Originally formed as a vocal trio (Rod Allen, Glen Dale and Barry Pritchard) backed by an instrumental group known as the Cliftones, the band placed an instrumental track on a compilation album, Brumbeat, issued by the local Dial record label. "Cygnet Twitch" was a working of Tchaikovsky's "Swan Lake", and they subsequently signed to British Decca in 1963. Their first single, "Summertime, Summertime", was credited to the Fortunes and the Cliftones. However, the vocalists picked up guitars, jettisoned the Cliftones, and added Andy Brown on drums, and Dave Carr on keyboards. The follow-up disc "Caroline", co-written by the singer-songwriter and future Ivy League member Perry Ford and songwriter Tony Hiller, was used as the signature tune for the pirate radio station, Radio Caroline.
The group's next two singles, Gordon Mills's co-composition "I Like the Look of You" and a revival of "Look Homeward Angel" — like the initial brace of releases overseen by the American record producer Shel Talmy — also failed to chart. Their fifth release, the Roger Greenaway/Roger Cook number, "You've Got Your Troubles" (1965), reached Number 2 in the UK Singles Chart and was a worldwide hit, including reaching Number 1 in Canada and the American Top 10. Their next two singles were "Here It Comes Again", a UK Number 4, and "This Golden Ring" a UK Number 14. These sold well, but each less than the previous release. When Glen Dale left in 1966 he was replaced by Shel McCrae. Three more singles ("You Gave Me Somebody to Love", "Is It Really Worth Your While?" and "Our Love has Gone") all failed to chart.
At this point in 1967, the Fortunes left Decca for United Artists. They reunited with Talmy for their next release, "The Idol", a song they had written themselves, and although it did get some airplay in the UK, it did not become a hit.
In 1968, they tried covering The Move's hit "Fire Brigade" for the US market, but with little airplay or sales. In 1970, they recorded an album for the US World Pacific record label, and then signed with Capitol in both the UK and US in 1971.
Then followed a steady succession of singles, some of which were hits outside of the UK and US, culminating in 1972 with the release of "Storm in a Teacup". During this period, they had another worldwide hit, "Here Comes that Rainy Day Feeling" (1971). The Fortunes also recorded an advertisement for Coca-Cola in the United States. Their first recording in 1967 was a version of the theme tune, "Things Go Better with Coke", but they are most remembered for introducing the 1969 new slogan recording, used as the main theme for Coca-Cola on both radio and television commercials — "It's The Real Thing".
The Fortunes are an archetypal English beat group. Formed in Birmingham, The Fortunes first came to prominence and international acclaim in 1965, when "You've Got Your Troubles" broke into the American and British Top Tens. In 1966, their manager Reginald Calvert was shot dead in a dispute over pirate radio stations.