The Fortunes began life as a Birmingham-Welsh vocal trio fronting The Cliftones – whose repertoire was based around easy-listening songs (including Maria from West Side Story).
With the coming of the Beat Boom the singers, Rodney Allen, Glen Dale and Barry Pritchard – now sporting electric guitars and bass – began auditioning for an organist (David Carr) and a drummer (Andy Brown).
Under the watchful eye of manager Reg Calvert, they retained their smart suits and haircuts while scrutinising the latest material by the likes of Gene Pitney and Dionne Warwick for inclusion in their act.
Their debut single (Summertime Summertime) passed without notice, but after their second single, Caroline, was adopted as the theme tune of the Pirate Radio station of the same name, it was only a matter of a year before You’ve Got Your Troubles.
Their second hit, Here It Comes Again, was once more heavily orchestrated by Les Reed and characterised by an overdubbed vocal counterpoint by Barry Pritchard near the finale. It was unfortunate that on this occasion, it seemed to fade in on a flatulent vulgarity which rhymed with ‘heart’ at the end of the next line . . .
Before their chart run ended with This Golden Ring in April 1966, The Fortunes chose to reveal that, though they were competent instrumentalists in concert, session players had been used in the studio. This mattered little in itself as their records relied heavily on massed strings and overdubbed vocals anyway. But the realisation that Glen, Barry and Rod were the only members of the band actually heard on their A-sides certainly damaged their career.
Though there were other exposes of British bands not playing on their own records (such as Hedgehoppers Anonymous and Love Affair), the media gave The Fortunes’ confession much unwelcome coverage, which could be linked with their failure to make the Top 50 again until 1970.
To make matters worse, their manager was shot dead in a dispute over the ownership of the UK pirate station, Radio City.
Their 10th single, The Idol, was a fundamental departure from the orchestral backings that made them. Even aired by ‘underground’ DJ John Peel, it was an intelligent effort in the style of The Hollies – and played by The Fortunes themselves this time.
By 1980 though, they were singing the praises of a fizzy drink in a TV commercial and these days sustain themselves on the cabaret circuit, albeit with extremely changed personnel.