Badfinger: Tom Evans, Mike Gibbins, Joey Molland, and Pete Ham


Signed to Apple with direct hands-on help from all of the Beatles, particularly Paul (who gave them  “Come and Get It”) and George (who co-produced their 3rd album), Badfinger was ‘on top of the world’ by the early 1970s. Ten years later, two members of the band were dead to suicide and the millions from their hit singles and albums tied up in litigation. Scott Schinder chronicles the pop music cautionary tale while also celebrating the band’s musical legacy.

In the early hours of April 24, 1975, 27-year-old Pete Ham hanged himself in his garage recording studio. Later that morning, his body was cut down by his bandmate Tom Evans.

Just a few years earlier, as members of the British quartet Badfinger, Ham and Evans shared what looked like an unimaginably promising future. Badfinger had been protégés of the Beatles, who made them the first signing to their Apple label. Badfinger had made the most of the opportunity, releasing a series of irresistibly melodic hit singles that led many to proclaim the foursome to be destined for Fab Four-level greatness.

But it didn’t take long for the eager young quartet’s bright prospects to turn unimaginably dark, sending the band into a bleak, bottomless abyss from which Ham and Evans would never escape. In less than five years, Badfinger, which had been responsible for some of the era’s most upbeat, hopeful music, was plunged into a financially and emotionally devastating nightmare that would end up claiming Ham’s life, as well as that of Evans, who would duplicate his friend’s tragic exit eight years later.

Peter William Ham was born on April 27, 1947, the youngest of three siblings, in Swansea, Wales. Swansea’s importance as a port city and industrial center had made it an attractive bombing target during World War II, and many of the buildings in Swansea’s city center had been destroyed during the Nazis’ three-night Blitz in February 1941. The city was still in the process of rebuilding while Pete was growing up in Swansea’s Townhill district, at the time one of the working-class town’s roughest areas.

Pete passionately embraced music early in life, learning to play harmonica at the age of four and receiving his first guitar as a Christmas gift when he was 12. Even then, he showed an uncommon dedication, teaching himself the rudiments of guitar. He soon formed an instrumental combo called the Panthers, quickly emerging as an adept guitarist and disciplined bandleader.

In the late ’50s and early ’60s, Swansea spawned an array of young jazz and blues outfits, including one that featured Pete’s brother John on trumpet. But Pete was firmly committed to rock ‘n’ roll. The Beatles’ rise to prominence gave him an impetus to expand the Panthers’ all-instrumental repertoire to include vocals.

After leaving school at 14, Pete took on a series of labor-intensive day jobs, many of them in Swansea’s busy dock area. His natural facility with electronics—which won him a post as an apprentice electrical engineer at his brother John’s TV/radio repair shop—enabled him to build homemade amps and a P.A. system for his fledgling combo.

Badfinger – via Creative Commons

In 1964, the Panthers changed their name to the Black Velvets, then to the Wild Ones and finally to the Iveys. By then, they’d grown popular enough to play regular gigs in local youth clubs, ballrooms and pubs, gaining valuable stage experience if not much money. The additions of bassist Ron Griffiths in 1964 and drummer Mike Gibbins in 1965 helped the Iveys to achieve new levels of musical proficiency and professional presentation.

By this point, the Iveys’ hometown had a sizable scene of Beatles-inspired beat groups. But most of the city’s musical talent would go unheard outside of Swansea, due to a lack of attention from the British music industry, which was centered in faraway London. With no viable path to a serious career, most of Swansea’s bands were content to remain semi-professional. But the Iveys—now comprised of Ham, Gibbins, Griffiths and guitarist David “Dai” Jenkins—had bigger goals, thanks largely to Pete’s ambition and focus.

