The tragedy of Badfinger: the torment of rock n roll
Joey Molland is a British rock musician and songwriter best known as a member of the band Badfinger. The rock band formed in 1961 and were oiginally known as The Iveys. The band underwent several lineup changes before settling with Pete Ham, Tom Evans, Joey Molland, and Mike Gibbins. They were discovered by the Beatles’ Apple Records label and signed a recording contract in 1968 and changed their name to Badfinger in 1969.
Born in Liverpool, England, Molland joined Badfinger in 1969 just before the release of their breakthrough album, “Straight Up” (1971). Joey contributed guitar, vocals, and songwriting to the album, which featured hit singles like “Day After Day” and “Baby Blue.” Molland’s guitar work and harmonies played a significant role in defining Badfinger’s sound.
Badfinger was supposed to be the next Beatles
Badfinger is the most successful recording act signed to The Beatles’ label – APPLE RECORDS – and what is considered their ‘original’ lineup of PETE HAM, TOMMY EVANS, MIKE GIBBINS and JOEY MOLLAND. They interacted in various ways with each member of The Beatles, including their solo careers. Paul McCartney wrote & produced the band’s first single – “Come & Get It”. Joey & Tommy played acoustic guitars on John Lennon’s “Jealous Guy” & “I Don’t Want To Be A Soldier, Momma” on his Imagine LP. Pete & Tommy contributed backup vocals on Ringo Starr’s “It Don’t Come Easy”. The entire original Badfinger lineup contributed to George Harrison’s landmark triple-LP set, “All Things Must Pass” and the equally groundbreaking fundraising event, The Concert For Bangladesh.
The story of Badfinger is one of the saddest in rock history
Unfortunately, despite their initial success, Badfinger faced numerous challenges and tragedies. They experienced financial issues and disputes with their management, which led to strained relationships within the band. Pete Ham, one of the founding members, tragically took his own life in 1975, followed by Tom Evans, another key member, in 1983.
After the dissolution of Badfinger in the early 1980s, Joey Molland continued his music career as a solo artist and also collaborated with other musicians. He released several solo albums, including “After the Pearl” (1983), “This Way Up” (2001), and “Return to Memphis” (2013).
"Without You" Harry Nilsson
In the years following Badfinger’s disbandment, the band’s music gained a cult following, and their songs were recognised for their melodic hooks and heartfelt lyrics. “Without You,” a song written by Pete Ham and Tom Evans, became a massive hit for Harry Nilsson in 1971 and was later covered by Mariah Carey, further cementing Badfinger’s songwriting legacy.
Molland's first album of new material in a decade
Joey Molland has continued to perform Badfinger’s music and honour the band’s legacy. He has participated in various reunions and tribute concerts dedicated to Badfinger’s music and his work with Badfinger remains influential to this day. His latest album – his first in 10 years – is Be True To Yourself, a tour de force pop album . It is filled with delicious pop hooks and features musical contributions from Joey’s friends (Julian Lennon, Micky Dolenz, Jason Scheff and Steve Holley). With front and back cover photography by Julian Lennon, this album is a feast for the eyes and ears! Definitely worth checking out Be True to Yourself by Joey Molland.
Hear the story from the 'horse's mouth'
I caught up with Joey Molland from his home in Minnesota where he lives with his partner, writing and producing new music and running several antique stores. Joey has been able to find resilience in the face of tragedy and is still dedicated to his craft. To learn more check out Dan Matovina’s book Without You: The Tragic Story of Badfinger here