Mike Gibbins, Welsh drummer with Badfinger, the first band
signed by the Beatles' Apple Records, has died at 56.
Mike Gibbins: creative and
multi-talented, says Badfinger biographer
Gibbins, was a mainstay of the group formed in
Swansea in the 1960s who wrote Without You, a worldwide hit for
both Harry Nilsson and Mariah Carey.
But Badfinger had a tragic history, and both
main songwriters Pete Ham and Tom Evans hanged themselves amid
turmoil in the group's finances.
Gibbins died in his sleep at his Florida home
His official website says: "To all of Mike's
fans, it is with deepest regret to inform all that he passed
away 4 October, in his sleep by natural causes. He will be
terribly missed by all."
Badfinger signed to Apple in 1969 and their
first single, a Paul McCartney song, Come and Get It, reached
the top five.
They retained close links with the Beatles,
with George Harrison co-producing one of their albums, Straight
Up, and guitarist Joey Molland and bassist Tom Evans playing on
John Lennon's Imagine.
Nilsson's version of Without You, written by
Evans and fellow guitarist Pete Ham, went to number one in 1972,
as did Mariah Carey's in 1990.
But despite more of their own hits Badfinger's career went sour
over finances. They signed to Warner Bros, but their third album
for the label was never released and in 1975 their contract was
In April 1975 Pete Ham hanged himself, aged
31. The band continued amid financial and legal problems, but
seven years later Tom Evans also hanged himself.
Gibbins continued in the music industry, and
played on such tracks as fellow Swansea artist Bonnie Tyler's
1976 hit It's a Heartache.
He lived in the United States for many years,
but Dan Matovina, who wrote the biography Without You: The
Tragic Story of Badfinger, said while Gibbins was
happy-go-lucky, he also found it difficult to come to terms with
"Badfinger was the highlight of his life,
coming out of Wales, having success, touring America," Matovina
told the BBC News website from California.
"But the tragedy of the loss of two of his
bandmates to suicides weighed heavily on that.
"A lot of things happened that were difficult
for him to deal with, the loss of Pete Ham especially, his close
friend from Wales - I don't think he ever got over that."
Keith James, who edited the band fanzine
Badfinger File, said Ringo Starr was an admirer of Gibbins,
adding: "I think he was one of the great rock drummers."
But James said fans resented the emphasis on
the band's troubled story, and preferred to concentrate on the
band's outstanding music.
"Mike got nothing like the money he should
have done, but he was quick to blame it on the band's naivety,"
"He said once, 'What the big print giveth, the
small print taketh away'."
Matovina described Gibbins as self-deprecating
and quick-witted, and a creative and talented
multi-instrumentalist who was under-estimated.
"He was very nice, but he wasn't aggressive to
push his own material."
The biographer said money was eventually
released to band members and their families, but it took years
of legal action.
Gibbins, whose former wife Gaynor still lives
in Swansea, also leaves three sons.
His family received friends at a funeral home
in Oviedo, Florida, on Friday, where a service of remembrance
will be held on Saturday.
Matovina said a service would also be held in
Wales, where Gibbins has a very close extended family.