Sunday, April 28, 2013

Badfinger: Without You

After seeing The Zombies play Market Harborough a couple of years ago I wrote:
We discover popular music backwards as well as forwards ... I can remember my surprise at learning that Carlos Santana was not the writer of She's Not There. (I don't feel so bad after hearing Rod Argent telling the younger members of tonight's audience that his band recorded the original version of God Gave Rock and Roll to You.)
Yesterday I made another discovery of this sort. I remember Harry Nilsson's recording of "Without You" topping the singles' chart in 1972 and had always assumed it was his song.

Not so.

Yesterday's Independent had an article about the sad story of the band Badfinger. It began:
They were supposed to be the next Beatles; but a series of tragedies, mismanagement and “rock and roll rip-offs” left Badfinger little more than a sad footnote in musical history. 
But now the 1970s power-pop band are finally getting the recognition their fans believe they deserve, as the city of Swansea today unveils a blue plaque to troubled frontman Pete Ham, who committed suicide, aged 27. The plaque, close to the city’s railway station, will honour Ham as one of the region’s “finest musical talents”. 
At the peak of the band’s fame he played “Here Comes the Sun” at New York’s Madison Square Garden with George Harrison, but Ham is now largely remembered for writing a song – “Without You” – that Harry Nilsson, and Mariah Carey would later cover to global success.
Here are Badfinger performing "Without You", though the person who posted this on Youtube suggests they are miming.


wolfi said...

That "27 Club" in Rock&Roll Heaven is awfully crowded ...
What a shame that so many young musicians had to die - or chose to die.
On a lighter note:
Many of the old guard that have accompanied me musically from the 60s are on tour again in Europe (including Britain ...) like Steve Winwood and Eric Clapton and Joe Cocker

Andrew Hickey said...

Even Nilsson himself didn't realise that was a Badfinger song at first -- when he first heard it, he assumed it was a Lennon/McCartney song, like Badfinger's biggest hit, Come And Get It, had been.

Rather unfortunate for all concerned that the biggest hit ever for such a great songwriter as Nilsson was a cover version of a song by a band who could only get hits by covering other people's work.