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WITHOUT YOU: THE TRAGIC
STORY OF BADFINGER
author - Dan Matovina
first released in November of 1997
Newspaper and Magazine reviews
Popsided - Steve Schnee
Matovina has written the best rock biography of our time. This book is a testament to a band that lived to create beautiful music, but died while doing so, leaving behind a legacy that will inspire others. This book should be given as a gift to all struggling musicians... Beg, borrow, and steal in order to secure a copy for yourself.
Ear Candy - Ronnie Dannelly - http://www.earcandy.com
While some rock books can overwhelm you with National Enquirer-like sensationalism and bore you with rambling record and studio statistics, WITHOUT YOU weaves pertinent info about the band with the story behind their music. It explains their legal problems without boring legalese and gives you real insight into the creative workings of Badfinger… A stellar achievement, this is one of the best rock band bios that I have read in quite awhile, not only entertaining but informative. And, if that wasn't enough, a 72 minute CD of rare Badfinger tracks and recorded interviews is included! With this book, proper credit is finally given to THE first power-pop band.
... pick up "Without You," an exhaustively researched and thoroughly heartbreaking piece of work that documents the unbelievably depressing lives and times of Badfinger... the story of a great band that took a great fall... a Behind The Music from Hell.
... Without You: The Tragic Story Of Badfinger succeeds on two levels; as a cautionary tale of the trappings of rock and roll, and also as a much-needed appreciation of the classic music of one of the founders of the power-pop genre... A thought-provoking book that I found difficult to put down.
Q Magazine - John Harris
... (Without You's) 400-plus pages allow for plenty more than just macabre tragedy: the Fabs-related experience of the Apple label's key signing, music biz-related troubles that wouldn't be very much out of place in a 70's teen flick, and the commercial under achievement that snowballed over their six-album career... astounding research..
... Author Dan Matovina spent nearly a decade piecing together a comprehensive, detailed history of (Badfinger) and has proven, without a doubt, that it did happen and it was far more heartbreaking than any outsider could imagine. Bad management deals, record labels withholding royalties, hit singles, abuse, ego clashes, working with the Beatles, etc. It's all here and it's all true. And it will break your heart.
While reading this truly absorbing biography, by the time Pete Ham chooses suicide in 1975 after so much heartbreak, you truly understand (but don't agree) with his fatal decision. By the time Tom Evans chooses to end his life in 1983 (like Pete, by hanging himself), you are so emotionally drained by his misfortune and heartbreak that you feel yourself actually understanding AND agreeing with his desire to end it all. This book is THAT exceptional. It draws you into the lives of the men that created this wonderful music that has been a soundtrack to all our lives. Now, we finally know the real story behind the music....
Well researched and painstakingly pieced together with love, Matovina has written the best rock biography of our time. This book is a testament to a band that lived to create beautiful music but died while doing so, leaving behind a legacy that will inspire others. This book should be given as a gift to all struggling musicians, showing them that fame is not all that it is cracked up to be. In fact, after reading this book, all semi-intelligent musicians will probably decide NOT to approach music as a career. Just in case you missed it, this is the best damn rock biography ever! Beg, borrow, and steal in order to secure a copy for yourself.
Since that first magic moment when the dollar dudes decided there was dough to be had at the expense of success-hungry (or just plain hungry) musicians, there have been tales both tall and otherwise about the legendary financial screwings that ensued. things were especially bad for early bluesmen, hillbilly hicks and other poorly-educated types, who were often coerced into signing ridiculous quasi-legal agreements while in the throes whiskey or some other brain-deadening measure. The results were often fat profits for the boss and maybe a new suit of clothes or a car for the musician, who was left to ponder why he was still broke even with constant gigs and songs on the radio.
Yet these sordid snippets pale before the story of Badfinger, the first band signed to the Beatles' fledgling Apple Records label in the late 60's....
... Enter Dan Matovina, a former journalist and record producer who felt compelled to set the story straight in Without You: The Tragic Story Of Badfinger, a book that is not only compelling, insightful and a cracking good read, but one that isn't afraid to wallow in the muck of the record industry chicanery...
During the course of his exhaustive research, interviewing and winning the trust of key people involved, Matovina also assembled some excellent Pete Ham home demos that were released on Rykodisc last year as 7 Park Avenue, a collection that reveals the late Ham as a very talented and heartfelt singer, songwriter and arranger, and certainly the most vital and creative member of Badfinger...
Though the pall of suicide will follow the name Badfinger until the very end, another equally galling element in this tragedy is the "what might have been" factor. Badfinger was a very accomplished group (give a listen to their No Dice, Straight Up, and Wish You Were Here albums) that could have had a great deal to offer. Instead, of a goose that laid golden eggs, the suits wanted one big dinner.
Despite somber episodes, Matovina's book is a very special one. Seldom has one band been catalogued so thoroughly, from the humblest beginnings to the highest peaks to the inevitable fall. Along the way, the reader is swept along a white-water rapid run of emotional turns that reveal as much about man's inhumanity to man as it does about rock'n'roll.
The story of Badfinger is the shining example of the wrongs of the music business and their tale shows the dark side of the music business, where money and greed chews up bands and spits out empty shells. Often described as the "successor to the Beatles", Badfinger was the "golden child" of Apple Records (behind of course the Fab Four). With hit albums and singles, the band SHOULD have profited financially. But due to bad management, the band ended up nearly penniless, resulting in the distraught suicide of two members. Other than Big Star and perhaps the Raspberries, Badfinger was the only true power-pop band between 1970-74 (but Badfinger was the FIRST of these three). And "Tragic" is the best one-word description of their tale, hence its inclusion in the title of this book. If the band's story wasn't true, you would think it was Spinal Tap-like saga, complete with band electrocutions on stage, gig-bound van wrecks, drummers getting left behind (not once but twice!), record producers being shot to death by police, a record label halting the sale of a great album (right as it was taking off), and band member suicide's (two members).
While some rock books can overwhelm you with National Enquirer-like sensationalism and bore you with rambling record and studio statistics, WITHOUT YOU weaves pertinent info about the band with the story behind their music. It explains their legal problems without boring legalese and gives you real insight into the creative workings of Badfinger. The book also covers Welsh music scene, which I had not really been aware of before. And for rock and roll trivia hounds like me, there is plenty of info; for instance, I wasn't aware that drummer Mike Gibbons played drums on Bonnie Tyler's "It's Heartache"!
A stellar achievement, this is one of the best rock band bios that I have read in quite awhile, not only entertaining but informative. And, if that wasn't enough, a 72 minute CD of rare Badfinger tracks and recorded interviews is included! With this book, proper credit is finally given to THE first power-pop band.
South Wales Evening Post
December 15, 1997
from column by Vyvan Morris
... Without You: The Tragic Story Of Badfinger, from American author Dan Matovina is an extensively illustrated, superbly researched, weighty book; the best free gift I have ever received, ranking as probably the best band biography of the many I've read.....
