Rock and Roll trivia question… Who was the first band signed to the Beatles iconic Apple Records label? Your answer … British rockers Badfinger of course.
Badfinger is known for AM/FM radio classics like “No Matter What,” “Baby Blue,” and “Day After Day.” Their hit “Come and Get It,” was written by Paul McCartney and for a time in the early 1970’s, many referred to the band as “the new Beatles.” They had a series of successful albums in the late 60’s and early 70’s before dissolving due to mismanagement and later the suicide of founding member Pete Ham.
Their legacy is strong, however, and various incarnations of the band have toured on and off since breaking up in the mid-70’s. Guitarist Joey Molland, the only surviving member of Badfinger, has toured ever since, and will bring the band to the Greenwich Odeum on November 9th for a special show that includes a complete run through of their most well- known album, Straight Up.
WhatsUpNewp spoke to Molland recently from his home in Minnesota as he was preparing the latest leg of his tour.
“Straight Up was always a very popular album for Badfinger,” noted Molland. “It had a couple of big hits on it; those being “Day After Day” and “Baby Blue.” Our producer came up with the idea to go out and do the show like this and it’s been doing really well. It’s 45 years since it came out. I’ve got a fine young band doing it with me.”
Molland continued, “Usually you tend not to do all of the songs off an album at any given show. I wrote half of the songs on “Straight Up” but many people have never heard them live. It’s been a lot of fun and people are really enjoying the show.”
The album got a lot of attention in 2013 when the song “Baby Blue” closed out the final episode of the hit TV show, Breaking Bad. “It was lovely of the guy to use the song, it was like #1 on ITunes. And it was young people watching the show,” noted Molland.
The 1972 album had some all-star help, as it was produced by George Harrison and Todd Rundgren. Molland recalled.
“George was a really nice, modest guy and a great artist. He was great to work with in all respects. He brought his guitar down, plugged it in and played with us as if he joined the band for a while. We played with him on his All Things Must Pass album and the Bangladesh concert.”
Midway through recording the album, Harrison got busy planning the celebrated “Concert for Bangladesh.”
“George couldn’t finish the record, so he asked Todd who was a good friend of his if he would come over and finish up the record. Todd jumped on it and just started doing it. It was a completely different way of working. He was a bit stricter, harder on us, and wasn’t afraid to shout at us if he didn’t like something.”
Concert for Bangladesh
Soon after, the band joined Harrison for the celebrated “Concert for Bangladesh,” a benefit concert that created the framework for future benefits.
“We were the only musicians who he (George) had played with and knew the Bangladesh record. We flew to New York and met with Ringo, Billy Preston, and George – we rehearsed for a week. By Saturday we had the full band with Leon (Russell) and his band, the LA Horns, backup singers, it was just a knockout. Then Bob Dylan showed up at the soundcheck. He played for about 45 minutes,” Molland recalled.
“The Concerts went really well – the Garden was sold out. It was a very successful venture and its made millions of dollars for UNICEF and for the children of the world. It was all about George putting his heart into it. I’m really happy to have been a part of that.”
Molland is working on a new album with songwriter/producer Mark Hudson who has worked with Aerosmith, Ringo Starr and Cher among others. “More of a bouncy pop record with a lot of energy to it. We did a couple of songs in the studio already and he is brilliant to work with,” explained Molland.
As for the Greenwich Odeum show, “we do the album, and we do some newer stuff and a couple of the other hits. It’s a bit of a loose format and we like to give the audience a bit of amusement as well. We tell a couple of stories, jam a little, it’s a good time.”
Badfinger Starring Joey Molland plays the Greenwich Odeum on November 9th. The Brooks Young Band opens at 8PM. Tickets available here. Meanwhile, Check out some video of Badfinger through the years below.