I and my blog sadly note the passing of Badfinger drummer Mike Gibbins, 56, who passed away in his sleep at his Florida home on Tuesday, Oct. 4 2005.
The hard-luck Badfinger, once protoges of the Beatles at Apple records, had already suffered the suicide deaths of singer/guitarists Pete Ham (in 1975), and Tom Evans (in 1983). Singer/guitarist Joey Molland is the lone survivor of the band’s classic 1970-1974 lineup, which scored four top-20 hits in America (“Come and Get It” (written by Paul McCartney), “No Matter What”, “Day After Day”, and “Baby Blue”). The band also left its mark with “Without You”, a Ham/Evans number that was covered by Harry Nilsson and Mariah Carey, both of whom reached #1 with it.
Gibbins joined a very early version of the band in 1965 at the invitation of bassist Ron Griffiths; the band was still called the Iveys, a name they’d stick with for their first album release in 1969. He, Pete Ham, and Evans (who joined in 1968), along with Griffiths, were on the Iveys’ Maybe Tomorrow album; Griffiths was replaced by Molland at the end of the Magic Christian Music sessions in 1969.
Although most singing and songwriting chores fell to Ham/Evans and Molland, Gibbins wrote and sang several good Badfinger songs as well, including “Cowboy” from Ass (1973), and “Your So Fine” (sic) from Wish You Were Here (1974).
The original Badfinger disbanded following Pete Ham’s death in 1975, but in 1978, Evans and Molland formed a new Badfinger and released the album Airwaves in 1979; Gibbins was invited to join, but was dismissed after a tryout. He was not present on Badfinger’s final album, Say No More, in 1981. In the late 80’s, he played some dates with Joey Molland as Badfinger, but that version of the group never recorded. In the 90’s he and Molland were on opposite sides of the table in court during a royalty dispute over the release of a 1974 concert on CD.
Gibbins’ drumming style was very much in the no-frills, steadily paced, Ringo Starr mold, and he landed the occasional sessionwork gig, most notably in 1978, when he played drums on the Bonnie Tyler hit, “It’s a Heartache”, which reached #1.
Known as affable and quick-witted, Gibbins was also known for his sense of humor, and a worldwise candor when discussing the band’s famous financial woes; much of Gibbins’ band earnings were lost when the band’s money disappeared from escrow, leaving them broke. In later years, a Badfinger rediscovery among younger listeners helped restore their legacy and earn the members some coin. Badfinger is now acknowledged as one of the hallowed three power pop forebears, along with Big Star and the Raspberries (to whom Badfinger was considerably superior) In later years, Gibbins released some solo material, including the pretty good 1998 album A Place In Time.
Badfinger has always been a personal favorite of mine going back to my earliest music consuming days. Their story is quite sad, their music is quite good. Gibbins will be missed. More on Badfinger here. BBC obituary here. Official Mike Gibbins website here.
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