Peggy: As a little background, Sue Combs, (nee Groseclose) and I have known each other since kindergarten in the very early '60s! We became good friends in
the mid-to-later grades and remained so through high school. A great common bond was music; we attended many a concert together. When she married a NAVY man and started moving all around the country, we lost touch. But when I discovered and read the outstanding, absolutely essential bio on Badfinger by Dan Matovina, I would call her up and tell her about this incredibly-detailed
book which told the complicated story of one of our favorite bands. We would discuss it for hours! I'm happy to say that our friendship is back in full swing, due, in large part, to the interest Dan's book has revived for us. And, best of all, we have rediscovered Badfinger's timeless music!
Sue: Peggy Morris Burneka and I have known each other since early childhood. (I have the birthday party pictures to prove it!) We were great friends in high school as well, and attended many memorable concerts together. On February 23rd, 1973, Peg, her brother Dave, two other friends, Terri and Cheri, and I went to Dayton, Ohio's Hara Arena. The head lining band was The Guess Who but I was actually much more excited to see the opening band, Badfinger! I loved their music and played their LPs/45s incessantly. (Just ask my mother!) You must also remember that I *was* just 16 and completely captivated by anyone I perceived as *cute or handsome* and anyone with a UK accent!
Above: Sue, Peggy and brother Dave Sock-Hop - Senior Year - 1974
Left: Sue (top-right), Peggy (bottom-left) First Grade - 1963
Sue: I have such wonderful memories of that experience...I remember standing at Pete Ham's feet and being completely mesmerized by this beautiful, talented man. I also remember Mike Gibbins' animated, musical drumming style and found myself watching him rather intently! He had this way of grinning/mugging that I found quite adorable... *smile*
Sue: Peggy and I didn't see as much of each other over the years after high school as I would have liked. College life and marriage to a career Naval officer with countless moves do wreck havoc on hometown, childhood friendships. Still, we sent cards and, during my all too infrequent trips home, saw each other from time to time. Although we had become closer to one another in the past few years, Badfinger has helped to cement that relationship. We both found ourselves re-connecting to the music and the memories after reading "Without You" by Dan Matovina. We have had some wonderful times since then and have shared some precious moments, long telephone calls and memories. Through Badfinger and Peggy, I have gotten to know some very special people and been blessed to receive some extraordinary gifts. It was through Peggy that I came to Rick's Badfinger Web Ring site and °Passin' Time° newsletter. Peg was also the one who introduced me to Rick at this year's Beatlefest.
Peggy: Which brings us up to 2001. Sue and I had tossed around the idea of attending a Beatlefest together some day, (the first one I attended was in Chicago in 1996), but we had never actually made plans. That is, not until I heard that Mike Gibbins was attending the 'fest in Chicago this year! Well, that decided it; this was definitely the year to go!
Sue: I loved the Beatles but am not as knowledgeable about the Fab 4 as most who were in attendance. I actually wanted to go for three other reasons. I wanted to meet with Sheila, another good friend, (and Beatle fanatic!) to see and meet Neil Innes and yes, to meet and chat with one Mike Gibbins. My "Badfingerfest" experience, (as Peg calls it!) began around 10:30 am Saturday. Peg and I had just bid farewell to our men, (my husband Bill, our son Dan and Peg's son Matt). They were going into Chicago for an afternoon of shopping, sightseeing and Chinese food. Peg and I stood at the balcony and watched for my friend Sheila. We were enjoying watching all the Beatlefest activity bustle and hustle four floors below us. I caught a glimpse of my husband as he got on the ground floor's elevator and, as I tried to catch his eye with my wave, I saw another familiar face. Hey! That looks like Mike! I said, "Peg! Look! Mike!" She wasn't sure what I meant for a split second but then recognized who I meant! Yes! It WAS Mike Gibbins and his lovely wife Ellie!
