British Badfinger Convention 2006
by Dan Matovina

On May 12-14th, 2006, a gathering was held in Swansea, South Wales honoring Badfinger's storied history. Clearly, the goal had been to bring together hardcore fans of the group and give them an opportunity to meet up with former members, their friends, and extended families. Spearheaded by Keith James, former editor of The Badfinger File fanzine, this 3-day event would have to be deemed a success. Many old mates and acquaintances re-connected. Fans of the group were thrilled with meeting people they'd only heard or read about. All were mesmerized viewing pictures, memorabilia, and old footage of the group. But it was the personal encounters that left people smiling the most. Day Two of the event was capped with a live solo performance by former Badfinger member, Bob Jackson. On the final afternoon, many visited some notable sites of The Iveys' and Badfinger's past, through a coach/bus tour, and finished off at the famed Ivey Place, before continuing with local sight-seeing.

Bob Jackson - Ron Griffiths speaks

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During the year 2005, I had been contacted by Keith James regarding his plans for this event. Previously, in year 2000, Keith, along with Marilyn Jones of Swansea's Public Library System, had organized The Pete Ham Celebration. During the year 2003, Keith had also set-up a Badfinger related meet-and-greet in London's Golders Green district. Keith hosted about 15-20 people at the renovated Bull & Bush pub. This setting is very close to 7 Park Avenue, the homestead of Iveys and Badfinger fame. We were joined by Beverley Tucker, Pete Ham's first London girlfriend, and the former Iveys member, Ron Griffiths. It was a superb time we spent enjoying beverages, strolling the nearby Hampstead Park, being regaled with stories by Beverley and Ron, viewing the 7 Park Avenue house, even receiving a direct tour of the lower floor by its very gracious owners.


Keith had bigger plans for this 2006 convention. He first requested various materials from me and we talked about his expectations. He stated that he had confirmed The Dragon Hotel in Swansea to hold the event, whose management had been willing to rent out a ballroom for one day. It could hold approximately 200 people. Keith's idea was to have pictures, memorabilia and a screen set-up for videos, with a bus tour of Iveys/Badfinger-related sites the following day. I asked him about music, particularly live music. He said he hadn’t planned for it. First off, he had no idea if the hotel would allow it, not to mention what he'd have to deal with regarding the hassles of live music. Inherently, I felt a live performance would greatly energize the situation and create many more lasting positive memories for everyone. I went over some suggestions regarding potential logistics and encouraged him further. Keith was very open to researching the possibilities, but it would be a new wrinkle added with the already enormous pressures on his back.

Dragon Hotel

Keith first had to sort out if a PA system could be garnered - which he was able to do. Eventually, Bob Jackson accepted Keith's offer to perform - despite Bob's very busy schedule. Keith explains more of this side of those developments in his report.
Bob Jackson
About five months before this event, I had developed what turned out to be a long and protracted consecutive set of different illnesses, of whose toll led me to be convinced I could not make it over. I told Keith I had to cancel plans about ten days away. But, amazingly, I then started to recover significantly over the next week. Thanks to my dear friend, Peggy Burneka - she arranged everything I needed to make it possible to go at the very last minute.

Dan Matovina, Peggy Burneka

Dan Matovina, Peggy Burneka

On Friday of the event, May 12, 2006, (the first night of the convention) Keith held an optional communal meal at a Chinese restaurant in Swansea. I did not attend, as I didn't have the energy, needing to rest up for the following day. But I did meet up briefly with Pete Ham's daughter, Petera Ham, and her boyfriend, Raymond Eddie, at my hotel's restaurant before I went to bed.
On Saturday, as I entered the event at The Dragon Hotel, I encountered lots of beaming smiles and animated conversations. People seemed ecstatic. There were so many I wanted to talk to. I ran into a lot of old friends and acquaintances, in addition to Badfinger fans I'd never talked to before, and those of whom I'd only corresponded with. The displays were fantastic. They had been set-up by Keith James, his wife Ruth, Lawrence Haynes, Marilyn Jones and a host of others. In addition, a bar/lounge setting happened to exist right next door to this ballroom. Many relaxed in that setting to take a break and socialize.

Pat Casey - Ron Griffith sit

Pat Casey, Ron Griffiths

Paul Almond - Ron Griffith explains

Paul Almond, Ron Griffiths, Hilary Hudson, Shirley Halstead

Marianne Evans, Nicky Bell

Marianne Evans, Nicky Bell

Sage, Pat, Raymond, Peter V., Petera

Jane Sage, Steve Sage, Pat Allen, Raymond Eddie, Jeff Vaughan, Petera Ham

Terry Cunnett, Paul Almond, Ron Griffiths

Terry Cunnett, Paul Almond, Ron Griffiths

Terry Cunnett, Gaynor Gibbins, Anne Wallis

Terry Cunnett, Gaynor Gibbins, Anne Wallis

paul Almond, Maxine Cunnett, Kaz Nicholls

Paul Almond. Maxine Cunnett, Kaz Nicholls

Sean Perkins, Ron Griffiths

Sean Perkins, Ron Griffiths

After about four hours there, I decided to go back to my hotel to rest up for the evening's upcoming perfomance by Bob Jackson. But before I left, I approached Keith James and asked if I could say a few words to everyone just before Bob began his set. This was a spontaneous idea, as I'd felt very inspired to do this because of the sheer joy I was witnessing. Since I knew many people there, I felt I could give some introductions and add some additional context of what a truly magnificent gathering this was. Finally, to allow for certain people to be acknowledged, Keith said that would be fine. So I left to take a nap and scribbled some notes before coming back.

