The Badfinger Convention 2006

Day Two - Part One

by Keith James

Tyler Perkins, Raymond Eddie, Petera Ham, Mark Perkins

Badfinger Convention Display - Badfinger 1

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I didn't get much sleep last night. In fact, I think I only got about two hours. This wasn't because I was over-excited by the thought of today's convention; the reason for my lack of sleep was a little less emotive. The room Ruth and I were staying in was absolutely scorching hot during the night and the only way to alleviate the heat was to open the large bay window. We did this and the air duly cooled - unfortunately this allowed the excruciating cacophony of Swansea's night-life in. Every major dance club is within a short vicinity of the Dragon Hotel and believe me, I could hear every beat.
It was either a choice of boiling through the night, or being kept awake by The Crazy Frog's extended remix of 'I Lost my Heart to a Star-ship Trooper'.
However, I am awake, surprisingly refreshed and I cannot believe that the day has arrived. After nine months in excited pregnant preparation, I am about to give birth to the first ever British Badfinger Convention, here in Swansea, where the story first began for our heroes.
I check my mobile phone and there are many text messages: some are good luck messages from family and friends, others are from convention attendees with last-minute enquiries. One of these texts rasps, "Where are the twenty free convention tickets you promised? I went to the Dragon reception yesterday and the staff said they knew nothing about them!"
"Who the heck sent that?" I muse. "I hadn't promised twenty gratis convention places to anyone!"

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After an agreeable continental breakfast, myself and Ruth, plus our helpers for the day - Laurence, Anne, Alan, Jan, Paul, Jake and Budgie - head towards the stately Pembrey Suite to start preparing everything for the forthcoming convention. Doors open at 12 midday and it is now half past eight. Soon, we are met by Swansea Library's Marilyn Jones and later, her assistants, Caroline and Claire. The trio will be resurrecting the Pete Ham Celebration exhibition. It's the first time in six years it has been seen and you have to credit the trio for helping us out. Saturday is usually a librarian's day off and they're not being paid overtime…
Allyson Byrne arrives shortly after to put up her display for our selected charity, Barnardos. Allyson doesn't mess about - her stand is erected within twenty minutes - but the rest of us have a major problem, our exhibition boards - all fifty-seven of them - have not arrived at the appointed time. We have all the material spread out and ready to mount. All we need now is something to mount them on!
I hope there isn't any misunderstanding with the company involved. I told their supervisor to have the boards delivered here by nine o'clock and a cursory glance at my watch tells me it is half past. To make matters worse, I haven't a contact number for the company because the CD-RW on which I kept all contact information, appertaining to the event, has been corrupted somewhere between England and South Wales.
Ruth saves the day by finding the number in the telephone book, but it's still not great news. Due to staffing problems, the boards will not be arriving until about ten - our first problem of the day.
When they finally arrive, the convention team help bring them up the fire escape and into the Pembrey suite. I have to record my thanks to Paul, Jake, Budgie, but also Simon Thomas, Phil Deere and Steve Jewell for their help in carrying the bulky boards around the convention area. Steve says he is used to being asked to move bulky items around - he does occasional 'roadie' work.

 

Badfinger Convention Set-Up 4

Now it's nose-to-the-grindstone time and the convention team work like animals to put everything together. I'd put a fairly meticulous floor plan together some months ago and that's the pattern we work to. I am well aware that the best laid plans of mice and men can go horribly wrong, but amazingly, everything has fallen into place - and with half an hour to spare!
We're ready for the first ever British Badfinger convention! I've even had T-shirts made for the convention staff and they wear theirs with much pride.

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In my mind's eye, I'd envisaged a huge queue forming at midday and that I'd be rushing through the hoards with my clipboard, gleefully crossing everyone off the guest list. In reality, there are only about ten people waiting in the upstairs lounge ready to come in. I'll admit to feeling a little disappointed - I thought people would be gnawing at the leash to get in.

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Marianne Evans is in the reception area and it's the first time I'd ever met her. It's not hard to see what Tommy saw in the beautiful Marianne, she really is a larger-than-life character with a lovely, enigmatic smile. However, Marianne is clearly a woman of few words: she accepts my kiss on the cheek and smiles politely when I introduce myself, but no words are spoken. How odd then, that later in the day when people mentioned me to Marianne, she told them I was a nice guy - but very quiet!

