Brando's Badfinger Pages, April 5, 1998
I have found it difficult to write about the book, "Without You: The Tragic Story of Badfinger". The reason, because their is precious little to criticize. The video documentary, Badfinger rereleases and even Pete's 7 Park Avenue (at least according to some) have some things that could have been improved upon. It is those criticism's that spark conversation on the guestbook and amongst Badfinger fans. Almost three months removed from reading the book, I can find next to nothing to criticize.
The book is thoroughly researched and thoroughly enjoyable in every respect. I enjoyed learning the story of Pete's origins into to rock'n'roll and how the Ivey's originated and developed with some detail. Reading how Pete could with a stroke of his pen describe his personal relationships, both good and bad times, was quite remarkable.
Badfinger's story appears to all be here. The history behind the making of every Badfinger album up to "Say No More" is presented. The evolution of the band is here in complete detail, featuring information on the introduction of every member into the band and their involvement, including the never before mentioned mystery drummer Rob Stawinsky (Did anybody see the Associated Press news item the last week of March that featured a picture of one Rob Stawinski - not the same person, just a coincidence). The childhood of some of the main members of the band are detailed. The story of the formation of the Iveys is told in complete detail as well.
The management of the band is chronicled, it is very important because it is what leads to the destruction of two immensely talented musicians. The book features a section each to the final days of Pete Ham and Tom Evans. Much of the loose ends of the late 1980's and 1990's are tied up in a nice "Afterword" chapter. Matovina uncovers the emotions of each of the members of the band and those around the band. It is this part of the book that gives it such a personal feel and makes the book even more enjoyable (at times) and haunting (at times - April 75, November 83). It is also this part of the book that creates the controversy, because, in some parts, it differs from the documentary video.
Matovina's book is definitely much more researched than the documentary, most books have more detail than their video counterparts. The appeal of the video is in the Badfinger videos and hearing & seeing Mike and Joey tell their versions first hand. I do appreciate Kathie's involvement in the video, because she was there as well. The book's appeal is in it's detail, almost nothing in Badfinger's existence is left unturned. Hundreds of people who were also there or around Badfinger give their accounts to the Badfinger story. John's, Beverly's, Marianne's, Gaynor's and Anne's input are every bit as important (and believable) as Kathie's input to the video. Although the Mollands did not participate in the interviews done by Matovina, there are references to old interviews done by Joey that help to construct Joey's activities with the band. Matovina does not try to conceal this fact, it is mentioned on one of the first pages. Aside from the Mollands not contributing and some others, Matovina perhaps recognizing this may be the only Badfinger book to make it to the market made sure the book is as detailed "as possible", and in this regard he has succeeded.
Though the book does pose several potential villains in the Badfinger story, to me (i.e. in my OPINION) there is only one. There is only one person who stole, slaughtered and gutted the spirit of Peter William Ham and that obviously is Stan P. The other incidents the book recounts regarding others involvement towards the mental decline of Pete may have augmented Pete's desperation and frustrations. But Stan P. could have rectified everything by coming clean and looking out for his clients. Perhaps Pete could have accepted and / or rejected band criticism more freely if he hadn't been under the business and financial strains brought on solely by Stan P.
There is so much of the book that cannot be disputed. Ninety to ninety-five percent of the book involves Badfinger history that is intriguing and beyond skepticism. The Mollands may have a different take on the parts of the book that involve their personal interaction with band members and others, but beside those differences of opinion this book is rich in detail and structure. I recommend this book for any one who is a fan of Badfinger. If you disagree with certain portions of the text, that is your right as an interpreter of Badfinger history. But to understand the undisputed bulk of their story from beginning to .......... you need to buy the book (and the video, and some CD's as well).
For years, Badfinger fans have been starved for attention from the record labels that released their creations some 20 - 30 years ago. Since 1990, Badfinger fans have been spoon-fed one release at a time and over the course of almost a decade we have been rewarded with being able to obtain a vast amount of Badfinger material. We should all be thankful for this, but we all know there is still more to unearth. We don't complain about the delay in a release once we have it in our hands. With regards to the book: I'm glad it is out. I've been saying for over a decade someone should write a book (and make a movie) about this band. It has been done (the book part that is). I'm grateful for the enormous effort and quality that was put into this book by Matovina and others. I'm grateful for the cooperation of the hundreds of people that were interviewed. I'm grateful this was a labor of love for the writer of the book, thus insuring a maximum effort on his part. If you doubt the quality of this product go to your local bookstore and browse some of the other rock'n'roll history books. Matovina's book is equal to the best of them and a quantum leap above most of them. Best of all, it's a book about Badfinger.