The Fortunes

History of The Fortunes

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.

David Carr then left the group in August 1968 and they carried on as a four piece when a switch to the Capitol Records label in 1971, saw the group hooked up once again to writers/producers Greenaway and Cook. The result of this partnership was a new single “Here Comes That Rainy Day Feeling Again” which gained the Fortunes a No. 15 chart placing in the USA. The comeback was complete when the next single “Freedom Come Freedom Go” made No. 6 in the British charts followed by “Storm In A Teacup” written by Lynsey De Paul a year later also making it into the top ten.

During the 70’s, The Fortunes had quite a few changes in personnel. Andy Brown decided to leave and Shel McRae also left to persue a solo career. George McAllister joined the band in 1970 and stayed for eight very successful years. Three new members in John Davey, Rick Purcell & John Trickett joined afterwards. The music, whilst centred around their hits, was more in keeping with the progressive rock being played globally at the time. As the 70’s declined and the 80’s approached, the kind of work open for sixties artists changed. The Cabaret Circuit was ‘in vogue’ and the grungy 70’s look was replaced by the velvet suits and the collar and tie. The Fortunes then turned to comedy and relied heavily on John Davey’s fabulous impressions and their slick, highly polished vocal performances. Barry Pritchard’s brother David, joined the band for a short time but had to retire through ill health. In the early 80’s, Rick Purcell and John Davey left and Paul Keatley was recruited and The Fortunes continued as a four piece. 

Early in 1983, Rod and Barry went to see Michael Smitham perform at a show in Coventry and asked him to join The Fortunes. A year later, John Trickett and Paul Keatley left and Paul Hooper, who had worked with Michael for many years. was also asked to join The Fortunes on drums.

This line-up continued very successfully throughout the 80’s, and in ’87 especially, The Fortunes had a big success in Holland and The Benelux Countries with a hit album named “All The Hits and More” recorded in Rosemalen in Holland.

This record and CD sold over 70,000 copies and earned them a Gold Disc, given live on Dutch television! Lots of TV shows and radio appearances followed and The Fortunes again became very popular in Holland. Up to the 90’s, trips to South Africa, Australia, New Zealand, Hong Kong and Singapore, Dubai and other Emirates followed in quick succession.

In January of 1999, Barry (Baz) Pritchard sadly passed away after a long illness and Bob Jackson of Badfinger fame was recruited on keyboards. Throughout the late ’90’s and the ’00’s The Fortunes continued to tour the world and built on their reputation as one of the finest harmony bands in Europe. Australia, New Zealand, The Middle East were all re-visited and British and European tours with other artists showcased Rod’s towering vocals and professionalism. Then in September 2008, Rod was diagnosed with liver cancer to which he very quickly succumbed on Jan 10th 2009…………….

Whilst Rod was having treatment, Eddie Mooney of ‘The Dakotas’ fame, was asked to stand in until Rod could return. When Rod was unable to do so, Eddie was made a permanent member of The Fortunes, and with Rod’s blessing, the band went on.

In the years since Rod’s passing, The Fortunes have recorded a new CD titled “Play On”, toured Canada, played Las Vegas with The Searchers, and have topped the bill in shows in Holland, Belgium, Sweden and Germany. They also did many cruises, including a 10 day cruise on Fred Olsen’s ‘Black Prince’ and ‘The Christmas Cruise’ around the Bahamas!

In April 2010 Paul Hooper decided to leave The Fortunes to concentrate on his video/film/photography business in the North of England and Glenn Taylor was recruited from the ranks of ‘Marmalade’ to fill the drummers seat.

The Fortunes  have recently been added to the ranks of ‘Rock The Boat’ cruises out of both Southampton and Adelaide in Australia. They are also booked to perform on ‘Saga Cruises’ and are currently looking forward to touring Australia in August 2018. They have just completed half of a 62 date tour with ‘The Sensational 60’s Experience’ and are booked to tour with ‘Sixties Gold’ in 2018….

the long and rightful lineage of The Fortunes goes on…………………………………..

Download a biography in ‘WORD’ form here.