In 1966, a lifeline to the outside world appeared in the person of an Englishman named Bill Collins. Already in his 50s, Collins had played piano in dance bands in the 1940s, and more recently had briefly road-managed the Kinks. Recognizing the Iveys’ talent and potential, he signed them to a management deal and moved them to London, where he installed them in a house that he rented in the suburb of Golders Green. There, they shared the overcrowded space with the Mojos, another group that Collins managed which included his son Lewis Collins, later a noted TV actor.

Although Bill Collins was more of a dreamer than a dealmaker, his interest in the Iveys was genuine. One of his most significant contributions was his insistence that the band start writing original material, rather than relying upon the R&B and rock ‘n’ roll covers that still dominated their live sets. Pete, who had already taken some tentative early stabs at songwriting, took Collins’ urgings to heart and embraced the challenge. He quickly emerged as a prolific tunesmith, coming up with new songs on an almost daily basis and cutting rough demos of his compositions on the two-track tape machine in the house’s makeshift studio.

Pete was friendly, personable and well liked by virtually everyone who knew him. His unassuming manner led others to feel comfortable confiding in him and seeking his advice. His general discomfort expressing his deepest emotions influenced him to turn to songwriting as an outlet. Pete was also a trusting, innocent soul, and that personality trait would eventually cost him dearly.

The Iveys’ move to London allowed the band to be closer to the British music business, and to begin to make a name for themselves performing in the city’s hipper clubs. Collins helped them to get a gig as backup band for pop singer David Garrick; that association lasted for a few months, until Garrick fired the Iveys when their opening sets began attracting a bit too much attention from audiences.

Another inhabitant of Bill Collins’ house was Dave Duffield, the Kinks’ road manager. It was through Duffield that the Iveys met the Kinks’ leader Ray Davies, who took a liking to Pete and expressed interest in producing the foursome. In January 1967, Davies took the Iveys into the studio to record demos of three of their original tunes. Soon after, the band did another demo session for CBS Records, although the label declined to sign them.

The Iveys struggled to keep their heads above water, barely scraping by on their meager gig receipts and the small weekly stipend that Collins paid them. But Pete remained optimistic that the band would achieve success. One indication of the band’s increasing seriousness was the decision to fire guitarist Dai Jenkins, who showed more interest in London’s nightlife than he did in the Iveys’ musical progress.

Jenkins’ replacement was Tom Evans, born in Liverpool on June 5, 1947. Pete had seen Evans perform with his band Them Calderstones, a Mod outfit that specialized in Motown and soul covers. Evans had originally embraced rock ‘n’ roll after seeing the pre-stardom Beatles perform at the now-legendary Cavern club in Liverpool. Tommy’s abiding love for the Everly Brothers manifested itself in his facility for vocal harmony. Evans’ singing and songwriting abilities added considerably to the Iveys’ creative arsenal, allowing them to expand their songbook and develop the harmonies that would become an integral element of their sound.

Evans possessed a mercurial personality that contrasted with Pete’s even-keeled approach. Tommy could fill a room with his presence, or become withdrawn and uncommunicative, and he was quick to make it known if he wasn’t happy. Despite their divergent temperaments, Pete and Tom shared a common musical sensibility, and the two quickly became fast friends and enthusiastic collaborators.

Badfinger – via Creative Commons

In January 1968, Bill Collins invited the Beatles’ longtime personal assistant Mal Evans, along with Apple Records A&R head Peter Asher, to see the Iveys play at London’s Marquee Club. Impressed, Evans passed copies of the Iveys’ demo tape to John, Paul, George and Ringo, ultimately gaining all four Beatles’ approval to sign the band to Apple. On July 23, 1968, the Iveys became Apple’s first non-Beatles singing, with each member also signing contracts with Apple’s publishing company.

In November 1968, Apple released the Iveys’ first single, the bittersweet Evans-penned ballad “Maybe Tomorrow,” lushly produced by Tony Visconti.

