Over 41 years ago, on February 3, 1973, British rock band Badfinger played a concert in the gymnasium of Calvert Hall College in Towson. It would be the last concert to be held at the high school for over 35 years (a streak broken when Eddie Money appeared there in 2008). Badfinger were closely associated with The Beatles – Paul McCartney named them and wrote their first hit “Come and Get It” (which appeared on the soundtrack of a 1969 film starring Ringo Starr, “The Magic Christian“), George Harrison co-produced their 1971 album “Straight Up,” and they were the first band (in 1968 as The Iveys) produced by The Beatles’ Apple Records – and were at the height of their popularity in 1973. Yet somehow, three Cardinal students – seniors Bob Feeney and Craig Dranbauer and Class of ’72 alumnus Juan Diez – managed to book the national recording artists at their high school.
Keep in mind, this was the early ’70s, a different era as far as rock promotion went. It was a time when bands desperate for venues would seemingly play anywhere – from KISS headlining a library benefit party (Palisades Free Library, N.J., May 26, 1973) to a fledgling Led Zeppelin allegedly playing at a Wheaton, Maryland youth center on January 20, 1970 (the subject of Jeff Krulik’s latest documentary, “Led Zeppelin Played Here“).
Still, the mind boggles to think that for $5.50 one could see Badfinger play Towson in a high school basketball gym. Or, as Billboard called the municipal seat of Baltimore County, “Tolson” – not to be confused with Michael Tolson, aka (Bal)TimOre and tENTATIVELY a cONVENIENCE!
According to the anonymous author(s) of the badfingeratcalverthall web page, Badfinger’s manager was apparently incensed when he learned that Mssrs Ham, Evans, Molland and Gibbons were booked at a high school: “He ranted and raved, threatening not to allow the group to go on. Only after what seemed an eternity of me trying to calm him down did he finally agree to let the band play.” As for the group itself, the writer says they were “really very nice guys with great senses of humor.” They allegedly toked up in the English Department office before the show (this was a “high” school, after all) – the stuff of (sub)urban legend!
Also on the CHC bill that night were English acoustic prog-folk band Amazing Blondel and Baltimore’s own Expressway. Plus, attendees were treated to what the show’s imitation Globe Poster (shown below, bottom) billed as a “Light Show,” “Door Prizes” – and a chance to win five tickets to a post-concert “Badfinger Party”!
“Forty years past, Calvert Hall College held a concert in the school gymnasium. Not such a big deal, except that the main attraction was the nationally renowned recording artists BADFINGER. For those unfamiliar with Badfinger, they were the first rock group produced by Apple Records (i.e. the Beatles). I was a huge Beatles fan, as were most people in 1973, and we were bowled over that this concert was booked at Calvert Hall. To follow is the story behind the concert, life for high school seniors in 1973, and a rock group whose spiraling decline would cause 2 of the 4 members to take their own life…”