Friday, November 30, 2007

Point And Counterpoint

On November 29, the following comments were attached to my article "Statements That Strain Credibility." The anonymous poster (who has since identified himself as "Eric") was lucid and touched on several subjects that are worth addressing. I have moved them to the front page so I can address them here.

"It is clear from the book that Matovina has something against Kathie Molland. He never passes up an opportunity to mention something negative about her (e.g., getting overdressed for George Harrison - geez, let's crucify her), he chose numerous photos of her which are unflattering, especially the most recent photos (and for some reason many of them show her with a beverage in her hand - what is Matovina going out of his way to insinuate?) and he ignored the fact that, ultimately, she was 100% justified in her frustration with the band's managerial situation."

I say none of this is "clear." Marianne Evans (echoing Tom Evans) is the one who complained about Kathie during the Harrison sessions, so obviously she felt the incident was noteworthy. The author relayed the information. How do you know which photos were available to the author for publication? Perhaps all he had were photos of Kathie holding beverages, or perhaps these were the only ones that could be licensed or were in public domain. Maybe she is often holding a drink when photographers are available. Maybe she's a heavy drinker. No one in the book insinuates that she drinks a lot so I never came to that conclusion, and I doubt that anyone else would either.

"Imagine standing by helplessly while your spouse's career is being sabotaged by a crooked manager. Imagine voicing your concerns and having them dismissed by people who choose to live in denial.* Wouldn't you feel like kicking a car door? Wouldn't you try to call a meeting to address the siuation? I mean, who's the real villian of this story? It's obviously Stan Polley, but the way Matovina depicts Kathie Molland, you might not be so sure that she isn't more of a villian than Polley. Clearly, Joey has a right to take issue with the way his wife is portrayed. I'm not saying either of them is a saint, but come on!"

How do you know what Pete and Kathie argued about on that day? According to the Mollands, Pete and Kathie only ever argued about Polley and management. According to everyone else, that's not true. Reportedly, Kathie argued with everyone about everything; about what songs should go on albums, how many Joey songs should be included, the use of their rehearsal room, personal relationships, etc. For all you know Kathie wanted to initiate a meeting about how long people may use the communal bathroom. You draw conclusions based bias, and that bias favors the Mollands.

Of course Stan Polley is the villain of the story. This is quite clear through the interviews of Christie, Kooper, Calello, Poses, and myriad assorted attorneys, executives and associates of Polley. Matovina presents them all, and they lay it on quite thick. Just because Polley is the "villain" isn't an excuse to whitewash other elements of the story. It is abundantly clear from any perspective you choose that Kathie was a continual disruption for the band. It's pretty obvious that the participants wanted to convey that fact, and the author presents it. To deny that she was a disruption is the "denial" you should be referring to.

"And, Bill, before you ask - no, I will not cite pages or type out quotations because 1) I don't have the book with me now, 2) I don't have the time and 3) I don't have to - we've all read the book and we all know what I'm talking about."

No big deal. I located the portions you referred to.

"Also, does Ron's quote not indicate that he was given a check by Bill Collins?? Joey never recants his claim that this money exchanged hands - he only says he is not certain where the money came from and when it was paid. This is totally understandable because he was not personally involved in the transaction. Anything else about Ron's misunderstanding of the arrangement is not Joey's fault. Furthermore, are we to assume that Joey is telling the truth when he says he had to assume Ron's share of the band's debt upon joining? You did not attempt to refute that statement, Bill. Point is, this is supposed to be an example of Joey contradicting himself, but I don't see it."

Not really contradicting himself, but being forced to explain his negative innuendo. Read again what Joey suggests in his first statement, what he insinuates that he knows about Ron Griffiths and the negative image he applies to him. Then again read his backtracking in the second statement, where he basically admits he knows nothing about the event. He's forced to admit he's "guessing" as to what happened. This is from the same person who claims to be the astronaut - the only person capable of telling the Badfinger story. What kind of accuracy would you expect from him in his authorized biography?

