INTERVIEW: Bob Jackson – Badfinger

Badfinger play at The Core Theatre in Solihull on Friday 28th October. For direct info & ticket sales, click here.

Words by Michelle Martin

I’m hooked on a feeling. No, not ‘Blue Swede’. An emotion that dreams of a different life. What would the planet be like had we chosen an altered path, made alternative decisions? Would our future be any different? These philosophical questions come to mind when listening to In a Different World, from Badfinger’s singer songwriter Bob Jackson.

“Well, there are a lot of horrible conflicts and events going on in the world and so I was inspired to write about them,” explains Jackson. “If you listen to the lyrics, it has a deep universal meaning that everyone can relate to. Bob Geldof had done similar work and I wanted to continue his legacy.”

A turbulent (and that’s putting it lightly) 40 year plus career that features personal traumas, countless lawsuits and numerous line up alterations, renewed rock band Badfinger are back on the rise with a fresh tour of the UK. Following a successful theatre run in 2015, Jackson & Co are heading back on the road to Cardiff, Manchester and many more to present their latest work and showcase their extensive back catalogue of hits dating back to the early days of Badfinger.

Interwoven with various artists, in a decades spanning career, Jackson has assembled a new team of musical superheroes to continue the legacy of Badfinger’s comprehensive record. This time around he is joined by guitarists Andy Nixon and Mike Healy, and drummer Ted Duggan. “A friend last year suggested reforming the band and it kick started from there. I thought it would be respectable to continue the legacy of Badfinger.”

Emerging from the depth of Swansea in 1961, originally known as The Iveys, the band’s original line-up consisted of Pete Ham, Ron Griffiths and David Jenkins. They were the first act signed to The Beatles’ Apple Records. Soon after, The Iveys rebranded themselves as Badfinger, with the principal roster being of Ham, Jenkins, Tom Evans and Mike Gibbins.

Badfinger successfully released five studio albums, a string of hits including ‘Come & Get It’, and toured extensively. Their second album, No Dice, was released in 1970 and consisted of worldwide hit ‘No Matter What’.

Jackson joined the band in 1974 ahead of their tour, after Ham’s departure and return, and has remained a presence since. “We’ve had ups and downs.” Jackson comments plainly. “We were once signed to The Beatles label Apple Records, which was fantastic at the time.” Ups and downs is describing it gently.

After The Beatles disbanded in 1970, Apple Records fell into financial chaos and legal disputes. Badfinger moved to Warner Bros Records and released two albums almost simultaneously, a mere few months apart, both of which charted poorly.

The in late 1974, band management and personal issues plagued Badfinger, resulting in Pete Ham leaving the band suddenly before their rehearsals of their UK tour and re-joining before it commenced. Ham committed suicide in 1975 after being embroiled in financial and managerial arguments.

After his death, Badfinger disbanded and Bob Jackson joined The Dodgers, and later The Searchers. In 1983, Tom Evans committed suicide; family members implied he never fully recovered from the loss of Pete Ham several years prior.

In 2013, Pete Ham was honoured with a Blue Plaque in his hometown Swansea, overseen by original Iveys members Griffiths and Jenkins. Jackson commemorated the unveiling with a tribute concert shortly after. “Pete was such a lovely guy. He was a fantastic instrumentalist, writer and singer.”

Bob Jackson continues to commemorate his friend’s legacy by showcasing Badfinger’s works to fresh audiences. “There’ll be a diverse collection being performed at the shows,” tells Jackson – talking about Badfinger’s upcoming autumn tour. “Retrospective hits like ‘No Matter What’ and ‘Baby Blue’ as well as our recent works.” ‘Day After Day’ features a beautiful piano section and powerful drunk guitars, alongside the soft vocals from original singer Peter Ham.

Another massive hit from Badfinger, which some people may not have realised, was ‘Without You’, from their 1970 album No Dice, which is arguably one of the most popular compositions of that golden rock era.

Nowadays, people may better remember Mariah Carey covering the single over two decades later. ‘’I’d have to say very upbeat,” says Jackson, “short and snappy songs would be putting it simply.’’ Badfinger’s original version, penned by Ham and Evans, felt husky and evoked stronger, emotional feelings in the vocals, compared to numerous covers since its release in 1970.

Badfinger are a band with a turbulent back story, one arguably made for the silver screen. Not something for your light entertainment, but perhaps more to educate an audience on the chaotic, and sometime tragic, life in the music industry. But outside of a possible Oliver Stone Hollywood homage, what is next for Badfinger?

“Honestly – I don’t know,” admits Bob Jackson – ahead of Badgfinger’s October gig at The Core Theatre in Solihull, “It all depends on how well we will be from the upcoming shows. I have an extensive back catalogue of singles written during the 70/80’s that, and with a good market place, could be released as singles or EP’s. But it really depends on how we’ll be received.”

Badfinger play at The Core Theatre in Solihull on Friday 28th October. For direct info & ticket sales, click here. 

For more on Badfinger, including full UK tour dates, visit www.badfingeruk.com

For more from The Core Theatre, visit www.thecoretheatresolihull.co.uk

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