Leanne Tucker, David Evans, Beverly Tucker

LeAnne Tucker, David Evans, Beverley Tucker

Ellie Gibbins, David Steve Jewell Adam

Ellie Gibbins, David Gibbins, Steve Jewell, Adam Gibbins

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As I returned, people were just finishing the set-up of Bob Jackson's musical gear. Soon, everyone started streaming into seats. I went up to express my thoughts and perform introductions. I'd had an inexpensive cassette recorder I'd kept in my bag, deciding at the last minute to tape my words. I left the machine with someone in the front row. It turned out the machine was not started correctly, so my initial words acknowledging Keith and the other organizers of the event were not recorded, but I had the tape started once I noticed the buttons were not pushed down.

Badfinger Convention Organizers

At one point I had to stop to get some water. As I moved forward, I caught my foot on a mic cord, which crashed down the mic stand. The tape player was apparently then stopped as I broke away to get the water bottle, then it was re-started, but only at various intervals from thereon out, thus some key moments are missing, including my acknowledgements for Joey Molland. For the record, I brought up a Joey's excellent contributions to the group. I noted that Joey was a "… major contributor on the albums and he wrote lots of great songs. Let's pay him tribute." - for which he was applauded. Everyone mentioned received an excellent response, as you will hear if you hit the links* to the names below.

Dan Matovina speaks at Badfinger Convention

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Ron Griffiths w/Drawing

1. Ron Griffiths

Mike Gibbins Litho

2. Mike Gibbins

Tom Evans Lithograph

3. Tom Evans

Pete Ham Lithograph

Bob Jackson Family

Christine, Jordan, Lyle, Emily & Bob Jackson

4. Pete Ham & Bob Jackson

Bob Jackson had come armed to play with electric guitar, acoustic/electric guitar, a keyboard and MIDI set-up. He acknowledged his nervousness, then sang some songs (old and new), joked around, and talked very seriously, too. The crowd was captivated. I've included a few excerpts of Bob that were recorded by my very modest recording device. Bob had intended to record his full set, but it did not come out at all. Luckily, my recording device was on at various times and it captured some of his performance. I've included some of the tunes he played, a few of which are in the process of being recorded at his home studio for a forthcoming album. Bob approved of these examples. I think fans of Badfinger will certainly enjoy these audio clips (despite their lack of fidelity), especially the spontaneous performance with Ron Griffiths.

Bob Jackson plays No Matter What

1. No Matter What

Bob Jackson plays If You Were here

2. If You Were Here

Bob Jackson plays Name Of The Game

3. Name Of The Game

Bob Jackson plays Carry On Till Tomorrow

4. Carry On Till Tomorrow

Bob Jackson plays Shine On

5. Shine On

Bob Jackson plays Boys In New Orleans

6. Boys In New Orleans

Bob Jackson, Ron Griffiths sing Come And Get It

7. Come And Get It

Crowd cheers for Ron Griffiths, Bob Jackson

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The final day of the Badfinger Convention was an optional tour of various sites related to The Iveys/Badfinger. Because of my stamina issues, I followed the bus in my rental car with good friend, Mark Perkins, and his two sons, Sean and Tyler. We first viewed Ron Griffiths' boyhood home, then Pete Ham's primary school in Townhill, before stopping at the small enclave where Pete Ham was born and raised, Gwent Gardens (also referred to as "Keyhole Street" in one of Pete's solo demos). We were also very fortunate to tour the inside of his family's former dwelling.

Later on, we passed by a built-up area described in Pete Ham's "Knocking Down Our Home." Everyone finished off at Ivey Place, from which the name "The Iveys" had been born. I had to leave before the final gathering at the Ivey Place hotel's bar, to get some much-needed rest. Earlier that day, I'd had the opportunity to view Mumbles Pier with my friends Tom Brennan, Peggy Burneka and Mark Perkins. This is where The Iveys had some legendary pictures taken. To our pleasant surprise, Roy Anderson, drummer for several of Pete Ham's earliest bands, met us while riding through on a bicycle. We also saw The Tivoli Theatre, now remodeled, where a number of The Iveys gigs had been performed.

Gwent Gardens Entering Pete Home

Entering the childhood home of Pete Ham

 

Ivey Place All Fans

Ivey Place

On the Monday morning at the Dragon Hotel, countless goodbye greetings were exchanged. It had been so fantastic to meet up with so many of the old Iveys/Badfinger guard and other folks for the first time, including one Sandie Carter [pictured below at right], a former girlfriend of Pete Ham's for whom he'd been inspired to write songs such as "Shine On" and "Matted Spam."

For the record, there were others who told me they'd loved to have been at the event. Anne Herriot, of whom Pete wrote about in "Just A Chance" and "Know One Knows." She was Pete's girlfriend and mother of his daughter Petera, also mother of Blair (of "Dennis" fame). Additionally, these folk were highly enthusiastic to attend - Pete's former girlfriend Dixie Butz, of "Baby Blue" fame; the very important Iveys' member, David Jenkins; The Iveys first road manager, Alwyne Jenkins; the group's trusted roadie, Ian "Fergie" Ferguson; a band friend and some time roadie, Barrie Evans; son of Tom and Marianne Evans, Stephen Evans; and lastly, a key member of Tommy's ill-fated Goodfinger incarnation, Al Wodtke. Due to their previous commitments, none could make it. Hopefully, there will be another opportunity for a similar get-together down the road.

Lawrence, Keith James, Ruth, Sandie

Simply put, a very beautiful and positive event. My sincere thanks to all who helped provide for this great weekend. Special thanks, of course, to its chief organizer, Keith James.

Dan Matovina Mumbles Pier

Dan Matovina

 

Photos contributed by Peggy Burneka, Paul Almond, Terry Cunnett, Mark Perkins, Janet Sears, Steve Sage and Anne Wallis

Keith James Badfinger Convention Report

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