"*Re: denial. Pete chose to deny what everyone else knew about the band's managerial situation. Why? Not because he was a pie-in-the-sky dreamer who believed the world is a place where we should all be "allowed to love and trust everybody," but because he wanted to avoid conflict with Polley. My evidence? 1) The interview on the "Without You" cd in which Pete discusses the themes behind "Perfection" - clearly he knew that the world is an imperfect place where utopian ideals do not exist. He was not a fool. 2) The book says he was involved and interested in the business aspects of the band - he liked interacting with business-types and they respected him. Would they respect him if he was just a spacy hippie who rambled on about love and trust when it came to matters of business? I doubt it. 3) The book is clear about his desire to avoid conflict whenever possible. Could it be that his uncharacteristic blowout with Kathie Molland was triggered by his knowing that she was in the right? In short, Pete knew the score but wanted to avoid the conflict that would have resulted from addressing the problems."

None of the info here is revelatory. You've drawn your own conclusions based on long-established facts. I don't agree with your conclusions, but all anyone can do is speculate about what Pete really thought about Polley at any given time. Poses warned him about Polley in 1972, so I suspect he probably had deep-down suspicions regarding him. You believe those suspicions were more conscious than I believe they were. But as far as Kathie being "in the right" ... I don't think anyone has ever claimed she was wrong about Polley. The point is there were a lot of people sending alarms out about Polley, not just Kathie. And no one has ever said Pete was right about Polley either.

"Lastly (and this is obviously a touchy subject), the book never criticizes Pete for two key decisions. First, he had the power to decide to take action against Polley and did not - the band needed his vote to make a move. In doing so, he ensured that the band would continue to get screwed in spite of the fact that by the end they all knew what was going on. Could this knowledge be the source of the "guilt" that caused him to put cigarettes out on his hands?"

I have no clue what prompted the cigarette bit. That was an insane act. But if you want to speculate on the facts, how about this: Did you notice that the Apple check that Joey and Tom stopped was the first check from Apple in 2 years? McCartney had the company's assets locked up in a lawsuit until mid-1974, and when these two-years' worth of funds finally get released to Badfinger, the check is stopped. So Polley's Badfinger income was certainly limited during that time. In reaction to Joey and Tom stopping the check, Polley may have stopped the paychecks to the band. If they hadn't halted that check, what would have happened? That's some of my speculation.

"Second, Pete (God rest his soul) committed the ultimate act of selfishness rather than confront the problem and in doing so drastically reduced the odds that the band would remain a viable commerical entity, which is what they would have needed to recover from their years of mismanagement. "

As far as the band remaining a viable entity, I doubt any of them were thinking about that - not just Pete. Joey tried to keep Pete out of the band, and then quit when Pete returned. How viable did that make Badfinger? Anyway, it's unlikely the band would have ever recovered. It wasn't until after Pete's death that Polley relinquished his interest in the band, and he wouldn't have done that with Pete still alive.

"Yes, it is uncomfortable to raise these issues, but the point is that Pete was a flawed man (like we all are - but these flaws manifested to the detriment of his friends) and this is not Joey Molland's fault. Everyone looks for a scapegoat to whom they can direct their frustration at the band's demise and Joey is the most visible and obvious target. But that doesn't necessarily make it right."

I don't see anyone in the book blaming Joey for Pete's death.

(This turned into more of a "rant" than I planned - usually I would take more care in constructing an argument. But the core ideas I meant to convey are there. Also, if I sound mean-spirited, it is not intentional. I just enjoy a good debate.)
PS - I am not a Joey follower, crony, minion or whatever other terms you can think of. I have no personal interest in this aside from the fact that I am a fan of the group.

Judging by your knowledge of the band and your fervor about how the Mollands are portrayed in the book, I find this very hard to believe. There are basically three camps of Badfinger fans on the Internet: Defenders of the Mollands, defenders of the book, and people who aren't interested in the politics. If you don't fall into the last two categories then you must be in the first.

A Bit More On Kathie

For some time ahead of the actual publication of the book, both Joey and Kathie Molland were commenting in magazine articles and on the Internet about how the book would be inaccurate. They had no idea who was going to be interviewed, what information would be presented, but they supposedly had a sixth sense about it. Subsequent to the book's release their tactics have remained the same. They never address the people who commented in the book, but instead continually attack the author. The logical conclusion here is that the Mollands knew beforehand how people felt about them, and they wanted to throw the first punch by attacking the book and author ahead of the game. They continue along this track because dealing with all of the individual comments in the book would be too overwhelming for them, so they claim (truthfully or not) to have never read the book. This lets them off the hook for addressing what their peers have actually said about them.