Darren Stockford <http://www.scuzz.com>
Dan Matovina's long awaited Badfinger biography is everything I'd hoped it would be and more. By turns funny, moving, and tragic, Without You tells the entire Badfinger story with an impressive attention to detail. Matovina's research is exhaustive and well-presented, with the author giving a voice to differing points of view when the narrative demands it (unsurprisingly, not everyone he interviewed agreed on the facts surrounding certain events). The Badfinger story has long been shrouded in rumour, hearsay and confusion, making this book a much needed and valued document for Badfinger fans everywhere. The inclusion of an extensive discography (and, in the limited edition hardback, a 10-track Anthology-style CD of outtakes and previously unreleased tracks) is merely the icing on an already mouth-watering delicious cake.
Feb 3, 1998
If you figured only old bluesman with first names beginning with the word “Blind”
got royally fucked over in the record biz, think again, or better yet pick up
“Without You,” an exhaustively researched and thoroughly heartbreaking
piece of work that documents the unbelievably depressing lives and times of
Badfinger, the British rock band of the Sixties and Seventies who’s Beatlesque
brand of power pop was so winning that the Fabs signed them up to Apple. Fans
of the band may already know that two of the bands key members, Pete Ham and
Tom Evans, took their own lives, but Matovina taken a harder look and found
there’s lots more bad vibes, parasitic management and general insanity
where that came from. In an industry that provided refuge to innumerable scoundrels,
Badfinger’s business manager Stan Polley -- based on the evidence here
-- is a truly standout scumbag. “Without You” -- the story of a
great band that took a great fall -- is a Behind The Music from Hell.
March 26, 1998
Take a group of talented musicians, add one incompetent manager, one thieving business manager, a batch of hit singles, the occasional bankruptcy, and two suicides, and you've got a bona fide rock'n'roll nightmare. Without You is to bands what Fredric Dannen's Hit Men was to the music industry: a sobering, scathing expose of an evil business that's more than willing to literally screw you to death in order to get those final two pennies you didn't even know you still had in your pocket.
Maybe you already knew that the entertainment industry was one the wretched live within. That doesn't make reading this story any easier. Badfinger, it may be remembered, signed to the Beatles' Apple labels in those waning days of the Swinging 60s. Their hits included "Come And Get It," "No Matter What," and "Day After Day.; they also wrote and recorded the original version of "Without You," a massive hit for Harry Nilsson on the 70s and Mariah Carey in the 90s.
Without You reveals that if anyone's been born under a bad sign, it's the members of this group. Dan Matovina traces the band's roots back to Swansea, Wales and continues through the dispute surrounding the 1995 ASCAP ceremonies that honored all five "writers" of a song (Without You) actually only written by two people, Pete Ham and Tom Evans -- who couldn't protest this discrepancy themselves because they'd each committed suicide by this time.
Matovina takes you from that hopeful beginning to the sorry end with interviews
a-plenty, heaps of photos, and a comprehensive discography. Truly, a cautionary
Up until now, the history of Badfinger has been woefully incomplete, presented piecemeal in all too brief entries in rock reference books (I don't know how many times I've reread Bill King's entry in Nicholas Schaffner's book "The British Invasion") in fanzines and on occasion in an interview/retrospective in collector publications such as Goldmine and Discoveries. For the devotee, the initial excitement is justifiable -- at last, in this 456-page tome, Dan Matovina has given Badfinger their history.
Years in the writing, this is clearly the work of a serious student of the group, based on hundreds of interviews with lovers, friends, family members and business associates, including Mike Gibbins; his first wife Gaynor; Marianne Evans (Tom Evans' widow): personal manager Bill Collins; Neil Aspinall; Richard DiLello; Geoff Emerick; John Ham (Pete Ham's brother); Harry Nilsson; May Pang; and Derek Taylor. Generous remembrances from three of the most important women in Pete's life -- Beverley (Ellis) Tucker, Dixie Butz (for whom Pete composed "Baby Blue") and final companion Anne Ferguson -- Also add greatly to our understanding of the man who was the group's foundation.
Joey Molland refused several requests to be interviewed for "Without You", which he may come to regret. By book's end, Joey and especially his wife, Kathie, do not emerge in a favorable light. Kathie Molland is portrayed again and again as the group's own Yoko Ono, attempting to dictate band policy on behalf of her husband. (The Mollands have threatened for years to write their own book; perhaps this is the kick in the ass they need to finish it.)...
By book's end, I was left angered and saddened by the waste of talent and the potential unfulfilled. Throughout, Matovina judiciously balances his story between the lives of these musicians and the music they created. "Without You" is filled with fresh assessments of each album, which had me playing each disc as I read of its recording...
Badfinger's story is a textbook example of talent alternately neglected and ruthlessly exploited, their musical legacy held hostage for too many years in legal entanglements by people who cared little for art and everything for money.
Matovina has added immeasurably to our understanding of Badfinger, their relationship
with The Beatles and the recording industry of the late 60's and post-Beatles
April 27 - May 10, 1998
Without You: The Tragic Story Of Badfinger (Frances Glover books), by Dan Matovina,
is a thoroughly researched look at the Seventies band which was best known for
being the first act signed to the Beatles' label, Apple Records, as well as
for the tragic suicides of its two creative focal points - Pete Ham and Tom
Evans - nearly a decade apart. But there's much more here, as Matovina tells
a riveting tale of the band's career as well as what impact stardom and the
business of music can have on the artists, themselves.
Named after the Badfinger song made famous by Harry Nilsson. "Without You" investigates why a band graced with the backing of The Beatles' Apple label and a catalogue of classic songs, failed to become leading lights of the seventies music scene.
Poor management, heartless record companies and the countless Fab Four comparisons hounded the Welsh wonders' every step. Sadly, these elements eventually led to the suicides firstly of Pete Ham in 1975, followed by his friend and songwriting partner Tom Evans eight years later.
This absorbing book is a must for any budding musicians about to enter the biz; proving once and for all that the road to rock and roll fame isn't always paved with gold and glory.
From the backstreets of Swansea to the bosom of The Beatles' Apple stable, the childhood dreams of Pete Ham and Tom Evans seemed to have come true when their heroes picked them from relative obscurity to hit the big-time. But the dolorous tenor of their best work seemed to map out their destiny, and both committed suicide when iniquitous business dealings saw them robbed of their just rewards. A well researched, deeply felt and cautionary tale.
Without You is a major music book. What ever you feel about Badfinger (and there seems to be three views: 1) they were God; 2) they were failed Beatle copyists; 3) who cares;) the fact remains that the band's story is one of the great rock tragedies. Four Welsh lads taken up by a man who wanted to make his mark in the music biz, although he knew nothing about how it worked, they had a couple of personnel changes, a song from McCartney, and they were on their way to some very decent albums. The song Without You, co-written by two of the members, became a huge hit for Harry Nilsson and Mariah Carey. That's the simplification, but it catches the high points. After the Beatles, they were pretty much the jewel in Apple's crown. So what happened? They hooked up with an American manager who raped them financially. It was so bad that Pete Ham, one of the band's founders, committed suicide in 1975. Eight years later Tommy Evans, the bassist did exactly the same thing. It's a story of dream harshly butted up against reality, and reality winning, as it always will.
The main character in Matovina's book is Pete Ham, acknowledged by all as a superb musician and writer, and in many ways the spiritual center of the band. Taking that stance is both good and bad within the context of the book. Once he's gone, the story seems to lose it's direction somewhat. But by then Badfinger as its original fans knew it, was over, and there's little left but to trace the path of the others. But what paths! Legal wranglings, more band contracts in the desperate hope that this time the musicians might actually make something. But the chemistry that had existed between the four members had irretrievable gone.
