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That was the Quo month that was ... December 2016

1st - Francis interview in the Belfast Telegraph

The following interview with Francis appeared in the Belfast Telegraph on 1st December, titled "Status Quo's Francis Rossi: 'Why am I making these plans, I could be dead in a year'" and written by Andy Welch.

"Famed for their three chords and loud guitars, Status Quo are hanging up their electrics after one last tour. Before a new acoustic phase begins, frontman Francis Rossi tells Andy Welch why they're still rocking, if a little less vigorously.

When you've been interviewed as often as veteran Status Quo rocker Francis Rossi you know exactly what a journalist is supposed to do.

"You should probably ask a question, shouldn't you?" says the band's front man, some 10 minutes in to our conversation.

He sure can talk. About anything too; how much he likes Bruno Mars, why he doesn't like Channel 4's Gogglebox, why he wishes he'd never had hair implants and how having his eyes lasered is the best thing he's ever done.

"I saw Phil Collins on TV the other night, and he's calling his new tour Not Dead Yet, which I think just about sums up us oldies perfectly," he says.

"We've had a very busy year, which is good because that means I'm working. The bad news is I can't have any time off. The grass is always greener, although I did ask myself last night why the hell I'm making all these plans. I'm 67, I could be dead in a year."

One of the reasons Rossi believes Status Quo and their contemporaries are still touring so hard, is because they can't believe they're still in the music business.

"We came to it in the Sixties and Seventies, and everything we knew about the business then was that it wouldn't last. Nothing lasts that long, we thought, certainly not pop music."

Another reason is cold hard economics.

"I joke that I might be dead in a year, but equally, I might live for another 25. How do I finance that? I've got to work, I can't retire," says the London-born singer and guitarist. "People tell me to sell up and all that, but that would be failure to me. I don't want to stop so I can live a life I don't want to live. It's about ego."

But, as he and fellow co-mainstay Rick Parfitt advance in years, something has to give, and by his own admission, Rossi says the band's electric shows are too exhausting to do any longer - and without the customary energy they put into them, they won't do them. That's why The Last Night Of The Electrics will be just that, the last time they tour electrically. Acoustic shows will take their place from there on in.

The declining health of Parfitt, well known as a wild man of rock in his younger years, might have much to do with the band's de-electrification.

Parfitt (68), was warned in the Nineties to curb his drug-taking, smoking and drinking, and did indeed calm down - but it wasn't until a heart attack in 2011 that he finally quit drinking and smoking. Subsequent health scares have changed things even more, particularly the cardiac arrest he suffered earlier this year, which saw him collapsing on stage, technically dead for a few minutes.

"It's payback for being a wild-man," says Rossi, "and he admits that himself. We've known for a while that Rick could have another heart attack at any moment, but I remember looking over when we were on stage in Turkey and seeing him on the floor, and thinking, 'Oh Rick. Not now'." He goes on to say the band would've loved to have stopped touring to wait for Parfitt to recover fully, but after cancelling or postponing six dates, they drafted in a replacement guitarist and got the show back the road.

"The insurance would've killed us," Rossi explains. "It's logical the music business had to get serious, but it's ruthless and you will get sued by everyone for cancelling shows."

Status Quo has now released two acoustic albums, Aquostic I and II, which saw them rework and strip back their greatest hits. Songs such as Caroline, Down Down, Pictures Of Matchstick Men and Paper Plane took on new life, 40-or-more years after they were written.

"I actually didn't think the acoustic albums and shows would work as well as they have done, but here we are. People want to come to see us, and that's the main thing. If no one comes to see us, we'll stop and we'll go broke.

"I guess we were always seen as a safe band, but there's an element of danger with the acoustic stuff, it's an unknown. I just like to worry, really," he adds, catching himself.

"I'm an insecure little soul, otherwise I wouldn't have done this for a living, would I? I'm an insecure show-off, like everyone else in the business. If it was all about the music, we'd stay in and practice. The ego kicks in, even after all these years."

Perceptions can be funny things. You might not think Rossi's an insecure show-off. You also might not realise what a gifted musician he is - largely through practice, something he says he does for around four hours a day. The band's reputation for only knowing three chords and being stuck in the past is well-established. Rossi even makes the same joke when he says reworking the band's back-catalogue for the Aquostic albums got his creative juices flowing.

"Many people are going to laugh at me using the words 'creative' and 'Status Quo' in the same sentence," he says.