Peggy: I impulsively shouted out, "Hey, Mike!" which echoed all around this cavernous courtyard. He looked around as if saying, "What the .....?" but couldn't see us. When they got to the bottom of the escalator and were within sight, I shouted, "BADFINGER FOREVER!" (I couldn't believe I was doing this, but I was just so excited to see him!) This time he spotted us and waved, and we waved wildly back and yelled that we'd be down to see him, (events didn't start for another hour or so...) I'm sure he wondered what kind of loonies would show up!
Sue: We found Sheila and the three of us entered the Marketplace exactly at noon. Sheila headed off to do a bit of shopping and Peg and I hurried to meet Mike. We were the first people to reach his table and it was a such a fun moment. Mike could not have been more gracious or sweet, especially after he discovered it had been us who were accosting him from 'on high' just an hour earlier! *smile*
Peggy: I introduced myself and shook his hand, and I know I was talking a mile a minute! He had this bemused look on his face but found out quickly that I
was harmless enough. I was just an over-the-top Badfinger fan who was thrilled to pieces to be meeting one of her idols, that's all! I immediately felt at ease with Mike and Ellie (and their friend, Sharyn, who was helping run the table). I soon got out my camera and started shooting away. I learned that Mike loves to mug for the camera! (On Badfinger's Japanese documentary and on other clips of the band, he's always "pulling faces").
Sue: I wanted to pick up both Mike's CDs and have him autograph them. It was such a nice surprise to meet and chat with Ellie and her friend Sharyn who had come to help them in their booth. Both could not have been sweeter or more helpful. I just had to pick up one of those great T-shirts Mike had to offer. The shirts were printed with a little 'inside' Badfinger humor, and Peg and I just had to add them to our ever growing Badfinger memorabilia collection!
Peggy: Mike liked my "Cavern Club" T-shirt that I was wearing (which I had purchased in Liverpool, England). I told him that I had worn it especially for him, because Badfinger was listed on the back as one of the groups who had "Appeared Live at The World Famous Cavern Club." (So almost every time he saw me, he would say, good-naturedly, "I want that shirt!"). I told him about finding Badfinger's brick in the "Wall Of Fame" outside the Cavern Pub (across Mathew Street from the Cavern Club) and that it was only a brick to the right of George's brick (separated by "The Big Three"). The Beatles are listed as a group and are also listed separately.
Photo by: Neil Fowkes
Peggy: He didn't know about the wall and was really interested! I told him that we also found the brick for The Iveys very close to the John Lennon "Hamburg" statue and even found the brick for Them Calderstones! I asked him if he thought Tommy was still in Them Calderstones when they played The Cavern, or if he had joined The Iveys by then. He thought a minute and then said that he didn't think Tommy had played The Cavern before he joined The Iveys, because he remembered that Tom was so very excited when they first played there. And then when they started playing the evening shows instead of the lunchtime sessions, they could really strut about. They felt they had hit the big time!
Peggy: In the course of our chatting (and buying CDs and T-shirts for myself and friends and having everything autographed, of course), Mike mentioned that
some guys who had a band at the 'fest had asked him if he would like to sit in with them later, but they weren't sure when. Mike told me to keep checking back with him to see when he would play, which I gladly did. I checked in at Mike's table off and on throughout the day, getting to chat a little more with him each time. (It turned out that the event never happened, but it gave me a good excuse to keep showing up!) I told him to keep an eye out for Rick Kellogg, as he was planning on showing up, too. Sue and I eventually ran into Rick at Mike's table, and we all proceeded to talk his ear off!
Peggy: At one point when Mike had been signing autographs for quite a while and wanted to take a break, he asked me to go with him to the hotel's bar for a
drink. We ran into some Badfinger fans from Milwaukee who had been at Mike's table earlier and got chatting with them. I got out my camera and took several shots and asked them for their addresses so I could send them copies. They couldn't believe that I would bother to do that for them. But I said, "You're Badfinger fans, right? Enough said!"
