Brando's Feature: Interview with Pete Ham

Pete Ham, 1969 Badfinger's Pete Ham (an interview)

by Apple
Magic Christian Music Songbook, 1969, page 19

A great deal of the grit and strength of BADFINGER stems from the grit and dedication of Pete Ham ... solemn Pete Ham from Swansea.

Pete is 22, born April 27, 1947, and he started the group when it was the Iveys.

"It was the first time I'd ever played, with a semi-pro group", he says, allowing himself a smile of nostalgia as he stares down at the table. "I started harmonica at the age of four, and when I was 12 I started the guitar. Then I played at school.

"This was the big thing, though. There was a very good scene going in Swansea, and we were playing in the clubs and the dance-halls.

"I was an apprentice television engineer when I decided to pack it up and go full-time, much to my father's disgust. But I'm still interested and I like messing about with TV. I can't deny it ... TV engineering was the job I'd wanted at the time, and I got what I wanted. But in the long-term it would have been second best to being a musician.

"I would like to think of Badfinger's music as mood music. Something with a bit of feeling, whether it's hard or soft.

"I regard myself as a fairly average person. I like good humour - reality depresses me - and I like 'horror films because they take me away from reality.

"It's when I see something like 'Up the Junction,' which is hard, cold, really real, cruel; that's when I get brought down a bit.

"Hospitals are the worst contact with reality I can imagine. I used to have to work in them mending the TVs, and I'd see the old people lying there alone. It really got to me.

"I was brought down when our first record with Apple, which was 'Maybe Tomorrow', didn't do anything. The trouble was we were stupid and we sat back and thought it would just happen. And it didn't.

Pete Ham, 1969 "To be quite honest, I think we conned our way into Apple at first. We didn't deserve it; we weren't that good.

"I think the fact that we wrote good songs saved us, and we've also tried to justify being here by trying to get ourselves together, I think we're worth it now.

"I've changed a great deal. I used to be vicious to my parents, just because they objected to me going full-time with a group. Now I can see that all they wanted was the best for me. And we get on great.

"I keep to myself a lot. I like parties, mind you, but when I say that I mean the old-fashioned kind. The kind where people go to have a good time, not just to roll a joint and have a big smoking scene. I get pretty het up about this. It seems that every party you go to, you've either got to blow your mind or get drunk out of your mind to enjoy it. What I like is a real knees-up ... a time when people really enjoy themselves without the aid of artificial things.

"Songwriting is one of the greatest pleasures in my life. I get the mood usually at night-time, or between 11 p.m. and five in the morning.

"The songs we do are usually very varied, but I'm thinking we'd better start trying to put them into one category. People in this business like to put other people into a bag. You can branch out when you've got established, but I reckon our early mistake was being too varied too soon.

"I found working with Paul McCartney on 'Come And Get It' a fantastic experience. He really brought it out of us, showed us what it should be like. Very relaxed.

"I'm a worrier, like Tom. Mike, the drummer, he's the easy-going one. Tom and I both get hung-up about if it'll work out for us.

Pete Ham lithograph, created by Mark Perkins "I hate musical snobs. I hate people who say, for instance, 'Blues', and that's it. My taste in music is Music ... from jazz to rock, and anything in between or outside. My brother's a jazz trumpeter in South Wales. He's trying to get a big band together.

"I don't believe in God. I believe that Jesus lived and was a good man, but that's it.

"Talking about music again. I think a lot of groups seem to lack melody. They play headache music, and I fall out with the others in BADFINGER about this because I say there's only a few albums by underground groups I can sit down and listen to.

"I want BADFINGER to be a group people can enjoy. Music doesn't have to be bad to be commercial."

Brando Comment: I just wanted to note that Pete makes a reference in the interview to not believing in God. In the song "Just Look Inside the Cover" from Pete's solo CD "7 Park Avenue" he makes another reference to God singing, "...I don't know anything so fine, as the life God gave to me...". I believe the song came after the interview, thus it is appears Pete may have had a change in his spiritual beliefs at some point. I don't want to make an issue of this, it is just something I noticed and a multitude of fans who own "7 Park" will recall as well.

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