Badfinger's Pete Ham Speaks

Aug. 1972

The Akron Rubber Cowl was exceptionally chilly that afternoon-just a few hours before The Faces, Cactus and Badfinger concert was about to begin.That was July 3rd, and fireworks were to be heard going off in all directions. But behind the right side of the field the atmosphere was almost sullen; it was a depressing day. Enter one scene reporter into Badfinger's dressing room(me). At the first place (just a locker room at that) seems empty save for some equipment cases and a cooler full of refreshments(of assorted potencies).

However,upon hearing someone else in the locker area one Pete Ham - leader of Badfinger and "the one everybody knows from Bangladesh concert with George Harrison"- I ask if the capitol promo man has been here at all. Negative. But obviously he didn't care if he ever came, "they usually don't make it anyway" says Pete. Pete is more than willing to talk. "The others will be here shortly also" he adds. While stringing his Gibson SG, Pete says he is pleased with the way their stage act has been going.However he commented that " .....the smaller hall, the better we sound.I prefer to play to about 5000 people or less, but this tour(in arenas of large size) is it just to get as many people as possible.It wouldn't be so bad if they could have gotten a good piano adapter.... to be used to amplify a regular piano and still get a good tone..."says Pete,"but theirs is always breaking down or lost.Such are some of the perils of the road. The obvious place to start would have to be the cause if Badfinger's newly found fame -Bangla Desh with George Harrison:"well,George was in New York and he rang us up and presented the idea; six hours later we were on a flight to New York.The whole thing was put together very quickly, but it came off real well." I had often wondered why Badfinger as an entity didn't play- they played only acoustic guitars on the side of the stage."Again, it was just because George had this idea and it was his show, we just helped him out and we were glad to be there.

Pete,of course he played a duet of "Here Comes The Sun" with George( at both shows). This got him off-he was glad I brought it up.."George just wanted to keep it simple, so he just told me he used a capo on it and what changes were important.Then, Iwent back to the hotel and listened to the the Abbey Road tape, we never really rehersed it-no time-."

Was it true that Badfinger Mike Gibbons had left? "Yes actually.We were five weeks away from this tour and we had no drummer.Although we had several auditions, none seemed to work.Finally in Detroit we met Rob(Stowinsky, a native of Detroit) and that was it. We did a lot of rehearsing."

Badfinger recently had a lot of single succes, "Baby Blue" and "Day After Day" from Straight Up were solid hits.Both songs were seemingly, born out of some kind of loneliness."Both were written for the same girl, a girlfriend of mine from Witchita,Kansas." "And was her name Dixie, as in 'my Dixie dear....'? "Yes, I wrote "Baby Blue" after not seing her for a few months, I thought she was angry for not calling.But by the time was completed, we had already gotten back together. I kept the song anyway because it could apply to a lot people. Indeed, that just may be the thing about pete Ham's composions, they're universal songs - in a classic sense of pop music - and, thusly,come compersions between his songs and Paul McCartney's. More Beatles syndromes are predicted, but the group keeps progressing. For excamle is their stage show not a rundown of their hits. As Pete says:"Some numbers like suitcase can go on for 15 minutes."

Since Badfinger first gained prominence for their work in "The Magic Christian" film, where they did McCartney's "Come And Get it", I wondered how the group got along with Paul McCartney(he also produced the first five tracks they ever recorded). "He kind of set the direction and helped us get the sound we wanted, but at first he was very much in control.He was the pro, we were the beginners." Now after three albums (the soundtrack, No Dice, Straight Up), Badfinger had three different producers.George Harrison, who did No Dice and the original recording of Straight Up, hasn't really got the time to do another album with them.Todd Rundren-who did the final mixing of Straight Up, was according to Pete "a little too domineering , he's a little accustomed to working things his way".

The alternative:"We'd like to get a very good engineer and then do the production ourselves.Since we won't be recording until fall, I'm sure we'll get along okay."

By this time the other members of the group were present - playing soccer at that - and it was time to tune the other four guitars and practice a few rough spots.The usual things were going on - groupies,gropies,people with diarrhea, people with bad colds, large bins of food and the feeling of excitement, and that's the only sane factor in this very strange business.It's very dull. Joey Molland rhythm player of the group, poured another rum and coke and, upon noticing a few giggling girls watching him he remarked:"purely medicinal. Really."

By Jim Girard

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