Friday, March 26, 2010

Badfinger: Without You

It was a double number one record that will forever be linked to greed and two suicides. It was Badfinger’s biggest song, yet most individuals have never heard this recording that closed out side one on their second (actually third counting the Ivey’s LP) album “No Dice.” The song was written by Pete Ham and Tom Evans and the tune resulted from an intentional conglomeration of two distinct compositions.

The bulk of the information for this post comes from Dan Matovina's "Without You: The Tragic Story of Badfinger."  Matovina's published account is not universally accepted as being accurate, as some posts below will indicate.  For the other side of the story, see the comments after this post.  As with every story, there are multiple sides that often conflict in details with each other.

From Matovina's perspective --

The story is that Pete Ham had written a new song but was not satisfied with the chorus. Tom Evans was writing a new song and while liking his own chorus was dissatisfied with the verses. Ham and Evans combined their efforts into one tune that incorporated the best parts of the individual songs.

This marriage of melodies produced the biggest royalty generating composition in the band’s history as two covers of the song were number one hits for Harry Nilsson and Mariah Carey. ASCAP estimates that 180 artists have covered this song.



Not only was it their biggest composition, the song inspired one of the band’s biggest problems and that was the sharing of royalties among all members. It also was strangely prophetic as both writers ended up committing suicide by hanging – they couldn’t live due to financial issues that ultimately surrounded this and other recordings.

Pete Ham died in 1975 and Tom Evans in 1983. Ham killed himself over problems regarding their financial manager, Stan Polley. This was evident in his suicide note; Ham closed out the tome by stating, “PS Stan Polley is a souless bastard. I will take him with me.”

Faux Live Version with Pete Ham singing lead




The greed associated with Badfinger began with Nilsson's recording of "Without You." Nilsson's early success with the song was noticed by guitarist Joey Molland who suggested a royalty arrangement that would benefit all of Badfinger including Bill Collins. Although the arrangement would not go into effect until after Pete’s death, it may have ultimately led to Tom Evans' demise.

In the early 1980s, guitarist Molland, drummer Mike Gibbins, and manager Bill Collins began pressuring Evans to concede to a loosely agreed upon distribution of royalties. While all of the band agreed upon the arrangement prior to Pete Ham's death, it never was put into effect.

Molland and the others were now looking at cashing in on the success of “Without You” and the Pete Ham composed hit singles. After Evans and Molland had a heated telephone conversation, Tom hanged himself in his garden the following mornign.

Rare Recording with Tom Evans Singing Lead




Following Evans' death, Molland, Gibbins, and Collins began pressing the heirs of Pete Ham and Tom Evans about the song royalty arrangement. The three surviving members claimed that the arrangement was to be 25% for a song’s writer and the remaining 75% was to be split five ways among all four members of Badfinger and Bill Collins who legally was a full, but not performing, member of the band.

The Ham and Evans heirs conceded that a loose verbal agreement did exist; however, they contested the percentage amounts. Under the Molland, Gibbins, and Collins arrangement, a single songwriter would only have 40% of a song he had written as a single author. For compositions like “Without You,” Ham and Evans each would receive only 27.5%.

Harry Nilsson’s beautiful demo recording




The heirs of both writers of “Without You” claimed that the royalties were to be divided with the song composers receiving the lion’s share at 50% and the remaining 50% was to be divided five ways. This arrangement gave single authors a total of 60% share of the royalties and in the case of “Without You,” the estates of Ham and Evans would each receive 35% of the songwriting royalties. Other royalty issues concerning publishing royalties and royalties for sales from LPs on the Apple Record label also arose during this period.

Harry Nilsson’s Hit from Nilsson Schmilsson




After much litigation, the courts upheld the 50% arrangement with the remaining 50% to be divided among all five members. While Ham's and Evans' estates were the legal victors, the arrangement meant that the larger royalty payments were to be divided across all members rather than the official songwriters.

To add insult to injury, both estates were required to pay Molland, Gibbins, and Collins back royalties from where both writers were paid each 50% on the performance royalties of “Without You” and other compositions. Pete Ham's estate took the larger hit. Although "Without You" remains credited to Pete Ham and Tom Evans, ASCAP's royalties schedules includes the names of all five, who were now receiving royalty payments, as coauthors.

