The 1970’s had been highly charged times for the band, Paul Hewson had emerged as a talented and highly creative songwriter, Marc Hunter rivalled the best front men in Australian rock at the time, and their albums Running Free and O Zambesi were top ten hits along with a slew of successful singles.
But by the late 70’s the group was in disequilibrium, several band members had been injured in a car accident, drummer Neil Story had died of a drug overdose in 1975, the band would be mentioned in witness statements to the Royal Commission of Inquiry into Drug Trafficking (1981-83). The relationship between band members Marc Hunter and Paul Hewson and Greg Ollard of the Mr. Asia Drug syndicate was of real concern, illegal drugs were big business and drug dealers were extremely dangerous company to keep. Anti-drugs campaigner Donald Mackay had been murdered in Griffith in 1977 but his body has never been found, Terry Clark the head of the Mr Asia syndicate (pictured below) had Greg Ollard and his partner murdered in 1977 and Ollard’s body was not found until 5 years later in Ku-ring-gai Chase National Park (Syd). Drug couriers Donald and Isabel Wilson were murdered in 1979 and turned up in a shallow grave at Rye (Vic), Clark even had his partner in crime Marty Johnson murdered in the UK in 1979, these were perilous times and Dragon band members were associating with miscreants who would kill anyone they thought were a threat to their billion -dollar illegal drug empire. Terry Clark himself was convicted in the UK for the murder of Johnson and died in prison there in 1983.
Both Marc Hunter and Paul Hewson were drug-dependent, the band had just completed a disastrous tour of the USA supporting the Johnny Winter Band, Marc’s professional performances had been erratic, at their Dallas concert he had abused the admittedly redneck audience, by calling them “faggots” and provoked a predictably violent response, which effectively sank their US careers before they even started. Marc was deemed to be so unreliable by fellow band members that he was fired in 1979.
The band limped on with replacements but ultimately disbanded in 1980, Marc went off to rehab and ultimately returned to front a reformed classic Dragon line up in 1982 comprising, the Hunter brothers Marc (vocals) and Todd (bass), Paul Hewson (keyboards), Rob Taylor (guitar) and Kerry Jacobsen (drums), there were debts to pay and the fans wanted Dragon with Marc Hunter up front and touring again.
Marc Hunter’s return sparked a creative resurgence, he wrote Rain in company with brother Todd and Todd’s partner Johanna Piggott and the record was produced by American Alan Mansfield (pictured), then-partner of Sharon O’Neill, the Kiwi music mafia were back in business.
Todd had started writing the instrumental portion of Rain at his home in Bondi when his domestic partner, Johanna PIggott jokingly sang, “It’s raining, it’s pouring…” from the children’s nursery rhyme over the top of it. This provided the lyrical focus for the work. Pigott recalled, “it was written before Dragon even reformed. I didn’t think it’d be a hit, but Todd always thinks all his songs are hits.” Producer Mansfield had worked with Marc on his solo material and was invited to work with Dragon, at the first recording session, Jacobson, their drummer had a headache and took some over-the-counter medication. Together with Todd and Taylor, Jacobson, laid down an aggressive bed to which overdubs could be added on their third take.
Mansfield told Jacobson to go home to recover while Todd, Marc and Pigott were asked to finish off the lyrics. Meanwhile, Mansfield recorded Hewson’s “low, menacing synthesiser parts,” the producer also provided his own keyboards, guitar and backing vocals. Upon hearing their work, after the first day’s sessions, the Hunter brothers told Mansfield, “If this song doesn’t make it to number one, you’ll have to join the band.”
The slick synth-pop of Rain epitomised the 80’s sound and re- captured all the early spirit, swagger and cockiness of the band in their pomp, it was the first single released from their album Body and the Beat (#5 June ’84) and they took Rain to #2 nationally, and #88 in the US. Following the release of the record but before all the promo videos were shot, Hewson and Jacobsen were respectively replaced by Alan Mansfield and Terry Chambers. Tragically Paul Hewson would die of a drug overdose two years later in 1985, Marc Hunter would ultimately succumb to throat cancer in 1998.
Three music videos were filmed for the track – in the first, Marc’s infant son appears below Hewson’s keyboards. For its United States release their label, PolyGram International, made a second version with the new band members, Chambers and Mansfield, appearing – the group disapproved of its “post-apocalyptic scenario” and a third one was commissioned, and this version also has Chambers and Mansfield as band members.