One thing those stripped back albums have done is allow a slight reappraisal of their work. Even his driver of 16 years saw a new side to him - telling him: "I didn't know you could play acoustic guitar. That's proper music" - while people have stopped him in the street to tell him they couldn't stand the band plugged in, but can now finally hear the melodies.

Those people will have to put their fingers in their ears though, as Status Quo rock out one last time.

The rest of us should take advantage of this final electric tour and go to witness one of the biggest UK rock bands doing what they know best.

"Oh, I can imagine retirement," says Rossi, finishing up. "But I can imagine lots of things. I just want to carry on moving forward, and carry on working. I feel like I'm still writing our story.

"Some of the band, I think they still wish it was the Seventies. I occasionally miss it, but I also sometimes miss my ex-wife, or the house I used to live in. Doesn't mean I want to do it again.

"I can't stand all that nostalgia, and I'm much happier now."

Revisit the December 2016 event list  

2nd - Quo concert at Heineken Music Hall, Amsterdam, Netherlands

Quo returned to the Heineken Hall in Amsterdam on 2nd December, a venue that's treated them very well over the years and once again the Dutch (and international) fan community did them proud, selling it out very quickly.

The arena/entertainment precinct was busy by mid-afternoon, with the Quo tour buses and trucks parked just out the back of the arena. The Grolsch pub next door to the arena became the natural meeting spot for fans and we enjoyed a good few hours in there catching up with friends from the UK, Belgium, Netherlands and Germany. With the queue forming early, we gave up on the idea of being anywhere near the front for this one, choosing instead to make the most of the rare chance to socialize with these Quo friends from far and wide.

Heading into the venue at about 7pm, it was already heaving and the standing floor area was packed. We weaved our way to a spot about 15 rows back dead centre and caught some of the support band's performance, a young UK outfit called Laurence Jones who describe themselves as a "Blues rock sensation". They actually played well and it was rocky enough with a blues edge to be of interest to a Quo audience, so they got a decent reception (though nothing like the involvement we witnessed with Uriah Heep during the German tour).

Quo took the stage a little later than usual and the arena was literally packed to the rafters by the time they wandered casually onto the stage. The floor was packed and the two levels of tiered seating were also crammed full.

There's no doubt that a brilliant audience fuels great Quo gigs and they couldn't have asked for more, with the packed Heineken Hall rocking from start to finish. Quo responded well to this enthusiasm and, though of course there were no setlist changes, they upped their game a notch or two to reward the efforts of the boisterous crowd. The "big" songs got huge reactions at this gig and watching the performance from further back than usual gave us an appreciation for the great sound (that this venue is famous for) and impressive lighting show.

This gig was definitely a highlight of my recent touring and showed how popular the band still are in the Netherlands. Hopefully the live recording of this gig manages to capture the amazing atmosphere. It was smiling faces everywhere and the great socializing before, during and after the gig made this a very special night.

Revisit the December 2016 event list  

3rd - Interview with Richie Malone in AntiHero magazine

The following interview with Richie Malone appeared in AntiHero magazine on 3rd December, written by Mark Dean.

Status Quo are an English rock band whose music is characterized by their distinctive brand of boogie rock. The group originated in The Spectres, founded by schoolboys Francis Rossi and Alan Lancaster n 1962. After several line-up changes, the band became The Status Quo in 1967 and Status Quo in 1969.

They have had over 60 chart hits in the UK, more than any other rock band. In 1991, Status Quo received a Brit Award for Outstanding Contribution to Music.

On 28 October 2016, Rick Parfitt who had been playing rhythm guitar in the band since 1967 permanently retired from live performances after suffering a heart attack in a hotel following a concert on 14th June. Being replaced by Richie Malone in the band, Parfitt said he was doing a great job and wished him “all the best.”

Undertaking a hectic European tour, I had the opportunity to catch up with Richie in Germany and asked him firstly, had he woken up yet or was he still dreaming.

Firstly, how did you go from playing Quo covers in a band to playing those songs actually with Status Quo?

Well, it’s funny that this story has gone around that I was in a tribute band. I did a one-off gig, I think that it was around ten years ago, as a favour. I mean, we did a few songs in our own band. It’s the same old question isn’t it “how did you get the call”? It just came from meeting Rick a few times over the years at the venues. He knew that from a young age that I was obviously trying to replicate his style in some shape or form. Through meeting Rick at the venues and being brought in backstage I met the rest of the band, and they got to know me then.

