Reference Library: Badfinger's Mike Gibbins
From: ccs <email@example.com>
Subject: Badfinger's Mike Gibbins
Date: Saturday, November 14, 1998 7:10 PM
Badfinger's Mike Gibbons
With their harmonic, well-crafted, catchy pop tunes, many people
associated Badfinger with The Beatles. It's understandable
considering they were of the same era (more of the later half of it).
They were inspired by The Beatles, and they worked with
The Beatles. But though Paul McCartney wrote one of Badfinger's biggest
hits, Come and Get It, and George Harrison began
producing their album Straight Up in 1971, Badfinger strongly made and
left their mark in the history of music with the strength
of their own original talents. When songs possess true staying power and
stand the test of time, that is a direct reflection on the
abilities of the band.
I recently had the opportunity to speak to one of the original members
Badfinger, drummer Mike Gibbons. Mike is now living in Florida and
recently released his first solo album, A Place In Time (Forbidden
Records). He is currently working on his next album in his own studio,
be released soon, also on Forbidden Records. In light of Mike's solo
pursuits and the renewed interest in Badfinger - VH-1 is doing a "Behind
The Music" feature on Badfinger and there is a movie in the works about
the band, to be directed by Barry Levinson - SoundCheck took some time
with Mike Gibbons to discuss his music and to talk a bit about this
For those unfamiliar with Badfinger, they formed in Wales in the
mid-'60s originally under the name The Iveys. In 1967 an
Iveys demo got into the hands of Paul McCartney, John Lennon, George
Harrison, and Derek Taylor, which led into the band
getting signed by Apple Records. Consisting of Peter Ham, Joey Molland,
Tom Evans, and Mike Gibbons, the band as
Badfinger eventually went on to produce several hit songs including the
aforementioned Come and Get It, No Matter What,
Baby Blue, and Day After Day - to name just a few.
Unfortunately typical in the music business, Badfinger eventually fell
apart due for the most to the "business" - mismanagement
caused a lawsuit between the band and Warner Brothers, which led to the
break-up of Badfinger. Sadly, that led to the suicide
of founding member Peter Ham; and less than ten years later Tom Evans
also committed suicide. Though the band's history is
marked with these events, Mike Gibbons is quick to defend the days with
Badfinger, stressing there were many, many great
times with the band. Badfinger was not about lawsuits and bad business
deals and suicides, Badfinger was about well-crafted,
enjoyable, solid songs that continue to entertain people of all ages to
SoundCheck: Thank you very much for taking the time to speak with me -
it's a privilege. I would like to talk with you first
about your solo album [A Place In Time] and I understand you are working
on a new album as well, right?
Mike Gibbons: Yeah, it's almost done.
SC: I noticed on there that you played piano and keyboards, in addition
to drums. Was this something new or have you always
MG: Yeah, I've always dabbled in it. It's the easiest medium to write on
SC: I'm sure easier than writing with drums! What was the first
instrument you picked up when you were growing up? Was it
drums or did you start with piano?
MG: Yeah, my dad bought me a drum kit when I was about 14; and that was
SC: Now you wrote the songs on A Place In Time and I know you did a
little writing with Badfinger, was that something else
you also did when you were a teenager - as far as songwriting goes?
MG: Well, not really - everybody in those days joined the band just to
get the girls! [Laughs] You didn't have to be a very
good musician; you owned the equipment, you were in the band. It was
just juvenile good fun.
SC: But obviously to go and play the drums - or at least to choose that
instrument and play, you must have been inspired
musically in some way.
MG: Oh yeah. When I was about 14, The Beatles were huge and the Stones
were getting huge, it was a big British buzz going
on, wasn't it. You see all the girls screaming and running after The
Beatles and you go "Oh I want to do this!" That's easy. So
everybody and their brother got the same haircut and even the same
equipment. It was just fun. It wasn't like a business, it was
SC: Now your son, Owin, he's going to be playing guitar on your next
MG: We're starting to record him right now. In fact, I've been playing
the drums for him and my back is aching! He plays the
good stuff, you know? The
SC: Did you give him any advice when he realized he wanted to get into
music - based on what you had been through?
MG: No, I did not - all I did was give him an acoustic guitar when he
was about ten. Either way, because I think the music
business is one of the
toughest ones; and I know a lot of great musicians that are penniless. .