Mariah Carey’s #1 Version



Due to Mariah Carey’s success in 1994, ASCAP had planned to honor the songwriters of “Without You,” as it had became one of the top fifty songs that was played in the previous year. Carey’s version that was released a few days after Harry Nilsson death from cancer had outsold Nilsson’s version which was the “Song of the Year” in 1972.

Because of the five Badfinger members were being honored rather than the actual composers, Pete Ham’s daughter Petera opted not to travel to the US to accept her father’s award. Marianne and Stephen Evans, Tom’s widow and son, both attended but found out at the last moment that Molland, Gibbins, and Collins were attending and intended to accept their awards for the song. Wanting this corrected, Marianne Evans contacted ASCAP, however, the performing rights society upheld that their records had all five as coauthors and all five would be honored.

Joey Molland Singing Lead




During the ceremony Molland stole the show by holding up his award for which he had been collecting royalties, yet had not participated in the composition process. It gave the appearance that Molland was the primary author. This further drove a wedge between former bandmates and their families.

Obviously, none could live without the royalties of a song that was created only by Pete Ham and Tom Evans. Currently, Molland is the only living member of the five-some. Collins died in 2002 and Gibbins in 2005. Their estates, as well as those of Ham and Evans, continue to receive royalties from "Without You" and will do for some time.

13 comments:

  1. Pete Ham wrote a song for joey molland called *Take It All*.

    And greedy joey just about did. How very sad. Shame on collins and gibbins, too.

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  2. You started a paragraph in the beginning with the words, "The greed associated with Badfinger..." What saddens me about this inaccurate statement is that in the chronology of your story is that it comes before the death of Ham and Evans. Ham just wanted heating oil to keep his son from getting another cold. Be careful with your word placement.

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  3. Melissa:

    Pete Ham and Tom Evans were the innocent parties in this - others profited from their work and were even credited with its creation. It started with the success of "Without You" that others sought to profit from their work.

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  4. Pete Ham and Tom Evans were far too nice when they should have been kicking asses, including some in the band.

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  5. Wow! Are you intentionally trying to mislead people? Most of what you have written is blatantly untrue and I find it difficult to believe you do not know this. Molland had nothing to do with the sharing of royalties. It was an agreement among the Iveys for ALL of their songs before he even joined the band and they became Badfinger. The problem was NOT Molland, Gibbins, and Collins; it was the Ham estate and Evans who knowingly started receiving royalties in the late '70s that were supposed to be split amongst the entire band. It was the states of Ham and Evans that tried to change the original agreement because the song was a cash cow; not the other way around.

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  6. "Nilsson's early success with the song was noticed by guitarist Joey Molland who suggested a royalty arrangement that would benefit all of Badfinger including Bill Collins."

    Zero truth to this. The agreement for the band to share their songwriting royalties goes back to the Iveys, before Molland had even joined.

    "Although the arrangement would not go into effect until after Pete’s death..."

    The arrangement had always been in effect. The agreement became circumvented when Evans had ASCAP royalties sent directly to himself and the Ham estate after Pete died. Publishing royalties would continue to go into an escrow account to be divided later.

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  7. "In the early 1980s, guitarist Molland, drummer Mike Gibbins, and manager Bill Collins began pressuring Evans to concede to a loosely agreed upon distribution of royalties."

    There was nothing "loose" about the agreement. It had always been in place. Ask ANYONE around the band and they will tell you this. This was never contested. Gibbins, Molland, and Collins only learned that Evans and the Ham estate were improperly receiving ASCAP royalties shortly before Tommy's death.

    "While all of the band agreed upon the arrangement prior to Pete Ham's death, it never was put into effect."

    It was always in effect until Evans changed the ASCAP payment policy in the later '70s. Publishing royalties ALWAYS followed the agreement.

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  8. "Following Evans' death, Molland, Gibbins, and Collins began pressing the heirs of Pete Ham and Tom Evans about the song royalty arrangement."

    It was the other way around. Everyone knew that the band had an agreement to share in all of their song royalties. The Ham and Evans estates tried to unsuccessfully argue that cover versions of "Without You" were exempt. The agreement for the band to share in each other's songs is not an uncommon one. Many bands do this. It's a means to create a partnership that supports each member of the band. The drummer for REM earns the same royalties that Michael Stipe makes even when he had no songwriting input. You don't have to like the arrangement but Badfinger made it for a reason and it wasn't until after two deaths that heirs tried to change the arrangement.

