By Steve Reszka of Booking Connection
Joey Molland is one of the many musicians from Liverpool, England who made it to the big time in rock & roll. After playing with several local bands, Joey joined Badfinger in late 1969. The group gained notoriety by being the first band signed to The Beatles’ Apple Records, where they had a string of hit singles and albums.
While with Badfinger, he also made guest appearances on two George Harrison albums — All Things Must Pass and The Concert For Bangladesh — as well as John Lennon’s album Imagine in the early 1970s.
Joey and Badfinger’s music has a resurgence ever since their song Baby Blue was used as the soundtrack to the climactic end to the final episode of the hit TV show Breaking Bad.
Steve Reszka: What was your first break in music?
Joey Molland: I grew up in Liverpool and when I was a teenager, I was in a band called Masterminds. We were the house band at a late night club called The Blue Angel. One night after one of their concerts, the Rolling Stones came in to listen to us. Their manager, Andrew Loog Oldham, was with them. He managed and produced many of the big acts of the day including The Stones, The Small Faces and Marianne Faithful.
During our set, we played a Bob Dylan song called She Belongs To Me and Andrew loved it. He came backstage, told us to come to London and he got us a record deal based on that song.
SR: Being in London at that time must have been an exciting time?
JM: It was. I heard about a job for a guitarist and made my way to the other side of London and knocked on the door. Gary Walker answered. He was the drummer for Walker Brothers, a huge band in Great Britain at the time. He told me The Walker Brothers had broken up.
I auditioned for Gary and got the job as guitarist for his new band Gary Walker & The Rain. That job opened the door to my songwriting career and took me all over the world. The experience was priceless really.
During those years in London I met and played shows with a lot of great bands like the Who, The Herd (Peter Frampton’s band), The Tremeloes, Spencer Davis, Jeff Beck and Rod Stewart. What a great introduction to the music scene!
SR: How did you become part of Badfinger?
JM: In 1969, I was back in Liverpool. A Welsh band “The Iveys” were signed to Apple Records and had recorded a Paul McCartney song, Come and Get It. For some reason the bassist left and the guitarist decided he would take over on bass, so they started looking for a guitar player. They got my phone number somehow and called. They asked if I would come to London and audition. I went. I got the job and the name of the group was changed to Badfinger.
Come And Get It, which Paul McCartney also produced. was released almost immediately and came a big hit all over the world.
One day we were at Apple Records with George Harrison talking about it, how we’d be making loads of money, buying fab cars and big houses. The only drawback was that we’ll have to play that song every day for the rest of our lives! HA HA … I see what he meant, and it’s a good thing I really like playing that song.
SR: You developed a close working relationship with George Harrison, didn’t you?
JM: We did. After recording our first album, George called and asked us to come to back him on acoustic guitar on the album All Things Must Pass. That session work led to Badfinger’s participation in the Concert for Bangladesh, the world’s first big benefit rock concert.
We raised millions for UNICEF and got a Grammy for the album. All that work with George led to us backing John Lennon on his Imagine album. George also co- produced our second album, Straight Up with Todd Rundgren.
SR: What is your favorite all-time memory of being with Badfinger?
JM: That’s easy. In 1970, we were touring the United States. We had three days off before playing in Minneapolis. Our manager’s office was there so we got in town early.
The first night we went to nightclub called Depot. I saw a gal there who was stunning. I tried to go meet her, but I lost her in the crowd. The next day the guys and I went to a party and I saw that same woman. I found someone who knew her and they introduced me to her. Her name was Kathy.
The next night Kathy and I had our first date. We married two years later in 1972 and were together for 37 years until she passed away in 2009. Sometimes your best memories are off stage!
Steve Reszka is a partner in Booking Connections, supplying entertainers and speakers for a variety events. For more information, contact him at www.bookingconnection.com.