Saturday, July 13, 2013

Bob Jackson's tribute to Badfinger's Peter Ham

Bob Jackson
The latest from the pen of  Pete Clemons - covering Bob Jackson's tribute concert for Badfinger's Peter Ham in Swansea. Bob Jackson was the the leader of the RCA Neon Coventry progressive band - Indian Summer - late 60's early 70's. He went on to play in bands by Alan Ross, John Entwhistle, Pete Brown and eventually, in 1974, joined the Apple label band Badfinger. Pete Clemon's article appeared in the Coventry Telegraph recently.

A celebration plaque and for Pete.
Pete Clemons 

LAST week, a cheque for £2,939 was handed over to PAPYRUS, a charity for the prevention of suicide in young people, courtesy of a recent rock concert 'Celebration for Pete'.

The concert, remembering Pete Ham of 70s chart toppers Badfinger, was held at the Swansea Grand Theatre in April and organised by Coventry's own Bob Jackson, a surviving member of Badfinger.

The concert was put on to coincide with a blue plaque unveiling on the same day, which commemorated Pete for his outstanding services to music.

Among the messages of support received for the event was one sent by Olivia Harrison, the widow of George, with whom Badfinger had been heavily involved with the Concert for Bangladesh held at Madison Square Garden's, New York back in August 1971: "Over the years George spoke about Pete with fondness as a friend and with respect for his beautiful songs...

his lyrics and recordings embody a gentle spirit and tender heart. Congratulations and love on this occasion."

Seating had been placed in front of a small stage, which was to be used for tribute speeches but nowhere near enough for the crowd who had turned up for the unveiling.

The stage was also used by a succession of acoustic acts that paid tribute to Pete by way of performing his songs. And some wonderful renditions of familiar songs were to be heard.

After the formalities Pete Ham's daughter, Petera, along with Swansea council leader David Phillips, revealed the Blue Plaque at a ceremony in Swansea town centre, close to the railway station, and not far from where Peter's first band, The Iveys, practised during their infancy.

The well respected entertainer Mal Pope who is a musician and composer, and is local to Swansea, said afterwards: "It was a terrific day and I had been pleasantly surprised to see how many people attended."

After the unveiling of the plaque the crowd then made their way to Swansea Grand Theatre. A very special, late afternoon, one-off tribute concert was being held there. The concert was fronted by Bob Jackson who had joined Badfinger in 1974. It was to be a fitting way to remember the legacy of his former band-mate.

The first half of the show was given over to local talent. The proceedings kicked off with guitarist Sarah Passmore who was then followed by a host of Swansea musicians, including Steve Balsamo, Mal Pope and Karl Morgan who performed jaw dropping versions of 'Know one Knows' and 'Maybe Tomorrow'.

After the interval Bob Jackson settled at his keyboard and was joined on stage by guitarists Al Wodtke and Anthony Harty, drummer Matt Hart and bass player Eddie Mooney. The set was, almost entirely made up of Pete Ham originals, some of which were never performed previously. The band were then, joined on stage by special guests, including Ron Griffiths and Dai Jenkins, who had both been original members of The Iveys.

Ron, who had not performed for 13 years before the concert, said: "The gig was great; I was on stage and did six tunes. We hadn't had a lot of a rehearsal so it was a bit nerve-wracking, but it must be like riding a bike, because you never forget.".

A particular highlight was a duet between Bob and his daughter Emily. They sang the most incredible versions of 'Moonshine' from the 'Head First' album and 'John Forgot to Sing'.

Throughout the show due credit was also heaped on other Badfinger members, such as Tommy Evans, who had also played their part in the song writing, and success of the band.

Then it was back to Badfinger's big hits. The final songs included Bob's song for Pete, 'I Won't Forget You' and 'Day After Day' where he confessed, referring to the event, that it had all felt as though he had been "walking a tightrope".

He then paid tribute to his former band-mate. "Pete was not only an extremely talented writer, he was also a remarkable player and a great singer with a beautiful voice. Above all, he was an incredibly humble guy who was always thinking of others. He was not your typical pop star."

Next, Badfinger's epic 'Without You' was introduced. At that point Bob reflected "What does this song mean to me? Well, the song was a masterpiece with a universal message, but it came at such a terrible price. So, for me, it is bittersweet." It was something that would live with him for the rest of his life.

Well Bob, you and your friends raised some very important funds for a very important cause. All proceeds from the concert are going to the charity Papyrus, which is dedicated to the prevention of young suicide (appropriate since Peter Ham and Tommy Evans had both committed suicide in the 1970s and 1980s, respectively).

The show finished off with a finale of 'I Can't Take it', 'No Matter What' and 'Come and Get It' and with that, the stage was filled with the performers who had taken part earlier in the evening.

After a successful event, which raised plenty of funds for the charity, Bob passed a cheque for the proceeds to Aanika Dhillon, of Papyrus.

The national charity for the prevention of young suicide, they operate HOPELineUK - 0800 068 41 41, a free phone national confidential line staffed by trained professionals providing practical advice, support and information to anyone concerned that someone they know is feeling suicidal.

TALENTED SONGWRITER: Pete Ham BIG REVEAL: Pete Ham's daughter, Petera, unveils her dad's plaque helped by Swansea council leader David Phillips DONATION: Bob Jackson presents a cheque for PS2,939 to Aanika Dhillon, of PAPYRUS

Peter Ham

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