COME AND GET BADFINGER — (via Far Out Magazine) There’s a reason why Paul McCartney was called controlling by the other members of the Beatles. However, he had good reason for it, because when Macca had a vision for a song, he could make it happen, and if he says it will be a success, then it most likely will be.
When McCartney was commissioned to write a song for the film, The Magic Christian, starring fellow Beatle Ringo Starr, Macca would end up writing ‘Come and Get It’, which was then recorded by Badfinger under Macca’s guidance and would prove to be the band’s long-needed breakthrough.
Before Badfinger became the international sensation we now know them as, they were called The Iveys.
Consisting of Pete Ham, Mike Gibbins, Joey Molland, and Tom Evans, it seemed like they were having a hard time making it to the next level. Their last single hit a wall at number 67 in the charts.
The connection between the Fab Four and Badfinger is a close one: the latter’s manager at the time, Bill Collins, had played in a jazz band with McCartney’s dad, and when the opportunity arose, Collins introduced his group to Mal Evans, The Beatles’ roadie.
After the Iveys changed their name to Badfinger (named after the first draft of ‘With A Little From My Friends’ – ‘Bad Finger Boogie’), Badfinger became the first band to be signed to Apple Records.
McCartney presented ‘Come and Get It’ to the group, and had a hunch that if they recorded it exactly the way he had it on his demo, it would get them their first international hit. “McCartney said, ‘Look, I’ve got this song; I’ve been asked to do the film and I really don’t have the time. Do you wanna do it?’” Tom Evans told Glenn A. Baker in 1983, according to Ultimate Classic Rock.
“I said to Badfinger, ‘Okay, it’s got to be exactly like this demo,’ because it had a great feeling on it,” Macca recalled. “They actually wanted to put their own variations on, but I said, ‘No, this really is the right way.’ They listened to me – I was producing, after all – and they were good,” McCartney added, according to Ultimate Classic Rock.
Macca had recorded his demo of the simple but catchy tune with engineer, Phil McDonald, when it was briefly considered for Abbey Road. A few days after he finished his version, he showed Badfinger the song on August 2nd, 1969. “Just copy that, the way it is, and I think you’ll have a hit with it,’ you know? So, we all learned all the parts on it. We did it in about three hours,” Evans added.
While one can imagine how excruciating the process might have been for Evans and the rest of the group, they endured it, as they were looking for that extra push. Why wouldn’t one follow the guidance of one of the main songwriters of The Beatles? In the end, the recording session paid off and it is quite unbelievable that if you listen to both versions – Macca’s and Badfinger’s – except for the vocals, it is very hard to tell the difference between the two.
According to Ultimate Classic Rock, Evans noticed that John Lennon and Yoko Ono were present at the studio near the end. As the pair were leaving Abbey Road studios, Lennon, with his scathing sense of humour, looked over to McCartney and said: “Oh, wise one, oh sage, show us the light.” He said this as a sarcastic dig at Macca’s controlling nature.
Can you blame McCartney? After all, Badfinger’s ‘Come and Get It’ peaked at number four in the UK and number seven in the US. It was a hit.
Listen to the track here: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=N3TOcw7taBo
Badfinger was a great band. Ham and Evans wrote “Without You” that catapulted Nilsson to fame. They notoriously had bad management, not Bill Collins, but the two Stans that they signed with.
It’s a sad, sad story for sure, as each time Badfinger looked to be the next big thing … they suddenly weren’t.
There’s a number of books and videos about the band; they’re terrifically revealing and sad. Outright greed if you ask me.
GEORGE & GILLIAM — (via Far Out Magazine) When The Beatles split up, George Harrison thought his life would be plain sailing. The days of working under bolshie creative leaders had ended once he’d swam away from the grips of the John Lennon and Paul McCartney partnership. However, one prickly film director sent Harrison on an unwanted trip down memory lane.
For the first time in a long while, Harrison had the freedom to do whatever he pleased after the dissolution of The Beatles. If he had a desire to create a solo record, he’d find a studio to turn that ambition into an actuality. When he missed the camaraderie of life in a band, he called up some famous friends and formed The Travelling Wilbury’s. Harrison never thought too many steps ahead and went wherever the water took him. His accidental parry into the illuminating world of film production was beautifully organic.
The so-called ‘Quiet Beatle’ was blessed with funny bones and was always captivated with comedy, especially Monty Python. He even wrote a fan letter to the BBC after the first episode of Flying Circus aired in 1969 when The Beatles were at the height of their fame. Over the next few years, his friendship with Python’s Eric Idle would blossom. “His friendship meant an enormous amount to me,” Idle once said. “I was going through a broken marriage at the time. He was very encouraging and friendly and supportive. We’d go to his house and play guitars.”
When EMI pulled the funding on Monty Python’s feature film Life Of Brian in 1978 after chairman Lord Delfont expressed his repulsion at the script, Idle made a call to Harrison, and the film was miraculously back on.