Terry Cunnett, Marianne Evans

Terry Cunnett, Marianne Evans

Marianne Evans, Paul Almond

Marianne Evans, Paul Almond


Two of Tommy's cousins, Len and Maxine Perkins, are there, too, and soon David Evans arrives with wife, Jan. Harry Wright once told me that Tommy was a very punctual man - it seems his extended family are following suit.

 

Steve Jewell, David Evans

Steve Jewell, David Evans

 

Adam Gibbins, Jan Evans

Adam Gibbins, Jan Evans

 

Janet Sears, David Evans, Anne Wallis

Janet Sears, David Evans, Anne Wallis

 

Mark Perkins, David Evans, Sean Perkins, Tyler Perkins

Mark Perkins, David Evans, Sean Perkins, Tyler Perkins

Within an hour, the floor-space at the convention is heaving. The people arriving are like a who's who of Badfinger folklore: Ellie Gibbins, who brought her friends, Paula and Allen (who recorded with Mike), plus her two nutty sons, David and Adam, Dan Matovina, Gaynor Gibbins, Bev Tucker and the ludicrously amicable Bob Jackson who has brought his family along (wife Chris, daughter Emily and sons Lyle and Jordan). It seems everyone wants to have a picture taken with the former Badfinger keyboardist… and being the affable gent he is, Bob happily obliges.

Steve Jewll, Ellie Gibbins, David Gibbins, Adam Gibbins

Steve Jewell, Ellie Gibbins, David Gibbins, Adam Gibbins

 

 

Terry Cunnett, Ron Griffiths, Ellie Gibbins, Petera Ham

Terry Cunnett, Ron Griffiths, Ellie Gibbins, Petera Ham

 

 

Terry Cunnett, Gaynor Gibbins, Paul Almond

Terry Cunnett, Gaynor Gibbins, Paul Almond

Terry Cunnett, Beverley Tucker

Terry Cunnett, Beverley Tucker

Janet Sears, Dan Matovina

Janet Sears, Dan Matovina

Mark Perkins, Bob Jackson

Mark Perkins, Bob Jackson

Bob Jackson smiles

Bob Jackson

 

Marianne Evans, Mark Perkins

Marianne Evans, Bob Jackson

 


Petera arrives as lovely and self-effacing as how I'd remembered her from our first meeting ten years before. She brings her boyfriend, Raymond, with her. Again, it seems every fan wants to be photographed with Petera and she couldn't be more accommodating.

Petera HAm, Jake Almond

Petera Ham, Jake Almond

Janet Sears, Petera Ham

Janet Sears, Petera Ham

Peggy Burneka, Petera Ham, Raymond Eddie

Peggy Burneka, Petera Ham, Raymond Eddie

 

 

Alan Wallis, Petera Ham. Anne Wallis

Alan Wallis, Petera Ham, Anne Wallis

 

 

We have two table displays at the convention, surrounded by seating. The first is given to Swansea Library and holds all the original display books from the Pete Ham Celebration. The second is used by us and filled with articles from Badfinger's and The Iveys' careers - from 1969 up to as recent as we can get. (Credit goes to Jan Sears who helped me type these up in advance of convention day.)
First generation fans Hilary Hudson, Pat Halstead and Cynthia Harding spend a lot of time on this particular section - absorbing and reminiscing.

Lee Nicholls, Terry Cunnet, Mark Perkins, Paul Almond

Lee Nicholls, Terry Cunnet, Mark Perkins, Paul Almond

Ron Griffiths, Hilary Hudson, Shirley Halstead, Peggy Hyde

Ron Griffiths, Hilary Hudson, Shirley Halstead, Peggy Hyde

One of the most welcome visitors is Elizabeth Gibbins - Mike's mother who made it to the convention despite her eighty years. And she is a livewire, with a great laugh. She is accompanied by Mike's sisters: Cilla, Marion, Brenda, Joyce, Barbara and Betty. At least I think all his sisters were there!
Tom Brennan, who runs his own excellent Badfinger website, arrives with a turquoise Badfinger T-shirt, purchased from Mike and Ellie Gibbins at the Beatles Convention in New Jersey in 2001. Paul Lochhead has come from Canada to be at the event, Herman and Marlies Baars have arrived from Holland, and as previously stated, Fumiko and Masahiro Okumura have come from Japan. Former Iveys mate, Frankie Bloomfield, who played in The Jaguars with Ron Griffiths, has arrived from Greece with his wife, Lin, and unfortunately, he can only stay a few hours because Lin feels ill. When I speak to the likeable Frankie after the event, however, he is not disheartened - he says it was worth coming to the convention, if only for a couple of hours.

