Wildflower is one of the most performed songs in the history of Canadian popular music. Over 30 years it has sold multiple million copies in more than seventy versions. It's been honored with a BMI Millionaire's Award and SOCAN Classic and Crystal Awards. On April 2, 2011 it was inducted into the Canadian Songwriters Hall of Fame.
With its compassionate lyric and unforgettable melody, Wildflower endures shifts in musical trends like chamomile growing in cracks in the sidewalk. "Let her cry for she's a lady" has become an anthem for women of all ages around the world.
Wildflower is sung at weddings, funerals and graduations. It has been performed at the Olympics. It was featured in a film on prostitution in the ghetto and is the theme for a New York stage production about homelessness and heroin addiction. It is the soundtrack for a video made by a US Army Chaplain coundseling female veterans with PTSD. It was featured on the TV series New York Undercover, whose writers didn't know it was written by a cop.
The lyric was written in 1970 by Dave Richardson, then a young policeman in Saanich, BC, as a poem about his girlfriend. He passed it along to his young musician friend David Foster, who was forming the band Skylark. Guitarist Doug Edwards fished the lyric out of a stack and composed the melody on 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 first 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 "the Norwegian" Wangberg. Every subsequent version emulates Edwards' haunting guitar solo and Donny Gerrard's passionate vocal.
Skylark's 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. Crawford's version is widely sampled by urban music artists 4 decades later.
Wildflower has since been covered by over 70 artists including The Neville Brothers, Color Me Badd, Johnny Mathis and Gary Morris. Lisa Fischer sang it on her Grammy Award winning debut album. It was the only English song on a Cantonese album called Wildflower by Hong Kong super star Sandy Lam. A country version by Blake Shelton was included in the 2008 tribute concert David Foster and Friends which was broadcast on PBS TV and released as the CD/DVD Hit Man. See recordings for a complete list.
Wildflower has been sampled by many wellknown urban music artists, beginning in 2001 by Tupac Shakur in the song Shorty Wanna Be A Thug on his last album, All Eyez On Me.
In 2005 it was sampled on three urban music CDs that topped the charts: Jaimie Foxx in the title track of Unpredictable, and Kanye West and Paul Wall in Drive Slow released on both Late Registration and The People's Champ.
In summer 2010 Canadian rapper Drake sampled Wildflower in the song Miss Me featuring Lil Wayne, the third single from his platinum CD Thanks Me Later which debuted at #1 in both Canada and the US.
In February 2011, Fleur Sauvage, a French translation by Canadian composer/chanteuse Joelle Rabu, was released by Paris vocalist Karolin Blandin as a single from the Maurice Gainen CD Sounds of Freedom.
In 2011 Wildflower was sampled in the song Thank you by award winning vocalist Estelle as the second advance single from her CD All of Me.
Skylark vocalist Donny Gerrard performs and records with Mavis Staples, including the 2011 Grammy award winning album You Are Not Alone.
Doug Edwards performed with the classic Canadian rock band Chilliwack for two decades until his death on November 11, 2016 in North Vancouver, BC.
After retiring from police work, David Richardson served as an addiction counsellor in Victoria and as a lay clergyman helping to feed the homeless and poor in Israel. He died on August 25, 2019 in Victoria, BC.
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 Kobalt Music.
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