As a long standing fan who has seen Quo over 20 times, I am aware that they have a very passionate and hardcore fanbase. How have you been received generally by the Quo die-hards?

My own personal take is that the positive side of things just overwhelms me. Every time you do a show, I receive a bunch of messages from young fans, from long-standing fans. It really is incredible the level of support from guys that have seen the band over a hundred times, and even more have sent me messages saying “that we can’t believe how tight the show is.” Obviously, it’s a drag not having Rick there, but as a show the sound and everything is just really rocking now. It’s really tight. Of course, you only need to go online to see the negative comments and that would be the one that sticks in your mind. That’s just the way that it is.

Is that something that harms, bothers, and upsets you personally? Or do you just avoid going on-line and on the band forums?

Well, some of the stuff that gets said can be so completely wrong. That is what some of these people think. Like at the end of the day, I am the one that is up there with the band and the places are packed out. It’s hard to take it on board when you walk out at night and there are so many people in the venues and so many people enjoying it. As opposed to a certain amount of people that don’t… they just don’t need to come. Everyone is totally entitled to their own opinion but I am the same with other bands. That’s just the way that it is.

You said that you have known the band for years, but what about the application process itself. Was it simply a case that they rang you up, or did you have to physically have to submit demos to the band?

Basically, I had gotten a call originally from Rhino [Edwards – Quo Bassist] and he wanted to know if I was still playing. Obviously, there were signs that Rick wasn’t going to make it to get back in time. It was a severe heart attack that he had. They were looking for somebody to stand in for longer than Freddie was available for. It was either him or Francis that brought up the topic “what about Richie?” There are a lot of guys out there that look like Rick – that look like him, dress like him, and have the same hair. Whereas I hadn’t been coming to the band for a few years, I had short hair, and wasn’t exactly trying to get up and be a tribute musician. I think that was the thought behind the call, to see if first, if I was still playing, which I was. I did have to go back and practise at home and get back into it.

So, I bet you initially thought wow incredible but then you asked yourself, “can I actually do this?”

Exactly, I thought what an opportunity, but then you start thinking. Well, I know from seeing the band that would be me that would have to do the shows. It’s not just standing there and doing your bit. If you don’t put everything into it then it just won’t work. So, I knew and that started to settle in. It was more that this could be an option so I had to go and learn the current set. I then sent off a couple of recordings for timing purposes playing along with a click. Obviously, it’s one thing going and playing in the pubs and clubs at home, to go up to the world stages with the technology and these guys are extremely talented. You must learn really quick. So, it worked and he rang back to say that they would be having auditions – a rehearsal really – in Belgium.

What was that first rehearsal like, walking in there?

It was nerve-racking as I said, but because I had met them so many times that put me slightly at ease. If it was just a fan walking into the room, then it probably would not have worked. You of course should have a level head but my heart was in my mouth. I was a bit ahead of the beat, Francis came over four tracks in and said, “You will be OK, and you would be gone by now if this wasn’t working.” That put it into perspective, that if it hadn’t been working the first or second song, that I would have been out of there. We did the full set – a full stage rehearsal. We didn’t have much time because there was a show booked. We had two or three days’ rehearsal and that was it. It was tight but it was working from the off, I just needed to tighten up here and there. Stage positions and timing. It was an incredible experience from the off.

If I could take you back, what was your first introduction to the music of Status Quo? Was it a particular album or a gig?

That’s a good question. Yeah, the first time was… my dad was a huge Quo fan and used to play them in the car. I remember he used to ask me, I think it was around 1996, I was only 10 and I was too afraid to go. I think it was the Don’t Stop tour, and they were playing at the Point in Dublin. I think it was three years later he asked me again if I wanted to go and see them in Belfast. It was at a festival in West Belfast. That was my first time seeing the band and it was then I decided that they were the band for me. Their lights, their sound, and their presence on stage. That was when it started, from ‘99 onwards. I would go to see the band wherever I could.

What about a favourite album by Status Quo?

It’s always been a toss-up for me. I think that I do like what they did recently, the Quid pro Quo. I think that there are gems on all the albums. Even one the film soundtrack album, there is one or two that I absolutely love. I think being a musician you can diversify a bit, you can pick out tracks here and there. Even for some of the long-time fans that say those albums are rubbish, that is their opinion. The likes of the Hello album and Blue for You, they would be absolute gems.

