by Liam Sullivan
The South Wales Evening Post , June 12, 2000
Peter Ham was half of the duo which penned one of the greatest love songs of all time. Yet he died penniless, driven to suicide by worries over crippling financial problems. This was the man whose band, Badfinger, had once been described as the new Beatles.
And the man who co-wrote Without You, taken to the top of the charts around the world by Harry Nilsson and again more than 20 years later by Mariah Carey.
Peter Ham was just 27 when his body was discovered hanging in his garage in April, 1975.
Now, to mark the 25th anniversary of his tragic death, Swansea Library is staging a tribute exhibition which charts his life and music
Opening today, it has been put together by library staff and Badfinger fan Keith James.
"It's not so much an exhibition, more of a celebration," said Keith.
"It would be nice to celebrate his life and music, rather than be maudlin about it.
"We want to bring it to local focus and tell people he was born on our doorsteps and it's a real tragedy that he's dead."
The exhibition focuses largely on Peter's connection with Swansea. Keith had been working on the exhibition with David Jenkins and Terry Gleason, musicians who played with Peter in the Iveys, the forerunner of Badfinger.
It features Lps, CDs, press cuttings, fanzines, books and material from the internet.
There will also be personal memorabilia from various collections.
"All the launch there will be his Ivor Novello award he won for Without You, some of his gold discs and copies of song lyrics." said Keith.
"There will be rare pictures which have never been seen before. In fact some have only just been developed from negative."
Peter was born in Gwent Gardens, Townhill, in 1947 and started playing the guitar as a boy.
By the age of 15 he was a member of The Panthers, a group which evolved into the Iveys and which moved en masse to London after being offered a recording deal.
While in London they supported such acts as Cream, The Who and The Kinks.
After hearing a demo tape, Paul McCartney signed them to the Apple label but the band only began to achieve success after changing its name to Badfinger.
In 1969 the band recorded Come and Get It, the first single under the name Badfinger. It reached the top five in both Britain and America.
The following year No Matter What, a song written by Pete, also reached the top five and the album from which it was taken - No Dice - was critically acclaimed.
Also featured on the album was a ballad called Without You.
Another sad postscript to the story is that Tom Evans, who co-wrote Without You, committed suicide in 1983. Again, he was believed to be suffering money troubles. Keith has been a Badfinger since 1981, years after the band's demise.
For five years from 1986 he was editor of the Badfinger File, the band's fanzine. Interestingly, there was a surge of interest in the publication last summer. He is now hoping the exhibition will bring the songs of Peter Ham to a new audience in his home city.
"I was a fan of the man and the music long before I knew he was born just a couple of miles away." he said. "The frustrating thing is the band is not that well known in Swansea. Wales and all over Britain but they are massive in America and in Japan."
Note: This isn't the only article concerning Badfinger this year to be featured in the South Wales Evening Post. The following is an article that appeared in February concerning "Badfinger."
A Swansea DJ will play Swansea Grand Theatre's rooftop cafe bar following a preview performance of Badfinger on Tuesday.
DJ Neil Newman (ex-Marthas) will be giving the audience a chance to end their evening with some top tunes.
The evening has been arranged to encourage younger audiences into the theatre, introducing them to modern drama, possibly for the first time.
Set in a Swansea second hand shop, Badfinger charts the relationships between the shop's volatile owner Meyrick (Robert Blythe), Johnnie (Scott Bradley), Leighton (Nicholas Aaron) and compulsive gambler Speed (Hywel Simons, from Porthcawl).