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  9. "Because of the five Badfinger members were being honored rather than the actual composers, Pete Ham’s daughter Petera opted not to travel to the US to accept her father’s award."

    A complete fabrication on your part.

    "Marianne and Stephen Evans, Tom’s widow and son, both attended but found out at the last moment that Molland, Gibbins, and Collins were attending and intended to accept their awards for the song."

    Completely untrue. Arrangement were made well in advance for all parties to attend. It gave them a chance to discuss business and visit on a personal level. Which is what they did. I have photos of the Evans, Mollands, and Gibbins having a great time together after the ceremony.

    "Wanting this corrected, Marianne Evans contacted ASCAP, however, the performing rights society upheld that their records had all five as coauthors and all five would be honored."

    Actually, it was Joey Molland who contacted ASCAP about the error in songwriting credits. ASCAP has said that they can't adjust it as it would affect how their system pays out royalties. Sorry that doesn't fit your agenda.

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  10. "During the ceremony Molland stole the show by holding up his award for which he had been collecting royalties, yet had not participated in the composition process. It gave the appearance that Molland was the primary author."

    Appearance to whom? Nobody knew in advance they would be called up to receive awards. This isn't the Oscars or Grammys. It wasn't televised. Joey was excited to receive the award on behalf of Pete and Tommy. He was smiling and held it up toward their table. If Stephen Evans had done the same would anybody be insinuating he was trying to steal his Father's thunder? There is no real controversy here, It was all created by one sole individual and his lemmings who follow his twisted agenda.
    I posted facts. I don't lie to try and make my musical heroes look like some sort of martyrs. Badfinger was a band with four very talented members. But these members were ALL human and they ALL made mistakes and had their faults. None of them deserved the bad deal that they got and the tragedy continues when so called fans usurp the truth to further their crazed agendas.

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  11. Just to clarify one more thing for those who don't know better, there wasn't any "litigation" regarding "Without You". The band's money had been siphoned off by their American business manager Stan Polley. Until 1975, all of their earnings were going into an American company called Badfinger Enterprises in which Polley owned 51%. Band members received a small weekly allowance and nothing else. In '75, Molland asked Apple to stop paying out royalties as the band wasn't receiving the money. Apple had the English court set up an escrow account in which all record and publishing royalties would be paid until the band could sort out the legal matters. There was never ANY "litigation" in the matter. It was all handled through arbitration. It was finally settled in 1983.
    These are the facts. Ask anybody who actually KNOWS and they will tell you this.

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  12. Better late than never...

    I have to say, Jim, that you should read Matovina's book again regarding the "Without You" song and the royalties subject. You have a few of your facts a little confused, although not as many as BadfingerBarb would have you believe.

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    Replies
    1. BadfingerBarb said: "There was nothing 'loose' about the agreement..." This is wrong. Manager Bill Collins admitted late in life that there was never any written agreement regarding sharing royalties. And even the unclear verbal agreement was supposed to expire in 1972, according to meeting minutes of Badfinger Enterprises. A verbal agreement is certainly a "loose" one as not everyone would remember it the same way.

      Jim wrote: "Petera opted not to travel to the US to accept her father’s award."
      BadfingerBarb countered: "A complete fabrication on your part."
      Jim is correct. Pete Ham's daughter stated so a couple times, most recently in a 2009 BBC Wales interview.

      BadfingerBarb wrote: "Actually, it was Joey Molland who contacted ASCAP about the error in songwriting credits." I seriously doubt this. Barb cites no verifiable source for the statement, and Joey Molland's track record has never been one to correct errors. Quite the contrary, errors often originate with him.

      BadfingerBarb wrote: "... there wasn't any 'litigation' regarding "Without You". Although this is technically correct, all parties who had a claim to Badfinger song publishing were pressed into court in 1985 for a division settlement. And though the "Without You" song was written by Ham and Evans, their estates were outnumbered by Collins, Molland and Gibbins when entering into the settlement.

      BadfingerBarb wrote: "It was all created by one sole individual and his lemmings who follow his twisted agenda." This is a common claim by Barb, who is a longstanding Joey groupie who follows him from venue to venue in the Midwest. He has no other credible source for information other than whatever Joey has offered him, and much of that has been flatly countered by other eyewitnesses.

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