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GONZO WEEKLY #70: Joey Molland remembers

I have been a Beatles fan for about 40 years now, since someone at school lent me a copy of Sgt Pepper, and over the years I have amassed quite a collection of Beatles-related odds and sods. I am also fascinated with Apple Records; a gloriously quixotic concept that was quite probably doomed to failure, but which produced some transcendentally wonderful music before its eventual collapse into bitterness and acrimony.

Everyone agrees that the most successful band on the label, apart from the Fab Four themselves were Badfinger.

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  reasons that remain obscure they also decided to change their guitarist. Exit Ron Griffiths and enter Joey Molland. 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.

Originally from Liverpool, Molland now lives in America, where he continues to write and perform some beautiful music. Let’s hope, with the release and re-releases of some of his most exquisite records on Gonzo that his star is finally in the ascendant.

He is also a very nice bloke, and I always enjoy talking to him. The other evening I telephoned him for a chat about some of the extraordinary things he has done in his long career.  In this, the first of  a two part interview he talks about how he got started in his musical career, and reminisces about life at Apple, and some of the recordings that he worked on.  He shares his memories off Phil Spector, Derek Taylor and Richard DiLello amongst others, and he recalls other Apple artistes like the legendary Jackie Lomax (who died last year) and working on albums by George Harrison and John Lennon.


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