|Tuesday, 21 October 2008 09:30|
Peter William Ham
Born: April 27, 1947, Swansea, Wales
Died: April 24, 1975, Surrey, England
Cause of death: Suicide by hanging.
Notable because: He wrote 'Without you.' I cant live if living is without you. And life mimicked art after corrupt manager Stan Polley effectively stole his legacy, the rights to his song, leading to the suicide just one Month before the birth of his child.
Pete Ham was a Welsh singer, songwriter and guitarist, best known as the leader of the group Badfinger.
Ham was born in Swansea, South Wales. He formed a local rock group called The Panthers around 1961. This group would undergo several name and lineup changes before it became The Iveys in 1965. The band was relocated to London by The Mojos manager, Bill Collins, in 1966, and they continued to perform for three years throughout the United Kingdon. As it was, Pete Ham especially took to songwriting, as a Revox was made available by Collins to encourage him. Ray Davies of The Kinks took initial interest in producing the group. In 1968, The Iveys came to the attention of Mal Evans (The Beatles personal assistant) and were eventually signed to the Beatles' Apple label after approval from all four Beatles who were most impressed by dozens of home demos highlighting the band's songwriting abilities.
The Iveys changed their name to Badfinger with the single release of "Come And Get It," a composition written by Paul McCartney, and it became a worldwide Top Ten hit. Ham had initially protested using a non-original to promote the band, as he had gained confidence in the group's compositions, but he was quickly convinced of the springboard effect of having a likely hit single. His own creative perseverence paid off eventually, as his "No Matter What" composition became another Top Ten worldwide smash after its release in late 1970 . He followed up writing two more worldwide hits in "Day After Day" and "Baby Blue."
But the peak of his craft came with his co-written composition "Without You" - a worldwide #1 as covered by Harry Nilsson. The song has since become one of the all-time ballad standards covered by hundreds of singers from many genres. An Ivor Novello award for Song Of The Year was granted in 1973 along with Grammy nominations. In 1972, Ham's group Badfinger was picked up by Warner Brothers Records, as the Apple label was crumbling and it seemed the band was primed for major recognition.
During the band's tenure at Apple, Ham also performed guitar and vocal session work for ex-Beatles George Harrison and Ringo Starr, notably on "All Things Must Pass" and "the single "It Don't Come Easy." Ham was uncredited on other sessions as well. Ham's personality was universally described as soft-spoken, a kind disposition, a bit of a clown at a party, extremely giving and humble. He was cited for his hard-working nature.
During the Warner Brothers era from 1973-75, Badfinger became embroiled in many internal, financial and managerial problems and their music languished. By 1975, with no income coming in and his business manager non-communicative, Ham's spirit became broken and he hanged himself in the garage of his Surrey home. His blood alcohol was .27%. He was 27 years old.
He left behind a pregnant girlfriend (his daughter was born one month after his death).
Ham's suicide note was accusatory toward Badfinger's business manager, Stan Polley. It read: "Anne, I love you. Blair, I love you. I will not be allowed to love and trust everybody. This is better. Pete. P.S. Stan Polley is a soulless bastard. I will take him with me."
Many of Polley's artist-clients also accused him of corruption over the years. More than a decade after Ham's death, Polley pleaded Nolo contendere to unrelated embezzlement and money laundering charges, but no collection of restitution was ever made. Ham's death was brushed under the rug, as no Beatles made public comment, nor did Apple Corps Ltd nor Warner Brothers Records come out with any official notice of his death.
Ham is often credited as being one of the earliest purveyors of the power pop genre, but his most widespread effect in popular music is the ballad "Without You," written with Badfinger bandmate Tom Evans (who also later committed suicide). Two collections of Ham's home demo recordings have been posthumously released: 1997's 7 Park Avenue and 1999's Golders Green.
Petera Ham (daughter of Pete Ham) - born May 31, 1975
I just wanted to write a few words about my dad, Pete Ham, for what would have been his 60th Birthday (April 27, 2007).
As you probably know I have never met my dad, but I still have love and respect for him and also feel a very close bond to him. I feel sad, though, that I never had the opportunity of knowing him. I suppose in some ways I am lucky as I get to listen to his music and interviews which brings me closer to him.
I have heard a lot of stories from my mum and other people, and this has given me an insight into what kind of person he was. From what I’ve heard he was a shy, kind, considerate, selfless person with a good sense of humour who liked to joke around. I have been told by my mum that I resembled him in many ways, even down to the way he walked.
I have been lucky with the life he has given me through his music, which is famous throughout the world. This makes me very proud whenever I hear any of his songs. Sometimes it has been strange when I have been on holiday to places like Kenya and Dominican Republic, to hear people there sing his songs, particularly "Without You." In a way, I think he is watching me, wherever I am.
There are many songs that I like by my dad, but I have a few favourites. Some of my favourite songs are "Just Look Inside The Cover," "Shine On," "Name Of The Game" and of course "Dennis," which is about my brother, Blair.
Although my dad died just before I was born, I have a stepfather called Tony, although I don’t class him as that, he is my dad, too. He, along with my mum and family, helped me to grow up in a loving family, and I am very grateful to have them all. Tony has been very good throughout my life, helping me with things in respect of my dad, he has always wanted my dad to get the recognition he deserves.
I also would like to thank Dan Matovina for his help throughout the years in keeping the true memory of my dad's work.
Sometimes I miss not meeting my dad. This makes me feel sad that he isn’t with me today, because of the problems he went through; I usually switch on my iPod and listen to his songs, which make me cry.
Happy Birthday Dad, I think of you all the time and love you with all my heart, your daughter Petera.
|Last Updated on Thursday, 05 July 2012 09:13|