Pete Ham Plaque Unveiling and Tribute Concert
26th and 27th of April 2013
Story & photos provided by Janet Sears
When I heard that there was to be a weekend of celebrations for Pete Ham in Swansea, Wales I felt really thrilled. Long overdue, I thought! There would be a Blue Plaque ceremony, followed by a concert to be arranged by Bob Jackson, on 27 April 2013, which would have been Pete's 66th birthday. This would, incidentally, be the first Blue Plaque to be awarded in Swansea, and it just felt so fantastic that it would be to commemorate the Iveys and Badinger.
I booked a hotel, and travelled to Swansea on Friday 26 April, feeling really excited, if a little apprehensive. That evening Keith James arranged a meal at a Chinese restaurant for Badinger friends and fans, which was very enjoyable, and soon old friendships were renewed and new ones made. I met some people I had not seen since the Convention in 2006. There was a lovely friendly atmosphere, and we eagerly awaited the events of the following day.
I wandered down Wind Street the next morning (and a lovely spring day it was too!) towards Ivey Place, the square after which the Iveys were named, next to the train station. The stage was being set up for an acoustic set to take place before the actual ceremony, and people were arriving - Iveys and Badinger members, families, friends and fans, and Swansea people who maybe just wanted to see what all the fuss was about.
Bob Jackson and Janet Sears
The music began at about 10:30 AM with various people, including Keith James, Mal Pope, Al Wodtke, James Skinner and Loraine King, singing Badinger songs. There was a brilliant feeling in the air. I found myself jigging about to the music, and was also able to wander around to chat to people such as Bob Jackson, Ron Griffiths, Al Wodtke and many others.
Keith JamesPetera takes the stageAl Wodtke
Towards the end, Swansea council member Nick Bradley spoke about how proud the town was of Pete. Tributes were received from many people, including one from Olivia Harrison who sent a message saying that George often spoke about Pete with fondness and respect.
"I have had the pleasure of meeting Pete's family and, although I did not know Pete himself, his lyrics and recordings embody a gentle spirit and tender heart. Congratulations and love on this occasion." --Olivia Harrison
Dan Matovina then took to the stage and addressed the crowd, praising Pete and his work. Pete's wife, Anne, and daughter, Petera, born a month after he died, were in the audience, and a very pregnant Petera went on stage and spoke lovingly of her father. Then the moment arrived. She, and councillor David Phillips, unveiled the Blue Plaque, to much applause. It was a special moment! I felt a lump in my throat to see Pete Ham immortalised in this way. It was very fitting that the Plaque also bore the names of Ron Griffiths, David Jenkins, Mike Gibbins, Tom Evans, Joey Molland and Bob Jackson.
Video of the presentation ceremony (40 minutes)Close up of the Blue Plaque
After this, there was a private bar open at the Grand Hotel across from the train station where family and friends could meet up for coffee and drinks, and I was honoured to be included. There I met and chatted to, among others, Anne and Petera, Beverley, Marianne, Roy Anderson (who was the Panthers' drummer), Bob's lovely family, Keith and Ruth James, and Marilyn Jones.
Anne and PeteraBeverley and Janet
The Concert was at the Grand Theatre, and began at 4:30 PM. I found my seat, and waited with eager anticipation. The atmosphere was electric! I am sure that Bob put such a lot of effort into arranging it, which cannot have been an easy task. However, it all seemed to go really well.
The first half comprised other local artists who had been influenced by Pete's music. The line-up included Sarah Passmore, Mal Pope, Karl Morgan, and members of the Storys - Steve Balsamo, Rosalie Deighton, Andy Collins and Alan Thomas. Steve and Rosalie, who also record together as Balsamo/Deighton, sang their own lovely version of Apple of my Eye. They all put on a marvelous show, singing wonderful renditions of Badinger songs. I was sitting there enjoying it all so much, and also getting so excited about the second half.
After the interval, Bob Jackson came on stage, along with the band that he had formed especially for the event: Ron Griffiths, David Jenkins, Eddie Mooney, Al Wodtke, Anthony Harty and Matt Hart. They each put their heart and soul into the show. So many of Pete's and other Bad/Iveys' songs were performed. The highlight, for me, was an emotional Bob performing his brilliant I Won't Forget You, the number he wrote for his friend Pete after his death, and which Bob later sang for Tommy too. This song has never been officially released - it really should be!
(l to r) Anthony Harty, Ron Griffiths, Matt Hart (drums), Eddie Mooney, Al Wodtke and Bob Jackson
Video of I Won't Forget You - Bob Jackson (5 minutes)
Another special moment happened when Bob introduced his very talented daughter Emily, and they sang together an incredible version of Moonshine and the beautiful John Forgot To Sing. Tears came into my eyes at times! Bob spoke about lovely memories he has of his friend Pete, describing him as not only a talented song-writer but also a great singer with a beautiful voice, a description I could echo.
Bob and Emily Jackson
Ron and Dai had their own section of the show doing Iveys numbers, and it really looked as if they had never been away! It still came so naturally to them, and the audience enjoyed hearing Midnight Sun, I Believe in You, Ron's special Dear Angie, the beautiful Blodwyn, Man Without a Heart (with Dai singing lead) and the finale Come and Get It.
It was fantastic to have so many Badinger and Iveys songs sung to us: others were:
David Jenkins (Dai) and Ron Griffiths perform together!
Andrew Keen, one of the organizers of the whole event along with Andrew Spencer-Thomas, spoke near the end of the Concert, and appealed for funds for Papyrus, a charity for the prevention of young suicides, a cause close to Bob's heart. I heard later that the fantastic sum of £2939 had been raised through profits from the concert and donations.
The Concert was over all too soon. It was a one-off, so special, a landmark event for Pete and Badinger. It brought back so many memories for me. What a great future that band could have had, had circumstances been different! I would like to thank Bob Jackson for all that he did, both on stage and in the organization. It was absolutely wonderful to be there!
On the Sunday morning, some people went to Morriston Cemetery to see the granite monument engraved for Pete. However, due to a mix-up in arrangements, I didn't make it. Still, I felt I must go there for a visit, so went back to Swansea a few weeks later, met up with Marilyn Jones, and she and I went to the cemetery. We were able to spend time there alone "with Pete", to remember him and collect our thoughts. After this, Marilyn kindly gave me a tour round Swansea and the surrounding area, taking in old Iveys haunts, and finishing with a Joe's ice cream!
I now look back on Swansea 2013 with such fond memories of being at possibly the biggest and grandest Badinger-related gathering to date - a very special and thoroughly enjoyable experience!
Pete's grandson - Luca William Ham-Eddie was born on 20 August 2013!
Janet Sears 2014
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