Sue: I really enjoyed meeting Mike and talking to him. He is such a genuine bloke. He patiently posed for many pictures with both Peg and me and that cute, silly, Mike G. patented grin never left his face! Hey Mike! How come *I* have aged over the years since that concert date in 1973 but you didn't? *smile*
Sue: Mike could not have been nicer to me but I really loved seeing how much fun Peggy was having with him. I was delighted to watch her absolutely beam while she exchanged a few giggles, memories, thoughts and ideas with a man whose music has always meant so much to us both. I know we took up a great deal of their time and other autograph seekers were now flitting around the table. It was time for us to see a few more things and have lunch.
Sue: Peg and I split up after lunch so she could get some things done and I could visit with Sheila. Later, I would look for Peg and I knew exactly where I could find her! Uh huh, she was with Mike, Ellie and Sharyn but she was now joined by our own Rick Kellogg! I was finally able to meet Rick and can report that he is as nice as can be.
Sue: We chatted a bit more with Mike and his attractive ladies, and shared a few more bits of laughter. I remember Peg asking Mike if he remembered the concert she and I had attended in 1973. Ellie chuckled , leaned over towards Mike, and said, "Do you even remember *any* of the 70's concerts?" We all got a giggle from that! Mike mentioned that we should all meet at the hotel's bar at the end of the Beatlefest day. He said we could get a booth, have a beer and really talk. We all looked forward to that.
Sue: Rick, Peg, Sheila and I would later go and listen to the wonderful and interesting Klaus Voorman speak. Just after he finished, we met up with the returning adventurers, Bill, Daniel and Matthew. Hungry stomachs were calling so I bid farewell to Rick and assumed I would see him later. Mike and Ellie's friend Sharyn came to the hotel desk to pick up their pizza at the same time we got ours...great minds and all that sort of thing! I hope yours was a yummy as ours Sharyn!
Sue: After dinner, Peg went back down to meet with Rick and Mike but I stayed in the hotel room with the guys. I had injured my arm earlier in the week and, I am sad to say, it was causing me a great deal of pain. I thought I would rest a bit and rejoin Rick and Peg later that evening. After all, we had a date with a member of Badfinger! Unfortunately, I wasn't able to make that 'date' but I was so sure Peg and Rick would! I told Peg that if I don't get back down, do tell Mike what an honor it was to meet him and spend as much time with him as I did. I may not have been able to meet Mike that night but what fun to be asked! If the 16 year old Sue had been able to see into the future...what a kick she would have gotten from that! *laugh*
Peggy: During one of our conversations with Mike, he commented that he liked to 'scribble draw' in odd moments. I asked, "What do you mean?" Mike then grabbed one of his photo sheets, flipped it over and all the while smiling, proceeded to create the above drawing! When asked who it was, Mike just shrugged and stated that it was just a scribble, nothing more. Could it be the Dirty Old Bugger himself or just another unique Mike Gibbins and Badfinger souvenir for my collection?
Sue: Events conspired to keep Peg and Rick from finding Mike that night as well so yes! We 'all' owe him a beer when next we meet...and meet again we shall! Of that I am certain.
Peggy: The day ended on a bummer note for Rick and I, as we lost Mike in the crowd (as Rick tells in his Beatlefest story), but I went back on Sunday to tell Mike, Ellie and Sharyn goodbye and to say what a wonderful time I'd had (and to take one last picture). I'm afraid I wasn't very "Beatle-y" at the Beatlefest; it was much more of a "Badfingerfest" for me! It is absolutely something I will never forget! I'll see you again, Mike, so watch out!!
Sue: Meeting Mike, Ellie, Sharyn and Rick was a delight and makes for a tremendous memory. That said, it was even more memorable because I shared it all with someone like Peggy. Badfinger could not have a better or more loyal fan than she. I am proud to know her, to call her my friend and to have shared so many years of friendship with her.
Peggy: And here is the last photo I took of them, on Sunday morning, Sharyn and Ellie were giving me nice smiles, while Mike was sticking out his tongue! I had to admonish him to behave himself, to which he replied, "I can't be serious!" I said, "I know, but try!", so he gave me a nice smile, too.
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