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That was the Quo month that was ... April 2006

7th - "Piledriver" cover band gig at The Greyhound Hotel, St Kilda, Melbourne

Melbourne-based Quo cover band Piledriver performed at The Greyhound Hotel, St Kilda, on April 7th as part of a double bill with Thin Lizzy outfit, Twin Lizzy.

Their performance was a considerable improvement over their recent outings with a noticeably more relaxed on-stage presence from everyone, especially Andrew (with his off-stage intra-air guitar excursion!). The only downer on the night was the lack of support from the diehards with only a handful of familiar faces lapping up the latest and greatest fare from Piledriver. No excuses here really - central venue and a Friday night so a "must do better" report card for the "fans" for next week's show in Fitzroy!

Highlights of the night were "All Stand Up" (and the obvious joy on the band's faces when they finished it and realised they'd absolutely nailed it), "Blue Eyed Lady" and encore "Big Fat Mama" (which rocked like bloody crazy and was again absolutely nailed).

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8th - Rhino with "Woodedz" at The Red Lion, Twickenham

Rhino's band "Woodedz" with his sons Max and Freddie played at The Red Lion, Twickenham on April 8th. Familiar songs amongst their set included "Jungle Love", "Shame", "The Strange One", "Spend Spend Spend", "Lucinda", "Secretary", "Gigolo", "The One & Only (Owusu Owusu)" and "Bad News". Quo's producer and webmaster, Mike Paxman, was seen in the audience too!

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10th - Rick Parfitt Jnr article in MX newspaper (Melbourne)

The following article - titled "Romance remains the Status Quo" - appeared in the free Melbourne evening newspaper, MX, on April 10th.

"The rumour mill has gone into overtime that Australian pop star Dannii Minogue is romancing the son of veteran Status Quo guitarist Rick Parfitt.

Minogue, the younger sister of Kylie Minogue, met Rick Parfitt Jnr at a friend's birthday party earlier this year and the pair have reportedly been insepeaable ever since.

A source told British newspaper the News of the World the two were on the phone all the time and had been on lots of dates.

"They have both been trying to keep this quiet and they have been careful not to attract any attention to themselves.

"Dannii is a very very private person."

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15th - "Piledriver" cover band gig at The Evelyn Hotel, Fitzroy, Melbourne

In another double header excursion with Twin Lizzy, the ever-improving Piledriver took on a varied audience in the superb band room of The Evelyn Hotel in Fitzroy on Easter Saturday night. The Twins did a great job of their set as usual and were largely playing to the converted with a healthy swag of Lizzy fans in the small audience for their set. It would be about 11:30 before Piledriver hit the stage - by then a decent crowd had assembled, as diverse as the Fitzroy demographic, but all ready to rock!

Kicking off with "Caroline", the band made their intentions clear from the start - they were here to rock and rock hard. They continue to drop in unusual Quo fodder, with newbies like "All Stand Up" (which they play much harder than Quo themselves) and "Bellavista Man" (with Co doing a fine job up front) alongside the older favourites like their fabulous segue of "Railroad" into "Down The Dustpipe", "Blue Eyed Lady" and killer encore "Big Fat Mama". They even trialed a new song in the shape of "Something 'Bout You Baby I Like"!

Each member of the band had by far their best show yet - Wayne was on fire on lead (almost literally, I thought he'd spontaneously combusted at one stage but was relieved to find it was just an over-zealous squirt on the dry ice) nailing some note-perfect solos ("Don't Waste My Time" being a prime example). Co was wild! From strong lyrics on "Bellavista Man" to the endless rhythm section, he was in top form. Ron on drums turned in an impressive performance too, really belting those drums and adding to a seriously heavy backline. Andrew up front finally let loose and had a great night, with a couple of off stage forays into the ever-present air guitarist front row! The best thing to watch was the smiles - all of the guys gelled, nailed song after song, smiled through it all ... and most importantly, had fun.

Their on-stage fun was infectious and they easily won over the amassed crowd, the smiles on stage being reflected in the faces of every single one of us. Even one of the Twin Lizzy guitarists air-guitared his way through most of Piledriver's set!

