The band that would evolve into Badfinger began in the early 1960s as The Panthers in Swansea, Wales. The Panthers consisted of Pete Ham (lead guitar), Ron Griffiths (bass guitar), David ‘Dai’ Jenkins (guitar) and Roy Anderson (drums). By the mid ’60s, the band had changed their name to The Iveys; coined from a street in Swansea named Ivey Place as well as a nod to The Hollies. Not long after the name change, Mike Gibbins became the band’s permanent drummer. In 1966, Bill Collins began managing the band and they all relocated to a house in London at 7 Park Avenue, Golders Green. Although not savvy in business matters, Collins was instrumental in encouraging the band to write their own material and hone their craft. Collins insisted that the key to success in music was songwriting. In 1967, guitarist Dai Jenkins was replaced by Liverpudlian Tommy Evans and The Iveys lineup was complete.
In 1968, Mal Evans, Beatles roadie and insider, championed The Iveys’ cause and brought the band to the attention of The Beatles. The Beatles had just founded Apple Records and The Iveys would be the first artists signed to the brand new label. The Ivey’s first release on Apple was the single “Maybe Tomorrow”, a lush power ballad. The single would be a major hit in a few European countries and in Japan but failed to chart in the U.K. and had only minor chart success in the U.S. It also served as the title track for the only album released by The Iveys. Maybe Tomorrow would be mostly produced by Tony Visconti (who would later have great success producing T.Rex and David Bowie). Mal Evans also produced some of the sessions. Maybe Tomorrow was released in 1969 on Apple in Italy, Germany and Japan. No definitive explanation has ever been given as to why it wasn’t released in the U.S. or U.K.
The Iveys were beginning to feel both disappointed and frustrated as they struggled to find a song that Apple deemed worthy as a single release. It would be an interview with Ron Griffiths in Disc & Music Echo that would catch the attention of Paul McCartney.
“We do feel a bit neglected. We keep writing songs for a new single and submitting them to Apple but The Beatles keep sending them back, saying they’re not good enough.”
McCartney had been asked to provide three songs for the soundtrack of a new film, The Magic Christian, starring Peter Sellers and Ringo Starr. Paul saw this as an opportunity for The Iveys. He offered the band his composition for the film, “Come and Get It”, and the band could provide the other two songs for the film. McCartney would produce the sessions for “Come and Get It”, “Carry On Till Tomorrow” and “Rock Of All Ages” at Abbey Road Studios in August of 1969.
Due to internal friction within the band, Ron Griffiths was dismissed in October of 1969. A number of bassists were auditioned with no success. Tom Evans volunteered to switch to bass when the band hired Liverpudlian guitarist Joey Molland. Further change was forthcoming as both the band and Apple Records agreed that a name change was necessary for the band. Pete Ham would explain,
“We felt our original name was too nice. And people kept asking us if we were the old Ivy League.”
John Lennon suggested the band call themselves “The Prix” while McCartney offered “Home”. It would ultimately be Apple’s Neil Aspinall who would suggest “Badfinger”. The name was derived from the early working title to the Lennon/McCartney song that eventually given the title “With a Little Help from My Friends”. Lennon had called it “Bad Finger Boogie” due to the fact that he had an injured finger while playing the piano during the composition process with McCartney.
“Come and Get It” would be the first release under the name Badfinger. It was released in December 1969 in the U.K. and January 1970 in the U.S. and reached the top 10 throughout the world, including #7 on the U.S. Billboard chart and #4 on the U.K. Melody Maker chart. An album was needed to coincide with the release of the single, so Apple compiled one with the three McCartney produced songs from The Magic Christian film along with a few newer recordings produced by Mal Evans with the rest comprised of remixed tracks from The Iveys’ Maybe Tomorrow album. Although all material was recorded by The Iveys, the resultant album, Magic Christian Music, would be released under their new name of Badfinger.