The band Badfinger is one of the most tragic stories in rock. Yet, their songs are still on the radio today. Between 1970 and 1972 the group had four consecutive hits. Their biggest, “Come and Get It,” was written for them by Paul McCartney, enticing the band to sign with the Beatles’ new company, Apple Records. They were on top of the world.
But when Apple Records fell apart in 1973 Badfinger spiraled into legal, managerial, and financial struggles which cost them millions of dollars and led to the suicide of singer/songwriter Pete Ham. Tom Evans would also take his life and drummer Mike Gibbons died in 2005, leaving Joey Molland as the group’s only surviving member.
Molland, 75, was anxious to visit with Growing Bolder, as he embarks upon a new endeavor that he hopes will keep the memory of Badfinger alive. At this stage of life Molland is upbeat, appreciative, energetic and optimistic; not just about the past, but the future.
“It’s fantastic that I’ve been able to work as a musician all my life,” he said. “I’m really happy that my voice is hanging in there, I still love to play guitar, and I’m really enjoying performing and just being around people.”
Some may be surprised by Molland’s outlook considering all the heartache he’s been through, including the band’s financial mismanagement, suicides, and the death of his wife in 2009. But Molland has had no choice but to take it all in stride. “Losing Kathy, who died suddenly after being married 39 years, that was rough,” he said. “When I think about it, it all can still be painful; but I keep moving forward. I keep up with a lot of my old friends, my sons are all grown up and doing well and I have a lovely girlfriend, Mary, so my life is good.”
In fact, Molland is hopeful that it’s about to get even better. “Well, I met this chap, Mike Franklin of Solar Music, who is a promoter, a producer, a player, who’s worked with legends like Jon Anderson of Yes and Robby Steinhardt of Kansas and he’s got some big ideas for me,” Molland said. “We’re hoping to go on tour next year to perform all those great Badfinger songs. I’ll tell a lot of great stories — some will make people laugh, some cry, and some you just won’t believe. I’m really excited about it.”
Several of his stories are about the Beatles, particularly John Lennon and George Harrison. Molland played guitar on solo albums for both, including Harrison’s “The Concert for Bangladesh” and Lennon’s “Imagine.” Molland recounts how shocked his bandmates were when McCartney delivered “Come and Get It” to them. “He ordered us to play it exactly like it was. He said, ‘Don’t screw around with it, no fiddly bits, no guitar licks. This is the way it goes. Learn it. I’ll come back in a week, I’ll produce it and I guarantee it will be your first hit record.’ “Yeah, and he was right on the button about it, wasn’t he?”
Today at age 75, Molland still has a spark about him. He is pleasant, engaging and outgoing. He attributes it to coming through the many tough times and learning to live with gratitude. “Listen, I love spending time with the fans, talking about the old days, talking about music, and talking about this guy and that guy. I realize how lucky I am that people want to talk with me at all. I wish my bandmates were still around to feel the appreciation. They would have loved it. So, I’ll keep doing it for them, for me, and for the fans. The least I can do is enjoy my life and help the legacy of the band live on.”