A great night all round, a superb rockin' performance and fantastic to see the band relaxing on stage and having fun up there. How I long for the day we see them adopt the Rossi/Parfitt stance in front of the Marshall stacks and go guitar neck swinging in unison! If anyone found a better way to spend $10 on a Saturday night in Melbourne than watching these guys, let me know!

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23rd - Quo concert at Apl Trida, Silvretta Arena, Samnaun, Switzerland

Quo's first live gig of 2006 (following their enforced downtime due to Rick's illness) took place on April 23rd, high up a Swiss mountainside at Samnaun to an enthusiastic (and record-breaking) crowd of 11000. The show was an early start at 12:30pm and the weather was a picture perfect blue-skied 70 degrees Fahrenheit or so. Photos of the show in the snow can be found here and here.

The setlist was as follows.

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29th - Quo concert at Palais Theatre, Melbourne, Australia

Almost three years to the day since Quo's last live gigs in Melbourne, the "Double Trouble" tour rolled into St Kilda on Saturday April 29th.

Rhino & Dr Lee outside The Palais with Luna Park's Scenic Railway in the background Arriving very early, three semi-trailer loads of gear were being unloaded into the main stage door at the side of the Palais Theatre from about 12pm. The happy site of the Quo flight cases with "Status Quo London" proudly emblazoned across them confirmed that Quo were in town. Francis and Rick would arrive very early at about 2pm and did not reveal themselves again after that. The various members of Deep Purple arrived from about 3pm and immediately went into soundcheck, stopping to talk with a few Purple fans on the way in. Once their soundcheck was done, they left the Palais - again stopping for a while to talk with fans, pose for photos and sign memorabilia.

By 4pm or so, a small crowd of the Quo die-hards had formed to await the arrival of the rest of the band and also catch the soundcheck. Andy, Matt and Rhino arrived at just after 5pm - Andy said quick hellos, as did Matt, but Rhino stopped for a chat with us and posed for a lot of photos. He seemed in really good form, looked fresh and no obvious signs of tiredness from the long trip from the UK.

Shortly after their arrival, the Quo soundcheck began (sadly behind closed doors) and was a short but entertaining affair. Rhino took lead vocals on "Something 'Bout You Baby I Like", the old soundcheck standard of "Don't Waste My Time" was performed in its entirety, and Rick had a number of practice runs at the intro to "4500 Times", no doubt sizing up his voice for the concert to follow.

With only a short time from the end of Quo's soundcheck to doors opening, it was time to catch up with a few fan friends in The Espy before returning to the Palais to find it decked out splendidly, with the huge Art Deco "Palais Theatre" sign fully lit up and "Tonight - Deep Purple & Status Quo" displayed loud and proud! The concourse at the front of the theatre was packed by 6.30 and most fans had made their way into the foyer for 7pm and the start of the support act, New South Wales outfit "Mandrake". We had met the bass player from the band earlier in the afternoon while they were unloading (helped very generously by Quo's crew), but he became quite a different character once he hit the stage with "Mandrake", the quietly-spoken, mild-mannered bloke of the afternoon turned into an all-out hard rocker and their brand of heavy guitar- laden rock was a little too much for most of the audience - but they were received quite warmly all the same.

It was only a short break between the end of the "Mandrake" set and Quo's opening, so we made our way to a strategic spot ready for a dash down to the barrier. As the lights dimmed again, we made our move and ended up right on the barrier, immediately in front of Rick... just right for the opening song of "Caroline". As soon as Quo kicked off, the crowd were really up for it and they remained so for the entire 80 minutes that Quo graced the Palais stage.

With impeccable timing, a dubious smell (I think blowing off the nearby beach) swept the front rows, leading Francis to pull some interesting faces and to accuse the Deep Purple contingent of throwing stink bombs at them! But none of that mattered, Quo started at 100mph and maintained it without any hint of tiredness or under-rehearsal for their entire set. Rick seemed to be in very good form, looked fit and showed no real signs of straining on the vocals he was assigned at various times during the set. The difficult and revealing opening to "4500 Times" was dispatched without any problem and he rocked like mad, just an arm's length in front of me. Some of the audience just couldn't contain themselves and one somewhat inebriated blonde lass decided to wander on stage and have a little dance with Rick. He didn't seem to mind too much, though looked bemused whilst grinning widely, and she was soon escorted away by some of Quo's crew (who very generously let her back into the venue afterwards).

