Originally named The Clifftones, The Fortunes were formed by pop impresario Reg Calvert at his Pop School based at Clifton Hall, in Rugby. They began as a vocal/harmony trio with founding members Rod Allen, Glen Dale, and Barry Pritchard. In 1963, they switched to electric guitars and were joined by drummer Andy Brown along with keyboard player David Carr. Calvert groomed the Fortunes as a close-harmony unit with a smoother sound than their Merseybeat rivals. They signed with Decca in ’63 and their first single was a cover of The Jamies 1958 U.S. hit “Summertime, Summertime”
At Decca Records, they were placed under the supervision of future Who and Kinks producer Shel Talmy. A second Fortunes single released the following year “Caroline” was adopted by the pirate radio station Radio Caroline, as its theme tune. Compositions by group members in those days were usually confined to single b-sides such as Barry Pritchard’s “Come On Girl” which appeared on the back of their third single “I Like The Look Of You” released in 1964.
The Fortunes fifth single was a ballad written by professional songwriters Roger Greenaway & Roger Cook and the recording featured lavish instrumentation as well as the now trademark 3-part harmonies by the group featuring Rod Allen’s lead. The song “You’ve Got Your Troubles”, suited the band’s image perfectly with the record almost reaching the top spot in the British charts in August of 1965 and also climbing to No. 7 in the U.S. charts. With a hit formula now established, a follow-up “Here It Comes Again” (also composed by Greenaway and Cook) was released soon after and gained a No. 4 chart placing. With this success, The Fortunes were able to undertake a package tour of the U.S.A. along with Peter & Gordon and The Moody Blues who were at that time enjoying the international success of their hit single Go Now.
In early 1966, the Fortunes 7th single “This Golden Ring” was released and reached No. 15 in the charts but a tragic blow occurred in June 1966 when the Fortunes’ manager Reg Calvert who also owned Radio City, a pirate radio station located in the Thames Estuary, was shot to death during a confrontation with an employee of Project Atlanta, which owned Caroline South. The Fortunes next few singles missed the charts and in July 1966, guitarist/vocalist Glen Dale left the group to go solo. He was replaced by Scotsman Shel MacRae.
In August of 1967, the Fortunes switched to the United Artists record label and released new singles consisting of self-composed material. The first of these was the excellent track “The Idol” by Rod Allen and Barry Pritchard. This change of direction, although promising, did not achieve chart results but the group soon found new success in recording “advertising jingles”, most notably “It’s The Real Thing” for Coca-Cola. This, along with regular bookings on the on the northern club circuit, sustained the band throughout the later 1960s.