There is probably no other big hit record that has never earned the performer a single penny in royalties, but such is the fate of The Move’s, ‘Flowers In The Rain’ that made No.2 on the UK charts. It was the last of the band’s singles to feature Carl Wayne on lead vocals, the others in the band who lost out were Roy Wood, who also wrote the song, Trevor Burton, Ace Kefford and Bev Bevan, who was a founder member of ELO.
The song was recorded in July 1967 at Advision in London and owes much of its distinctive sound to Tony Visconti who wrote the distinctive instrumental arrangement. According to Tony,
“I wrote a score for a small wind quartet for Denny’s production of ‘Flowers In The Rain’; it was a happy accident for all concerned. Denny was unhappy with the track and felt that his production didn’t nail it; there was also a spot where the tempo lagged behind, almost imperceptibly. Denny was so upset that he argued that the only solution was to trash the track – with no plan of rerecording it. Now, I’m not sure what the reason for this was but it was just as likely down to budgetary constraints; then again he may have felt that the Move already had enough good material. I really argued for the song and said that I thought it was a hit and maybe if I wrote an arrangement for wind instruments I could save it. Denny indulged me, but I couldn’t just do the simple thing. Instead of the usual string section I chose a quartet of flute, oboe, clarinet and French horn. My logic was simple – the song had a pastoral theme, albeit through the filter of magic mushrooms. I used instruments that Mendelssohn would’ve used and I even paid homage to him by quoting the Spring Song in the outro. I got Denny to record the quartet at half speed during the bridge to create a very special effect; as it happens a wind quartet played back at double speed has the apparent sound of a harmonica – but who knew? This was the age of experimentation.”
Upon the song’s release, the Move’s manager, Tony Secunda, decided to use a rather tasteless caricature of the then Prime Minister (he was shown naked and his then secretary was also shown) to promote the band’s new single – the possible financial downsides never entered his mind.
A month after its release, ‘Flowers In The Rain’ became the first record to be played on BBC Radio One by Tony Blackburn shortly after 7 a.m. on Saturday 30 September 1967; it had just failed to reach No.1 having been kept from the top by Engelbert’s ‘Last Waltz’, which was also the biggest selling record on the year, so much for, The Summer of Love.
Unfortunately, the Prime Minister in question, Harold Wilson, took the offending promotional postcard somewhat to heart and sued Regal Zonophone, the band’s label. The Judge found in favour of the Prime Minister and he decreed that all royalties from the sale of the record were to be paid to charity.
During the single’s chart success, most of the money went to the Spastics Society and Stoke Mandeville Hospital. In the 1990s, it was reported that the royalties had exceeded £200,000 and found that The Harold Wilson Charitable Trust had extended the range of beneficiaries to include, the Oxford Operatic Society, Bolton Lads Club and the Jewish National Fund for Israel.
All rather unfortunate for the band, who were unaware of the managements little scheme.