No great surprises in terms of the set, though "Hold You Back" popped in early on and got the crowd going as always. The three "Heavy Traffic" songs were maybe a bridge too far for the neutrals but the obvious shuffle of "Belavista Man" was well received. Francis's talky bit were noticeably more self-effacing than usual, partly due to the company they are keeping on this tour perhaps but also revealing some under-rehearsal after their enforced lay-off. He really had nothing to apologize for.

All too soon their set was over, rounding off with a killer trio in "Down Down", "Whatever You Want" and "Rockin' All Over The World" to wring the last scraps of life out of us. No encore here due to time restrictions but the 80- minute set went well, showed a few signs of rustiness that will no doubt get ironed out as the tour proceeds, and was well-received by all.

Deep Purple were next up and knocked out an uninspiring 85-minutes (including encore) that really played to the die-hard Purple fans for more than the first half of their set. Their mixing was poor, way too bass heavy, too loud, and not enjoyable to listen to as a neutral. That said, the Purple fans lapped it up but I can guarantee that more Purple fans were impressed by Quo than vice-versa.

All in all, the show was a great start to this Australian tour. Any fears we may have had about Rick's health were put to rest as far as I'm concerned and the band seemed to genuinely enjoy the warm reception they got in Melbourne. First gig of nine for me, it just doesn't get better than this!

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29th - Rick Parfitt article in Daily Mirror (UK)

The following article - entitled "Rick Parfitt's Cancer Hell" and written by Clare Raymond - appeared in the UK Daily Mirror newspaper on April 29th.

"IT'S been just four months since doctors told a horrified Rick Parfitt that he faced surgery for suspected cancer of the throat. Today with his dapper suit, suede shoes, sun-kissed complexion and short haircut, the Status Quo front man looks a picture of health.

Only the slight croakiness which remains in his voice hints at the nightmare he continues to endure.

"I have had the worst four months of my life," says the 57-year-old rock star, who had a quadruple heart by-pass in 1997.

"After the doctor told me I had a tumour I went back to my dressing room and started to cry. It was such a shock. I thought: 'What am I going to do? My career is over and I'm probably going to die or have my voicebox taken out'.

"It has been a terrifying experience. I have spent the last four months in hell trying to get my voice back."

After laser surgery to remove the growth on his larynx in December, Rick was given the good news that it was benign. But the star is still struggling to regain his singing voice as he resumes a world tour with the band. And in his first performance last Sunday to an audience of 8,000 people at a ski resort in the mountains of the Austrian Tyrol, his voice failed to work.

"It was one of the most frightening moments of my life and the worst moment of my rock career," he says.

"It was freezing cold, we were 8,000ft above sea level and the air was thin up there. It was very difficult to breathe. My first solo entry point was the middle section of Something 'Bout You Baby I Like and when I tried to sing nothing came out. I was devastated. It didn't just happen once, but three times.

"I sounded like a gull hitting a power line, it was uncontrollable.

"The band didn't know where to look and I don't know what the crowd were thinking."

Now as Rick travels round Australia resuming the tour with bandmate Francis Rossi, he is hoping his voice will improve - or Status Quo will face the dilemma of having to split for good after 40 years.

"If by Christmas it's not working then we'll have to think of Plan B and I dread to think what that will be," he says.

"Francis and I haven't discussed it, we don't go there. I don't want to have that chat. If one of us goes that's the end of the Quo. I can't see Francis carrying on without me and I certainly wouldn't carry on if something happened to him.

"It's unimaginable my voice won't be working by the end of the year. I'm a bit anxious but I hope the more I sing, my voice will get stronger. I've got to work harder at training it."

It was during Quo's 40th anniversary British tour in December that Rick started to have difficulty singing hits like Rockin' All Over The World, Down Down, Caroline and Whatever You Want. The band were due to play a concert in Plymouth when Rick noticed the change in his voice.

"There was a graveliness which sounded quite nice but it didn't lend itself to hitting all the right notes," he says, sipping mineral water at a riverside restaurant near his home in Teddington, Middlesex.

"I went to see an ear, nose and throat specialist and he said: 'You have a tumour on your larynx.'