... this is a story of follow the money, hundreds of thousands of dollars of it, of two men pushed over the brink because they'd been ripped off. They were broke and literally didn't know where to turn any more. Matovina does follow the paper trail as far as he can, into court, explaining the situations and the judgments and pointing out the disgraceful behavior of ASCAP, giving an award for Without You to the whole band - including their first manager - when it was beyond doubt that only Ham and Evans were the composers.
If you want to say, well, that was then, this is now, it couldn't happen any more, then go right ahead. live in cloud cuckoo land. Every day, somewhere, some gullible, idealistic kid who wants to make music is getting ripped off. And it's not going to stop.
What Matovina's given is an exemplary object lesson in the business part of the music biz, with Badfinger as the microcosm. Yes, they were a good band, and more than two decades later, their best material still stands up with the very best pop music. They were on the verge of truly coming back (with Wish You Were Here) when the shit hit the fan and life fell apart. It's a story that's compelling and exhaustively researched. It's a labor of love, a testament to the feeling Matovina obviously has for the band and its music. It's what music books should be about and all too rarely are. and it should be compulsory reading for anyone - and I do mean anyone - in a band.
Sex 'n' drugs 'n' rock'n'roll? There are a couple of things missing from that litany - like despair and suicide. If you're considering a life in music, then read this book first. It answers the unanswerable question: how could two men who wrote some of the most successful songs of the early 70's, including one all-time standard, end up broke, helpless, abandoned and finally, sufficiently self-destructive to take their own lives?
The victims were Pete Ham and Tom Evans of Badfinger, the Welsh band who were signed to the Beatles Apple label in 1968 and proceeded to score a line of hits like Come And Get It, No Matter What, and Day After Day. Then Harry Nilsson discovered Without You and converted it into a worldwide No. 1 (later borrowed by Mariah Carey).
Feted by their peers, beloved by The Beatles: how could these guys go wrong? By stepping outside their own sphere of knowledge, that's how, and signing contracts they didn't fully understand. There's no one villain in this story: everyone, even the apparent heroes, is tainted by the way it turned out.
What's ironic is that this catalogue of distress has been written by a diehard Badfinger fan, who set out to celebrate their lives as well as chronicle them. He's achieved this by taking his research to heights of dedication that are almost ludicrous. Suffice to say that if there's information to be ransacked, then Matovina has been there and done that as thoroughly as anyone could.
The result is a book that functions as the ultimate fan's guide to a much-loved
power pop band, through all their incarnations and spin-offs - and as a riveting
scare-story about the power of the music business to wreck lives. It's readable
and brilliantly researched, and as the traumas mount and the Badfinger members
are wound deeper and deeper in a web of business difficulties and personal crises,
it's impossible to remain unmoved by their plight.
Buffalo Art Voice
February 11, 1998
...Presenting a tuneful blend of lyrically introspective songs with superb harmonies, Badfinger wrote and recorded such memorable songs as Without You (later turned into international hits by Harry Nilsson and Mariah Carey), No Matter What, Day After Day, and Baby Blue. Whilst the Beatles comparisons and associations have helped to sustain the Badfinger myth and music, it's the band's morbid end which drives others to seek out the group's oeuvre.
In 1975, at the age of 27, chief songwriter and guitarist Pete Ham hanged himself. Nearly a decade later, bassist and vocalist Tom Evans followed, committing the act in the exact same fashion as his former bandmate.
... Without You faithfully details the careers, music and untimely end of one of the most influential yet ultimately unrecognized groups in rock history and attempts to rectify the nearly criminal manner in which the band has been overlooked...
Throughout the course of Without You, Matovina wears his heart on his sleeve, exhibiting not only his obvious musical and personal affection for Pete Ham, but also a unique understanding of the band's collective vision. This book is an eloquent and validating eulogy that need not fall only into the category of literature for completists.
As a whole the book serves several important functions. Matovina has exhaustively
traced the roots, complex personalities and talent of a group whose tunes are
in the minds, hearts and lips of music fans everywhere. Without You's tale could
easily be the story of any pop fan's long forgotten hitmakers, yet with a fan's
enthusiasm and a skillful writer's determination, Matovina carefully establishes
the incredible intangible sense of heart and anguish that was woven intro Badfinger's
songs. Thoroughly researched and documented, Without You is essential reading
for any music fan (whether or not they can name a single Badfinger tune) as
a look into the dichotomy of the music business, a world where careers are destroyed
as blithely as they were created.
Friday Morning Quarterback
December 30, 1997
The saga of Badfinger is perhaps the most tragic in all of Rock'n'Roll. Best
Known for such 70's melodic gems as DAY AFTER DAY, BABY BLUE, NO MATTER WHAT,
COME AND GET IT, and WITHOUT YOU, Badfinger is rightfully hailed by acts such
as Oasis, Blur, Cheap Trick, the Gin Blossoms, and Teenage Fanclub, as a profound
influence. A terrific new book, Without You: The Tragic Story Of Badfinger,
has just been published (Frances Glover Books) charting the meteoric rise and
calamitous fall of the group. Written by Badfinger expert Dan Matovina, the
book is a true labor of love. Meticulously researched and containing over 280
photographs, the book expertly unravels the story of Badfinger with honesty
and compassion. Extensive interviews with the group, family and friends, business
associates, and producers Todd Rundgren and Chris Thomas, provide a front-row
seat for the reader. The group's close association with Apple Records and the
Beatles is also comprehensively chronicled; both Paul McCartney and George Harrison
produced the group; the band played on tracks by John Lennon, Harrison, and
Ringo Starr; and they appeared at The Concert For Bangla Desh. In addition,
Matovina candidly details the horrifying morass of business problems that plagued
the group, as heinously perpetrated by their reportedly dishonest manager, Stan
Polley. These insurmountable business problems ultimately led half of the band
to tragically commit suicide: Ham in 1975 and Tom Evans in 1983. An indispensable
look at one of Rock's most criminally underrated bands, without You: The Tragic
Story Of Badfinger is an essential read.
Pop Culture Press
review by Kent Benjamin
Badfinger were one of the most beloved post-Beatles pop bands, and were hugely influential, directly inspiring literally hundreds of power pop bands. Dan Matovina has been the most authoritative writer about the band for nearly 20 years (in magazines and CD reissues), and his 1997 Badfinger bio is a loving tribute to a band that produced some of the finest music of the '70's. The book tells the band members' life stories, including their years as The Iveys, the first band signed to The Beatles' Apple Records, through their hit years with Come And Get It No Matter What, Day After Day, and Baby Blue, culminating with a period during which they were forced to record albums with two weeks notice and two weeks recording time, and playing second and third on the bill in small clubs. Through it all their two managers stole almost every dime that they'd earned with their massive hit records, a situation that ultimately resulted in both lead guitarist/singer/writer Pete Ham and bassist/singer/writer Tom Evans hanging themselves (in 1975 and 1983 respectively).
