For years Jeff Alan Ross’s showpiece in Peter Asher’s acclaimed Peter Asher: A Musical Memoir Of The ‘60s And Beyond, Featuring The Music Of Peter and Gordon has been Badfinger’s big hit “Day After Day”—which only stands to reason.
Ross, who plays keyboards and guitar in Asher’s band and is its musical director, was a latter-day member of Badfinger in the 1980s, and still sings the legendary band’s hits better than anybody.
And Asher, of course, headed A&R for The Beatles’ Apple Records label, after his own legendary British Invasion duo career with the late Gordon Waller as Peter and Gordon. Badfinger was originally signed to Apple.
“When the Breaking Bad thing happened, ‘Baby Blue’ blew up in a great way,” says Ross. “It was the second-most downloaded recurrence of a song after ‘Don’t Stop Believin’’ was covered on Glee. It reached No. 1 on iTunes and re-entered the Billboard charts. We were going, ‘How did this ever happen?’ All these young kids were Badfinger fans, and the band got rediscovered. It was really cool!”
“Baby Blue,” Ross notes, was written by Badfinger’s lead singer and songwriter Pete Ham, who was 27 when he committed suicide in 1975.
“He's an underappreciated songwriter,” says Ross. “He wrote so many other great songs that people aren’t familiar with, and it would be great if they heard them.”
To this end, Ross, who worked with Asher on the 2011 PBS special Buddy Holly: Listen To Me/The Ultimate Buddy Party—which Asher co-hosted, performed in and acted as music supervisor/audio producer—hopes to get some kind of similar Ham tribute going.
“I’m trying to figure out a way to make it happen,” he says. “I know that people like Alison Krauss is a big Badfinger fan, and when we were doing the Buddy Holly special, Lyle Lovett, who was in it, found out I was in Badfinger and came over to talk about it. I’m assuming there are a lot of these people you wouldn’t think were Badfinger fans: We just have to find them all and get them together, and it would be really great to do it while the Breaking Bad thing is still fresh.”
As it turns out, there will be a Peter Asher’s British Invasion show in Vancouver in April, to feature, in addition to Asher, Badfinger’s Joey Molland—the only surviving member of the original lineup—and The Hollies’ Terry Sylvester.
Ross, who was in New York with Asher and his band for last weekend’s Fest For Beatles Fans (he performed at the 1987 Beatles Fest with Badfinger), has been working with Asher since 2006, and also plays solo.
“I did a string of opening dates for Albert Lee a few years ago and opened every one with ‘Baby Blue,’” he says. “That’s the kind of thing you do when you’re an opening act and people don’t know who you are.”
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