A Fan's Dream Encounter with Badinger (1972)
Story and Photos by: Cary Caldwell*
Updated from the original story and photos as presented in "No Matter What" fanzine - V1N3 Spring/Summer 1991
At least, it seemed like a dream...
One summer night in 1971, my friend Patty Webb and I were out "cruising". Both of us, of course, were Beatle fans, and had also begun collecting the Apple catalogue. The conversation frequently turned to England, as was the case that night. On the spur of the moment we decided, "Let's plan a trip to England!" After all, we were both out of high school now, with full-time jobs (and paid vacation benefits) and not much else on which to spend our wages. So, then and there we started planning. May, 1972!
Everyone's first plane flight should be transatlantic. I was so excited I even took pictures of the meal on the plane! (Who could think about being afraid to fly?) While all the other passengers slept, we watched the sunrise, and talked to the stewards (BOAC, of course!) drinking in those wonderful British accents, and tea with milk. We had departed Dulles International (Washington DC) on the evening of 3 May and arrived at Heathrow (London) early on the morning of 4 May, 1972.
Neither of us had ever traveled on our own, and really hadn't a clue as to what to expect when we got there. The moment I set foot on the ground, I felt like I was "home."
As soon as we settled in at the hotel, we took out the map. To our amazement, we were only a few blocks away from Apple in 3 Saville Row. If we had jet lag, we never knew it, so armed with only our map and address list, we set off on foot. We arrived at Apple, which was still quite operational then. We took each other's picture on the steps at the front door. We went inside, were greeted warmly by the staff, allowed to take photos, and were given a quick tour of that floor and the one below. We were introduced to (recording engineer) Phil McDonald, who almost took us to lunch! It was hard to believe we could top this!
The next day we walked from Oxford Circus to Abbey Road (the whole length of Abbey Road - some 53 blocks by itself as I recall), and St. John's Wood. We took pictures of each other walking across the Abbey Road crosswalk, EMI studios building, and of Paul McCartney's house in 7 Cavendish Avenue. Although Paul wasn't home, we did meet the lead singer and road manager of the group Marmalade who signed autographs for us there. Then, we set about the task of returning to our hotel. We learned how to ride the Underground back!
Our third day out, we finally found a record store. A very accommodating young man named John Etherington came over to assist us. We each pulled out our "want" list, explaining that we were visiting from America, and each wished to buy English pressings of the entire Beatle/Apple catalogue on 45, plus some LP's we hadn't yet acquired at home. He escorted us to the counter to take the order and gave us his undivided attention. As we amassed our stacks of records, we continued through the Beatle list into the non-Beatle Apple listings, the first of which was Badinger.
Patty said, "Do you have Come And Get It by Badinger?" Before he could answer, a customer in the store came up to us from behind and said "Did you say Badinger?" "Yes", I answered. She replied "Would you like to meet them?" (She's kidding, right?). She continued "My name's Bev. I used to date Pete, but now I'm living with Joey." She said that she'd "go talk to the boys and see if they'd like to show us around London." She wrote down a phone number and gave it to us, asking us to ring her later that evening after she'd had a chance to talk to them. I can't begin to explain how excited we were! I had already seen Badinger in concert three times prior to our trip to England, and even had the good fortune to have met Pete & Tommy, briefly, the first time out (March, 1971), and it was the thrill of my life. But nothing compared to the potential presented to us this day by Bev Ellis!
After we arrived back at our hotel that night, we tried to gather enough courage to make the call. Patty was too nervous, so I was elected to call. The phone rang and someone answered "Hello,". "Is Bev there, please?" "Hang on a minute." Bev came to the phone, I identified myself, and she said "That was Joey who answered the phone." (I think my heart stopped!). She said she had talked to them and they had said they'd love to show us London, and would Wednesday be all right? After I caught my breath again, I said Wednesday would be wonderful. She said for us to meet her at the Golders Green underground station Wednesday afternoon.