As far as Matovina goes, again, all of the Mollands' complaints about the author (as suggested by the above person) boil down to him having some sort of agenda against them. He would have had to manipulate interviews and information to paint an inaccurate picture. However, this conspiracy theory is shot down by the fact that the interviewees of the book stand by its presentation. They do not step forward and claim they complimented the Mollands but only the negative comments were printed. They do not step forward and say they were misquoted. On the contrary, the participants who have made public statements after the book was released have only supported the book and the author. The Mollands and their defenders conveniently ignore this glaring fact.

Having read Kathie Molland's comments on the Internet for the past 10 years, I am most confident she was accurately portrayed in the book. The attitude that I have witnessed online surpasses even what was suggested by her peers in the book. So when people come along and claim the author must have had an agenda against the Mollands, or Kathie specifically, certain reasons come quickly to mind. The person is either a friend or a hardcore fan of the Mollands and they are in denial, or they haven't been following her commentaries online.

I have considered posting an article here with nothing more than online comments Kathie has made throughout the years, along with dates and sources. No accompanying commentary from me, just her words standing on their own. Perhaps this is what's needed for those who are uninitiated with her thoughts. Whether or not I pursue this will depend on my available time, as it will be a daunting task to go through 10 years' worth of postings to make the compilation.

Sunday, June 24, 2007

Joey's Badfinger Biography?
"You don't know me, what's on my mind
You can't show me, what I can't find"
Lyrics from "I Don't Mind"
I have never been one to criticize Joey Molland for any delay in his claimed projects. But I believe the time has come, on the heels of yet another bizarre book announcement, to finally address the unrealized declarations of Joey and Kathie Molland. And this is especially timely with the 10-year anniversary of the release of "Without You: The Tragic Story Of Badfinger."

On May 7, 2007, City At Night Magazine published an interview with Joey. In that article Joey states that his autobiography, “When I Was A Boy,” is set to be released by a major publisher (actually "Golden Treasures," heard of that one?). However, the reporter paraphrases Joey by saying this book has been delayed: "…delayed because of an auto accident which threatened the life of Joey’s and Kathie’s son, Joe. He reports the welcome news that Joe has made a great, hard-fought recovery and is back full force, playing guitar and writing music, which Joey is now producing." Let me see if I have this straight: Kathie announced in January 2006 that Joe Jr. had made a full recovery, from a car accident that occurred in 2005. Yet the book is still delayed in May 2007 due to this accident? This makes absolutely no sense, especially since the book was supposedly finished in 2003. This is just the latest of the weird travails in the story of Joey's Badfinger books.

Murray Silver
Joey may have toyed with book ideas as early as the 1980s, but he never made them public. His first publicized book idea dates from the early 1990s, and was mentioned by him in 2004 when answering why he didn't participate in the book Matovina was writing. Joey: "I told (Dan Matovina) I was looking into having a biography done by a biographer well known at that time for his work on the Jerry Lee Lewis bio, "Great Balls of Fire". I thought that would be the way to go for a first class book on our band. His name is Murray Silver." Whether or not Joey ever spoke with Silver is unclear, but the author's essential contribution to "Great Balls Of Fire" was to organize the information provided by Myra Lewis, the teen bride of Jerry Lee. Silver has since published at least two books; one about the Ghosts Of Savannah (complete with a speaking tour) and his recent spiritual Elvis endeavor. A review of this most recent book, titled “When Elvis Meets the Dalai Lama,” sounds right up Joey’s alley: "…this book is a mess of memories that are wildly fantastical and probably falsely recalled. I've actually spoken to some of the parties mentioned in the book, such was my curiosity, and they laugh off the tales as ‘another one of Murray's bids for attention.’" The reviewer also eludes to Silver’s penchant for UFOs, ghosts, and a conspiracy theory that Elvis was murdered. Silver is difficult to contact for comment, reportedly he's in hiding due to the black helicopters that are hunting for him.

John Einarson
The next possible Joey author was Einarson in 1995. More than any other candidate, Einarson is the most accomplished writer with impressive credentials. He and Joey agreed to the idea, and he later interviewed Joey for a piece in Mojo Magazine. According to an email posted at the book website, Einarson wrote to Matovina: "Frankly, after reading your book, I'm very glad I didn't pursue the project as you have done a wonderful job and I may have ended up leaning on the Mollands' rather skewed version of history a bit too much." Einarson also said his conversations with Joey were revealing, in that: "He wasn't very flattering about you (Matovina), I must say, but obviously that was tempered by his concern about how he would be portrayed and he had much to hide." Interesting that Einarson concluded that Joey had “much to hide.” At any rate, Einarson, who deals strictly with large publishing houses, found little interest among them for a Badfinger biography, so he said he passed on the project. His complete commentary can be found in the book review section at the official book website.

