Nearly 50 years after his untimely passing at the age of 27, Pete Ham is still giving the world beautiful music.
The iconic singer and guitarist for the beloved Welsh/English band Badfinger was a prolific songwriter. Released as a limited-edition CD from Y&T Music, “Gwent Gardens” includes 18 newly discovered home demos, many of them songs that were never recorded or released by either Badfinger or the group’s earlier incarnation, The Iveys. The album will also be available on all streaming services.
Recorded between 1966 and 1972 with guitar or piano accompaniment, the songs on “Gwent Gardens” are remarkably tuneful blueprints for what might have been. Often double tracking his vocals, Pete also overdubbed additional instruments onto the tracks, fleshing out his vision for what the final Iveys or Badfinger tracks would sound like.
The first act signed to the Beatles’ Apple Records label in 1968, Badfinger – through Pete Ham’s songwriting brilliance – scored massive global hits with “Day After Day,” “No Matter What” and “Baby Blue.” Co-written by Pete and his bandmate Tom Evans, “Without You” became an enduring classic, topping the charts in versions by Nilsson, Mariah Carey and others.
Among the many gems on “Gwent Gardens” is Pete’s soulful solo demo for “Take it All,” which would become the opening track on Badfinger’s masterpiece, the 1971 “Straight Up,” produced by George Harrison and Todd Rundgren.
Produced with the blessing of the Pete Ham Estate, the “Gwent Gardens” project began with the late Dan Matovina, the musicologist and historian whose book “Without You” is regarded as the definitive Badfinger biography.
Matovina produced several albums of Pete Ham demos. Before his death in 2023, Matovina marveled to a close friend about the treasure trove of material still unreleased. “I can’t believe,” he said, “there are still so many great Pete Ham songs that no one has heard yet.” With the release of “Gwent Gardens,” those great songs referenced by Dan will now be a permanent part of Pete Ham’s legacy.
2023 also saw the release of a special Pete Ham tribute album, “Shine On – A Tribute to Pete Ham.” The album featured 35 artists covering all of Pete’s compositions recorded by Badfinger. Among the artists paying tribute to Pete are Shelby Lynne, Dan Baird, Melanie, Mary Lou Lord, Wreckless Eric & Amy Rigby, Dennis Diken, Stan Lynch & The Speaker Wars, Amy Allison and many more. The album benefited the Southeast Florida branch of Mental Health America and is still available for a limited time.