The full story of what lead two such talented and successful musicians to take their own lives has never really been told before, and Matovina has done an excellent job of tracking down the truth and objectively reporting it, not taking sides. I particularly liked the fact that when he introduced a new character, there was almost always a picture of them on the same page - few think to do that. The author's attempts to be as fair and even-handed as possible does make for dry reading in places; but still, Matovina must be complimented for getting to the truth without editorializing - when you hear every side of a story, the truth can sometimes be obvious. Letting the facts speak for themselves has the result of making the "villains", managers Stan Polley in America and Bill Collins in England, look even more monstrous. The former appears to have successfully and blatantly robbed the band of more money than any entertainment manager who's been written about, and the latter, while seemingly more good-hearted and stupid than truly evil, collaborated fully in leading the band down the primrose path. Badfinger's management appears to have made virtually every mistake that could conceivably have been made with their career, snatching defeat from the jaws of victory at every opportunity.
The book details every recording session; I now fully understand the chronology of the several unreleased albums that I used to be thoroughly confused about. Tragically, much of the band's best material still hasn't seen the light of day.
The chapters of the book after leader Ham committed suicide, where the band is slogging it out in little clubs and van tours, with no publicity, and starving while their managers raked in hundreds of thousands of dollars, is both Spinal Tap-funny, and absolutely heart-breaking. Other bands were ripped off, some nearly as badly. But bands like the Small Faces at least had each other, while Badfinger had and Kathie Molland (who seems to have really done everything Yoko Ono was accused of in the Beatles). Guitarist/singer writer Joey Molland (the one who lived) comes out as a self-centered, money-grabbing jerk. Particularly moving is Tom Evans' gradual decline leading to a copycat suicide of his best friend, Pete.
This book is a must read for fans of the band. I'd also highly recommend it
to anyone wanting a good look inside the music business; if you're thinking
about starting a band, you need to read this book first. Knowledge is power.
CMJ (College Music Journal)
A famous association with the Beatles, two band suicides and inspiration for
a generation of power poppers - add in four hit singles and you've got Badfinger.
But is it enough to warrant a 456-page book? Dan Matovina thinks so, and he's
right. There was even more going on behind the scenes than out in front, and
it ended with the members of Badfinger getting royally fucked. A truly evil
manager and band politics that translated into money (and the difference between
living and dying) are the meat of this story, and at its heart are the musicians
who, naive and trusting, just wanted to play music, but basically lost everything.
Without You is, in fact, a modern tragedy, and sadly true. Exhaustively researched,
ably and compassionately told, it's the kind of book every band should read
before sitting down to sign a contract.
Feb 13, 1998
It's enough to make you cry. You're in one of the most promising bands of the late 1960's, and you're signed to The Beatles own Apple label, where art and commerce are supposed to merge into one harmonious whole. After a few classic albums and four top-ten singles, the label is basically falling apart. Sad as that is, there are better things (seemingly) on the horizon. Your wonderful manager negotiates a multi-million dollar deal with one of the largest record companies in the world. Warner Bros. Boy, I'd think that I was leading a charmed life. But then everything goes down the drain, and not because of your own reckless spending or due to drug use. Finally, in a fit of desperation, you take your own life. How could this happen? The answers are in Dan Matovina's fine new book, Without You: The Tragic Story Of Badfinger (Frances Glover Books)
After reading Without You, I came to the conclusion that this book should he required reading for all musicians, or anyone for that matter, who are interested in making a career in music. Without You covers virtually every aspect of the music business. The stories here are gritty and colorful, yet still kept in an entertaining light that will keep you engulfed. If Pete Ham were alive today, he's agree and probably say, "Yes, this is where we went. Avoid, at all costs, going there."
Dan Matovina may already be a familiar name to musicians and fans, as producer/engineer of some well received projects from the late 80's and early 90's, including releases by Blood In The Saddle, House Of Freaks, and The Pandoras. "I was in between projects," recounts Matovina, "and somebody called me who was interested in writing a book about Badfinger. I had already written a pretty comprehensive article on the band. I became more intrigued with the project, and gradually took over the book, which was fine with the other guy, as he was happier seeing me write it than him."
While writing and researching the book, Matovina realized that there would probably be only one book about the history of Badfinger, and that it was necessary to cover the essential truth about the band. I wanted to cover every angle," Matovina remembers, "I wanted to get everything out, so I made a list of everybody who were involved, and over the course of six years I went to England five times."
Sound like a lot of leg work? Matovina has few regrets from the time spent researching the book." One of the great pleasures of writing the book was meeting the families of Pete Ham and Tom Evans."
Another plus for Matovina was coming across some unreleased home demo recordings by Pete Ham. "Pete's brother told me that he had various demos, and allowed me to listen to them while researching the project. I found immediately that there were some good quality songs, and that the demos were very listenable." After going through the Ham estate, Dan struck a deal with Ryko Disc to release the project, now called 7 Park Avenue, and Dan's production and engineering background came in very handy. Adding instruments to already existing demos (especially those by deceased artists) is not always a popular thing to do, but Matovina stood by his convictions. "I made the decision to augment some of Pete's demos because most of them were originally recorded on a mono sound-on-sound machine, where basically you bounce tracks. At times his voice would be way up louder than the rhythm instrument that he was playing, and it would be difficult to listen to, so I would overdub the same rhythm instrument in order to bring it up to a more listenable level."
Matovina utilized a fine group of L.A. Pop/Rock Musicians on the project, namely Jonathan Lea of The Jigsaw Seen, Derrick Anderson of The Andersons, Adam Marsland of Cockeyed Ghost, and session drummer Richard Cammon.
The results are wonderful. "One thing that I wanted to make sure of in doing
7 Park Avenue, was that in every case, Pete's vocal performance was the main
priority. I was very careful with that." Between the book and the CD, Pete Ham
and Badfinger's legacy are in dignified hands.
Prophetic trailblazers for the modern era in that a) they were the only Welsh rock band of any consequence before Manic Street Preachers and b) allegations of Beatles copyism were constantly hurled their way, any account of Badfinger's history has always revolved around the suicides of principal songwriters Pete Ham and Tom Evans. Hence the rather doomy subtitle of this admirable biography, replete with a reproduction of Ham's suicide note and the requisite gory details.
That said, it's 400-plus pages allow for plenty more than just macabre tragedy: the Fabs-related experience of the Apple label's key signing, music biz-related troubles that wouldn't be very much out of place in a 70's teen flick, and the commercial under achievement that snowballed over their six-album career. It's slightly spoiled by a rather blank prose style (phrases of the "highly individual guitar sound" variety tend to abound), but fairly astounding research recurrently saves the day.
**** (four star rating)
Spinal Tap come to life: No band in rock history began with such promise, enjoyed such hard-fought success, and ended in such tragedy and ugly contractual ruin as Badfinger. too frequently remembered as a quaint half-Welsh, half-Liverpudlian pop band that made its crust, and its hits, off the back of The Beatles, Badfinger were something else altogether. According to California author Dan Matovina's long-awaited, exhaustively researched biography of the band, Without You: The Tragic Story Of Badfinger, they were a horrifically mismanaged, financially abused quartet of naive, trusting songwriters who lived under one roof but never truly became brothers, who were driven apart by drink and girlfriend politics, and whose ghastly end - the suicides, eight years apart of Pete Ham And Tom Evans, the continued bickering among the surviving parties - belied the best of their records.
