singer peteham2 A Sad Tale From the Dark Side of the Music Industry

“The music business is a cruel and shallow money trench, a long plastic hallway where thieves and pimps run free, and good men die like dogs. There’s also a negative side.”

A famous misquote from Hunter S. Thompson, who was actually writing about television, but what the hell, it fits.  [lastfm]Pete Ham[/lastfm], guitarist, singer, songwriter of [lastfm]Badfinger[/lastfm] would be celebrating his 63rd birthday April 27th.  A self-taught guitar player from Swansea, Wales, his band [lastfm]The Iveys[/lastfm] first caught the attention of Ray Davies of the [lastfm]Kinks[/lastfm], then Mal Evans from the [lastfm]Beatles[/lastfm] organization, which eventually landed them on Apple Records with the enthusiastic approval of all four Beatles. They changed their name to “Badfinger”, which had been an alternate title for “[lastfm]With a Little Help From My Friends[/lastfm]”.

[lastfm]Paul McCartney[/lastfm] wrote their first hit “[lastfm]Come And Get It[/lastfm]”, for the soundtrack to a film starring Peter Sellers and [lastfm]Ringo Starr[/lastfm], “The Magic Christian”.  Pete was reluctant at first, but decided a McCartney song would be a good springboard to gaining recognition for his own songwriting.  Clever lad.

Ham’s “[lastfm]No Matter What[/lastfm]” became a huge hit, as did “[lastfm]Day After Day[/lastfm]”, “[lastfm]Baby Blue[/lastfm]”, and a song he co-wrote with bandmate Tom Evans (who also later committed suicide) “[lastfm]Without You[/lastfm]”, was a worldwide #1 smash for [lastfm]Harry Nilsson[/lastfm] (later a #3 for [lastfm]Mariah Carey[/lastfm], and #28 for [lastfm]Clay Aiken[/lastfm]).

Badfinger toured the U.S. several times, were featured in [lastfm]George Harrison[/lastfm]’s Concert for Bangladesh, and were making all kinds of money…but none of it made it to Badfinger. A reluctant rock star, Pete Ham was a shy guy who loved playing music and writing songs, but was horrifically embarrased by being recognized in public.

In April of 1975, infighting in Badfinger and being flat-broke despite having 3 million-selling singles became too much for Ham, and with a .27% blood alcohol level, hung himself in his garage, leaving behind a girlfriend and a daughter who would be born a month after he joined what [lastfm]Kurt Cobain[/lastfm]’s mom once called “That Stupid Club” of rock stars dead at 27.


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