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Oasis’ Rolls-Royce: D’you know where it is?

by James Mills
18 August 2022 3 min read
Oasis’ Rolls-Royce: D’you know where it is?
Photos: Michael Spencer Jones

All my people right here, right now, d’you know where it is? The search is on for the Rolls-Royce Silver Shadow that starred on the front cover of Be Here Now, the third album from Oasis.

Launched 25 years ago, as rifts between the Gallagher brothers threatened the future of Oasis, it was the task of Michael Spencer Jones, a rock photographer who has also worked with David Bowie, Aretha Franklin, The Verve and The Stone Roses, to capture the artwork for Be Here Now.

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In 1997, Spencer Jones approached Flying Spares, a Leicestershire-based parts specialist for Rolls-Royce motor cars, about borrowing a Rolls-Royce which would need to be placed in a swimming pool – and then be filled with water.

The unusual request didn’t phase the team at Flying Spares. And Rolls-Royce enthusiasts may be relieved to learn that the 1972 Silver Shadow was effectively a shell that had been stripped for parts.

“Suppling the Rolls-Royce for the Oasis album cover is part of Flying Spares folklore,” says Neil Arman, Director of Flying Spares. “The car wasn’t roadworthy even when we had it. It hadn’t been taxed since 1993 and had already been stripped for parts, including the engine.”

To make it look presentable for the album cover shoot, Flying Spares fitted a new front grille and had the body resprayed.

It then had to be craned into an empty swimming pool, much to the amusement of Noel Gallagher, who Spencer Jones photographed looking on as the set up for the shoot progressed.

The location for one of rock ‘n’ roll’s most memorable album covers was Stocks House, a Georgian manor house built in 1773. It was already well known within the music and entertainment industry; during the ‘70s, Stocks House was owned by Victor Lownes, a close friend of Hugh Heffner and senior executive of the Playboy empire, and was renowned for wild parties that took full advantage of its disco, games room, one of the largest jacuzzis in the country and, of course, its swimming pool. At the time of Spencer Jones’ shoot, the house was a hotel, and preparations included removing fencing meant to keep children out of the pool.

One year later, the Silver Shadow was sold at a music memorabilia auction, for just £1200. Now its whereabouts are unknown.

25 years on, Spencer Jones would like to locate the missing Rolls-Royce. Its registration is MDH 119K – for the photo shoot, Oasis changed it to SYO 724F – a nod to the Beatles, as that was the registration of the police van on the cover of 1969’s Abbey Road.

Arman is hopeful that is can be found. “The DVLA have no record of it being scrapped though, so it could well still be out there. Even classic Rolls-Royces and Bentleys can lie forgotten under dusty sheets in garages – we call them barn finds – and this one has the kudos of being a piece of Britpop history. We’d love to help Michael Spencer Jones to locate it, or at least find out what happened to it.”

One thing that is known, says Arman, is that the Spirit of Ecstasy never came back with the car following the photoshoot. “When it came back it was missing the famous Spirit of Ecstasy mascot, which someone had presumably pinched as a souvenir.”

Anyone with information on this rock ‘n’ Rolls legend should contact Flying Spares.

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Comments

  • Steve says:

    The Oasis Rolls Royce is in Pensford BS39
    The local taxi driver owns it.

  • David Norman says:

    Rubbish my brother bought it from the charity auction . The car was sold by myself to banger racing but he kept the fromt grill and spirit and proof of purchase from sale.
    He also owns the top right what looks like a guitar but is in fact a full size Yale key which to this day is above his kitchen door

  • David Norman says:

    Top right on album cover.. also note the number plate is a nod to the Beatles Abbey rd album which is on the van also top right of that album

  • David Norman says:

    And also for real proof has the original rear number plate that was on the car which was not the one shown on the album cover
    Sorry world i sold it for banger racing for £750 to a guy who did banger racing

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