. including me! I wouldn't advise anybody one way or
the other. I think you
either want to do it or you don't. It takes a certain kind of person to
stay with it.
SC: I'm sure you are probably anxious to talk about your new stuff and
your new album coming out. Is the next one going to be
similar to A Place In Time sound-wise?
MG: No, it's a little bit different. I did A Place In Time on one
8-track ADAT in a shoebox of a studio. In fact, I wasn't
recording the stuff just to put out, even though it's recorded, but to
make demos for other people to do and sing. Then my
buddies and Forbidden [Records] and everything, said man, they're good
enough to put out; and I said, "really? You're kidding
me!" But yeah, I've got a handle on that production side of it now and
the new stuff is more stripped down and not too heavy
on the keyboards. It rocks.
SC: Would you consider it rock pop type of music?
MG: It's a bit of everything. It rocks a bit more than A Place In Time.
That album was like a bunch of crap out of my head, you
know, over the years. I had all that shit going on in my head and it's
out now so I got room to do some better stuff!
SC: So, VH-1 is doing a "Behind The Music" documentary about Badfinger
and Dan Matovina's biography ["Without You:
The Tragic Story Of Badfinger"] is going to be made into a movie,
directed by Barry Levinson?
MG: Yeah, I talked to the guy who is going to do that movie out of
Studio City in L.A., but the book is just the book. The
book will assist it, but it's not going to have anything to do with the
book really. He wants it from the horse's mouth kind of
story. But some of that stuff in that book - I haven't read it, I've
read bits of it - and the only thing that's right in the book is the
quotes of people that were there. He did a pretty good job, so I hear,
but he got into the money side of it and that's all wrong.
He didn't know anything there. It's all painted as a tragedy and it
wasn't, really. I mean, six, seven, eight albums and people
loved it, and it was great. It's not all bad news. But he turned that
book into like a squabble over money and things and it wasn't
like that. When you're in litigation you're not squabbling. It's not a
squabble. You can't get the money without going through that
process. It's lawyers and things. It's not like we were fighting with
SC: You all got along.
MG: Right. It's ridiculous. The book - so I heard - makes it look like
we were a bunch of rats in a sinking ship and somebody's
getting the last morsel of cheese.
SC: I guess because the subtitle of the book is "A Tragic Story" right
away that puts a negative connotation on it that people
think that. But he probably did that just to sell - I hate to say that,
I don't know him - but maybe he thought if people see "A
Tragic Story" they'll pick it up and read what the
"tragic story" is. But like you say, it wasn't all tragic. There were
good times and good things.
MG: I mean, really he kept the bad
memories and most of them were really good. I mean, nobody can play God;
if somebody wants to take themself out,
what can he do? It happens every
day not just in rock and roll.
SC: Actually, when I was preparing
for this interview, in light of all that and
what I read, I wanted to ask you,
too, of your experiences in the past with
Badfinger what you felt was the
best and the happiest - just to put more of a
positive turn on all that.
MG: Oh yeah. We had great times.
Like you said, meeting The Beatles and all
that - actually playing with a
couple of them. We did the Bangladesh concert
with George [Harrison] and Eric
Clapton and all those guys. That was the very
first, ever, benefit concert for
something. It was magical. I mean a lot of good
stuff went down with the band. We
did a lot of traveling and had a lot of good
fun. Nobody could party like us!
Like you said, a lot of good stuff; people
don't realize that. They dwell, on
the bad shit all the time. Even the movie -
without the tragic stuff there
wouldn't really be a movie. You got The Beatles,
the band, and then what went down, and a few of this and a few of that.
It's like a paradox. There wouldn't be a book. There
wouldn't be a movie.
SC: Are you going to have say or contact with either of these projects?
MG: Yeah, oh yeah, on the movie side of it, I'll be consulting for that.
So that will take me around the world a little bit. VH-1, I
guess they'd have to do the same deal. They don't come to you, do they?
You go to them, I think. I don't know. I don't know
how it works.
SC: What did you do in between Badfinger and A Place In Time, musically?