Bob Jackson, Tom Brennan

Bob Jackson, Tom Brennan

Marlies Baars, Bob Jackson

Marlies Baars, Bob Jackson

Dan Matovina, Pat Casey

Dan Matovina, Pat Casey

Roy Anderson, Steve Jewell

Roy Anderson, Steve Jewell


Another website host is Pat Richmond, who runs the Mary Hopkin web page. She has come with her husband, Chris, who is a big Badfinger fan and is positively transfixed by the sight of the original Revox tape machine used by Pete to record his demos. Pat tells me she might well organize a Mary Hopkin convention one day, so fans of the Apple songstress, keep your eyes peeled…

One of the most aesthetically pleasing aspects of the convention display for me personally were the large A2 sized lithographs of Pete, Tom, Joey, Mike, Bob and Ron. Mark Perkins kindly provided me with his excellent drawings of Pete and Tom well in advance of the day. All I needed was an artist who would be able to provide line drawings to the standard set by the Perkmeister.

Sean Perkins, Keith James, Sarah Morris, Tyler Perkins

Sean Perkins, Keith James, Sarah Morris, Tyler Perkins

Sean Perkins, Anne Wallis, Mark Perkins, Tyler Perkins

Sean Perkins, Anne Wallis, Mark Perkins, Tyler Perkins

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About three months before the convention, I was chatting to a friend of mine at work - Marie Johannessen - and I happened to mention this aspect of the convention to her."Well, I used to have my own business designing greeting cards," she says. "Bring a photograph of one of the guys and give me a week. I'll see what I can come up with."

I gave Marie a picture of Mike to take home and, sure enough, just over a week later she has completed her lithograph - and it is fantastic! I couldn't have wished for a better finished product. Now, she realizes she's lumbered, of course, and within three weeks, she has also done excellent pencil illustrations of Joey and Bob from the photographs I gave her!
And she wouldn't accept a penny from me.
Mike Gibbins Drawing
Joey Molland Drawing
Bob Jackson Drawing
All I need now is someone to provide a drawing of Ron to finish off the sextet. My step-daughter, Sarah, is the dab-hand with a pencil, so Ruth and I invited her down for a long weekend and she brings her pencils. Again, the end product was superb and maintains the quality we've enjoyed so far.

So many people refer to the drawings. Bob loves his visual representation and Ron insists on having his photo taken with the drawing and its artist - Sarah.
Ron Griffiths drawing

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David 'Tag' Hall is - as everyone knows - the band's former roadie. I've spoken to Tag many times on the telephone over the years and he's got an incredible memory for recalling Badfinger anecdotes. This, however, is the first time we've ever met. With my running around here, there and everywhere with Badfinger matters, Tag and I have only a few minutes to chat. He recalls his many games of tennis with Pete and how Pete was always generous in defeat!
It's obvious that Tag was mightily impressed by Pete, both as a musician and a man. Tag confides in me that it might be difficult to keep his emotions in check today. It has been many years since he has been in touch with some of the people here today. Likewise, former Park Avenue resident Dave Duffield, and Badfinger crewmen, Tim Boyle and Nicky Bell.

Tim Boyle, Nicky Bell, David 'Tag' Hall

Tim Boyle, Nicky Bell, David 'Tag' Hall

 

 


We had a stall which we used to sell some Badfinger merchandise. The funds realized will all go towards our featured charity, Barnardo's. A big thanks from myself, and Allyson Byrne from the charity, go to Alan Wallis and Anne Wallis who helped man the stand for us.
At the end of the convention, we made £220 for Barnardo's, which is to everyone's credit.
Soon - all too soon - the day is over and everyone has to retire to the lounge as we prepare things for the Bob Jackson concert at nine.

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

Go to Badfinger Convention - Day Two Part Two

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