The song reached the Top 10 in several European countries but, despite some BBC airplay and a promotional push in America, it stalled at Number 67 in the U.S. and failed to chart altogether in Britain. As a result, the Iveys’ debut album, also titled Maybe Tomorrow, was released only in Germany, Italy and Japan, where the debut single had performed well, and where Griffiths’ “Dear Angie” was released as a follow-up.

The failure of “Maybe Tomorrow” in the U.S. and U.K. hit the Iveys hard, and Apple’s organizational problems created an additional level that frustrated the band’s efforts to come up with a new single. In an interview in Disc & Music Echo magazine, bassist Ron Griffiths complained about Apple neglecting the Iveys. His potentially provocative comments proved to be a blessing when Paul McCartney read the piece, and responded by offering the band “Come And Get It,” an infectious new tune he’d written for the soundtrack of the upcoming Ringo Starr/Peter Sellers film The Magic Christian.

With McCartney producing and coaching the band to duplicate his original demo, the Iveys cut “Come and Get It” in an hour, with Tom Evans providing an appropriately Beatlesque lead vocal. McCartney was so pleased with the results that he turned the job of recording two more new songs for The Magic Christian—a task for which he had originally signed on—over to the Iveys. McCartney served as producer of those tracks, the Ham/Evans collaborations “Carry On Till Tomorrow” and “Rock of All Ages,” with Beatles producer George Martin providing string arrangements.

Soon after recording “Come and Get It,” the Iveys changed their name to Badfinger. The new moniker was suggested by Beatles staffer Neil Aspinall, who borrowed it from “Bad Finger Boogie,” a working title that John Lennon had used for the song that became “With A Little Help from My Friends.”

Another change came with the departure of Ron Griffiths in October 1969. As the only married occupant of the group’s communal London home, and the father of a ten-month-old child, Griffiths’ family responsibilities sparked conflict between him and Evans, who questioned his level of dedication to the band. When the remaining members had difficulty finding a suitable bassist to replace Griffiths, Evans offered to switch from guitar to bass to widen their options.

The vacancy was filled by another Liverpool native, Joey Molland, whose guitar, vocal and songwriting skills were well matched to those of Ham and Evans. Like Evans, Molland had seen the Beatles perform in their early days, and had come of age on Liverpool’s booming beat-group scene. By the time he joined Badfinger, Molland had accumulated a good deal of professional experience, having played with such acts as the Merseys, the Masterminds and Gary Walker & the Rain.

Upon its release in December 1969 in Britain and January 1970 in the U.S., “Come and Get It” lived up to McCartney’s prediction and became a worldwide Top Ten hit. It also became the centerpiece of the first official Badfinger album, Magic Christian Music, which combined the three McCartney-produced film songs with seven remixed Iveys tracks.

Having the Beatles as their mentors led to predictable comparisons from the press. It also inspired some fans, in the wake of the Beatles’ spring 1970 breakup, to speculate that Badfinger was actually the disbanded Fab Four secretly recording under a pseudonym. That talk subsided when Badfinger launched their first American tour that September and began appearing on various television programs.

Badfinger further established their own credentials with the release of their second album No Dice, in November 1970. Co-produced by Mal Evans and Beatles engineer Geoff Emerick, No Dice yielded the massively catchy “No Matter What,” written and sung by Ham, which became a Top 10 hit in America and Britain, along with harder-edged tunes such as Ham’s “I Can’t Take It” and the Evans/Molland co-write “Better Days.”

Despite Apple Records’ rapidly unraveling business situation, No Dice was a hit, reaching the U.S. Top 30, and winning positive reviews and substantial radio airplay.

No Dice also featured the heartbreaking Ham/Evans ballad “Without You,” which would become a Number One smash for Harry Nilsson—who initially thought that it was a Beatles song—in 1972, and a worldwide hit for Mariah Carey in 1994.

Badfinger continued its hot streak with 1971’s Straight Up, whose production is credited to George Harrison, Todd Rundgren and Geoff Emerick. The band had initially recorded an album’s worth of material with Emerick, but Apple rejected the results as insufficiently commercial, and the band returned to the studio with new producer Harrison, who shared Ham’s vision of Badfinger making a more mature, ambitious work in the vein of the Beatles’ then-recent Abbey Road.