Keith Queensen
The next contender for Joey, starting around 1998, was Queensen, a wrongful-injury lawyer and Badfinger fan from the Minneapolis area. Queensen announced that he wanted to conduct interviews with many people for his tentatively titled book "Badfinger: For Love or Money," but ultimately barely got past Joey and Kathie. "I've found it especially interesting to talk to Kathie… When you think about it, her personal story is really pretty incredible. Here's this Midwestern girl growing up in the suburbs of Minneapolis during the 1960s who all of a sudden finds herself living in an old, medieval castle with a British rock band, hanging out with the Beatles!" A story following Kathie moving to a castle and hanging out with the Beatles? Extremely peripheral and fanciful, Queensen was obviously confused about what constitutes a biography of a rock band. But unsurprising since he considered Kathie a “principal” within Badfinger: "I am personally saddened by the intensity of the negative feeling between the various Badfinger "camps" (for example, Mike referring to Kathie Molland as the "anti-christ") and hope that some day the principals in the Badfinger story will be friends again..." Queensen never realized his hopes, and passed away in 2004.

Michael Cimino
Next comes Cimino, a webmaster who operates a periodical called "Cottage Views." Cimino (or "Chimino" according to Kathie) first announced his project in 1999, and then suggested it would be completed in 1999, and later said in 2001 that "I would have finished it already but too many cocktails, er, I mean, distractions got in the way." As of 2007, there is no sign of this book. Cimino has been a long-winded critic of the Without You book, reviewing it in 1998 with: " elevating guitarist Pete Ham, who tragically committed suicide in 1974, to near-saintly status, the importance of the band's collective clout is dismissed..." One might assume that this "biographer" has since learned that Ham died in 1975. Part of Cimino's irk may be grounded in jealousy, considering himself to be Badfinger's biographer. In a comment posted on VH1’s website, the day after its "Behind The Music" episode on Badfinger aired, Cimino lambasted the network: "…Did these oversights occur because Mr. Matovina was creative consoltant to the show? If so, that puts Mr. Matovina on the same level as Stan Polley because Mr. Matovina has an interest in the Ham demo discs and receives a royalty from them...
p.s. how come I wasn't contacted for your show?"

Perhaps they'll contact him next time around - assuming he does something relevant in the meantime.

Billy James
Last comes James, an author with proper credentials. James has been a mystery since he was first mentioned around 2001. He does not post on guestbooks or make announcements on websites, thereby keeping a rather low profile. Joey announced in December 2003: "'When I was a boy' is in fact finished as a story. I delivered the book to Billy James in August, 2003. I am at present re-writing the manuscript into a more narrative form as I think it will be a more enjoyable and comprehensible read. I've completed around 70 pages, Hand written, Legal Pad size, and have about 100/150 pages to go." It is the James book that is allegedly delayed now - four years later - due to a car accident that ocurred two years ago. A person answering the phone at Golden Treasures (the "major publisher" which operates out of someone's home) said this month that the book won't be out until at least 2008.

As I said in the opening, I have withheld criticism of the Mollands for faulty book announcements up till now because the best laid plans of mice and men often go awry. But when they go awry again and again and again, after announcement after anouncement after announcement, and then claim ancient events are slowing current projects, it becomes comical. This has been going on continuously for more than 10 years now, and there is no end in sight.

My conclusion: Some authors are never contacted (Silver), legitimate authors don't know what to do with the wild and unsupported Molland claims (Einarson), lesser authors just run with whatever the Mollands tell them (Queensen), and they end up with nonsensical mulch that publishers will not touch (Cimino).

Sorry, Badfinger fans, but don't lose any sleep waiting for another Badfinger biography.

Tuesday, May 29, 2007

The Ham Estate Speaks Out

In April 2007, the Official Pete Ham website was launched to celebrate what would have been Pete's 60th birthday. Memories, thoughts and comments are offered by Tony and Anne Herriott, and Pete's daughter, Petera.

Although the reader will notice that the website is currently rather spartan, the comments do reveal some of the innermost thoughts of those with a special connection with Pete Ham. Petera, who never knew her biological father, mentions her sadness with his absence. Tony, Petera's adoptive father, offers a touching poem about his care for her.