Harrison gambled everything by remortgaging his Oxfordshire mansion (Friar Park) to finance the movie, and his bold risk paid off in spectacular fashion. His production company, HandMade Films, became a passion project that Harrison wholly adored. However, when he produced 1981’s Time Bandits, he found himself clashing heads with Python director Terry Gilliam.
Gilliam’s creative vision vehemently grappled with Harrison’s. The latter was under the impression that the soundtrack would be full of original tracks that he’d written, yet, the director had other plans. Not only was Harrison the one funding the film, but he was also a former Beatle. Nevertheless, that didn’t matter to Gilliam, who wasn’t prepared to be walked over. Understandably, Harrison was incensed and reportedly told the director: “You remind me of John Lennon. You’re so difficult, so bolshie.”
The two visionaries ended up coming to a compromise with Harrison’s track ‘Dream Away’ soundtracking the closing credits to the film. Time Bandits was a rousing success at theatres and reaped over $42 million at the box office from just a $5 million budget. Seemingly, there was no lasting bad blood between Gilliam and Harrison. When the director opened up about their friendship with Metro in 2016, the national treasure had nothing but superlatives to say and described him as a “joy”.
“With George, he’s always referred to as the ‘quiet Beatle’ – not at all! Just a jabber mouth,” he lovingly remembered. “He was incredibly funny, that’s the other side that people aren’t aware of. They go ‘ohhh spiritual’. No, he was incredibly funny and we just had a great time.”
Gilliam went as far as saying that his whole career as a director is thanks to Harrison taking a risk on him and allowing him the opportunity to make his directorial debut. “I wouldn’t be here talking to you if it wasn’t for HandMade Films,” he added to the publication. “The world wouldn’t have Time Bandits, A Private Function. It wouldn’t have any of these things…It’s very simple. To have a Beatle as a patron is what you need in life, it really was. I mean George stepped in and saved our arses basically.”
Fiery disagreements were nothing out of the ordinary for Harrison, who had spent a decade in the sweltering cauldron of The Beatles. He was adequately equipped to take on Gilliam in a hostile war of words, and they eventually came to an agreement that kept them both happy.
The two zealous characters struck a delicate balance that didn’t compromise the director’s artistic freedom, and Harrison still got a track featured. Ultimately, the pair would laugh their way to the bank and create a stone-wall comedy classic in the process.
I liked the movie when it came out in 1981 and certainly Harrison’s “Dream Away,” which later surfaced, re-recorded on his Gone Troppo album. Gilliam’s track record is by no means perfect. I think he’s fought with every director from then on. His 12 Monkeys and The Fisher King led him to wealth and national notoriety, but he’s still a loose cannon.
bolshie by the way means this: (of a person or attitude) deliberately combative or uncooperative.
SHORT TAKES —NBC’s Olympic coverage is bringing in the lowest ratings in 33 years. You just knew something like this would happen … right? Speaking of the Olympics, since NBC is doing whatever they can, I’ve been watching ABC’s Good Morning America and have found it positively awful. No disrespect to anyone, but it is just a train wreck. Honestly, it’s making the Today Show look golden …
Sony Pictures has finally debuted a new full trailer for Ghostbusters: Afterlife. The video focuses on the strange life of the Spenglers, who recently moved into a new town. Their new home keeps a few secrets in store, including an old yet very functional 1959 Cadillac Miller-Meteor Futura Duplex, better known as the Ecto-1. Most of the new trailer focuses on the new protagonists (portrayed by Carrie Coon, Finn Wolfhard, Mckenna Grace and Paul Rudd). However, there are a few Easter eggs for long-time fans. Bill Murray, Dan Aykroyd, Ernie Hudson, Sigourney Weaver, and Annie Potts reprise their roles from the first two Ghostbusters movies. Potts is shown outright, with familiar arms closing out the clip. The new trailer features a few other nods to the original team of eccentric parapsychologists as well. I don’t know about you, but that Paul Feig-film was bloody awful … this looks really good. More Stranger Things than anything else. Check out the trailer here:
Robert Miller and Project Grand Slam, August 17 at the Tina Packer Playhouse at Shakespeare & Co. in Lenox Mass – tickets here: https://www.shakespeare.org/shows/2021/benefit-concert-project-grand-slam …Food for thought: Now that he’s done a album full of Carole King Songs (2010’s King For A Day) and the current Dolenz Sings Nesmith – spotlighting the songs of fellow-Monkee Michael Nesmith … what will his next album be? … Have you heard the new/old track just released from the Prince Vaults-“Welcome To America?” Recorded in 2010 it ounds like it could have been recorded yesterday and lyrically it’s right in the pocket. Love it. Check it out here: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=HJtxSdTL488 …
Happy Bday Mike McCann, Scott Shannon and Ron (to Infinity and beyond!) Alexenburg.
NAMES IN THE NEWS — Liz Kamlet; Tom & Lisa Cuddy; Randy Alexander; Curtis Urbina; Michael Domino; Steve Walter; Alice Cooper; Glen Campbell; Anthony Pomes; Rudy Shur; Howard Bloom; Sergio Kardenas; Vinny Rich; Patrick Clifford; Danny Fried; and, ZIGGY!