On last night’s series finale of Breaking Bad, Walter White’s final moments were soundtracked by a song befitting for the mastermind behind the blue meth: UK power-pop band’ Badfinger’s lilting lulalby “Baby Blue,” a song that hints at both reverence (“I would show the special love I have for you, my baby blue”) and regret (“I guess I got what I deserved”).
The song was officially released in March 1972 on the Beatles’ Apple Records and was inspired by Badfinger frontman Pete Ham’s ex-girlfriend Dixie Armstrong. “Baby Blue” became the group’s final Top 20 single, peaking at Number 14 on the Billboard Pop Singles chart. The song, which made an appearance in Martin Scorcese’s 2006 film The Departed, was the second single off the band’s thrilling third album, Straight Up (which Rolling Stone senior writer David Fricke declared one of Apple Records’ Top Five Albums), following “Day After Day.”
The track may have put a beautiful blue bow on what was in many ways a clean-and-tidy resolution to five mayhem-filled seasons of Breaking Bad, but Straight Up’s backstory was a far more rocky road. Badfinger recorded the LP at Clearwell Castle, in the Southwest English town of Gloucestershire, only to have Apple reject the first Geoff Emerick-produced offering. George Harrison then stepped in to produce the album, before pulling out to focus on his previous commitments to the now-legendary Concert for Bangladesh. In the end, rocker Todd Rundgren swooped in to finish off production on the project.
Despite its charting success, Badfinger never saw themselves as rock stars. “We’re just ordinary,” drummer Mike Gibbens told Rolling Stone in 1971. “We have no front man like Joe Cocker or [Mick] Jagger, and no great guitarist like [Jimi] Hendrix or [Eric] Clapton.” Added Ham of the band’s frequent comparisons to labelmates, the Beatles: ” It’s very hard not to be similar,” he explained. “We write our own songs and we like simplicity and rock and roll, and we’re basically a three guitars/drums lineup.”
Badfinger recorded one more album for Apple, 1973’s Ass. They released two LPs on Warner Brothers Records, 1974’s Badfinger and Wish You Were Here, before disbanding in 1975 after Ham hung himself in his Surrey garage studio at age 27.