Mike Gibbins

Drummer with Badfinger, heirs to the Beatles
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The Independent Online

In a sense, the Beatles chose Badfinger to carry on their legacy. The band was signed to their Apple label; Paul McCartney wrote their hit single "Come and Get It", and, despite their considerable originality, their albums abound with the melodic rock associated with the Beatles. Mike Gibbins had a similar style to Ringo Starr and, like the Beatles' drummer, he was always ready with a quip or a one-liner.

Gibbins was born into a large family in Swansea in 1949. He had six sisters and, to make himself heard, he took up the drums when he was 14. He learnt the drum solo in Sandy Nelson's "Teen Beat" and he was soon playing with local beat groups including the Planet, Club Four and the Misfits. In 1965 he auditioned for the Iveys. The group's manager, Bill Collins (father of the actor Lewis Collins), encouraged them to write their own songs but at the time Gibbins was more interested in learning piano and guitar. In 1967 he spent some time in hospital after losing his front teeth in a road accident after a show.

In 1968, the Iveys had one of the first releases on the Apple label, "Maybe Tomorrow". The following year, with some changes in personnel, they were renamed Badfinger by McCartney. They performed music for the soundtrack of the film The Magic Christian (1969), starring Peter Sellers and Ringo Starr, and McCartney wrote "Come and Get It" for the credit sequence. It became a Top Ten hit, as did "No Matter What" (1971) and "Day After Day" (1972). "Without You", a Pete Ham and Tommy Evans song from their album No Dice (1970) became a No 1 record for Harry Nilsson. George Harrison produced "Day After Day" and Gibbins was part of the backing band on Harrison's concert for Bangladesh in 1971.

Gibbins married his Swansea girlfriend, Gaynor, in 1970 and she tried to control his fecklessness. He would spend any money he had and, on tour, would go shopping at every opportunity. His songwriting developed and he wrote two songs on Badfinger's album Wish You Were Here (1974), "In the Meantime" and "You're So Fine". An uncompleted album from around this time, Head First, was released in 2000 and contained five of his songs. During the making of it, Pete Ham had become so depressed that he smashed an expensive guitar that he could not tune.

Management problems created enormous tension in the band. Following a row with the guitarist Tommy Evans over the quality of his drumming, Gibbins left the band in 1974. He toured with the Welsh band the Flying Aces and with Bonnie Tyler, being featured on her hit single "It's a Heartache" (1977). He spent £2,000 on demos of his own songs, but it did not lead to a recording contract.

The torment in Badfinger itself continued with Pete Ham committing suicide in 1975 and Tom Evans in 1983. Following Mariah Carey's revival of "Without You" in 1994, the remaining Badfinger members collected an award from Ascap, much to the annoyance of the writers' families.

Gibbins played in bands in Swansea, notably the country band Faded Glory, and then settled in Florida. He claimed to have "the smallest studio in the world" and he made the solo albums A Place in Time (1998) and More Annoying Songs (2000), both clearly influenced by Badfinger. He was sometimes joined on vocals by Ron Griffiths from the Iveys, now a telephone engineer.

Spencer Leigh

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