What about the legalities? Did you have to sign a contract that expires when the tour ends?

It is an agreement to see this tour out in the UK until December.

Have you personally been in any contact with Rick himself? Did he give you any pointers?

He actually messaged me a few weeks ago, basically saying that he had seen footage, and that I had stepped up and I was doing really well. He was proud of me. To get that from him was a really nice gesture. He has given me his seal of approval, so to say. I am looking forward to getting home for Christmas and just see family, put my feet up, and have a few weeks off. The schedule of touring is pretty intensive. I will probably get back to work in the new year. I have a job back home when I get back, so that’s what keeps me grounded.

All the best for the rest of the tour, and hopefully we can get an opportunity to meet up in Manchester.

Great to chat to you, Mark. Maybe I’ll see you in Manchester."

Revisit the December 2016 event list  

5th - Article about Rick's absence in the Nottingham Post (UK)

The following article appeared in the Nottingham Post on 5th December, titled "Rick Parfitt won't be on stage with Status Quo at Nottingham's Motorpoint Arena".

"Status Quo return to Nottingham on December 8 for what could be their last hurrah as an electric band as next year they embark on an acoustic tour. But guitarist Rick Parfitt won't be on stage with them this time because, says band co-founder Francis Rossi, "Rick could have another heart attack at any moment."

Parfitt, 68, was warned in the Nineties to curb his drug-taking, smoking and drinking, and did indeed calm down - but it wasn't until a heart attack in 2011 that he finally quit drinking and smoking. Subsequent health scares have changed things even more, particularly the cardiac arrest he suffered earlier this year, which saw him collapsing on stage, technically dead for a few minutes.

"It's payback for being a wild-man," says frontman Francis Rossi, "and he admits that himself. We've known for a while that Rick could have another heart attack at any moment, but I remember looking over when we were on stage in Turkey and seeing him on the floor, and thinking, 'Oh Rick. Not now'."

Rossi says the band would've loved to have stopped touring to wait for Parfitt to recover fully, but after cancelling or postponing six dates, they drafted in a replacement guitarist and got the show back the road.

"The insurance would've killed us," Rossi explains. "It's logical the music business had to get serious, but it's ruthless and you will get sued by everyone for cancelling shows."

Despite the band's longevity, Rossi claims that Quo cannot afford not to work.

"I joke that I might be dead in a year, but equally, I might live for another 25. How do I finance that? I can't retire," says the London-born singer and guitarist.

Although he also admits: "People tell me to sell up and all that, but that would be failure to me. I don't want to stop so I can live a life I don't want to live. It's about ego."

Next year, Status Quo are hanging up their electrics and embarking on an acoustic tour. Hence the title of their current tour, The Last Night Of The Electrics.

They have released two acoustic albums, Aquostic I and II, which saw them rework and strip back their greatest hits. Songs such as Caroline, Down Down, Pictures Of Matchstick Men and Paper Plane took on new life, 40-or-more years after they were written.

Says Rossi: "I actually didn't think the acoustic albums and shows would work as well as they have done, but here we are. People want to come to see us, and that's the main thing. If no one comes to see us, we'll stop and we'll go broke.

"I guess we were always seen as a safe band, but there's an element of danger with the acoustic stuff, it's an unknown. I just like to worry, really," he adds, catching himself.

"I'm an insecure little soul, otherwise I wouldn't have done this for a living, would I? I'm an insecure show-off, like everyone else in the business. If it was all about the music, we'd stay in and practise. The ego kicks in, even after all these years."

One thing those stripped back albums have done is allow a slight reappraisal of their work. Even his driver of 16 years saw a new side to him - telling him: "I didn't know you could play acoustic guitar. That's proper music" - while people have stopped him in the street to tell him they couldn't stand the band plugged in, but can now finally hear the melodies.

Those people will have to put their fingers in their ears though, as Status Quo rock out one last time. The rest of us should take advantage of this final electric tour and go to witness one of the biggest British rock bands doing what they know best.

"Oh, I can imagine retirement," says Rossi, finishing up. "But I can imagine lots of things. I just want to carry on moving forward, and carry on working. I feel like I'm still writing our story.

"Some of the band, I think they still wish it was the Seventies. I occasionally miss it, but I also sometimes miss my ex-wife, or the house I used to live in. Doesn't mean I want to do it again...

"I can't stand all that nostalgia, and I'm much happier now."