There are lighter episodes here, especially at the beginning: Matovina's reconstruction of the rich Welsh rock scene of the mid-sixties; the stories behind hits like Come And Get It, No Matter What, and Without You. But there is also much of the darkness, and Matovina's digging into Badfinger's legal hell is a case study in getting fucked, even beyond the grave. Today, the late Ham and Evans, who wrote Without You, are forced to share composer's credit, and royalties, with the rest of the band and the band's old manager.
Without You is one of the most engrossing rock reads of the year. But keep
a copy of NO DICE handy as an antidote - to remind you that the music was somehow
worth all the trouble.
The saga of Badfinger was a psychodrama where theoretical worst-case scenarios darkened into all-too-real mortal blows. While no other band suffered such an incessant barrage of Beatle comparisons, a string of first-rate singles in the early '70s (several of which can now be reckoned pop standards), not to mention Nilsson's tour de force adaptation of Without You, underscore the fact that Badfinger's gifts transcended those of mere protégés.
However, amid the creative boon which produced No Matter What, Day After Day, and Baby Blue, portentous business dealings were already undermining the band's rosy future. Dan Matovina's thoroughly-researched book documents Badfinger's heady rise and brutally down-to-earth fall in harrowing meticulous detail. The suicides of Pete Ham and Tom Evans resulting directly from having put blind faith, as well as finances, into the hands of an old-school shark and alleged former Mafia bagman - are indelible tragedies which forever cast a pall over the group's history. And if anyone would suggest this 456-page tome is overkill, Matovina's exhaustive labours prove otherwise. In the end the Badfinger story is a grim reminder how inextricably linked rock music is to the money handlers and how dire consequences can be if both aren't tended to in equal measure.
As memorable and moving as the best Badfinger music was, the story behind it
is no less poignant and instructive.
December 31, 1997
It started off as a Cinderella story, but by the end it was 101 Dalmatians, with one spotty dog after another chewing off pieces of the carcass. Badfinger was the classic example of how the music business eats its young - four innocent guys who were offered the moon, made the grab, and then fell helplessly with no one around to catch them, until they hit hard-rock bottom, still naive and unsure of what had happened.
Apple Records gave birth to Badfinger, and made stars out of them. But when the Beatles lost interest in Apple, the so-called support team at Apple lost interest in Badfinger, and the band died a slow but inevitable death - worn down by neglect and indifference, they tried to carry on but soon found they really didn't know how. They were easy prey for the carrion wolves. Who killed Badfinger? Was it the Beatles? Apple? Their self-aggrandizing mentor, Bill Collins, or their crooked business manager, Stan Polley? Was it the Warner Brothers brass, the lawyers, the two-bit promoters?
The answer, according to Dan Matovina's Without You: The Tragic Story of Badfinger, is that Badfinger succumbed to a little bit of abuse from everybody. Although theirs was probably a common enough scenario in the business of popular music, Badfinger was a truly great band, with great singers and players and at least one great writer. A band that made a handful of outstanding
records, classic records that still sound fresh and alive today. These were four people who deserved so much better than they got....
Matovina began his book six years ago. A California-based recording engineer, producer and sometime journalist, he was a dedicated Badfinger fan who wondered - like so many others - how could this have happened? Also, like most fans, he was frustrated by the paucity of reading material available. So much great music - yet Badfinger is the Rodney Dangerfield of rock 'n' roll.
Without You: The Tragic Story of Badfinger is a richly detailed walk down the band's long and winding road, from the early days in Swansea to the present, which finds surviving members Joey Molland (lead guitar) and Mike Gibbins (drums) still squabbling over what remains. Gibbins sat for dozens of interviews with the author; Molland refused, and his extensive comments in Without You are taken from other sources.
The best thing about the book, first of all, is the fact that it exists at all. For although the high points of the Badfinger story have long been common knowledge, they've always read like some kind of impressionist road map, open forever to individual interpretation and with lots of blank spaces and grey areas left to be filled in.
Here they are, all filled in, and while it's sad - yes, it really is a "tragic story" - it's also full of love, warm remembrances and even moments of great humor, such as the group's 1972 concerts in Iceland, "where the ratio is two women to every man." Badfinger and their road crew had a great time in Reykjavik, mixing with the local birds and getting into punch-ups with their boyfriends, who fought using comically outdated Marquis of Queensbury rules.
Each band member's personality traits are revealed early on, and over the course of the narrative, the reader begins to see patterns in how they deal with each other and with the situations that arise. Gibbins is happy-go-lucky and non-argumentative. Evans has a dark, unhappy side and a nasty temper. Molland fights bitterly to escape what he sees as backseat role in the band. If trouble is too long at bay, he sometimes causes some. Ham is humble and hard-working, a man who likes nothing better than spending entire days in the demo studio, working on new songs for the band. He's no saint, but he's trusting to a fault.
Interviewed in Without You are members of Ham's Welsh family, plus his longtime girlfriend Beverley Ellis, who lived with Ham, the rest of the band, manager Collins and the road crew in the communal Badfinger house in London's Golders Green section.
Anne Ferguson, who was Ham's girlfriend at the time of his suicide (they were having trouble making the mortgage payments on the Surrey house), tells Matovina: "I could never feel any sort of anger towards Pete, despite what he did. It could have been easier to accept his death if he was a bastard, but he was such a lovely man, and that's the thing that hurts more than anything else. He was such a genuine and beautiful soul."...
Beatle fans who marveled at the labyrinth of Fab Four business problems will be aghast at what Badfinger had to deal with. At the time of his death, Ham had fallen out with Molland, who'd left Badfinger in disgust over their convoluted contracts. Publishing, recording, royalties, touring commitments, it's complicated enough to strangle a two-headed snake. The book details the backstabbing and bloodletting that went on, even between members of the band; each of the band's contracts is detailed, and many of the pertinent papers are reproduced in the photo section.
When he killed himself, Pete Ham felt he had nowhere else to go. There are good times, too - adoration from female fans, living and rehearsing in a castle in the lush Welsh countryside, working with the Beatles, feeling like they were on top of the world - and in-depth examinations of the lyrics all four of the group members laid down, sometimes to express their innermost thoughts....
Other notables offering comments on Badfinger: Todd Rundgren, Dave Edmunds, Neil Aspinall, Chris Thomas, Derek Taylor, Richard DiLello, Al Kooper, May Pang, Geoff Emerick, Phil McDonald, original Iveys Ron Griffiths and David Jenkins, and numerous others. The creative and recording processes are detailed, and the story is told with the aid of literally hundreds of interview subjects from Los Angeles to London....
It's an intimate, revealing, cautionary tale that anyone who's interested in Badfinger, or the Beatles for that matter, will want to read. Like the best fiction, it's very hard to put down once you've become involved.
Like the best non-fiction, it's full of interesting facts and astonishing remarks
from those who were there, and those who are still there. Like so much in real
life, it'll make you wonder why people who give so much of themselves are nevertheless
dealt such miserable cards.
Garden Grove Journal
January 8, 1998
John M. Borack
On tap this week: a review of a fab new book that details the tragic story of one of the early '70's most influential pop bands Without You---The Tragic Story of Badfinger by Dan Matovina (Frances Glover Books).
