Badfinger, a British rock band best known for their smash hits of the early 1970s, was an extremely talented but star-crossed group. Pete Ham and Tom Evans were the band’s chief and most successful songwriters during the group’s glory years of 1970-74, including their spectacular run of five consecutive hit singles during the period of 1970-1972. Ham and Evans, joined originally by Ron Griffiths and Mike Gibbins, and soon after, Joey Molland, were jump-started with a cover of Paul McCartney’s catchy sing-along, Come And Get It, followed by Ham’s powerpop classics No Matter What, Day After Day, and Baby Blue. Ham and Evans’ song, Without You became a worldwide #1 hit cover version by Harry Nilsson in 1972. Over the past forty-plus years, it has become a major ballad standard. On POBA, you can hear the early demos of Without You, from which a verse of a Ham’s demo had been combined by Pete with a chorus from an Evans’s demo in a true moment of inspiration in the Fall of 1969.
Badfinger became the first group signed to the Beatles’ record label, Apple, in 1968, under their early moniker, The Iveys. In 1969, they were asked to perform much of the soundtrack music for the film The Magic Christian which featured Peter Seller, Ringo Starr and a cavalcade of other well-known movie stars. Besides Come And Get It, the newly-christened Badfinger wrote music for the iconic scene in which Sellers’ character comes across a homeless man in the park, whom Sellers would groom to be his apparent son – as played by the one and only Ringo Starr. Over this scene played Evans and Ham’s composition, Carry On Till Tomorrow. On POBA you can hear Badfinger’s previously unreleased original demo, which was presented to Paul McCartney, for which Paul then produced a fully orchestrated version for the film. Accompanying this demo is a painting by Tom Evans which seems to reflect the song’s storyline of a lonesome figure reflecting on his life, yet determined to “carry on” through a “stormy day, ” motivated by optimism and peacefulness of the “rising” and “setting” suns.
Pete Ham often drew sketches, creating “brushed” pencil figures or shapes with charcoal or thick-lined felt pens to illustrate his many moods and creative thoughts. While a majority have been lost or destroyed over the years, thankfully, some of the surviving artworks are three sketches we’ve showcased on this site.
Ham’s pencil sketch, titled Peace Globe, reflects the mood of his classic composition Perfection, his ode for all of us to try and get along without the wars and killing. “Successful conversations will get you very far,” he sings. You can hear his first demo of Perfection, which was created in late 1970, after Ham first observed the great poverty, social unrest and ongoing turmoil in the United States while his band was travelling on a cross-country tour in a rented Greyhound Bus.
Pete’s pencil sketch represented on POBA, The Sad Clown, ties in well with Clown Of The Party, a demo that was performed by his band, The Iveys. This song was key in getting The Beatles to sign his group to Apple Publishing. The lyrics reflect the silly, make-everybody-smile nature of Pete, who would often erupt into a fun-filled jokester to entertain his closest friends. But inside, as he states in the song, he was sometimes a deeply introspective man who hid an often-troubled mind and sensitive heart – “He’s so sad at being treated as a joke, in his heart he wants to cry,” he sings.
We also have Pete’s sketch of a man with a distant look of resolve. Titled When Life Becomes Old, it ties in with Ham’s soulful home demo of Where Will You Be – “When the days are so long, I hear the devil calling me…”
Pete Ham passed way by taking his life on April 24, 1975, at age 27. Tom Evans, who never got over his dear friend’s death, took his own life, on November 19, 1983.