Revisit the December 2016 event list  

8th - Quo concert at Motorpoint Arena, Nottingham

The first gig of eleven comprising the UK leg of the LNOTE tour saw Quo playing the ice hockey venue of the Motorpoint Arena in Nottingham. It was a much different setup to the recent shows I attended in Germany, with this being an all-seated affair.

The evening kicked off at about 7pm with the Lounge Kittens doing their thing, again quite a contrast to the accordion rock thanks to DRDW on the German tour! They play on safe ground with a set of popular songs and they worked the crowd to get decent reactions. It's always a brave move for a support band to play a Quo song and they included a full version of "Pictures of Matchstick Men" and a nod to "Whatever You Want" in their closing medley. Thankfully, their versions were so different to Quo's that they belied comparison!

The main support band, REO Speedwagon, took the stage at 7.30 for their 50-minutes or so. It seemed a lot of the audience knew a lot of their material but it was the two big songs ("Can't Fight This Feeling" and "Keep on Loving You") that drew the best reaction. Again, the contrast with the German tour was stark and Uriah Heep did a better job of getting the audience involved.

With the two support acts out of the way, Quo appeared at just after 9pm and it was good to see that all the front rows were standing from the start (and remained that way throughout). There was no chance to move forward as security was tight around the expensive premium centre block, but second row on the aisle just in front of Richie was a good spot on my "standard" ticket. Francis didn't mention his recent sickness and sounded a little throaty at times, but most wouldn't have noticed. Rhino had made the most of the couple of days off and was sporting a new shorter haircut. It was good to hear a changed set, with "Paper Plane" being dropped from the end of the medley in favour of "Slow Train", but then added as the first song of the encore in addition to "Burning Bridges". The lack of "Rock 'n' Roll Music" was no great loss and Francis actually sang all the verses to "Bye Bye Johnny" rather than the usual quick "Bye Bye" we've become used to. It was a solid performance to kick off the tour, with a big - if not particularly excitable - crowd (I'd estimate around 5000).

The following review of the gig appeared in the Nottingham Post (on 9th December), titled "Did Status Quo miss Rick Parfitt for their final electric gig in Nottingham?" and written by Kevin Cooper.

"Francis Rossi has been with Status Quo since it changed its name from Traffic Jam in 1967, and Rick Parfitt has been with him for most of that time. But it was the Dublin musician Richie Malone that graced the stage of the Motorpoint Arena last night after Parfitt announced that he was taking a break from touring to recuperate after suffering another heart attack earlier this year.

Starting the evening off with a raucous bang was American rock band REO Speedwagon , no stranger to success after notching up over 40 million record sales.

Delighting this crowd with the likes of Keep Pushin' and Time For Me To Fly, it was their massive hits Can't Fight This Feeling and Keep On Loving You that showcased Cronin's excellent vocals and had the crowd singing along.

Next up were the veterans, and whilst not wanting to kick a dog whilst it is down, Status Quo is simply not the same without the duo fronting the stage as they have done for so many years.

With Malone bringing excellent guitar playing skills to the set, and John 'Rhino' Edwards having more responsibility on the vocals, Parfitt's white trainers were huge to fill.

Still managing to entertain, they walked on stage and flew straight into classic Quo tracks, Caroline, The Wanderer and Something 'Bout You Baby I Like, and this crowd were immediately on their feet. There was a great medley of What You're Proposing, Down The Dustpipe, Wild Side Of Life, Railroad and Again And Again which showcased brilliant team work as well as expected tracks Down Down, Whatever You Want and Rockin' All Over The World.

Missing Parfitt's harmonising and closeness with Rossi on stage, they had made the best of a bad job and if truth be told, it wasn't a bad job at all."

Revisit the December 2016 event list  

9th - Quo concert at International Centre, Bournemouth

For the second night of the UK leg of the LNOTE tour, Quo headed South to the familiar territory of the Bournemouth International Centre on 9th December. The pre-gig fan gathering was centred on the Moon In The Square pub and we headed down to the venue around 6pm. Although we had standing tickets, there was also "VIP standing" for this gig so no chance to be on the barrier, but we still secured good central spots about three off the barrier so no complaints.

The great thing about standing gigs (this one was standing on the floor and then tiered seating above) is the opportunity to get a good close spot if you're willing to put in the time. The downside is the necessity to experience all the pre-Quo entertainment, this time in the shape of the Lounge Kittens and REO Speedwagon. The Kittens played the same set as Nottingham and got a decent reception, most notably for the Quo numbers of course. REO Speedwagon went down OK as well, but didn't really whip the standing masses into a frenzy.

