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Music

The Badfinger hit produced by a Beatles roadie

@TylerGolsen

The story of Mal Evans extends well beyond the typical tale of a roadie for a professional rock band. First of all, Evans was no average roadie: a six foot six former bouncer, Evans managed to have such a significant presence in the life of his employers that he was able to contribute lyrics, backing vocals, and even instrumental accompaniment to recordings. There was also the fact that he was working for no average band: Evans worked for The Beatles.

Being around the Fab Four’s orbit, and being familiar with their habits in the studio, paid off for Evans once the band disbanded. No longer needed as an assistant for a defunct outfit, Evans managed to find work as a record producer, despite having no real experience with music himself. 

It was Evans who caught a young group named The Iveys playing around London clubs in the late 1960s. Evans took a liking to the group, and he suggested to the higher ups at Apple Records that the band should be signed. As their main connection within the record company, Evans was an early advisor to Badfinger, and when it came time to record their first original LP for Apple, they entrusted Evans as their producer.

Evans was assisted throughout the recording process by Geoff Emerick, another Beatles alumnus who had a more direct connection to engineering and record production. Still, when the album’s first single, ‘No Matter What’, was released, it referred to Evans alone as the song’s producer.

At first, ‘No Matter What’ wasn’t considered strong enough for release as a single. It was only when Emerick stepped in to remix the track that the executives at Apple agreed to issue the song. The band had previously hit number four on the UK Charts with their version of ‘Come and Get It’, a song written by Paul McCartney, but it was ‘No Matter What’ which proved that Badfinger could find success with their own self written material.

When ‘No Matter What’ peaked at number five in 1970, Mal Evans had his first top five single as a producer. It would also be his last. Outside of his work producing Jackie Lomax’s ‘New Day’ and a few sessions for Keith Moon’s solo album Two Sides of the Moon, Evans didn’t continue his role as a producer. It would only be a few short years later that Evans was killed by police in his home after an airsoft rifle was mistaken for a real gun.

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