British rock history on stage at Calumet Theatre

The band Badfinger will be playing at the Calumet Theatre this June 26, reconstructed after a long and notable history.
Badfinger, a classic British pop band of the 1960s and 1970s, will play Calumet Theatre in Calumet 7:30 p.m. Friday, June 26.

Originally called The Iveys, they hailed from Swansea, Wales. In 1970 they were joined by Joey Molland, a member of the Liverpool band The Merseys. The Iveys were rechristened as Badfinger and went on to rock 'n' roll stardom. Joey Molland is the last surviving member of the original Badfinger group still working and leads a reconstituted band.
 
Back in the day, Badfinger was counted among the very best of rock 'n' roll bands, playing large venues and co-billed with rock royalty like the Yardbirds, the Spencer Davis Group, The Who, The Moody Blues and George Harrison. They were immensely popular in the United States, more so than in their native Great Britain.    
 
Badfinger reached the highest pinnacle of rock-star status when they were signed to Apple Records, by the Beatles. They first rose to prominence recording Paul McCartney's "Come and Get It," which became their first smash hit and was featured in the counterculture film The Magic Christian in 1970, featuring Peter Sellers, Ringo Starr and Monty Python players John Cleese and Graham Chapman.
 
World-wide renown for Badfinger followed with songs like "No Matter What," "Without You," "Day After Day," and "Baby Blue."
 
"Without You," written by Pete Ham, the band's principal songwriter and lead singer, and Tom Evans, songwriter and back-up vocalist, was rerecorded by Harry Nilsson in 1972. It became one of the world's biggest smash hits and has been covered by singers like Frank Sinatra, Mariah Carey, Shirley Bassey, Andy Williams and rock groups like Heart, Air Supply and more than 200 other artists.
 
Badfinger had a fantastic sound, and when the Beatles broke up in 1970, rock 'n' roll media tipped Badfinger to become the next Beatles-like super group. This was not to be, as misfortune struck the band.
 
In one of the tragedies of  rock 'n' roll history, Badfinger fell under bad management, losing its income and impoverishing the band members. The ensuing legal wrangling caused Pete Ham to take his own life in 1975. Joey Molland and Tom Evans tried to keep the band going, but legal and financial problems could not be surmounted, and Tom Evans took his own life in 1983. The history of Badfinger has been retold numerous times in BBC documentaries, books, and magazine and newspaper articles and is one of the saddest chronicles you'll ever encounter.
 
Now, we can only muse on what might have been. In their short history, they rose to rock 'n' roll fame and had they remained intact, they likely would have been one of rock's all-time great bands. Those of us from this era still feel the pinch of nostalgia when we hear that classic Badfinger sound. In fact, their music continues to inspire and two years ago, their hit "Baby Blue" again rose to the top of the charts when it was featured on the popular television show "Breaking Bad."
 
Joey Molland, over the years, has worked with rock legends George Harrison, John Lennon, John Shirley (Humble Pie), Peter Frampton and most recently with 10,000 Maniacs. The Liverpool lad has since relocated to Minneapolis, and is keeping the Badfinger legend going. So if you're up for a bit of British rock history, the Calumet Theatre is the place to be this June 26.
 
Jesse Wright is a freelance writer who lives in Marquette, Michigan.
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