While the name Badfinger might not ring an immediate bell with everyone, there's no doubt that you've probably heard at least a few of their superb tunes over the airwaves (either on oldies or classic rock stations today, or upon their original release). The poppy Come and Get It (their first smash, penned by Paul McCartney), the stately, moving Day After Day, the tough 'n' tight No Matter What and the ringing Baby Blue (all written by guitarist Pete Ham) were all worldwide chart hits. In addition, Ham and bassist Tom Evans co-wrote the unforgettable ballad Without You, which both Harry Nilsson and Mariah Carey rode into the Top 10 in 1972 and 1994, respectively.
With hit records, an international following, powerful live performances, and the backing of the Beatles' Apple Records label behind them (legend has it that John Lennon suggested the group's name), it seemed as if Badfinger had the world on a string. But sadly, as Without You---The Tragic Story of Badfinger confirms, it was not so.
Beset by woes such as a crooked business manager and a band member's meddling and manipulative wife (who comes off as very Yoko Ono-esque), Badfinger's career was virtually in shambles by 1974, a scant two years after they had been the toast of the pop world. By April 1975, the financial and emotional turmoil he was facing became too much for the sensitive and gentle Pete Ham, the band's guiding force, who hung himself at age 27. Unbelievably, eight years later, bassist Tom Evans---the man who wrote the poignant lyrics "I can't live, if living is without you/I can't live, I can't give any more"--- committed suicide in exactly the same manner as his good friend
Dan Matovina's look at the history of this doomed pop combo is certainly an engrossing read. Written in an easy to digest, almost breezy style, it delves into the inner workings of Badfinger through hundreds of interviews with family, friends, lovers and business associates of the group. Surviving members Joey Molland and Mike Gibbins also granted Matovina interviews, and while drummer Gibbins comes off as a likable chap who was basically out for a good time, Molland is portrayed as sort of the heavy (he has continued to tour under the name Badfinger over the years, even though he's the only original member left, and didn't write any of their hits!).
Without You---The Tragic Story of Badfinger succeeds on two levels; as a cautionary tale of the trappings of rock and roll, and also as a much-needed appreciation of the classic music of one of the founders of the power-pop genre (a top-notch Badfinger tribute CD was released last year, with a bunch of past and current popsters paying homage).
With a complete rundown of all of the band's recorded output, over 280 photos
and impeccable research by Matovina, Without You is a thought- provoking book
that I found difficult to put down.
January 4, 1998
Anyone with fond memories of 'Day After Day,' 'Come and Get It,' 'No Matter What' and other radio-rock classics of the early '70s would be well within their rights to wonder 'Whatever happened to Badfinger?' For a while there, the four-man group recording for the Beatles' Apple label seemed to have the Midas touch. Their rich, melodic songs breathed sweet life back into the airwaves and restored hope for a world suddenly deprived of its beloved Beatles.
Some people actually believed that Badfinger was the Beatles, or at least some of the Beatles, writing and recording with a roundtable of session musicians and cloaking themselves in pseudonyms to keep everything low-key, and to keep everybody guessing. Eventually, of course, the smoke cleared, and the solo Beatles were revealed as what they were.
And Badfinger had always been Peter Ham and Mike Gibbins, two guys from Swansea, Wales, and Tom Evans and Joey Molland, natives of Liverpool...
Dan Matovina's book takes its title, Without You, from a song co-written by Ham and Evans and first recorded by Badfinger on the classic No Dice album of 1970. A deeply emotional song of love and loss, Without You came to life in vocalist Harry Nilsson's version, which became a No. 1 single and one of the biggest hits of 1972. Mariah Carey took it back into the Top Ten in 1994.
Matovina, appalled at the lack of information available on one of his favorite bands, undertook the project as a labor of love; self-published, Without You: The Tragic Story of Badfinger is nevertheless more exhaustively researched than many big-time rock books.
The California-based author traveled numerous times to Wales and England to interview friends, lovers, business associates and acquaintances of Badfinger. Along with members of Ham's and Evans' families, Matovina talks with recording engineers, record producers, ex-Apple employees, the famous and the anonymous (all three surviving ex-Beatles, however, declined to be interviewed).
Badfinger's Gibbins and Molland help propel the story, although the latter's contributions are taken from extensive interviews done with Matovina in the '70s and '80s. Molland refused to be interviewed for the book, and in the light of the way he's painted by others (backstabbing and hypocritical), it's not all that surprising.
The tragedy of Peter Ham has resonance every time his classic songs (including Day After Day, Without You and Baby Blue) are played on the radio today - his music is still as vibrant and uplifting as it was more than 25 years ago.
Tom Evans emerges as the real victim, however. Matovina devotes several chapters to the bass-playing songwriter's slow dissolve into a depressed and self-pitying man, haunted by the suicide of his best friend and desperate to rekindle some of the old Badfinger magic. In the end, of course, he couldn't do it, and it killed him, too.
With its bitter parallels between life, art and pain, Badfinger's story could
serve as a cautionary tale for aspiring rock bands: For every breathtaking high
there's always a low just as deep.
The Riverfront Times
April 29 - May 5, 1998
To the casual pop-music fan, Badfinger is little more than a pretty song on the radio -- the one that sounds like the Beatles. It might be "Day After Day" or "No Matter What," or the Paul McCartney composed "Come And Get It." Each of those pieces qualifies as musically seductive Fab Fourplay. In fact, it's tempting to label Badfinger as cynics who, putting the accent on classic pop songs (two of them were from Liverpool), flaunted themselves as a no-Yoko late Beatles. Really they were closer to a yo-yo, with constant ups and downs, and a string attached to a tricky business deal that left their career a tangled mess. (Later that string became a rope, but I'm getting ahead of myself.) Actually, Badfinger was far from cynical -- its members were simple rock'n'rollers consumed by their art, then swallowed whole by the predatory cynicism of the music business.
Record producer and Badfinger archivist Dan Matovina traces the painful details of Badfinger's almost-rise and fatal fall. He paints main Finger Pete Ham as a brilliant songwriter and gentle soul ill-equipped to handle the mean spirit of the music industry. Ham's suicide by hanging at age 27 was more than a physical solution to his mental turmoil -- it became a tragic emblem for a band that was stopped dead in its tracks. By the time Badfinger recorded 1974's overlooked Wish You Were Here -- an album as good as Abbey Road but with an almost ingenuous sincerity the Beatles lacked -- the group's manager, Stan Polley, a man who should be more closely associated with a pitchfork than a sales pitch, had literally walked off with their money. Ham was unable to make the mortgage payments on his new house, particularly when his meager salary check didn't clear the bank. Adding insult to injury, Warner Bros. embroiled in the financial mayhem, pulled Wish You Were Here off the shelves with its giant corporate hand.
Though it was never Badfinger's goal to roll in dough, they should have been
rich, even if not famous: Harry Nilsson had a huge hit with Ham and (fellow
original member) Tommy Evans'' "Without You," and, recently, so did Mariah Carey.
Perhaps inspired by Ham 's morbid example, Evans hanged himself in 1983. Badfinger
has now been reduced to Joey Molland occasionally touring the country with hack
musicians as Badfinger (beware!) and he and fellow group survivor Mike Gibbins
trading legal punches. Without You could make for one hell of a movie, but instead
of the requisite happy ending, all it offers are two unhappy endings in the
deaths of Ham and Evans -- and a cautionary tale for anyone thinking of playing
a guitar for a living.