But Harrison was busy planning his all-star Concert for Bangladesh benefit shows—in which Badfinger would participate—and dropped out of Straight Up after completing four songs and playing the distinctive slide guitar hook on Ham’s “Day After Day.” The album was completed with Rundgren, who recorded some new tracks with the band, mixed the tapes from the Harrison sessions and recut some of the material that the band had recorded with Emerick.

The extra effort proved worthwhile, and Straight Up, released in December 1971, continued Badfinger’s success, although some critics expressed reservations about the album’s softer, less rocking sound. Straight Up spawned a pair of Ham-penned American hits in “Day After Day” and “Baby Blue,” although Apple’s business problems kept the latter from being released as a single in the U.K. Like “No Matter What,” both songs carried an unmistakable sense of bittersweet melancholy, giving them an emotional depth that transcended their ostensible status as fluffy pop-rock tunes.

Being taken under the Beatles’ wing had the added benefit of allowing Badfinger to collaborate with their bigger-than-life labelmates. Ham, Evans, Molland and Gibbins all played on George Harrison’s 1970 solo debut All Things Must Pass, while Ham and Evans provided backing vocals on Ringo Starr’s 1971 hit “It Don’t Come Easy,” and Evans and Molland performed on John Lennon’s album Imagine the same year.

By all indications, Badfinger was on top of the world, with substantial commercial momentum, audience goodwill and respect from their peers. But such success tends to make naive, inexperienced musicians into inviting targets for unscrupulous industry sharks.

In November 1970, the band and Bill Collins, understandably concerned over the disorganization that prevailed at Apple, had handed Badfinger’s business affairs over to New York-based business manager Stan Polley. At first, Polley seemed like the sort of shrewd, well-connected wheeler-dealer that Badfinger needed to secure its future. But his involvement would ultimately seal the band’s doom.

Polley was a slick, charming operator who’d served in the U.S. Army and worked in New York’s garment industry, before entering the music business in the mid-’60s. He’d made his initial mark managing Lou “Lightning Strikes” Christie, and later oversaw the careers of such prominent figures as Al Kooper, veteran producer Hank Medress, Four Seasons arranger Charlie Calello, hit tunesmith Sandy Linzer and WABC radio disc jockey Bob Lewis.

But Polley was no ordinary showbiz sharpie. Although many details remain unclear, it was widely alleged that he had been a “bagman” for the Mafia. According to a subsequent New York Times investigation, Polley was named during Senate investigation hearings in 1971 as an intermediary between unnamed organized-crime figures and a corrupt New York Supreme Court judge.

Mike Gibbins, Tom Evans, Joey Molland, and Pete Ham –  via Creative Commons

By the time Badfinger hired Polley—without having a lawyer look at the contract that he offered—some of his other clients had already come to suspect that Polley was mishandling their finances. The publicity from the Senate hearings later caused several of Polley’s clients to sever their ties with him, although it’s unclear if Badfinger or Bill Collins were aware of this at the time.

Upon signing on with Badfinger in November 1970, Polley reorganized the band’s finances, forming a company called Badfinger Enterprises Inc. while creating a series of shell companies and private corporations, into which much of the band’s fortune would soon vanish. He signed the members to various contracts that directed their touring, recording and publishing income into holding companies that he controlled. Polley, meanwhile, paid the band members individual salaries, which the musicians—who by now were locked into an exhausting cycle of near-constant touring and recording—complained were paltry in relation to the actual earnings that they were generating.

With the chaotic Apple organization now on the verge of collapse and one album still remaining on Badfinger’s Apple contract, Polley negotiated lucrative new recording and publishing arrangements with Warner Bros. Records. On paper, these deals were worth millions of dollars, seemingly confirming Polley’s promises that he’d made the band members millionaires. But most of the funds from their Warner Bros. contracts would never reach the band, thanks to Polley’s convoluted machinations.

