Early Life Edit
Ham was born in Swansea, Wales. He formed a local rock group called The Panthers around 1961. This group would undergo several name and lineup changes before it became The Iveys in 1965. The band was relocated to London by The Mojos manager, Bill Collins, in 1966, and they continued to perform for three years throughout the United Kingdom. As it was, Ham eventually became the prominent songwriter for the band, as a Revox tape recorder was made available by Collins to encourage him. Ray Davies of The Kinks took an initial interest in the group, although tracks produced by Davies did not surface commercially until decades later. In 1968, The Iveys came to the attention of Mal Evans (The Beatles personal assistant) and were eventually signed to the Beatles' Apple label after approval from all four Beatles, who were reportedly impressed by the band's songwriting abilities.
In Badfinger Edit
The Iveys changed their name to Badfinger with the single release of "Come And Get It," a composition written by Paul McCartney, and it became a worldwide Top Ten hit. Ham had initially protested against using a non-original to promote the band, as he had gained confidence in the group's compositions, but he was quickly convinced of the springboard effect of having a likely hit single. His own creative perseverance paid off eventually, as his "No Matter What" composition became another Top Ten worldwide hit after its release in late 1970 . He followed up writing two more worldwide hits with "Day After Day" and "Baby Blue." His greatest songwriting success came with his co-written composition "Without You" - a worldwide #1 when covered by Harry Nilsson and released in 1972. The song has since become a ballad standard and is covered by hundreds of singers from many genres worldwide. An Ivor Novello award for Song Of The Year was issued in 1973 along with Grammy nominations. In 1972, Ham's group Badfinger was picked up by Warner Bros. Records, as the Apple label was crumbling and it seemed the band was primed for major recognition.
During the Warner Bros. Records era from 1973–75, Badfinger became embroiled in many internal, financial, and managerial problems and their music was stifled. By 1975, with no income and the band's business manager non-communicative, Ham became despondent and he hanged himself in the garage of his Surrey home. Ham was aged 27 at the time; his suicide fell just three days shy of his 28th birthday. At the time of his death, his Blood alcohol content was estimated to have been 0.27%. He left behind a pregnant girlfriend (his daughter was born one month after his death). His suicide note had the statement "I will not be allowed to love and trust everybody. This is better." And an accusatory blast toward Badfinger's business manager, Stan Polley, with Ham writing: "P.S. Stan Polley is a soulless bastard. I will take him with me." Others of Polley's artist and business clients accused him of corruption over the years. News of Ham's death was not widely disseminated at the time, as no public comment was made by The Beatles, Apple Corps Ltd, or Warner Bros. Records.
Ham is often credited as being one of the earliest purveyors of the power pop genre, but his most widespread effect in popular music is the ballad "Without You," written with Badfinger bandmate Tom Evans (who also committed suicide by hanging himself eight years later). Two collections of Ham's home demo recordings have been posthumously released: 1997's 7 Park Avenue and 1999's Golders Green.