Without You is subtitled, "the tragic story of Badfinger," and tragic it is
indeed. While the Springfield had their problems they were nothing compared
to the daily grind and emotional roller coaster experienced by Badfinger. Perhaps
growing up in the shadow of the Beatles, signing to Apple as their first "band,"
being under constant media scrutiny and having a similar "power pop" sound as
the Fab Four was just too much to handle. But it didn't stop there. Bad management,
poor decisions, crooked agents, are just a taste of what led to broken careers
and finally two suicides. Dan Matovina has written a compelling, disturbing
history of the band, chronicling their highs and lows. You will be shaking your
head after page after page of problems piling up that lead to ultimate tragedy.
What could have been a fairy tale story of success is turned into the dark side
of the music business.
Bucketful Of Brains
Matovina's book, which is composed mostly of the reminisces of those closest
to the band at the time, is painstakingly researched and provides a thoroughly
good read. At the start of their career, and as it blossomed, there were some
high times (signing to Apple, a gem of a song gifted by Paul McCartney, American
success, appearing with George Harrison at the concert for Bangla Desh, communal
living in a castle) but even when reading about these, its impossible to blank
out the knowledge that bad times lurked just around the corner. Matovina can't
help but lay bear the traps that will lead to financial problems, limited critical
acclaim, and ultimately to the tragedy of two suicides. The 400 plus pages are
wholly valid to tell such an enthralling story.
The more rock'n'roll biographies I read -- particularly those about groups or artists from days gone by -- the more I notice that each story features a villain. There's always a person made duplicitous by greed who somehow bleeds the talented star of money and creative energy. For Buddy Holly it was manager/recording-studio owner Norman Petty. For the Beach Boys it was Murray Wilson, tyrannical father of Brian, Dennis, and Carl -- with Brian's quackpot shrink, Eugene Landy, arriving later on. In both cases, these characters attached themselves with lamprey tenacity to a talented host and proceeded to suck away all they could.
The picture Dan Matovina draws of Badfinger, the first band signed by the Beatles' Apple Records, is horrifying and sad. It includes the suicide of the group's two principal songwriters. And instead of one or even two people contriving the fall of Badfinger, the book is littered with culprits who drained away all that was healthy and thriving.
Without You is a remarkably rich, bitterly detailed account of the rise of Badfinger from their earliest incarnation as a talented Welsh bar band, to their relocation to London during the middle '60s, and their eventual lineup consolidation. Throughout, Pete Ham is shown as the driving force behind the band -- their chief songwriter and best musician. Ham was a tireless composer who would stay up all night perfecting arrangements for the rest of the group. Early on, their manager, one Bill Collins, suggests a few times that everyone in the band should be writing songs. That was the sum of his positive contributions, and from then on he appears as a foolish, ineffectual parasite, scamming girls and drugs, helping himself to an equal portion of the band's profits.
But the chief architect of Badfinger's doom is certainly Stan Polley, an American businessman who signed the band to a personal business contract to handle their finances. The outcome of this disaster is that while the band were achieving four hit songs and composing "Without You," a song that Harry Nilsson turned into a classic, Polley locked all their money in different accounts, doling out scant amounts to his charges.
Meanwhile, instead of being given time to compose and record fresh material, the band's dire finances constantly kept them touring America with no support. Ham. a fiercely loyal optimist, was eventually broken as the music he loved became commodified. In 1975, he hanged himself. In this tragedy, a marvelously talented group never got a chance to blossom into maturity.
From then on, the band's fortunes spiral downwards in Spinal Tap fashion. Events play out that would be hilarious if the shadow of death weren't hovering overhead. Bassist/vocalist Tom Evans, who co-produced "Without You" with Ham, became embroiled in battles with fellow band members (particularly guitarist Joey Molland, who comes off as a greedy, jealous asshole) and Collins over royalties due for that song. In 1983, after more fruitless tours (at one point, the band had to play nine songs on a late-night horror-movie TV show in Detroit), the alcoholic, cocaine-abusing Evans killed himself in the same manner.
To this day Molland continues to tour as Badfinger with whatever anonymous musicians he can find, further dirtying up the band's legacy with his mediocre performances.
The music industry is rife with stories of greed and betrayal, but Without
You tops them all. As rock stories go, Badfinger's tragedy sounds a warning
to aspiring artists; don't let ambition, and a lazy or arty indifference to
the business end of music, create a hell from which there is no escape.
July 3-10, 1998
There was always something deeply, ineffably sad about the music of Badfinger. Now considered to be "power pop" classics, "Baby Blue" and "Day After Day" were explicit in their ache, and even the relatively upbeat "No Matter What" had obvious underpinnings of melancholy; all that business about knocking down "the old gray walls" seemed to indicate a band trying its hardest to smile through a haze of profound despair. Consider that Badfinger's Pete Ham and Tom Evans also co-wrote "Without You," the depressive ballad that became a 1971 smash for Harry Nilsson (and again in 1994 for Mariah Carey) - and that, eight years apart, Ham and Evans both hung themselves - and Joy Division begins to sound a little like the Osmonds in comparison.
But as Dan Matovina's Without You: The Tragic Story of Badfinger reveals, things weren't always so bleak. In the beginning, Ham, Evans and Mike Gibbins were just three talented, optimistic and slightly unhip young veterans of the British beat wars who got lucky when their band, the Iveys, was discovered by Beatles aide-de-camp Mal Evans and signed to Apple. After one minor hit, 1968's melodramatic "Maybe Tomorrow," the band received a more modern moniker from Apple honcho Neil Aspinall, and the chart-topping "Come and Get It" from Paul McCartney.
Unfortunately, the Beatle connections were hardly the boon they initially seemed. In the wake of the Fab Four's acrimonious breakup, Apple became too disorganized to effectively promote new Badfinger releases, while music writers either hailed the band as "the new Beatles" or slammed them for being Beatles plagiarists. In an attempt to shake the Beatle comparisons, the band (which now included guitarist Joey Molland) too often abandoned its melodic strong suit in favor of the mundane boogie-rock then in vogue. But when Badfinger signed a multimillion-dollar deal with Warner Bros. in 1972, it seemed as if the band's best years were still ahead of them. Why, then, did a despondent Pete Ham kill himself just three years later?
The truth, as detailed in Without You, is that Ham and his cohorts were screwed by music-industry machinations so brutal and complex that the book reads more like a horror story than a rock biography. Matovina, who spent well over a decade reconstructing the sad saga through hundreds of interviews with Badfinger members and associates, lays most of the blame for the mess at the feet of inexperienced manager Bill Collins, and Stan Polley, the avaricious American manager who kept the band on starvation wages even while they were topping the charts on both sides of the Atlantic. But Ham's naiveté also contributed greatly to his own predicament; as Matovina notes, the very qualities that made Ham a stellar human being - by all accounts, he was kind, sensitive, trusting and remarkably uncynical - also made him easy prey for music-biz sharks.
