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That was the Quo month that was ... August 1999



8th - Quo concert at Fleadh Festival, Belfast

Quo played a successful gig in Belfast to an encouragable crowd on Sunday 8th August. The gig was notable in that Francis Rossi took the unusual step of announcing the next single, such public proclamations are rare! The new single was revealed as being, unsurprisingly, "Twenty Wild Horses".

Revisit the August 1999 event list  

16th - Rick Parfitt article in the Daily Mail

Rick Parfitt was interviewed by Mary Riddell for the Daily Mail newspaper in an article which appeared on Monday August 16th. A scan of the article may be accessed by clicking here (warning: this is a 638K download) and a transcript of the interview is given below.

Rick Parfitt ruined the lives of three women, lost his baby girl in a tragic accident and was given 24 hours to live, but ... he's still rocking all over the world.

Rick Parfitt's mum is always warning him that he will turn into a lonely old man. This he takes as a compliment. "It's good that mum thinks I will grow old. I'm not so sure. I could live until I'm 80," he says doubtfully, "or I could die next year." Such a prediction rates as realism rather than gloom. Even by the standards of a Sixties rocker, the star of Status Quo has conducted most of his life as a protracted suicide mission.

Once, he could not leave home without a cocaine fix nor function without his daily fuel of two bottles of wine and one of whisky.

Two years ago he was told, in a Harley Street consulting room, that he - then only 48 - was 24 hours from death. He had arrived with pains in his arm. A quadruple heart bypass operation that night gave him a final chance.

So now, Rick Parfitt, who once drove his Porsche over a 30ft cliff in a drug-crazed stupor, has edged his existence into what he, clearly not accustomed to the M24 of life, calls the slow lane. He certainly looks good - pinkish complexion, implausibly blond hair and a Burberry polo shirt suggesting he has even kicked his denim habit.

But a glass of wine sits in front of him, and the summer air is hazy with Marlboro smoke. His doctors, whom he never revisits for check-ups, supposedly warned him at the time of his operation that he must quit his 50-a-day addiction or die. At that, he drew the line.

"I've cut down to 49. But I've knocked the drinking right back and, of course, there are no drugs any more. All that's gone. For years I felt immortal, and now I know I was mad. I do get frightened a bit. No one wants to die, and sometimes I sit at home, thinking that the whole heart thing could happen again at any time."

But what really terrified Parfitt - as the fog of drink and drugs dispersed - was the detritus of his past life. Superficially, it was a rockstar's vulgar dream. "I had a beautiful mansion, an aeroplane, five cars and a new Ferrari every six weeks. Looking back, it seems daft and mad - an attempt to be flash for other people."

Behind the façade was the debris of ruined lives. "That was what I am most ashamed of - messing up women's lives. Nothing has made me feel worse than having affairs when I was married, but it seemed I had to live on the edge. If something was calm, I had to ruin it."

If Parfitt had been a standard issue philandering rock star, the hurt he caused might not have been so great. But in an almost vulture-like way, he always went back to the same women.

While still with his first wife, Marietta, he had an affair with a music administrator called Laura McNeil and then with Patti Beedon, whom he later married.

That marriage collapsed after Patti found out he had returned to Marietta who was then running a furniture business in Germany. Her long-distance affair with Parfitt carried on until he resumed his relationship with Laura, almost a quarter of a century after they met.

Long before the Laura passion recently cooled to friendship, Marietta and Patti denounced Parfitt, bitterly and publicly, as vain, abusive and violent.

"I have never hit a woman in my life. But I shouldn't have got married. I like my own space - coming home when I want. I was so unfair, and I've apologised to both of them for what happened. I don't want enemies, particularly in my ex-wives so we have formed a sort of friendship. It's a complicated web but it's holding."

"We've all been to war. Now we've taken our armour off and decided it must be peaceful, for all our sakes."

In the two years since his angina attack, Parfitt - tactfully for one who once behaved so monstrously - has worked to reassemble the jigsaw of his fractured private life.

He and Marietta speak often on the phone. He sees Patti most days and Laura is an occasional escort. Even Patti and Marietta are friendly now. Parfitt sees this mass reconciliation as vital for the future of the children damaged by the fall-out of his wild life.

One did not survive. Years have passed since he pulled the body of Heidi, his daughter with Marietta, out of his swimming pool and tried in vain to revive her. She was two years old, and her death remains the worst blow of his life.

"It was no one's fault. I thought she was with Marietta. Marietta thought she was with me. People said they understood what I was going through, but they didn't. At first, I wanted to die. Then I retreated into drugs and booze."

"For a while I tried to find God, because I wanted the answer everyone tries to find. Even now, I have barely come to terms with it. Why should such a young child die? It was an accident; just an accident."

But there was a portent, or at least a parallel. A few years before the tragedy, his older child, Richard - then a toddler and now a 25-year-old advertising salesman and karting champion - also almost drowned in the family pool.

"I was asleep, when I heard Marietta screaming. She couldn't get to him because she had a big cooking apron on. I got him out, revived him, pumped water out of his lungs and gave him the kiss of life, just as I did later with Heidi."

"He was in hospital for a week and made a full recovery. It was unbelievable - as if God wanted one of my children."

It seems almost cruel to suggest a more prosaic explanation - that a spaced-out rock star father and an untended pool form a potentially lethal combination - but he says, calmly: "I see what you mean, but I don't necessarily agree. It could happen to anyone."

Richard grew up to loathe the father who saved his life and then, a few years later, walked out of it. "Richard hated me. From when he was ten until he was 14, he wouldn't see me or speak to me. Soon after I left, he got Crohn's disease, and I was somehow blamed for him being ill. Every year I sent him a birthday card, but I never knew if he got it."

