As a content producer for “Wisconsin Life, I am often asked how I find stories in all corners of Wisconsin. Sometimes it’s by word of mouth, an article in a local paper or I just stumble upon it. This is one of those stories.
I was having a garage sale at my cabin in the northern part of the state and Joey Molland’s Badfinger showed up. They arrived in a black Cadillac SUV. They didn’t’t look like your typical garage salers.
My 85-old-mother was tending the money till and struck up a conversation with an English chap. She didn’t’t know at the time he was Joey Molland, one of the group’s founding members. They said they were musicians headed to the Upper Peninsula of Michigan for a gig. Molland bought a Japanese smoking jacket my father acquired while stationed in Japan and a full-length beaver pelt coat in need of repair.
That could have been the end of it. The next day when my wife and kids arrived, my mother told them about this group of musicians that had stopped by the garage sale. Fifteen minutes later the same black Cadillac rolled down the driveway. The musicians jumped out explaining they couldn’t’t believe they were able to find the sale again, way back in the woods. The group’s bass guitar player had to have the red-hot, banana-seat bike. My wife asked if they were a cover band, to which they replied, “Have you ever heard of Badfinger?”
While the group’s name sounded really familiar, I couldn’t recall the name of a single song they sang. That’s when I learned the story of Mark Healey, bass player for the group known as Joey Molland’s Badfinger. Healey admits people know the songs but they don’t know the name of the band. That band is Badfinger.
Back in the 1970s, long before Healey was a member, their songs were bonafide billboard hits including “No Matter What,” “Day After Day,” “Come and Get It,” and “Baby Blue.” If their music sounds a bit like the Beatles, that’s no coincidence. Badfinger was a protégé band that followed in the wake of the Fab Four. Sir Paul McCartney wrote the first song for the band, “Come and Get It.” Then George Harrison produced the Straight Up album. Molland played on one of John Lennon’s records and they did the Concert for Bangladesh. The Beatles and Badfinger were often intertwined.
Around that same time, Healey was a teenager living in Wisconsin’s capitol city. Mark grew up on Madison’s west side near the Arboretum. He found his musical footing at age 14. Mark was in a band called “The Fine Young Men.” Ironically, the lead singer was a girl. The group had an agent and they played on the weekends. Healey said, “I didn’t want to be rich or famous or anything. I just wanted to play because I had all this music inside of me that I just had to play.”
Healey found his way to Los Angeles and into recording studios engineering music for television shows like Magnum P.I. along with animated programs like Gilligan’s Planet for Hannah Barbara.
At the same time, the group Badfinger was trying to overcome the suicides of two original band members and financial hard times. That’s when lead singer Joey Molland and Mike Gibbon, Badfinger’s original drummer, decided to put the band back together and take it on the road. Healey got a call from a friend. Molland recalls how Healey came to his house for the audition and right away he thought, “That’s the guy.”
It’s now been more than 30 years since Healey joined the band. “The songs still stand up today and the fact that we keep going,” says Healey.
When he’s not touring, Mark is usually in his recording studio. He engineers his own music and has a solo record out. Healey said, “It’s getting played in 55 countries, between 20 and 30,000 airplays every three months.”
Looking back at his career, Healey says he found his path to make a living and to get through life and things worked out quite well for him. He’s very happy. And he still enjoys visiting a garage sale or two while on the road.
Badfinger wrote a song called “Without You” that Harry Nilsson made famous.
Mark Healey encountered Badfinger well before becoming the band’s bass guitarist.
Mark Healey performs his new song “Anything”