By the time Quo took the stage, the BIC was packed with a crammed standing section and only a few spare seats so this was an almost capacity crowd - and they made their voices heard right from the off. The audience reaction here was much stronger than in Nottingham the night before, no doubt helped by a rowdy standing section (shame they don't do this at every gig!). Francis's recovery was almost complete with barely a sign of his throat worries from the previous week. The band certainly upped their game in response to the enthusiastic crowd so it was a cracker of a gig to be part of. The only downside was reverting to the familiar LNOTE set, rather than keeping the few changes (for the better) made in Nottingham.

A thoroughly enjoyable gig with a great crowd and some quality socializing before and after the gig with fans from far and wide in the Moon In The Square. Next stop London's O2.

The following review appeared in the Bournemouth Daily Echo on 11th December.

"I've seen Status Quo many times over the years, but this was Status Quo with a difference. Throughout all the line up changes over time, the two constants have always been Francis Rossi and Rick Parfitt. Rick Parfitt, unfortunately, cannot tour anymore so the only original member for the farewell electric tour was Rossi. Would it be the same?

The BIC enjoyed REO Speedwagon and the anticipation was evident as the calls of 'Quo' started. Out they came and straight into the opening bars of Caroline. The ever-present Rossi was brilliant, he had the energy and enthusiasm of someone 30 years younger and the Quo faithful lapped it up.

A set packed full of classics from The Wanderer to In the Army to newer tracks like The Oriental. The medley, which featured gems such as What You're Proposing, Down the Dust Pipe and Wild Side of Life, which Rossi admitted to loving, was full of energy and we sung along word for word.

Rick Parfitt's vocals were more than comfortably covered by John Rhino Edwards, and Richie Malone shone in Rick's guitar place. Andy Brown, as always, gave it his all and Leon Cave is a fantastic addition to the band. The chemistry between Rossi and Parfitt was missed but musically the Quo were great.

Francis Rossi had the crowd interacting all the time. He is still the ultimate rock showman with banter that reduced the crowd to fits of laughter. He sounded as good as ever and knows how to make the show extra perfect. He certainly can out sing and outplay most.

The BIC was packed and the age range was from 10 to 70, all of whom were equally at home. Let's hope this isn't the last time they perform an electric set (but don't forget this is the band who did the retirement end of the road tour in 1984) as they still can outshine bands a lot younger than them.

Till next time Quo!"

Revisit the December 2016 event list  

11th - Quo concert at The O2 Arena, London

The Winter tour rolled into London unusually early in the calendar, just the third gig on the LNOTE UK tour, at the O2 Arena on 11th December. We took the chance to enjoy an afternoon of Quo music before the "official" gig by joining the packed house at the White Horse pub in Woolwich for a couple of hours of fine old Quo tunes courtesy of Stated Quo (also joined by Jackie Lynton). It was a fantastic atmosphere and a great meeting place for fans from all over the world, a fine start to a full Quo day! They played the following amazing setlist.

Heading to the O2 about 6pm, it was already obvious that there were a lot of people around for this show. We socialized some more in the All Bar One pub (guitar tech Lloyd was in there with his wife too) and opted to enjoy good company over the support bands, so didn't take our seats until after 8.30pm. The arena was packed, even to the really steep top tiers of seating - with a fairly small back area curtained off, the crowd must have been in the region of 12-15000. The gig was recorded not only for audio (as other recent shows have been) but also for video (as evidenced by boom cameras in operation throughout) and with no screens showing the video feed at the gig, my assumption is an official release of this gig on DVD sometime soon.

Quo kicked off a little earlier than recent gigs, back at their old time of 8.45 and it was good to see much of the floor standing from start to finish. Having said that, the atmosphere wasn't as strong as it has been in other recent gigs, especially in Germany and maybe the size of this enormous venue doesn't help. The big songs got more crowd involvement but even then, it didn't reach the heights of other shows I've attended this year. Being further back than usual (12th row), it was a good chance to see the full lighting setup and hear the full sound, but also to be surrounded by people that didn't really want to exert themselves too much during the gig. The band stuck with the same set as Bournemouth unfortunately and it felt like a bit of a sprint, with not too much extra Francis chat or waiting around for big audience participation. I was expecting more of this big gig and it just felt a bit flat to me.

