With its compassionate lyrics and unforgettable melody, Wildflower is performed at weddings, funerals and graduations. It was played at the Olympics and serves as the soundtrack for a US Army video counselling female veterans with PTSD. ‘Let her cry for she’s a lady’ has become an anthem for women of all ages around the world.
The lyric was written in 1970 by Dave Richardson, then a young police officer in Saanich, BC., as a poem about his girlfriend. He passed it along to his young musician friend David Foster, who formed the band Skylark. Guitarist Doug Edwards fished the lyrics out of a stack and composed the melody on an organ in about half an hour – about as long as it took Richardson to write the words.
Wildflower was the third single from Skylark’s self-titled album for Capitol Records. The arrangement is built around a basic track featuring Doug Edwards on guitar, Steve Pugsley on bass and Duris Maxwell on drums – a first take run through serendipitously captured by producer/engineer Eirik Wangberg. Every subsequent version emulates Edwards’ haunting guitar solo and Donny Gerrard’s passionate vocal.
Wildflower was released regionally in Detroit only after Rosalie Tremblay of CKLW in Windsor played it repeatedly as an album cut. It became a huge soul hit before crossing over to the pop charts where it spent twenty-one weeks. It reached #8 on Billboard, #10 on the RPM Top Singles, and #1 on the Adult Contemporary chart in Canada. The single sold over one million copies.
Wildflower was also included on Skylark’s second album, but the group broke up shortly after its release.
Hank Crawford released an instrumental jazz version featuring top New York session players on an album entitled Wildflower in 1973, followed in quick succession by lyric covers by The New Birth and The O’Jays. It has since been covered by over 70 artists including The Neville Brothers, Color Me Badd, Johnny Mathis, Gary Morris, Lisa Fischer and Hong Kong superstar Sandy Lam. A country version by Blake Shelton was included in the tribute concert ‘David Foster and Friends’ which was broadcast on PBS TV and released as the CD/DVD ‘Hit Man’.
Since 2002, Wildflower has been on five urban music albums that went to #1 on Billboard. The Hank Crawford recording was sampled by Tupac Shakur in the song Shorty Wanna Be a Thug on ‘All Eyez On Me’; by Kanye West and Paul Wall in the song Drive Slow, released on both ‘Late Registration’ and ‘The People’s Champ’; and by Canadian rapper Drake in the song Miss Me featuring Lil Wayne on the album ‘Thank Me Later’. The New Birth recording was sampled by Jamie Foxx in the title track of his hit CD ‘Unpredictable’.
In February 2011, a French translation by Canadian composer/chanteuse Joelle Rabu, Fleur Sauvage, was released by Paris vocalist Karolin Blandin as a single from the Maurice Gainen CD ‘Sounds of Freedom’.
Since 1974, Wildflower and its writers have been represented by producer/manager Valley Hennell, who continues to document its remarkable history. It is administered worldwide for Edsel Music by Nettwerk Songs Publishing. David Richardson is now retired from police work and is a lay clergyman helping to feed the homeless and poor in Israel. Doug Edwards currently performs with the classic Canadian rock band Chilliwack. Skylark vocalist Donny Gerrard performs with Mavis Staples on the 2011 Grammy award winning album ‘You Are Not Alone’.