THE SPECIFICS: JOEY MOLLAND'S BADFINGER: 9 p.m., Sat., Feb. 23, 2013, Famous Dave's Blues Club, corner of W. Lake St. and Hennepin Av. S., Uptown, Mpls., MN, $15 advance, $20 day of show, $25 V.I.P., www.badfingersite.com, www.famousdavesbluesclub.com.
Joey Molland is a survivor in addition to his talents as a musician, a trait that dates back to his association with the original members of Badfinger. In 1969, Molland was playing guitar behind Gary Walker (The Walker Brothers) with the Rain. They were successful in Japan but not in the U.K., Molland's country of origin (Liverpool). Following Rain's disbanding, Molland auditioned for and was hired by Badfinger. The other members included Pete Ham, Tom Evans and Mike Gibbins.
Badfinger, renamed from the Iveys, already had released an album ("Maybe Tomorrow") but it had failed to chart and they needed a single quickly. It ended up being their good fortune and bad luck being aboard the Apple Records label. For all their musical genius, the Beatles collectively had horrible business acumen and it was Badfinger that would pay the highest price. Despite being so talented that people thought of them as the Beatles reincarnated, Badfinger fell victim to the worst possible business management, something that would carry over to their transfer to the Warner Brothers label.
Songs like "Carry On Till Tomorrow", "No Matter What" and "Day After Day" exemplified the high quality of their work. They rode McCartney's "Come and Get It", that elusive single, into the Top Ten. All exterior indicators showed the bad should be highly successful. In essence, they were, even receiving a salary. But behind the scenes, things were actually so bad that the band itself was shut down in 1974 due to legal hearings involving their manager, Stan Polley. In 1975, Pete Ham hanged himself rather than face an uncertain future.
Fast forward several years to the reunion minus Ham and the terrible cycle repeated itself. Again, their singles were beginning to chart and the album "Airwaves" was selling well. Internally, bad management and artisticl struggles again surfaced to the extent that Tom Evans hanged himself in 1983.
In 2005, Mike Gibbins died of a brain aneurysm. Molland's wife, Kathie, died in 2009, four months before the band's crooked manager Stan Polley died. It's one of rock's most tragic tales, especially in light of how good they were as a band and how well their music has endured the sands of time.
Molland, now living in Minnesota, is not as active as he once was but the music of Badfinger is too good to allow to lie dormant. As the sole surviving member of Badfinger, Molland still takes a new version of the band on the road to keep that music alive. He will bring that band to the intimate confines of Famous Dave's later this month for another chance to delve into his past.