"can't live, if living is without you" - 10/02/17

Today's selection -- from Never a Dull Moment by David Hepworth. In 1971, the group Badfinger was being touted as "the next Beatles." The group was invited to perform as part of George Harrison's monumental Concert for Bangladesh, and one of its members had written Harry Nilsson's megahit "Without You":

"The week of the Bangladesh con­cert, Badfinger appeared to have it made, rubbing shoulders with superstars, going to the after party at Ungano's, and getting men­tioned in all the press coverage. The tragic thing was that none of this star power ever actually transformed their fortunes, and the comedown was cruel. Badfinger's first gig following Madison Square Garden was at Huddersfield Polytechnic. Their whole subsequent career was to be dogged by the worst kind of luck.

"They had been the first group signed to the Apple label and were widely regarded as having some of the DNA of the Beatles with two strong songwriters. Paul McCartney had written their first hit, 'Come and Get It,' but they really didn't require star patronage. Then Harrison had taken a particular interest in them. ...

"Badfinger's biggest score of 1971 came in Harry Nilsson's version of [Badfinger member] Pete Ham's 'Without You,' which was number one in the UK at the end of the year. The Concert for Bangladesh made them well known, but they never recovered their momentum, and what money they did make was salted away by their new manager Stan Polley. In 1975 their leading songwriter Pete Ham killed himself, accusing Polley in his suicide note of being a 'soulless bastard.'

"The shadow of 1971 didn't stop there. Eight years after Ham's death, Tom Evans also committed suicide following a bitter argu­ment with the other two members of the group about the money from 'Without You,' [which, in 1994 became] a huge hit all over again in a ver­sion by Mariah Carey. The legacy that was the cause of such pain and destruction continues to mount up remorselessly. 'Baby Blue,' which comes from their 1971 album Straight Up, was the final song on the final episode of the hit TV series Breaking Bad in 2014, and in this form will play forever on the Internet, far too late to benefit any of the people who wrote it."

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David Hepworth


Never a Dull Moment: 1971 The Year That Rock Exploded


Henry Holt and Co.


Copyright 2016 by David Hepworth


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