Badfinger fulfilled its commitment to Apple with the 1973 release Ass. Todd Rundgren was initially hired to produce, but quickly dropped out of the project, which the band completed with producer Chris Thomas. Despite a few memorable songs—e.g. Ham’s “Apple of My Eye,” which reflected his mixed feelings about leaving the label—the album was a musical and commercial disappointment. Ass‘s Tom Evans-devised cover—depicting a jackass gazing longingly at a giant carrot off in the distance—offered a grim omen of Badfinger’s future.

Their new Warner Bros. contract called for Badfinger to deliver a new album every six months. So, only six weeks after finishing Ass, the band returned to the studio with Chris Thomas to record their Warner debut, which would be released in 1974 as Badfinger (the band had originally wanted to title it For Love or Money). With the quartet short on material, many of the eponymous album’s songs were written under pressure in the studio.

Meanwhile, Stan Polley forced a battle between Apple and Warner Bros. over Badfinger’s song publishing, causing the substantial royalty payments for the band’s hits (and for Nilsson’s cover of “Without You”) to be tied in a legal knot that would take years to untangle. With the release of Ass delayed by Polley’s wrangling with Apple, Ass and Badfinger ended up being released almost simultaneously, virtually guaranteeing that neither album would find a large audience.

With their Warner Bros. debut a commercial and critical bust, and yet another album deadline looming, Badfinger returned to the studio in early 1974. Despite its rushed birth cycle, the resulting Wish You Were Here was a meticulously constructed mini-masterpiece. In later years, many fans would name it as Badfinger’s best album.

Boasting such memorable tunes as Ham’s “Just A Chance” and “Dennis,” the Chris Thomas-produced Wish You Were Here should have been a triumphant comeback for Badfinger. But it was never given the chance to revive the band’s increasingly moribund career.

At around the time of its release, the details of Polley’s complex financial schemes began to surface. The Warner Bros. contract called for the group’s advances to be paid into an escrow account, but after the company’s publishing division was unsuccessful in locating hundreds of thousands of dollars in advances that the company had deposited into the account, it filed a lawsuit against Polley. As collateral damage of the dispute, the label withdrew Wish You Were Here from the market just seven weeks after it was released.

A frustrated Joey Molland, whose inquiries to Polley regarding payment had gone unanswered, quit Badfinger in November 1974. By that point, Ham, Evans and Gibbins had already each resigned at various times over the previous two years, but had all been persuaded to return.

Molland’s departure, and the fact that Wish You Were Here had been pulled from record-store shelves, didn’t stop the band (which now included new keyboardist/guitarist Bob Jackson) from rushing into the studio in early 1975 to record yet another haphazardly-assembled album, Head First. At around the same time, the band members’ modest salary checks stopped arriving.

The band had been pressured into recording Head First after Polley, realizing that litigation from Warner Bros. was looming, theorized that having a new album in the can would give him leverage in negotiating with the label, and would allow him to extract another advance. The strategy backfired, and Warner declined to release—or pay for—Head First.

Head First contained a pair of scathing Tom Evans compositions, “Hey Mr. Manager” and “Rock ‘n’ Roll Contract,” that offered his bitter assessment of Stan Polley’s handling of the band’s affairs. Evans’ protests would go unheard by the public until 2000, when demand from fans resulted in an early rough mix of Head First being released.

The withdrawal of Wish You Were Here and the non-release of Head First were devastating blows for Badfinger, sapping what little remained of their morale and momentum. Prospective new managers and booking agents were leery of working with the band, due to the restrictive contracts that they had entered into with Polley, and the Warner lawsuit and the Apple publishing dispute that continued to hang over the band’s heads. In addition to stopping Badfinger’s career dead in its tracks, the legal conflicts cut off the musicians’ income and plunged them into financial destitution, with virtually nothing to show for their years of creativity and hard work.

