Saturday, October 29, 2005

The Purpose Of This Blog

The purpose of this blog is to dispel the weak criticisms of one of the best rock biographies ever compiled. It is also a chance to escape the one-sided editing that can be found on some Badfinger fan sites.

For those uninitiated, Badfinger was possibly the first Power Pop band in history. Their 1970 hit single "No Matter What" was perhaps the first song to reach the airwaves that brought all the Power Pop ingredients together; a relatively short, melodically catchy, rock guitar-based song with smooth lead vocals and background harmonies. This catchy formula would be repeated many times by Badfinger throughout its history.

Badfinger (originally The Iveys) was signed by The Beatles to its Apple Records label in 1968. Their first Top 40 hit in 1970 was the Paul McCartney song "Come And Get It," which was soon followed by "No Matter What." They achieved more success with the singles "Day After Day" and "Baby Blue" in 1972; the last three were all written by band member singer/guitarist Pete Ham. Another Badfinger success was "Without You," a song written by Ham and bandmate Tom Evans that reached immense international stature when covered by Harry Nilsson in 1972 and Mariah Carey in 1995.

Six albums were released by Badfinger during its heyday between 1969 and 1974. At that time, the band consisted of Pete Ham, bassist Tom Evans, guitarist Joey Molland and drummer Mike Gibbins. Criminally poor management and band infighting caused the group to sputter in 1974, and by April of 1975 Ham committed suicide. After Molland and Evans conducted a brief resurgence between 1979 and 1981, the band dissolved again. Evans committed suicide in 1983. Mike Gibbins also recently passed away in October 2005 (due to natural causes).

In 1997, a biography of the band was published called "Without You: The Tragic Story of Badfinger." It was written by Dan Matovina and published by Francis Glover Books. Since the release of this book (and actually a little before its release) Molland denounced both the book and its author. Following suit, many of Molland's most diehard fans also jumped on the bandwagon to criticize the book and author. And because many of these Molland fans also operate Badfinger guestbooks, discussion of the book has been lopsided in favor of the critics - allowing criticisms to flourish while editing or silencing anyone supporting the book.

Without going too deeply into Molland's criticisms, he has basically stated that Matovina was ill suited to write the biography and that the book contains errors and "lies" about him and his wife. His first complaint about Matovina is a judgment call, but the results speak for themself. Matovina, a record producer who now is a representative for the Ham Estate, released a book that has garnered widespread acclaim among book critics. The book was voted the #2 Best Rock Biography of 1997 in a poll of book critics in Great Britain. Reviews of the book have been tremendously favorable across the board - from Rolling Stone Magazine, Record Collector Magazine, Goldmine Magazine and Discoveries Magazine, among many, many others. For a complete list of reviews, please visit the book website reviews section at:
This basically answers the question of whether or not Matovina was a capable author.

Molland's other complaint about errors and "lies" is even easier to address. More than 200 people were interviewed for the book, including Badfinger members, producers of the band, managers of the band, the presidents and executives of Badfinger's two record labels, Apple Records and Warner Brothers Records, and tons of family and friends of the group. In fact, the list of non participants who were sought for interviews is so short that it barely covers a paragraph in the Prologue. But the book participants (which includes an array of influential and notable names in the music industry) is so long that it covers two pages just to list them all.
Of these hundreds of people, nearly every incident which involves Joey Molland and his wife are detailed by more than one witness. Many of these witnesses often did not even apparently know each other, but the details were still consistent. These incidents were chronicled through quotes by the interviewees. Molland has claimed these interviewees were either misquoted or manipulated by Matovina to make him and his wife look poorly, but many of these intervieweess have since gone public to support what they said and the message they conveyed in the book. Not a single book participant has gone public and made any contrary claim.

Without the possibility of collusion of the author and/or the interviewees, or even a clear motive for Molland's assertions, his claims of "lies" can be easily dismissed. As far as errors, every book ever published most likely contains errors. But these appear to be in short supply here considering the multiple attributions supplied and documentation Matovina reproduces for the book. On the contrary, it is Molland who appears to be an unreliable source for information regarding the band. During decades of interviews for magazines, he has denied lawsuits that took place, denied concert tours that took place, changed his recollections of conversations that took place, intentionally or unintentionally misrepresented Badfinger contracts, has confused his timelines, and - most of all - has inflated the importance of his wife's positive influence on the band. Interviewees were unanimous that Mrs. Molland's influence was always negative, and often extremely so.

More than anything else, Molland's hostility about the book and its author appear to hinge on how he and his wife are portrayed. Perhaps because he is incapable of dealing with the massive amount of interviewees who were quoted making the charges, Molland has found Matovina a much easier solitary target. Further, Molland and his wife have admitted that they haven't even read the book, which reduces the credibility of their arguments to near zero.

I have always supported this book for myriad of reasons, and I believe anyone who is a fan of non-fiction will feel the same. It is tirelessly researched, packed with copies of documents and contracts, and goes well beyond what is merely satisfactory to verify facts.

So for those of you who may visit a Badfinger guestbook and read criticism of the book or author, and find little in response to it, please recognize the source and possible editing. These are mostly Molland fan sites that are eager to please the musician. They will parrot Molland's complaints without adding anything of real substance to the argument.

For those of you who feel capable of deciding for yourself, please read the book.