Without You would be sad enough if it merely ended with Ham's suicide, but Matovina follows the remaining members of the band through eight more years of breakups, reunions, lineup changes and management rip-offs. Tom Evans seemed to have a knack for attracting shady characters, perhaps because of his propensity for signing almost any piece of paper put in front of him. (One particularly heart-rending passage of the book finds an Evans-led incarnation of Badfinger squatting in an abandoned house in Wisconsin, living off saltines and jam while waiting for agent John Cass to come through with promised bookings.) Broke and distraught, Evans took his own life in 1983, but the indignities continue to this day: Due to an ASCAP error, the songwriting credits (and royalties) for "Without You" and many other Evans and Ham compositions are now also split among Gibbins, Molland and Collins, while a large chunk of the income from the band's later efforts is currently being pocketed by Cass.
Though often profoundly depressing, Without You is a must-read for Badfinger
fans as well as anyone who still harbors illusions about the music business
as a world where creativity (or honor) comes before the bottom line. Last year
saw the release of at least one Badfinger tribute CD, but the best way for aspiring
musicians to honor the memory of Pete Ham and Tom Evans would be to study this
book. If even one band learns from Badfinger's mistakes, and thus escapes the
major-league shafting they experienced, their lives - and Matovina's work -
will not have been in vain.
Yet another invaluable Beatles-related book published in 1997 (the third of these was our own Doug Sulpy's and Ray Schweighardt's "Get Back"... unsolicited plug!). This amazingly detailed tome finally presents the unexpurgated Badfinger saga... true to the book's title, one of the most tragic tales ever to emerge from the rock 'n' roll biz. Matovina's biography is well-researched, well-illustrated and utterly absorbing reading...."Without You" should be required reading for any young wanna-be rockers... a cautionary tale to be told just before midnight on a spooky Halloween evening at the Rock & Roll Hall Of Fame....
Yeah Yeah Yeah
... Badfinger's Pete Ham hung himself only four days before his 28th birthday and one month before the birth of his daughter Petera in 1975. For most people this was the end of Badfinger. Despite what people think of Tom Evans, Joey Molland, and even Mike Gibbins, the voice of Pete Ham is the defining aspect of Badfinger's sound. Songs like "Baby Blue," "Day After Day," "Lonely You," "Dennis," "Midnight Caller," and "We're For The Dark," are what I bring to the table when it comes to recognizing why Badfinger were not your typical run-of-the-mill pop band. All of those songs were sung by Pete and it was his voice that brought the listener in deeper than usual. The only consolation fans have with such a tragedy was the fact that he was able to record a lot of his music before he died. I won't go into details but the story reads as one of the most depressing tales of unethical pop sleaze ever. Beware who you hire as your manager.
So Without You: The Tragic Story Of Badfinger by Dan Matovina is the definitive Badfinger story, and a fascinating in-depth look at the problems with being young and successful. Despite the fact that there's always conflicts with bands and their history and the way the story is told, this extremely well-documented and insanely thorough retrospective is the story every Badfinger fan must read. It's also a book every yearning rock band that wants to make it in the music biz should read. Badfinger business manager Stan Polley ranks right up there with the most evil people ever to walk the earth, really. It is that scary. The ghostly shadow prevailed over the band well into the 80's. In November of 1983 singer-bassist Tom Evans also hung himself after years of emotional stress and intense financial difficulties regarding the band's royalties.
For Badfinger freaks there's enough revelations amongst the 400-plus pages
to keep you digging back for more despite how many times you think you gave
it a thorough reading.
The Modern Dance
If you're thinking of breaking into the big time, or you have aspirations of
this, then read this book. As the subtitle says, the tragic story of Badfinger.
Never mind Badfinger, it should have been Badluck. Paul McCartney was right
behind this band, and on one or two of their tracks they do actually sound like
The Beatles (well, I think so), and yet despite a couple of hit singles, a string
of decent albums, their two principle songwriters committed suicide! Why? Well,
this book is perhaps one of the biggest and best, and I daresay the most detailed
account of a band that's been written. Loads of research has been done via family
members, friends and business associates and has led to a very intense read.
A catalogue of disaster followed a brief hiatus of fame, and looking back, much
of it could (and should) have been prevented. Plenty of piccies, but above all,
if you just get down to some serious reading, you won't be disappointed.
This exhaustively researched book gives a full picture of the band during their
peak. The word tragic shows up in descriptions of Badfinger quite a bit, but
it doesn't begin to do justice to this terrific band's sad story. This second
edition of the book cleans up a handful of minor errors and mistakes that appeared
in the text of the original version. It also includes an additional chapter
on the recent court case that involved the original members (and the estates
of two deceased members). There are also a number of photographs that didn't
appear in the original edition and a complete discography that includes the
latest reissues of the band's material.
Nevertheless, the inside look at the manipulators and sharks in the music business is a very good cautionary tale for modern musicians. Ultimately, this is a tale all too common in the music business. Although all four members of Badfinger were talented songwriters and singers, Matovina focus accurately portrays Pete Ham as the driving force behind the band. The unique chemistry of the four members was still an important factor in this fine band and Matovina doesn't sell the other members short. If there is a villain in this story it was the short sightedness of the band and the person they chose to manage them in the United States. If the band had a flaw it was its inability to look past the BS of the business and their trusting nature.
Matovina does a terrific job of drawing a full picture of all the members of the band. He manages to provide the best insight into Pete Ham (the most talented singer/songwriter in the band). Ham is a complex figure who, when under emotional distress, habitually puts out cigarettes on his hands. Ham communicates his emotions through his songs, and is a good friend to everybody but, unfortunately, no one is able to get close to Ham and help him with the enormous burden of trying to keep Badfinger together.
Matovina also manages to capture the other members of the band with the same detail. The chapters on the band's post-Ham years are both as tragic and compelling as those written about the first incarnation of Badfinger. Evans and Molland's struggle to revive the band and the indifference they faced is particularly interesting given the band's previous success.
Eventually the pressures caught up with everyone in Badfinger. Its impact was sharp and explosive for two members of the band resulting in their suicide. In many respects the aftermath of the implosion of this great band resembles a messy divorce; all the participants had their own agenda and couldn't get past their own personal issues.
The inclusion of the 71 minute CD provides a series of snapshots of the band from beginning to the very bitter end. Most of these tracks haven't been available before (with the exception of poor sounding bootlegs). We get to hear one of Pete Ham's first demos for the band along with their first official studio recording made under the supervision of the Kinks' Ray Davies. We also get to hear a number of Iveys' demos that were never performed by the band after their name change. These demos range in quality from interesting (Take Good Care Of My Baby) to terrific (She Came Out Of The Cold and a live version of Maybe Tomorrow sans the overbearing string arrangement on the original).
Included on this disc are 5 interviews with Ham and original member Tom Evans. It provides further insight that compliments the book. We get to hear (in their own words) both the highs and lows that drove the band to produce some of their most enduring work. The CD ends with one of Ham's last demo recordings (the powerful Ringside which Matovina produced for the posthumous Pete Ham solo album 7 Park Avenue) and an unreleased pair of Tom Evans demos from his brief post-Badfinger career.
Matovina provides more than one smoking gun in the book demonstrating that the forces that tore this band apart wasn't jealousy as much as the vultures in the music industry. Without You is both a powerful reminder of the evil in the music industry and the talented individuals that are victimized by these vultures.