As it happens, Badfinger was one of my mother’s favorite bands as a high school student. One time while on a trip with her back from a local library, we were listening to an local “Classic Hits” station and they played “Day After Day,” and I found the song hauntingly beautiful and deeply melancholy, and I was greatly intrigued that I had never heard of the band before and yet their music was so good. It was in seeking to understand who this band was, and why I had never heard of them before, that led me to research one of the most tragic tales in Rock & Roll history, a tale told very well in the biography Without You . Despite immense talent and the support of the Beatles, a band that should have been recognized for all time instead suffers undeserved obscurity because business problems, including the chaos of Apple Records fall and a corrupt manager, led to the shelving of two great albums at the height of their musical powers and to the suicide of its two songwriters among squabbling and back-biting. And yet the music left behind by this tragic band is still beautiful, even if the biography of the band lends deep truth to the melancholy tone of their beautiful power pop music I was able to recognize even without knowing who they were.
The Contribution Of Badfinger
What is the contribution of Badfinger to the world of Rock & Roll? It is an immense one, but a complicated one. For one, Badfinger itself is a testament to the influence of the Beatles, as Badfinger was perhaps the original power pop band that blended the Beatles’ on sense of melody with drum compression, providing (along with the tragic band Big Star) the template of power pop bands as diverse and influential themselves as Cheap Trick, REM, the B-52s, and the Gin Blossoms. Given that REM used that power pop template to springboard to their own induction into the Rock & Roll Hall of Fame, and given that Cheap Trick and the B-52s are also worthy contenders for the Hall of Fame as well, it would therefore be just for the Rock & Roll Hall of Fame to provide recognition to those bands who inspired and influenced REM to such great heights–and that would be an induction for both Badfinger and Big Star. Besides a foundational role in the development of the genre of power pop, which is enough grounds for induction, Badfinger is also worthy on account of the body of work. The songs and albums of Badfinger remain classic works greatly sought after, and their music endures both in cover versions as well as in its original form, having been covered by bands as diverse as Mariah Carey, Nilsson, and Cheap Trick, showing how wide their influence has spread. Additionally, Badfinger provides a tragic lesson in the importance of band cohesion as well as the lack of trustworthiness of many people in the music industry, a lesson many bands should learn from the experience of others. For these reasons, at least, Badfinger has made a lasting and notable contribution to the world of Rock & Roll music.
Why Badfinger Is A No-Brainer For The Rock & Roll Hall Of Fame
First, Badfinger was responsible (along with Big Star) for creating a popular and enduring genre of Rock & Roll music, power pop, that has itself already produced acts of such renown that they have been recognized for induction into the Rock & Roll Hall of Fame (namely REM). Any band that is foundational in creating a popular and enduring genre of music is worthy of induction on those grounds alone, apart from any consideration of sales or hit records. On top of this, Badfinger’s music has endured both in its original and in cover versions. “Without You” has been covered by Nilsson and Mariah Carey with hit versions. “Day After Day,” “Come And Get It,” and “No Matter What” all hit the top ten for Badfinger, and “Baby Blue” came close . And that is not even including their beautiful “Maybe Tomorrow” single and album as the Iveys before they were renamed to Badfinger. For a band that saw two albums pulled from shelves over the corrupt business dealings of its manager (Wish You Were Here and Head First), and saw its career momentum harmed by Apple Records releasing an unpolished and unready effort to complete the band’s contract with them (Ass, which nonetheless featured a beautiful and enduring song in “Apple Of My Eye”), the fact that their music has endured despite the incompetence and outright corruption of their management and record labels is remarkable. In addition, Badfinger’s story needs to be remembered for bands to learn from their tragedy and avoid repeating it. A band is like a family, and it has to stay together in order to survive the corruption of the music industry–Badfinger did not have enough asabiya to endure together, and they were eaten alive as a result and driven in despair to self-destruction. A powerful story like that of Badfinger is proof that talent cannot always triumph over adversity in this life in the absence of cooperation and mutual support and encouragement, and that needs to be understood by fans of music and by musicians alike.
Why Isn’t Badfinger In The Rock & Roll Hall Of Fame?
There are really only two reasons that would make any sense as to why Badfinger has not yet been inducted into the Rock & Roll Hall of Fame. Either their own considerable music talent and body of work has been included wholesale with the massive popularity and undeniable influence of the Beatles and their own worthiness has not been taken into account on its own, or the Rock & Roll Hall of Fame has been reluctant to tell the story of the band and how it reflects poorly on the music industry itself. Neither of these reasons is ultimately acceptable, as the band’s music and genre have been massively influential and enduring. As one of the darker stories of Rock & Roll music, through little fault of their own (aside from a lack of band cohesion), they deserve the honors in death that they were denied in life through the fault of others.
Verdict: Put these guys in already! They have waited long enough, and it would be a good way to show that the suffering of Tom Evans and Pete Ham was not in vain, and that their songwriting talent will never be forgotten or underrated by telling their story openly and candidly as an object lesson in the dangers of the music industry for the unwary.