You've Got Your Troubles

Clifton-upon-Dunsmore, a wide spot in the road about two miles from Rugby, Warwickshire (where rugby football was developed in the 1820s prior to becoming a worldwide sensation), was the location of a private school established in the early 1960s by Reg Calvert and his wife Dorothy. What set the school apart from all others was its focus on developing potential rock and roll stars! Primarily a boys' school with one female student (her name was Carol Laine), the goal was to make stars of teenage singers and musicians possessing exceptional talent (Reg set the bar based on his own keen eyes and ears). Curiosity about the place gave way to magazine articles in British newspapers and exposure on the telly. The "academy-of-rock" thrived for a few years; Calvert's efforts produced two successful acts (hitting the charts being the benchmark for success): Pinkerton's Assorted Colours, a Rugby-area band, and The Fortunes, a quintet whose earliest members hailed from Birmingham, past Coventry about 35 miles across the county of West Midlands.

Around 1960, Barry Pritchard and Rodney Bainbridge, a pair of 16-year-old warblers attending Moseley Grammar School, set their sights on stardom under the unusual name The Strollers. For a couple of years they sang at parties, student events and the like, without much of a game plan. Turns out they didn't need one; Calvert stumbled onto Pritchard and Bainbridge (who fancied Rod Allen as a marquee-worthy moniker) and brought them into the Clifton Hall fold. The group took shape with the addition of singer-guitarist Glen Dale (born Richard Garforth), who'd come to the school from the eastern coastal town of Deal in Kent. London-born keyboard player David Carr and drummer Andy Brown of Birmingham provided instrumentation for the singing social circle-. Calvert named them The Cliftones as a nod to the school.

By 1963, the year The Searchers, Billy J. Kramer and the Dakotas and Brian Poole and the Tremeloes topped the British charts in addition to eight lads from Liverpool on the kingdom's opposite shore sporting odd handles like Pacemakers and the seemingly-misspelled Beatles, Reg felt there was no recourse but to have his schoolboy band up their game. Barry strapped on a lead guitar and Rod took up bass while Reg coached them further in the art of harmony vocalizing. The quintet became The Fortunes while not entirely crushing Calvert's ego by abandoning the Cliftones name. Reg had connections that led to a contract with Decca and their first single, produced by Shel Talmy and Charles Stone, was released in August; "Summertime, Summertime," a lighter pop effort (is that even possible?) than The Jamies' original 1958 American version, was peculiarly credited to both the Fortunes and the Cliftones. The awkward dual designation was ditched on future discs.

The Fortunes' next single, "Caroline" ('...yi-yi-yine!'), a song written by Perry Ford (later a member of The Ivy League) and Tony Hiller (much later the founder of early-'70s group Brotherhood of Man), made a mark in music history in the spring of '64 when pirate station Radio Caroline began broadcasting from a ship offshore (in international waters) and used the recording as one of its more prominent theme songs. Despite receiving heavy airplay, the single never charted (perhaps it was ignored by the music trades because of its renegade status), but is now fondly reminisced about as the band's breakthrough. The next two singles, "Come on Girl" (penned by Pritchard) and "Look Homeward Angel" (a song by Wally Gold that had first been a hit for his group The Four Esquires in '56), were also Brit chart no-shows.

The Fortunes

Talmy bailed on the band (his productions of The Who and The Kinks had started to soar), while the Fortunes' fortunes actually improved in 1965 when Noel Walker began producing them with seasoned studio musicians. Songwriting rookies Roger Greenaway and Roger Cook composed "You've Got Your Troubles" (the next line? '...I've got mine,' what else?) and Rod was tapped for the lead vocal. The single climbed to the U.K.'s number two spot in August and entered the U.S. top ten in October. Hitmakers at last, the West Midlanders were in good company among '65's top harmonizers, their closest competitors in England being those smooth popsters The Bachelors (a former-Talmy, later-Walker-produced act), while in America they shared chart space with The Vogues, a Pittsburgh foursome that scored their first hit with a British song, "You're the One."

Another up-and-coming composing team, Les Reed and Barry Mason, got the nod with "Here it Comes Again." Adhering to the production style of its predecessor, it went top ten U.K. in October and top 30 U.S. by year's end. "This Golden Ring," a Greenaway-Cook engagement sonnet, had a less spectacular run in early 1966. The Fortunes embarked on a U.S. tour with Peter and Gordon, The Moody Blues and several American acts, while the two Rogers had a solid '66 as the singing duo David and Jonathan, scoring hits on both sides of the Atlantic with a cover of the Beatles' "Michelle" and their own "Lovers of the World Unite," a U.K. top ten.

Reg Calvert, meanwhile, entered the government-defying broadcasting business with his Radio City pirate station, transmitting from the Shivering Sands Army Fort, abandoned since World War II, consisting of several towering buildings visible beyond where Britain's Thames River intersects with the North Sea. A fascinating episode of Danger Man (broadcast in the U.S. as Secret Agent), starring Patrick McGoohan, was filmed there (episode title: Not So Jolly Roger) and aired in the spring of 1966. Art imitated life as the plot concerned illegal goings-on surrounding Johann Strass II's 1866 "Blue Danube" waltz being played to leak military secrets to enemy agents in nearby ships; as the story goes, the Fortunes' "You've Got Your Troubles" was actually used in a similar-but-ethical way in case of emergencies. It seems a real-life pirate broadcaster faced a certain degree of danger, a notion made shockingly newsworthy when Calvert was shot to death that June during a run-in with an employee of Project Atlanta (another pirate operation that had merged with Radio Caroline).

The Fortunes were troubled by a lengthy no-hit stretch starting in '66. Glen Dale quit and was replaced by Scottish guitarist Shel Macrae. In 1967 they signed with United Artists; rock-leaning efforts like "The Idol" and "Fire Brigade" went largely unnoticed. They returned to pop form around 1969 with a series of commercials for Coca-Cola ("It's the Real Thing") and notched a chart single for the first time in four years with "That Same Old Feeling" in 1970. Reuniting with Greenaway and Cook (working with Tony Macaulay, who'd written a couple of late-'60s smashes for The Foundations), the group had another major U.S. hit, "Here Comes That Rainy Day Feeling Again" (' always seems to be a Monday!') in 1971. Two top ten U.K. hits followed, "Freedom Come, Freedom Go" (inexplicably changed to "Comes" and "Goes" in the States) and "Storm in a Teacup." Renewed success was a boon to Rod Allen and Barry Pritchard of The Fortunes; with several roster changes, they continued to lead the band they'd started as schoolboys for many years to come.

- Michael Jack Kirby


You've Got Your Troubles