The situation weighed most heavily on Pete Ham. As Badfinger’s chief creative force, the sensitive bandleader bore the lion’s share of the mental burden, and the prospect of the imminent birth of his first child intensified the pressure. The strain had increasingly shown in his behavior, with friends seeing him put out cigarettes on his arms and hands. Pete’s blackening frame of mind was also reflected in the dark, pensive lyrics that he had begun to write, which starkly contrasted the sentiments of the songs that had made him famous. During the early months of 1975, Ham repeatedly tried in vain to reach Polley via telephone, hoping to get a handle on the band’s out-of-control legal situation and the money that he was owed.

On the night of April 23, 1975 in the London suburb of Surrey, Ham and Tom Evans had drinks at a local pub, commiserating over their mutual misfortune. Ham drank ten whiskeys, before Evans drove him home at around three AM. Sometime after that, Ham hanged himself in his garage studio, leaving a note apologizing to his pregnant girlfriend Anne Herriot.

“I will not be allowed to love and trust everybody,” Ham wrote. “This is better.” Ham’s note also placed the blame for his death at the feet of the man who had devastated his career, stating, “Stan Polley is a soulless bastard. I will take him with me.” Upon finding Pete the following morning, Anne called Tom Evans, who cut the body down. Ham’s daughter Petera was born a month later.

His potentially provocative comments proved to be a blessing when Paul McCartney read the piece, and responded by offering the band “Come And Get It,” an infectious new tune he’d written for the soundtrack of the upcoming Ringo Starr/Peter Sellers film The Magic Christian.

With Pete gone and Badfinger’s recording career off the rails, Ham’s surviving bandmates attempted to piece their lives back together, while the multiple band-related lawsuits slowly worked their way through the court system on both sides of the Atlantic. Tom Evans worked for awhile as a pipefitter and cab driver in England, while Joey Molland spent a period living in L.A., laying carpet and doing various odd jobs, eventually selling off many of his guitars to make ends meet.

Evans, Molland and Gibbins all drifted back into music, and in 1979, Evans and Molland reunited in a new U.S.-based band that eventually adopted the familiar Badfinger name. That outfit, which also included ex-Yes keyboardist Tony Kaye, released a pair of underwhelming albums that attracted little attention. By 1982, Tommy and Joey were touring separately, each fronting a band billing itself as Badfinger.

Also in 1982, Evans, Gibbins and Bob Jackson somehow fell in with John Cass, a shadowy Milwaukee entrepreneur with minimal music-industry experience, who nonetheless promised to relaunch Badfinger’s career with a lucrative tour and a high-profile record deal. Cass convinced the trio to relocate temporarily to Milwaukee, where they lived in poverty for two months while waiting fruitlessly for the proposed tour to materialize. After the desperate musicians finally managed to flee their squalid surroundings and return to England, Cass slapped Evans with a five-million-dollar breach-of-contract lawsuit.

However questionable its legitimacy, the Cass lawsuit was a major source of consternation for Evans, who was already broken emotionally from his years of soul-crushing legal and financial struggles. The intense, emotionally volatile musician—the one Badfinger member who had initially expressed reservations about signing with Stan Polley—had never really come to terms with Ham’s suicide, and remained racked by guilt and depression. Evans’ wife Marianne later quoted him as saying “I want to be where Pete is. It’s a better place than down here.”

Ironically, although he was virtually penniless, Evans had more than a million dollars’ worth of publishing royalties that remained frozen at Apple, waiting for Badfinger’s tangled legal issues to be resolved. At the time, Evans was also being pursued by original manager Bill Collins and former bandmates Gibbins and Molland, all of them seeking a share of the Apple publishing funds.

