be noted that various other concerts of the same name took place around that time and featured some of the above artists together with other notables as Steve Howe (Yes) and Alvin Lee, (Ten Years After).
The Pogues recorded a live concert there, featuring Joe Strummer, on St Patrick’s day in March 1988 which is still available as a DVD.
Other notable performers to appear at the T&C were Rory Gallagher September 17th 1988, Robert Plant Dec 20, 1990 and again on Jan 10, 1991 and, on Dec 18 1992, Keith Richards and the X-Pensive Winos.
The building was originally known as the Kentish Town Forum Theatre from 1934 to 1963. It then became the ABC Cinema Kentish Town from 1963 to 1970.
In 1984 is became an Irish dancehall known as the Forum Dancehall until 1985.
It then became the Town & Country Club, its most famous persona, in 1985 until 1993 and then it was the London Forum between 1993 and 2007 and then simply The Forum from 2007 to 2009 and again between 2013 to 2015.
Between 2009 and 2013 it was the HMV Forum.
The venue ceased to be known as the Town & Country Club Kentish Town in 1993. The final artist to appear at the venue under that name was Van Morrison on March 21st preceded by a double date by Squeeze on the 19th & 20th March.
Town & Country Club Kentish Town as it is now.
Here is the link to the venue as it is now: https://academymusicgroup.com/o2forumkentishtown/
Founder Member of Thunderclap Newman; Scottish Musician Jimmy McCulloch Died Aged 26 in London
Jimmy McCulloch was a prolific and hugely talented musician who, in his short lifetime, managed to play alongside such industry giants as Pete Townsend, Paul McCartney, John Mayall Peter Frampton and he appeared in several bands including Thunderclap Newman, Wings, Small Faces and Stone the Crows.
Jimmy McCulloch died from a drugs overdose on 27th September 1979, in London. He was aged 26
Something of a child prodigy, McCulloch was playing live in front of audiences before he turned a teenager. His first band as “One In A Million” who are noted for having released one of the most collectible singles ever, entitled “Double Sight” / “Fredereek Hernando” – a psychedelic masterpiece 45rpm single that now fetches high prices when examples come up for sale.
If every famous artist has a “big break” however, McCulloch’s was when he was recruited by Pete Townsend to be a part of his project to build a band around his former chauffeur John “speedy” Keen and piano player Andy Newman after whom the resultant band, Thunderclap Newman, was named.
The Hope & Anchor Islington – No Stranger to the Stranglers
The Hope & Anchor Islington in 2020 Courtesy of Google Street View.
The Hope and Anchor Islington is a grade II listed building, currently owned by Greene King and still operated as a pub with great food and live music. Before this, however, and especially in the 1970s, it was an important music venue, first as a “pub rock” venue and later as a punk rock place to be. The Hope & Anchor is especially well known due to The Stranglers recording a live album, “Live at the Hope & Anchor” there in November 1977 which was initially only available as a bootleg until its eventual official release in 1992.
Live at the Hope & Anchor, The Stranglers.
Hope & Anchor Islington – a Brief History
The Hope & Anchor Islington was built in 1880 and it traded for many years as a public house. In the 1970s the venue was acquired by Albion Management. Under constant threat of closure the management organised the Hope & Anchor Front Row Festival, which took place between Tuesday 22 November and Thursday 15 December 1977 and featured many “pub” bands, punk bands and others who appeared for just expenses. A double disk album was made and released in March 1978.
Other notable acts to perform at the Hope & Anchor include Dire Straits, Squeeze, Madness, The Police, The Jam, The Ramones and the Pogues. The promo video for Madness’ “One Step Beyond” was recorded there.
It’s always encouraging to see an old established venue still operating successfully as we have lost so many of our live music pubs in recent years, even in busy and affluent London. The venue has been refurbished and upgraded by current owners Greene King, a large and popular brewery chain, and is well worth a visit. It is easy to find, being located in busy Islington with lots of public transport available although if you are travelling by car, you will find parking can be tricky, (and expensive).