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Reference Library: Badfinger History

From: (Yarden Uriel)
Subject: Badfinger - Today's News (long)
Date: Thu, 11 Sep 1997 04:11:29 +0400

Badfinger's Joey Molland looks back on pop tragedy
By Matthew Lewis

HARTFORD, Conn., Sept 10 (Reuter) - The surviving guitarist of ill-fated pop band Badfinger hopes a new video documentary on the respected British group will teach aspiring musicians how to avoid wrecking their careers.

"Maybe it will help some young musicians with what mistakes not to make," Liverpool native Joey Molland told Reuters in an interview.

Molland, 50, is upbeat when he looks back on Badfinger's harrowing tale of suicides and swindles. He concedes that the story was tragic but says: "I had a great time. I was very happy with the band and what we were doing. It was a bit of an ideal situation for a guy like myself, in his early 20s."

Molland was one of three primary songwriters in the group, revered by critics as one of the outstanding melodic pop bands of all time. Signed to the Beatles' Apple Records label in the late 1960s, Badfinger stormed world pop charts with hits such as "Come and Get It", "No Matter What", "Day After Day" and "Baby Blue"". After a promising start, however, Badfinger fell into an abyss of devious business dealings and litigation. Millions of royalty dollars vanished from the group's bank account in the mid-1970s and the four members were left virtually penniless.

"We've had estimates of $2 million up to $7 million (lost) but there's no real way of checking that out," Molland said. "It was four years of work, with a bunch of hit records, and all our money went into that (Badfinger Enterprises) office in New York."


Key songwriter Pete Ham committed suicide by hanging in 1975. Bassist Tom Evans did the same thing eight years later.

"It's probably the biggest rip-off in rock 'n' roll history," said Gary Katz, producer and director of the newly released documentary, "Badfinger."

The 56-minute video is to Badfinger buffs what "The Beatles Anthology" was to Fab Four fans. Katz spent three years hacking through a jungle of legal red tape to obtain the approval rights to make the film -- the first independent production ever given complete access to the Apple archives.

The documentary includes seven full-length video clips and rare footage of the young group performing on British and American television shows. There are also extensive interviews with surviving members Molland and drummer Mike Gibbins.

Badfinger's fatal mistake was ignoring the business side until it was too late, Molland said. "It was such a great time that I never really paid attention to contracts and stuff and just kind of blindly trusted the business people we had."

Molland places much of the blame on the group's American business manager, Stan Polley, a once-powerful record industry figure whose whereabouts today are unknown.

"I wish it would have been different," he said. "I wish we would have gotten involved with more honest people, more responsible people, but we didn't."

He advises young bands today to pay attention to business matters. "Read those contracts and if you don't understand things don't be embarrassed to ask an attorney."

Since Badfinger's golden era, which included headlining at Carnegie Hall and rubbing shoulders with the Beatles, Molland has found himself broke at various times and working menial jobs in order to survive.


"Thank God I had guitars and I was able to sell some of that stuff," he said. "We were flat broke, and that's happened to me three times, where my wife and I have had to sell off everything and go and stay with her parents or do whatever. I installed carpeting for a while in Los Angeles and stuff like that. You do what you've got to do to survive."

Things began to pick up after a London court settlement in 1985 in which the two surviving members and the two estates agreed to patch up their differences over royalties. Since then Molland has revived his career as a solo artist, record producer and leader of "Joey Molland's Badfinger".

The trio plays up to 80 concerts a year, he said. "About 50 percent of the show is the old Badfinger stuff and then the rest of it is divided between my solo records and new songs that we're working on now."

Molland lives in the Minneapolis suburb of Excelsior with his wife of 25 years, Kathie, and their sons Joey, 18, and Shaun, 16. He plans to release a compilation of his home demos, stretching back to 1969, by year-end.

Although Badfinger lost a fortune in its heyday, Molland said he is more or less financially comfortable these days.

"I'm not doing too bad," he said. "We're doing OK. I'm working. Of course, we lost most of the money."

Molland said Badfinger's six albums continue to sell well around the world. "I get royalties from Thailand, Afghanistan, Czechoslovakia... Badfinger records sell every day."

Yarden Uriel
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