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GONZO WEEKLY #57: Jon meets Joey Molland

I have been a Beatles fan for more years than I would like to remember, and for much of that time I have also been an obsessive collector of books about (and memorabilia apertaining to) the band and Apple Records. I even wrote a book (probably best forgotten) about The Beatles myself, and I count myself vaguely knowledgeable about them, and the other acts who recorded for their record company.

So I was very pleased when I had to write this particular sales note:

Poor Badfinger; if ever there was a pop group “born under a bad sign” it was them. Things started off quite auspiciously. As The Iveys they signed to The Beatles’ Apple Records and had a hit single. However, they decided that their name and their image were a little old fashioned, and for some reason they decided to lose their guitarist. So enter Joey Molland. and Badfinger was born.
 

They had hit singles with the Paul McCartney penned Come and Get It (recorded just as Griffiths was leaving the band) and No Matter What, and perhaps their greatest moment was when Harry Nilsson had a massive worldwide hit with their song Without You in 1972. After that it was all downhill. And downhill very very fast.
 
The band were the last non-Beatles artists to release an album on Apple, and a move to Warner Brothers was not a success.
 
There were grave management issues (which were so contentious that even now it is probably not safe to put in writing) and – probably as a result of these internal pressures – two members of the band (Pete Ham in 1975 and Tom Evans in 1983) committed suicide by hanging.
 
Joey Molland, who had written the vast majority of the group’s later output, remains an immensely under-rated and very talented songwriter, whose career has been blighted by the appalling catalogue of disasters which had overtaken his band.
 
But now he is back with a fantastic new album: “ I did the record in Memphis and so it’s called Return to Memphis. I started out loving Memphis music …Elvis and all that. A lot of great rockers came from there. So I opted to go down there and make a record and it was a great experience.”
 
He goes on  to say:
 
 “I wrote all the songs myself and they’re quite meaningful, I’d have to say, for me anyway, you know everybody gets what they get out of songs themselves. But I think the songs talk about things that are relevant and I look forward to people’s reactions to it. The sound is very different … there’s no real Badfinger power chords or anything like that. No real jamming guitars … I do play some slide on it. I had four girls come in to sing ‘oohs and aahs’ and harmonies which was nice, and I played with a lot of three piece rhythm section down in Memphis. So it’s a really simple sounding record and I’m just hoping that people will like it.”
 
Originally from Liverpool, Molland now lives in America, where he continues to write and perform some beautiful music. Let’s hope, with arrival of this fantastic record that is star is finally in the ascendant.
 
If so, then there really is some justice in the universe.

And then, the other day I bit the bullet and rang Joey up. Listen to our conversation here.

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