We could hardly wait! We figured we'd be too excited to remember questions we would like to ask, so the night before we wrote a few down to take with us. The time finally arrived, and with cameras and records in hand we rode blindly into the day toward a stop called Golders Green. We only had to wait a few moments, when we spotted two girls walking towards us, one of whom was Bev. She greeted us and introduced us to Kathie (soon-to-be-Molland), an American girl with beautiful, long hair. She explained that Tommy and Mike both had prior commitments, and sent their regrets, and that rather than show us the sights of London, they had decided to give a party. We all got into a cab, stopped on the way for them to pick up some Mateaus Rose wine, and continued on to a street called Coleridge Walk. The taxi pulled up to a lovely house in this quiet suburb, and as we gathered our belongings together, Kathie said "Now, they're just regular people, don't be nervous". We all got out of the cab, and I immediately dropped one of my two cameras on the sidewalk, breaking it! (Did she say "Don't be nervous?") We followed them up the main walk and one of them opened the front door. Directly in front of us was a stairway, and at that very moment, Joey was bounding down the steps right toward us!! (My heart stopped again!). We were introduced.
Kathie gave us a tour of the house and grounds. The house had only just been purchased, and Kathie seemed proud to show us all around. They had also located a refrigerator for the kitchen (apparently somewhat of a rarity in the average English home at that time) and the gardens out back were lovely! She took us upstairs. There was even a room that was being turned into a music room/studio. This was Joey & Kathie's home. Downstairs, we were invited to sit down, and snacks and drinks were served. As it began to get dark a few other people started to arrive for our get-together. Bill Collins (their manager), and Pete Ham, and a couple of their crew came in and were introduced. We just sat there like statues, awestruck and too nervous to speak.
Suddenly, without warning, Joey sprang up from his chair, screamed at the top of his lungs, rolled around on the floor and got back in the chair — all in a matter of seconds. Everyone was in hysterics! He had broken the ice, and Patty snapped photos through it all!
Then I pulled out the little slip of paper on which I had written our questions, and Pete, who was seated to my left, asked me what it was. I explained, and he asked to see the paper. To my surprise, he wrote the answers and handed it back to me. I said, "But no one will know who wrote this." He took the paper back and wrote at the bottom "I writ thiss. Pete Ham". I will cherish it always.
Both Pete and Joey signed record after record for us — all their Apple singles and Straight Up, which was their current LP. Kathie then suggested that she take a group photo of the 4 of us with each of our cameras, and we posed together there in the living room. Pete and Joey both clowned around for the cameras, as we inundated them with photos and autograph requests.
After a while, Joey went into the dining room to get his guitar and we were treated to an impromptu performance of new material. Although I can no longer remember what songs we heard that night, I do remember us both being quite mesmerized. They invited us to a "small club in Soho, where we got our start" that weekend, where they were scheduled to perform an unannounced concert. They asked us to sit with them at their table, and "George (Harrison)" will be there." With deepest regrets, we had to decline, as we were scheduled to depart the morning of the show!
As the evening hours melted into the early AM, we bade farewell to Pete, and Patty followed him out the door and to his car (a new, red, Triumph TR-6), taking pictures all the while. After a while, she returned and we gathered our things together in preparation to leave. We thanked them over and over. What a wonderful evening they had given two awestruck, appreciative fans! Looking back, I don't know how they put up with us, but through it all they were gracious, accommodating, and they went out of their way to make us feel welcome.
In June, we got a letter from Bev, telling us of Joey and Kathie's wedding, and some dates on their up-coming tour of America in July. They were to play the Kennedy Center in Washington on 22 July, 1972. I contacted the Kennedy Center box office and reserved 7 front row center seats for the show, and afterwards, we were invited backstage. Patty and I shared some of our photos from London two months earlier, with Pete, Joey, Tommy, Mike, Kathie, Dixie ("Dixie Dear" of "Baby Blue" fame) and Bill Collins. We also gave them some articles and gifts we had all brought. I still have the "Blue Book" containing those photos, which I take with me to each concert of theirs I attend.
Over the years, I have been fortunate enough to see Badinger in concert many times. I have met them at all but two of those dates, plus once at a rehearsal the day before, and of course my London encounter (something like 23 times in all)*. They make a point to greet their fans after each show, whenever possible, and in every case all of the band members and entourage have welcomed me and my friends like family. I know I'm not unique to this kind of acceptance by the band, as many other fans I've met have also met the band somewhere along the line. Everyone agrees that this most talented group of musicians have always made themselves accessible to their fans, always greeting us warmly and with genuine appreciation for our support. In return, the loyalty of their fan following has been repeatedly documented. Still, somehow, they always make me feel special when I'm with them, and I only hope they know how much I appreciate their continued kindness, and how privileged I feel to have known Joey, Mike, Tom and Pete - Badinger!
Photo signed: "Love & Thanks ~ Pete x"
*2008 Update! Cary states: "I have attended well over 200 concerts. I really have lost count over the years!"
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