There’s a reason why Paul McCartney was called controlling by the other members of the Beatles. However, he had good reason for it, because when Macca had a vision for a song, he could make it happen, and if he says it will be a success, then it most likely will be.
When McCartney was commissioned to write a song for the film, The Magic Christian, starring fellow Beatle Ringo Starr, Macca would end up writing ‘Come and Get It’, which was then recorded by Badfinger under Macca’s guidance and would prove to be the band’s long-needed breakthrough.
Before Badfinger became the international sensation we now know them as, they were called The Iveys. Consisting of Pete Ham, Mike Gibbins, Joey Molland, and Tom Evans, it seemed like they were having a hard time making it to the next level. Their last single hit a wall at number 67 in the charts.
The connection between the Fab Four and Badfinger is a close one: the latter’s manager at the time, Bill Collins, had played in a jazz band with McCartney’s dad, and when the opportunity arose, Collins introduced his group to Mal Evans, The Beatles’ roadie.
After the Iveys changed their name to Badfinger (named after the first draft of ‘With A Little From My Friends’ – ‘Bad Finger Boogie’), Badfinger became the first band to be signed to Apple Records.
McCartney presented ‘Come and Get It’ to the group, and had a hunch that if they recorded it exactly the way he had it on his demo, it would get them their first international hit. “McCartney said, ‘Look, I’ve got this song; I’ve been asked to do the film and I really don’t have the time. Do you wanna do it?'” Tom Evans told Glenn A. Baker in 1983, according to Ultimate Classic Rock.
“I said to Badfinger, ‘Okay, it’s got to be exactly like this demo,’ because it had a great feeling on it,” Macca recalled. “They actually wanted to put their own variations on, but I said, ‘No, this really is the right way.’ They listened to me – I was producing, after all – and they were good,” McCartney added, according to Ultimate Classic Rock.
Macca had recorded his demo of the simple but catchy tune with engineer, Phil McDonald, when it was briefly considered for Abbey Road. A few days after he finished his version, he showed Badfinger the song on August 2nd, 1969. “Just copy that, the way it is, and I think you’ll have a hit with it,’ you know? So, we all learned all the parts on it. We did it in about three hours,” Evans added.
While one can imagine how excruciating the process might have been for Evans and the rest of the group, they endured it, as they were looking for that extra push. Why wouldn’t one follow the guidance of one of the main songwriters of The Beatles? In the end, the recording session paid off and it is quite unbelievable that if you listen to both versions – Macca’s and Badfinger’s – except for the vocals, it is very hard to tell the difference between the two.
According to Ultimate Classic Rock, Evans noticed that John Lennon and Yoko Ono were present at the studio near the end. As the pair were leaving Abbey Road studios, Lennon, with his scathing sense of humour, looked over to McCartney and said: “Oh, wise one, oh sage, show us the light.” He said this as a sarcastic dig at Macca’s controlling nature.
Can you blame McCartney? After all, Badfinger’s ‘Come and Get It’ peaked at number four in the UK and number seven in the US. It was a hit.
Listen to the track, below.