"Now, we are inseparable. We live 20 yards apart, and we are making up for all the time we lost."

There was a last child - Harry, now ten, from his marriage to Patti. Parfitt sees him most days and, for his sake, he has achieved a truce with his ex-wives.

Parfitt's past excesses seem rooted less in a rock star's self indulgence than in the Woking council flat, where he grew up - with a tough, self-sufficient mother and a violent, alcoholic father.

In the last months of his life, Dick Parfitt hid bottles of spirits in the house for the brief spells he was away from his drinking club.

"I saw the rows he had with mum and it broke my heart. He was an insurance man - quite successful, but it all went wrong. His social club was his life, and drink was the answer to every problem."

"For a while he sold things out of the back of a van, and we watched him decline, week by week. He went into hospital when he got really ill, and we saw him just curl up and die. He was 66 - not old, but the booze had got to him."

Now mostly sober and always chastened, Parfitt knows he replicated that pattern. "That's why I don't want any animosity now. I don't want Harry to suffer what I suffered and what Richard suffered. That's why I've achieved a peaceful set-up. All the battles are sorted."

Not that Parfitt has wholly changed. Status Quo, as durable as its name suggests, lumbers on. A new single is out next month, then there is a British tour in October and a world tour early next year.

In the past few days, even Radio 1 has softened its policy of banishing a band from its playlist that it deemed anachronistic, as a new generation of fans emerges.

Parfitt alarmed by his brush with a death he always courted, has acquired some humility. Once a drunken exhibitionist who hurled his furniture into the swimming pool, he is an amiable man pleased by his own redemption. And still, he remains oddly childlike; reluctant to go back to hospital to review his health.

"Don't bother, never have. If there's bad news, I'd rather not know." Nor has he bothered to make a will.

On the surface, he remains the careless optimist. Beneath it, he is probably more anxious than he cares to say. Always the ego-crazed rock star, he is now the devoted father, attentive former husband and loving son.

Though he is not cynical, such kindnesses may be part atonement and part insurance. Rick Parfitt's ambition is to be the oldest rocker in town.

If that wish is denied him, as he knows it might be, he will at least have a legacy he could once never have dreamed of: to be missed and mourned by those he loved and treated the worst.

Revisit the August 1999 event list  

21st - Quo on Austrian TV show

Quo appeared as special guests on an Austrian TV show, broadcast on channel ORF2. They received a prize but, more importantly, performed "Little White Lies" and the Greatest Hits Medley ("Whatever You Want", "Rockin' All Over The World", "Down Down" and "Caroline"). Curiously, Andy Bown was not part of the Quo line-up for the show.

Revisit the August 1999 event list  

22nd - Apollo 440 "Stop The Rock" enters UK chart at number 10

Apollo 440 with Jean Michel Jarre The UK dance act Apollo 440 hit the UK Top 10 with their new track "Stop The Rock" on August 22nd. Formed in 1994 as an industrial techno band, they first achieved mainstream success in 1996 when their single "Ain't Talking 'Bout Dub" entered the UK charts at number 13 (this track featured a Van Halen sample).

The band also had a hit in 1998 through a collaboration with Jean Michel Jarre. His famous "Rendez-Vous" track was remixed with Apollo 440 for the 1998 soccer World Cup in France.

Their new track continues the theme of borrowing famous rock riffs, this time the riffs and melody of Quo's "Caroline". The song kicks off with 440's own performance of that classic intro and the Quo chonk is maintained throughout, albeit somewhat lost in the dance beat and frenzied lyrics.

This single is available on a multitude of formats as befits a dance act, all on their label Stealth Sonic Recordings. There are two CD singles (with catalogue numbers SSX10CDX and SSX10CD), a cassette single (SSX10C), a 12" single (SSX10T) and promo 12" doublepack (SSR10).

Stop The Rock sleeve To listen to "Stop The Rock", click here for an MP3 version (warning: this is a 3.4MB download) or here for a Real Audio version (this is a 416K download). (I recommend RealNetworks' 'RealJukebox' for all your internet sound needs, this will play both MP3 and RealAudio files as well as a host of other features - it is available as a free beta version from www.real.com.)

More information about Apollo 440 and their new single can be found on their web site, which features some smart multimedia and includes a clip from the rather bizarre video for the single. The band play the UK Reading Festival on August 27th.

Revisit the August 1999 event list  

23rd - Quo on Radio 1

A landmark - "Down Down" was played on Mark & Lard's 'Cheesily Cheerful Chart Challenge' on BBC Radio 1 at 2.55pm on August 23rd. Somewhat thanks to the success of Apollo 440's single including the "Caroline" riff, Radio 1's stance on Quo seems to have softened and a number of Quo plays were noted this week.

Revisit the August 1999 event list  

undated - Francis Rossi used in Wellesbourne Hair Restoration centre advert

The following advert appeared in the August 1999 issue of the UK men's lifestyle magazine Maxim, following Francis Rossi's recent treatment at the clinic. (My thanks to Paul Thomas for noticing this.)

Hair Loss?.....We restore the Status Quo- Chosen by the showbiz community once again. The Wellesbourne hair restoration centres are one of the premier hair transplant centres and specialist surgeons in Britain. Status Quo frontman, Francis Rossi, chose us as the centre that could produce the most natural results using the new close packed follicular transplantation technique, etc.

This is bordered by a shot of Francis under the knife (or maybe a needle) and a classic Parfitt/Rossi pose.

Revisit the August 1999 event list