"I said: 'What does that mean?'. He said: 'It could mean anything.'

"It was crushing. My whole life was falling down around me.

"This guy seemed convinced that I had cancer of the throat. He told me I had to get a second opinion and told me that I shouldn't do any more shows until I'd had it checked. I spoke to Francis, who said: "What are you going to do? If you suspect you've got cancer of the throat are you going to go out on the stage and go: 'Right, let's rock!' with a big smile on your face?'

"I'd make it 10 times worse singing so I found myself having to cancel the tour.

"Letting fans down was awful but there was no way round it. When the crew were told the news there was an icy silence and a couple of them were crying.

"I told them: 'It's going to be all right,' but I didn't know what to think. My head was buzzing."

Rick called partner Patty, who was devastated, and told her he was on his way home.

"It was horrible and frightening for my family," says Rick, who has two sons Richard, 28, and Harry, 16. "It was a whole week before I could get an appointment with another throat specialist in London. For seven days I sat with my head in my hands. I was thinking: 'Is this going to be the end of the group? Is this the end of everything?'

"I was very down." The specialist at the Princess Grace Hospital in London was unable to lighten his mood. "He said: 'You have a tumour and the chances are it is malignant."

That evening on December 15 at 8pm he went into the operating theatre to have the growth removed by laser, as Patty and his manager Simon waited outside.

"By 11.30pm I was home having a cup of tea," says Rick. "I couldn't believe it was so quick."

"When I woke up the doctor told me: 'You'll be pleased to know the growth is benign'. I was still out of it but felt such relief. I'd had a benign tumour on my larynx that was caused by years of abuse - drinking, smoking and kick-arse singing.

"If I hadn't had it checked when I did it would have gone on to become cancer." But Rick's problems were far from over.

"I had no voice at all," he says. "I was told not to talk for two weeks. That was so tricky and I would answer the phone, forgetting that I couldn't say anything. At home I was struggling to make myself understood and it was so frustrating. But over the weeks I had the odd croak of my proper voice in between the whispers."

Regular sessions with a voice coach and special exercises like blowing water through a straw and steaming his throat every day helped him to talk again. Now his greatest wish is to get back his singing voice.

"I have to re-educate my voice and learn to sing from my diaphragm instead of my throat.

"We did some rehearsals last week and for the first time I sang flat out but I couldn't hit some high notes.

"I haven't used my voice for four months and I've never done that in my life before."

The former 20-aday smoker has also had to make some major changes, quitting smoking, spicy foods and cutting back on alcohol.

"This has been far worse than my heart by-pass because that happened so quickly.

I was in and out of hospital in 11 days, and 12 weeks later I was back on stage. I didn't have time to think about it. I count myself extremely lucky once again. This experience has taught me that I am valued. I know a lot of people love me and from now on I've got to look after myself."

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30th - Quo concert at Palais Theatre, Melbourne, Australia

Quo's second show in Melbourne proved to be an equally entertaining affair, to a slightly smaller audience than their first night. Support was again provided by Mandrake and they got a reasonable audience, no doubt due to the inclement Melbourne weather forcing everyone inside the Palais as opposed to chatting outside.

From the off, it was clear that the band were in a more relaxed mood for this second show, with Francis in particular pulling off some ripper solos and generally mucking about whenever he could. Perhaps as a result of them relaxing, they actually played a much tighter gig than the previous night with the only disappointment being the dropping of "Belavista Man" - it was not clear whether the band had been asked to snip five minutes off their set (to ease the transition to the Deep Purple set) or whether Rick's virgin voice was not quite ready for this solo song night after night.

Surprisingly, "The Oriental" got one of the best receptions of the whole show and is rapidly establishing itself as a live classic, sounding much more raw live than on the "Heavy Traffic" album. Showtime "Gerdundula" also went down well, with the final "big three" closing out their show getting everyone on their feet once more.

A double header of Doube Trouble, what a great way to start the tour! Next stop Adelaide...

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undated - Rick launches The Facelift

Along with business partner (and Quo fan club man) Mike Hrano, Rick launched a new guitar product, called "The Facelift", in April. This innovative product allows guitarists to easily and temporarily change the appearance of their Fender guitars by way of an adhesive guitar body overlay. For more details, visit the official Facelift web site.

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