Pete Ham Biography
Pete Ham was a singer-songwriter and composer from Wales, who became famous for being one of the leading members of the British rock band ‘Badfinger’. Often touted as one of the pioneers of the ‘power-pop’ genre of music, Ham was responsible for some of the greatest hits in music history. These included the singles ‘No Matter What’, ‘Day After Day’, and ‘Baby Blue’. Perhaps his most popular song will always remain ‘Without You’, which he co-wrote with bandmate Tom Evans. Some of the band’s most popular albums were ‘No Dice’, ‘Magic Christian Music’, and ‘Straight Up’. They were signed to ‘The Beatles’ label ‘Apple Records’, and their music was often compared to them as well. However, the fusion of Pete Ham’s powerful, soulful vocals with his unique compositions put the band in a league of its own. But what started as a cultural revolution ended in a tragedy. A heavily depressed Ham ended his life due to management troubles and financial fraud committed by the ‘Badfinger’ manager Stan Polley.
- Pete Ham formed the rock group ‘The Panthers’ in 1961, when he was still a teenager. In 1965, they renamed the band to ‘The Iveys’. At this point, the band members were staying in the overcrowded London house of their manager Bill Collins. These early days shaped Pete Ham’s identity as a musician, who grew as a singer, composer and songwriter by performing covers throughout London. Around this time, Collins persuaded Mal Evans, who was the road manager for ‘The Beatles’, to watch the band perform in London on January 25, 1968. Evans was so impressed by their raw talent that he convinced ‘The Beatles’ to sign this young band to ‘Apple Records’. They were signed by the label on July 23, 1968, and this is how ‘The Iveys’ got their first major break.
- ‘The Iveys’ released their first single ‘Maybe Tomorrow’, which was produced by Tony Visconti, on November 15, 1968. Unfortunately, it was a failure in the UK and the USA. However, its success in Europe prompted Apple Corps president Allen Klein to release their next single ‘Dear Angie’ only in Italy, Japan and Germany. This dissatisfied the band members who made their feelings public in an interview.
- Paul McCartney decided to help them out by offering his composition ‘Come and Get It’. He had been commissioned to write three songs for the movie ‘The Magic Christian’, and it was one of them. In addition to composing ‘Come and Get It’, he produced two original tracks by ‘The Iveys’ to fulfill his obligations. These were ‘Rock of All Ages’ and ‘Carry on Till Tomorrow,’ which became the theme song of ‘The Magic Christian’. ‘Come and Get It’ (1969) was on top 10 charts worldwide, and all three songs were released in the album ‘Magic Christian Music’ (1970). In 1969, the band changed their name to ‘Badfinger’, which was inspired by John Lennon’s song ‘Bad Finger Boogie’. Their first album was a success, and the spell continued after the release of their second album ‘No Dice’. It was this album that finally brought Ham to the forefront as the creative genius that he was. His single ‘No Matter What’, released in November 1970, reached top 10 worldwide. But it was the song ‘Without You’, co-written by Tom Evans, which became one of the greatest songs of all time. The song earned both of them the Ivor Novello Award. In 1973, Harry Nilsson covered the song ‘Without you’ and won a Grammy for it.
- In 1970, Stan Polley became the band’s business manager. Unknown to the band members, he began stealing money. Meanwhile, Pete Ham went on to deliver two more chart-topping hits, ‘Day After Day’ and ‘Baby Blue’, which were part of the band’s third album ‘Straight Up’ (1971). Unfortunately, at this point, the band’s popularity had started to decline. Their fourth and last album ‘Ass’ under Apple was a failure. Polley soon moved the band to ‘Warner Bros.’ Unfortunately, two albums under this label entitled, ‘Badfinger’ (1974) and ‘Wish You Were Here’ (1974), were both critical and commercial failures. In addition to that, Polley ran away after stealing millions of dollars from both ‘Warner Bros.’ and the band. This had tragic consequences. On April 23, 1975, Pete Ham was informed that all his money was gone. He was already in financial trouble and had a child on the way. The singer succumbed to depression and committed suicide on April 24th, 1975. He left behind a suicide note, exposing Stan Polley. Many of his demo recordings were released posthumously, including ‘7 Park Avenue’ (1997), ‘Golders Green’ (1999), and ‘Keyhole Street’ (2013).
- Peter William Ham was born in Swansea, Wales, on April 27, 1947. He fell in love with Anne Herriot and married her during his ‘Badfinger’ days. He committed suicide by hanging himself on April 24, 1975, just three days before his 28th birthday. Anne was pregnant with their daughter Petera at that time. Petera was born on May 31, 1975, a month after her father passed away. On April 27, 2013, Swansea City Council honored the talented artist with an official blue plaque.
How To Cite
People Also Viewed