BADFINGER'S PETE HAM A SUICIDE
Rolling Stone Magazine - June 5, 1975
LONDON-Pete Ham, lead vocalist and guitarist for Badfinger, was found dead in his London garage on the morning of April 23rd, a suicide by hanging.
Reached in London, Badfinger guitarist Joey Molland said, "I think what brought him down was that he found he didn't have any money left. His girlfriend's havin' a baby inside a month. He'd had a bank account for ten years and for the first time he was overdrawn."
Badfinger signed with Apple Records in 1968 after an early career as the Iveys in Liverpool. The group released four albums on Apple - The Magic Christian (the soundtrack of the film starring Peter Sellers and Ringo Starr), No Dice, Straight Up and Ass - and had a hit single with Paul McCartney's "Come and Get It." Badfinger enjoyed a close relationship with all the Beatles, playing with George Harrison on All Things Must Pass, with Ringo on "It Don't Come Easy" and on John Lennon's Imagine. In 1971, Harrison took the band to New York to play at the concert for Bangladesh.
Ham was a major force within the group, writing "Day after Day" and "No Matter What." He also wrote Nilsson's hit, "Without You," with bassist Tom Evans. The fourth Badfinger member was drummer Mike Gibbons.
According to Molland, a note found near Ham's body read, "Stan Polley is a soulless bastard." Polley, Badfinger's manager since 1970, had been involved in a longstanding feud with the group and in litigation with Warner Bros., the group's label. Polley was repeatedly unavailable for comment.
Molland, who'd left the group last fall and moved to Los Angeles early this year, claimed that "the band wasn't allowed any information" about its finances after signing a lucrative contract with Warner Bros., and that he is consulting with a Los Angeles lawyer and a British attorney about taking legal action against Polley.
A suit brought by the Warners publishing company against the group itself is on file at Los Angeles Superior Court. The complaint asks for $183,333.33, which involves publishing advances and copyright royalties that allegedly were not placed in escrow.
In 1972, Polley signed Badfinger to Warners. "It was sad to leave Apple," Molland said, "but there were certain things that the Warners' contract would let us do, like get a studio together. As soon as we made an album, we would draw money." But after recording Badfinger , the group went over budget on Wish You Were Here. "We agreed to pay it out of our advance," Molland said of the cost overrun. But, he alleged, the group never received enough money to do so.
A spokesman for the Warner Bros. legal department said that Badfinger Enterprises Inc. had been paid for the two albums, but did not say whether Polley or the group's members had received payment. Badfinger is currently inactive and Molland says that there are no plans to reform the group. A third Warners album is in the can, but Warners said that, because of poor quality, the label has "no intention of releasing it."