Two suicides ended Badfinger

‘Soulless bastard’ caused two suicides

Paul McCartney described Badfinger’s Without You as the “killer song of all time,” words that would become tragically prophetic.

The British band Badfinger was on its way to becoming the next Beatles, but they got ripped off by a crooked American manager who got rich while the musicians became impoverished. And in the end, two of them hanged themselves. 

Two suicides ended Badfinger

Remembering Pete Ham, the creative force behind the band, who committed suicide on April 24, 1975, at the age of 27 — making him a member of “Forever 27 Club.”


“He was so gifted,” said American record producer Dan Matovina. “It came noe soundtrack of the final episode of the TV megahit Breaking Bad — the demise of anti-hero Walter White — one of the most famous finales in TV history, watched by 10-million viewers.

Pete Ham co-wrote Without You with bassist Tommy Evans. The song would become a major hit for Harry Nilsson in 1972, and Mariah Carey in 1994, plus scores of other singers over the years. In 1972, Without You was awarded the Ivor Novello award for song of the year.


The band left Apple Records in 1971 and signed with Warner Brothers Records. Polley manipulated a contract that gave him most of the band’s earnings. The band members became little more than paid employees. 

Polley received a $250,000 advance from Warner which was supposed to be accessible to both Warner and the band, but Polley didn’t tell the band about the advance. It wasn’t long before the money — and Polley — disappeared.

Warner sued Polley, but he could not be found, and the band members were left penniless in one of the music industry’s most notorious rip-offs.
Cheated Badfinger
Stan Polley
“It’s a hard business,” Matovina said, “full of shysters, huge egos and people more than willing to use others for their personal gain.”
On the night of April 23, 1975, Pete Ham received a phone call from the United States telling him that he was broke. All his money had vanished along with Polley.
Later that night Pete and Tom Evans went to The White Hart Pub in Surrey to get drunk.
Pete downed ten whiskies and told Tom, “I think I’ve got a solution to all this.” Tommy drove him home at three o’clock in the morning. It was three days before Pete’s 28th birthday. He went into his garage studio and penned a note to his pregnant girlfriend Anne and her son, Blair:

“I will not be allowed to love and trust everybody. This is better. Pete. PS. Stan Polley is a souless bastard. I will take him with me.”


And then he hanged himself.

The band fell apart. Two of the original members, Joey Molland and Tom Evans set up rival Badfinger bands. Evans was the victim of more mismanagement and was sued for $5-million.

On November 19, 1983, seven years after Pete’s death from which he had never recovered, Tom had an argument with Molland on the phone about the royalties from Without You.

Two suicides ended Badfinger
Tom Evans

Knowing he was financially ruined, Tommy went into the garden behind his home in Richmond, England, and hanged himself from a tree.

There was no note, but his wife related: “Tommy said I want to be where Pete is. It’s a better place than down here.”


In 1991, Polley pleaded no contest to charges of misappropriating funds and money laundering in a $200,000 swindle involving an engineering firm. He was placed on probation for five years.

He died in California on July 20, 2009 — outliving Pete Ham and Tom Evans by 34 years and 26 years. He is not known to have expressed any remorse for destroying the lives — literarily — of the talented musicians.

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13 thoughts on “‘Soulless bastard’ caused two suicides

  1. Good question. I found no reports that he ever expressed any remorse — a “soulless bastard” to the end.

  2. This Stan Polley was a fucken asshole and a piece of shit. I can’t believe he did this to the band members. I cried as I read and did my research on the band and the tragedy that came with it. 🙁

  3. Such a good question that I inserted a line at the end that Polley never expressed any remorse. Thanks.

  4. unfortunately Pete Hamm downed 10 shots–he was drunk and like many suicides, it may not have happened if he was sober…

  5. You’re right, alcohol is a killer — as for myself I do love taking those shots… another Bill here.

  6. Hope polleys in hell Pete’s right he was a greedy soulless bastard it’s ashamed

  7. I’ve long wondered what happened to Badfinger, why they didn’t become as great as it appeared they would.
    This story is so sad.
    Had I been a band member, Polley would not have reached age 87.