But it is in regards to Anne's comments that compelled me to write a quick article on this. The reader will notice that Anne (as well as Petera and Tony) have no regrets about how the Badfinger book came out. Anne's comments about an "ex-bandmate" of Pete's cannot be misconstrued, and is thoroughly compatible with her comments and sentiments that were expressed more than 10 years ago in that publication. All three personally thank Dan Matovina, the author of the book.

So what does this all mean? It means what has consistently transpired throughout the years since the book was first published: People interviewed for the book stand by what they said in it. It means the author did not twist their words or intentions, which has been one of the charges periodically made by the Mollands.

I hope to dig up some more supporting comments in the coming months.

Thursday, February 15, 2007

Re-established: Purpose for this Blog

Because of recent developments, I have decided to re-establish the purpose for this blog.

The Band: Originally called The Iveys, Badfinger was signed by The Beatles to its Apple Records label in 1968. Their first hit in 1970 was the Paul McCartney song "Come And Get It," which was soon followed by "No Matter What" (possibly the first Power Pop song in history). The group 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, made famous by Harry Nilsson in 1972 and Mariah Carey in 1994.

Six albums were released by Badfinger during their heyday between 1969 and 1974. At that time, the band consisted of Pete Ham, Tom Evans, Joey Molland and Mike Gibbins. During 1969 and prior, the group contained Ron Griffiths. From mid-1974 and off-and-on afterward, the group contained Bob Jackson. 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. Gibbins passed away in October 2005. Although Joey Molland has performed sporadically under the Badfinger name, or as "Joey Molland's Badfinger," since 1988, the venues have been relatively minor.

The Book: 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 Frances Glover Books. Since the release of this book, Joey Molland and his wife, Kathie, have denounced both the book and its author. Their gripes are based on how they are portrayed in the book, and all of their blame is directed at author Matovina. Judging by the evidence, their complaints are completely groundless. The Mollands’ essential gripes are as follows:

1) That Matovina was ill suited to write the biography. This complaint about Matovina is countered by the results. 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 favorable across the board - from Rolling Stone Magazine, Record Collector Magazine, Goldmine Magazine, 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 is a capable author.
2) The Mollands complain that the book contains errors and "lies" about them. More than 200 people were interviewed for the book. With the exception of Ham (who died very early) every legitimate band member was interviewed by Matovina, either specifically for this book or for previous projects: Tom Evans, Mike Gibbins, Ron Griffiths, Bob Jackson, and even Joey Molland and his wife. The interview list also includes producers of the band, managers of the band, the presidents and executives of Badfinger's two record labels (Apple and Warner Brothers Records) and tons of close family and friends of the group. Of these hundreds of people, nearly every retold incident that involves the Mollands is detailed by more than one witness. These incidents were chronicled through quotes by the interviewees. Corroboration through various sources is how courtrooms decide on the truth; the same applies here. Admittedly, every book ever published contains some errors, but the Mollands have supplied absolutely no evidence or clear motive why or how the book would contain “lies.”
3) Joey Molland has claimed book interviewees were either misquoted or manipulated by Matovina to make him and his wife look bad. However, many of the intervieweess have gone public since the book was published in support of what they said and the message they conveyed. Many of these participants have even made declarations to this effect, and are viewable on the author’s website. Not a single book participant has gone public and made any contrary claim. So much for misquotes and manipulation.

Ironically, after all of this criticism, it is the Mollands who appear to be unreliable sources for information regarding the band. During decades of interviews for magazines, radio and television, Joey 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 timelines, and - most of all - has inflated the importance of his wife's positive influence on the band. Interviewees were unanimous that Kathie Molland's influence was always negative, and often extremely so.

More than anything else, the Mollands’ hostility about the book and its author appear to hinge on how they are portrayed. The portrayal is the result of what witnesses say - not what the author says. Instead of dealing with the massive amount of interviewees and their quotes, they have found Matovina to be a much easier target. As evidence of this tactic, the Mollands have admitted that they have never even read the book.

In conclusion, all the above is the purpose for this blog: To dispel the groundless attacks on the book by the Mollands, and to show (using quotes and documentation) that the author reported the facts as accurately as possible. In my strong opinion, the Mollands are simply bitter because closet skeletons they wished to keep concealed were ultimately exposed to the public, and because of their displayed tendency of exerting control over all things "Badfinger," they were incensed at not being able to control the book.