When Badfinger appears at Humphrey’s HippieFest on Sunday, August 2, the band (discovered and launched by the Beatles in the late ’60s) will be fronted by the sole surviving member from its glory days, singer-guitarist Joey Molland. “Most articles [about Badfinger] have the word ‘tragic’ in the title,” says Molland, who lost two bandmates to suicide (Pete Ham in 1975 and Tom Evans in 1983), while drummer Mike Gibbins died in his sleep in October of 2005.
“That sort of tragedy, I guess, shows up in some of the songs, especially the ones Pete wrote, even though nobody knew at the time how bad off he was getting. But those same songs still bring people together [and] are still heard every day on the radio, in people’s cars, in their homes… People can be tragic, but I don’t think music itself is.”
Badfinger with Molland (who joined the band after its first record) was scarcely seen in San Diego until the HippieFest tours began in 2006. This year’s edition also features Flo and Eddie of the Turtles, Chuck Negron (Three Dog Night), and Felix Cavaliere (Young Rascals). “San Diego has a lot of great musicians,” says Molland. “I played with Rockola at BeatleFair [July 1998], and those guys knew the [Badfinger] songs better than I did!”
Molland has also been a member of the Monsters of Classic Rock, featuring local guitarist Greg Douglass (Steve Miller Band). “Joey is an underrated songwriter,” says Douglass. “The [Badfinger] sound traces its lineage back to the Beatles, and not just because they all recorded together and were on the same Apple label. It’s the kind of songcraft you just don’t see anymore.
“Although,” concedes Douglass, “it is kind of a tragic story.”