Discover the little known history behind the famous Rolls-Royce Silver Shadow in the swimming pool on the cover of Oasis' third album 'Be Here Now'. In 2018 the BBC East Midlands Inside Out team came to Flying Spares to gain an insight into the role Flying Spares played in the bands success.
Originally bought in late 1996 by Flying Spares, the now infamous 1972 Rolls-Royce Silver Shadow I was destined to be broken up for spares. However, it was saved from the scrap heap at the last moment by a phone call from the Oasis cover photographer (Michael Spencer Jones). The production company had been tasked with finding a white Rolls-Royce for the shoot (apparently to reference The Who ditching one into a swimming pool). They established that it did not need to run but needed to look complete so we stripped it and left the front and rear subframes in place and put a grille and mascot back on. We also left the dashboard, steering wheel and front seats. The car was duly loaned out and taken to Stocks House in Hertfordshire, previously owned by a Victor Lownes (of Playboy club fame) for the photoshoot.
The original registration of the car was MDH 119K but it was decided that a more interesting registration number was needed. So, the car ended up with SYO 724F, taken from the black police van featured on the cover of The Beatles Abbey Road.
The car was lowered into the pool via a crane and the front end propped up on scaffold props, so that it would be visible above the water. Unfortunately, once the pool was filled up, all the oil washed off the car and into the water. The scum had to be skimmed from the surface before photos could be taken.
A night shoot was the initial plan but lack of power and lighting put paid to that, the end result being taken in the daylight. How much of the Album cover can be attributed to Oasis' Album 'Be Here Now' becoming the fastest selling album in Britain at the time will never be known!
The Rolls-Royce was away for a week and when we got it back someone had pinched the Flying Lady mascot! So someone somewhere has that memento from the shoot! Upon it’s return, the car sat in our yard for between 6 and 12 months. We weren’t quite sure what to do with it. Bonhams then announced that they were to have a music memorabilia auction in London, so we decided to put it in the auction. We attended but in the end it only fetched £1,200 which was disappointing, but still more than we had paid for the original car.
A couple of years later we were offered it back but declined to repurchase it due to the incomplete state of the car. The Shadow hasn’t been seen or heard of since, having not been taxed since 1993. It hasn’t been scrapped so it may still be out there somewhere languishing in someone’s garage.