“Come and Get It”, the first hit for Badfinger in both the U.S. and the UK, was written by Paul McCartney, who was hired to write the song for The Magic Christian, the 1969 movie starring Peter Sellers and Ringo Starr, which was based on the Terry Southern novel of the same name. Actually, McCartney recorded a demo of the song on July 24, 1969 during the recording sessions for the Abbey Road album when he purposely arrived early for the occasion. He laid down a double track lead vocal and played every single instrument on the song; this task took the determined bassist less than an hour to do.
When presented the song to Badfinger, he instructed them with, “O.k., it’s got to be exactly like this demo.”
In 1996, this demo by McCartney was released on the Beatles Anthology 3, though McCartney was the only person on the track. Beatles critic Ian McDonald referred to the demo as “by far the best unreleased Beatles recording.” Over the years, critics have stated that “Come and Get It” could have been a big hit for the Beatles.
McCartney auditioned all four members of Badfinger – Pete Ham, Mike Gibbins, Tom Evans and Ron Griffiths – to sing lead vocals on the song. Ironically, he passed over the three Welshmen in the band and picked his fellow Liverpudlian Tom Evans. Joey Molland replaced Griffiths shortly after the recording of their first album.
McCartney produced the track, and handled some percussion chores. Tom Evans provided lead vocals and rhythm guitar. Pete Ham played piano and provided backing vocals. Ron Griffiths played bass and did background vocals, while
“Come and Get It” reached number seven on the Billboard Hot 100 in 1970, and stayed in the Top 40 for eleven weeks. Eight months later, their hit “No Matter What” reached number eight on the charts. In early 1972, Badfinger had their highest charting single in the U.S. when “Day After Day” reached number four, and stayed in the Top 40 for twelve weeks. “Day After Day” was produced by George Harrison, who also played lead guitar on the track. Leon Russell handled the piano chores on the song, while Gary Wright played keyboards and Jim Keltner was on drums. The band’s fourth and final Top 40 hit in the U.S. was 1972’s “Baby Blue”, which reached number 14 and was produced by Todd Rundgren.
Unfortunately for Badfinger, they began to have bad luck. Pete Ham and Tom Evans wrote a song called “If It’s Love”, which was retitled “Without You”. They were very high on the song and it appeared on the band’s 1970 No Dice album, which was produced by Geoff Emerick. Their hopes for this song to be a major hit were dashed, as it totally flopped on the charts. As luck would have it, the following year Harry Nilsson recorded “Without You” and it was a number one smash hit around the world, including five weeks at the top of the charts in the U.S. in early 1972. Twenty-three years later Mariah Carey released the song and it topped the Billboard Hot 100 for a whopping six weeks.
The saga of Badfinger is sad. After the demise of Apple Records, the band recorded an album for Warner Brothers, who in 1974 would not release it for legal reasons and a nasty lawsuit ensued. In 1975 Pete Ham died from suicide, as did Tom Evans in 1983. Various new configurations of Badfinger toured in the aftermath, with Mike Gibbins and/or Joey Molland. A concise video addressing the bad luck faced by Bandfinger – both professionally and personally – can be see on YouTube.com under the title “Badfinger – The Tragic Story.”
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