MG: I did a few things - Bonnie Tyler - we did that song It's A
Heartache. I did that and her album. It went double Platinum, I
think; and I toured Germany with her. Then another Australian country
and western singer - Digbe Richards. I was doing
session work basically. I did an album with a guy called David Tipton. I
did a bunch of stuff, I can't remember half of it. But
mostly I had started another family! I had two more boys. An eleven year
old and a nine year old. I do the baseball and all that
stuff. The "Average Joe." I don't like playing out much, so I've got my
little studio there and keep on writing. It keeps me off the
streets - and out of the
SC: Well that's good!
MG: I don't know - it's not good! When I build my new studio I'm going
to build a bar inside of it.
SC: Oh then you'll have it all in one place.
MG: That's right! I bought a couple of acres down in the corner here and
I'm going to build a house on it with a barn and put
the studio in the barn. Right now you can't swing a dead cat in my
An album of Badfinger's, that never got released, entitled Head First
now may be finally released as The Last Sessions, this
may include some bonus tracks as well. At this point Mike and I discuss
it a bit, though at print time the final details were not
yet ready to be released to print.
MG: It was the last thing Pete Ham did. Joey Molland had already left
the band at that time. So it was just the three original
members and Bob Jackson. That might very well come into fruition. I've
got to do some homework first. Make sure I don't
step on anybody's toes. I'm tired of litigation, you know? I'm still
doing it with Joey Molland.
SC: That's a shame.
MG: I know. I've never sued anybody in my entire life - but I've been
sued so many times.
SC: That's a story right there. There have been so many musicians that
have been through that or still go through that that you
hear all the time.
MG: Don't sign nothing guys. Don't be shy. Don't sign anything until
you've had it thoroughly reviewed. Because the large print
giveth and the small print taketh it away!
SC: A while back you guys [Badfinger] worked with George Harrison and
Todd Rundgren, are you still in touch with any of
those guys at all?
MG: Not really. Well, I saw Todd play locally not long ago. He had his
gigantic Kaoroke set up on stage. So I went backstage
and had a little chin
wag with him. He's funny. He's a good man. He helped us out tremendously
as a producer. As much as people in the band
didn't like him - Joey didn't like him, Pete didn't really like his
input. I thought he was brilliant.
SC: Really? But did they like the final results?
MG: I think so, yeah. I think they were just a little bit blown away
with him - because he was too cool. He's done well for
SC: And George Harrison? Do you ever see him around?
MG: George is a bit of a recluse, isn't he.
SC: That's true.
MG: I was at Apple [Records] - before I went to Amsterdam, when I was
London - I went in there for an hour or two and it
was nice to be in there.
SC: It must have been nice! So you have good memories there, too.
MG: I miss London sometimes. It's like New York, there's a buzz going
on. It was cool.
SC: Speaking of a buzz in London, is there anything musically that you
like out there, that you do listen to?
MG: Not really. I don't really pay attention.
SC: You just do your own thing?
MG: Yeah. I'm a freak when it comes to music. I'll play anything. Don't
get me wrong - I love a lot of music. Offhand, I can't
tell you what.
SC: Just curious if you had any opinions of what is going on out there
now. It doesn't really matter because a lot of what's going
on now is stuff that went on in the past anyway, it just comes back
MG: It's revamped. I think there's a bit of a brainlock going on with
music. Oh, I don't know what that means. . . but people
remix something, they rehash things. I'm all rapped out, you know?
SC: Brainlock is a good word, because if they don't do anything new and
creative, they just take from the old and you just
always hear those
MG: I think the music business plays it safe. If you're not in the
modern flavor-of-the-month bracket, you haven't got a chance.
I'm lucky with my music because I don't really give a crap. I know I've
got at least a couple of thousand of old-fashioned guys
like me that are Badfinger freaks and they like my style of writing, so
I'm guaranteed a little market. I'm not out to rule the
SC: You're just doing what you enjoy.
MG: Yeah. I'm just doing it for me and then if people like it, then
great. It's good therapy for me. You've got to get it off your
chest. I've got to
hit those drums or I'll go mad! [Laughter]
SC: Your outlook is great, considering what you've been through. It's
inspiring for people to read this, you know with all the
ups and downs, and...
MG: I don't want to bring anybody down.
SC: You've gone through ups and downs and you keep going and you're
still doing what you love, still putting out music. The
past is behind you but
you're not completely discarding it. You appreciate what happened and go
on - I think that's great.
MG: Well, thank you.
by Debbie Catalano
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