Badfinger – Photo via Creative Commons

On the night of November 18, 1983, Evans had a heated phone argument with Molland about the Apple stalemate. Slamming down the phone, Tom told Marianne, “I’ll be dead before I get the money.” The next morning, Evans’ six-year-old son Stephen woke his mother, telling her that a man was standing in their garden. It was Tom, who had hanged himself from a tree in their backyard. He was 36.

Almost two years later, in September 1985, the funds being held by Apple were finally released and royalties began to flow. Thanks to the enduring popularity of Badfinger’s hits, combined with the subsequent success of Mariah Carey’s revival of “Without You,” the Apple royalties would provide a belated financial windfall for the estates of Ham and Evans, as well as Molland, Gibbins and Bill Collins.

Just a few months after Evans’ suicide, Molland, Gibbins and Bob Jackson regrouped as Badfinger, playing thirty-one dates as part of a “20th Anniversary of British Rock ‘N’ Roll” package tour, and continued gigging sporadically through 1989.

In the years since, Molland, who settled in Minneapolis in the early ’80s, has continued making solo albums and performing songs from his old band’s vintage repertoire. In the ’90s, Molland angered some fans by recording remakes of ten vintage Badfinger tunes, which were then released on CD by a series of low-rent labels, often with photos of the original band misrepresenting the musical contents.

Molland stirred further controversy by releasing Day After Day, a recording of a 1974 show by Badfinger’s classic lineup, augmented with posthumous guitar and vocal overdubs and drum samples. Meanwhile, Mike Gibbins quietly released some low-key solo projects, and died of natural causes in 2005. Ten years after Gibbins’ passing, short-term keyboardist/guitarist Bob Jackson launched his own U.K.-based Badfinger act to play the British oldies circuit.

Stan Polley outlived both the band that he helped to destroy and the two men he’d driven to suicide. Although the fallout from the Warner Bros. lawsuit led to his exit from the music industry, Polley apparently never lost his gift for larceny. In 1991, having relocated to the West Coast, he pleaded no contest to charges of money laundering and misappropriation of funds, after aeronautics engineer Peter Brock accused Polley of swindling him out of $250,000 after the two set up a corporation to manufacture airplane engines. Polley was sentenced to five years of probation and ordered by the court to repay the missing funds, although he apparently never got around to making restitution. Stan Polley died of natural causes in California on July 20, 2009.

Badfinger – Photo via Creative Commons

Polley may have wrecked Badfinger’s career, but he couldn’t stop their music from living on. Despite the band’s bitter career travails, there has never been any lapse in demand for Badfinger’s music. In 1988, readers of Goldmine voted Straight Up the album they’d most like to see released on Compact Disc. Although it would take another five years for Capitol Records to actually release it on CD, Badfinger’s albums have been reissued multiple times in the years since, and the band’s songs remain beloved staples of oldies and classic-rock radio.

In 2013, “Baby Blue” was prominently featured in the closing scene of the final episode of TV’s Breaking Bad. Nearly 5000 downloads of the song were sold immediately after the show’s broadcast, pushing the 40-year-old tune into iTunes’ Top 20. A few months earlier, on what would have been his 66th birthday, Pete Ham was honored in his hometown of Swansea with a plaque near the Ivey Place entrance of the city’s train station.

This year saw Joey Molland, the sole surviving member of Badfinger’s classic lineup, return with a new solo album, Be True to Yourself. Molland’s first collection of new songs in nearly a decade, the ten-song set shows his writing and performing skills to be as sharp as ever, with such tunes as “This Time,” “Better Tomorrow” and “Rainy Day Man” echoing his best work with Badfinger, with a reflective lyrical edge that compliments their melodic craft.

“Rainy Day Man” – Joey Molland:

In 2013, “Baby Blue” was prominently featured in the closing scene of the final episode of TV’s Breaking Bad.

The love and optimism contained in the songs written by Pete Ham and Tom Evans have outlasted the hopelessness and despair that led the bandmates to prematurely end their lives. In their absence, Badfinger’s music continues to touch the hearts of new generations of listeners.