The band played just as well as other recent shows (and Francis appeared to be fully recovered from his throat problems) and were playing to their friends and relatives at this their "home" gig, so I think it was a combination of a fully-seated massive room, being further back than usual and a less enthusiastic audience that let this gig down somewhat for me. It was still a fantastic day out though, with the pub gig in the afternoon and meeting up with so many old friends from all around the world.

Next stop Brighton - and this gig will be 30 years to the day since my first Quo gig at Birmingham NEC on 13th December 1986, it's been a great journey!

Revisit the December 2016 event list  

13th - Quo concert at Brighton Centre, Brighton

It was a misty December day as the Quo tour bus rolled into Brighton on 13th December 2016. It was exactly thirty years ago to the day that I first saw Quo at Birmingham NEC, 13th December 1986, on the "In The Army Now" tour. Wandering along the seafront, the heavy traffic helped us spot the bus arriving so we followed it as it parked up at the back of the Brighton Centre and took the chance to meet Rhino, Leon and Richie as they headed into the gig.

The afternoon activity centred on the unlikely Blue Man, a North African restaurant/bar in the city centre, where we had the downstairs to enjoy some Quoing and catching up with friends old and new. It was fantastic to see Burning Benson, a die hard US fan who I used to gig with back in the 1990s, and he'd brought another couple of US fans with him. We enjoyed a couple of hours in our basement Quo den before heading down to the gig shortly before the advertised door opening time of 6.30pm.

It was a chilly wait on the seafront until the masses piled in and then the dash to secure a decent spot in the standing section. The "premium" standing meant the barrier was gone but we easily secured a spot one off the barrier in front of Rhino so were happy with that. The Lounge Kittens and REO Speedwagon did their things but we were all waiting for 9pm and the start of the Quo set. The Brighton Centre was very close to capacity by the time the lights went down, with almost all seats full and a packed standing area, all set for a great gig.

There were no surprises in the Quo set, so it seems likely the subtle set changes we got in Nottingham have been dropped and it'll be the familiar LNOTE set until the close of the UK tour now. The band played well here I thought and the day off had done them no harm. Francis certainly had a spring in his step and the smiles on stage were matched by the happy faces rocking along around us in the standing section.

I enjoyed this gig much more than the O2 gig, probably by being much closer to the action and soaking up the vibe of the standing section. As a thirty year anniversary gig, it lived up to my expectations and it's quite incredible to think of the journey I've had following the same band live for the last thirty years - a privilege to see them change and evolve, to see so many places I'd never have visited otherwise and, most of all, the amazing friendships I've made with people from all over the world while doing so.

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14th - Quo concert at Motorpoint Arena, Cardiff

For their one and only gig in Wales on the LNOTE tour, Quo headed to Cardiff on 14th December. It was a long cross-country trek for us from Brighton but a lovely clear sunny day and no traffic problems meant the drive was easy, leaving us some time to enjoy Cardiff city centre in the afternoon. It was a real bonus when Rhino joined us in a city pub in the late afternoon, always good to catch up with him.

The pre-gig drinks were in the Traders Tavern, very close to the Motorpoint Arena, and it was absolutely rammed. Heading off from there to the venue, we continued to socialize and watched some of the Wagons set from the back of the venue before heading in to find our seats. Fourth row on the floor sounded good but we were to the far right of the right block, but it was still a decent view from there and it was good to see the venue close to full by the time Quo arrived on stage.

While there were no setlist changes, the performance was up a notch from the night before I thought. The band interactions on stage suggested a lot of fun was being had up there and that always helps the audience enjoy it too I think. The big songs got a fine Welsh vocal reception during this gig and this was one of the best gigs of the UK tour so far for me.

Heading back to the Traders pub afterwards, it was again busy and Leon and Richie came in so it was a great chance for fans to spend some time with them and they clearly enjoyed meeting the fans, posing for photos, signing stuff, and generally just relaxing and enjoying themselves. During my chats with Leon and Richie, they both said they thought it was the best gig of the tour so far. It was great to see them in the pub and these chances to interact with band members are really appreciated by the fans.

A fine performance, a big engaged crowd plus the chance meetings with band members during the day and evening made this a highlight day of the UK tour so far for me.

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16th - Quo concert at Barclaycard Arena, Birmingham

Birmingham has always been good Quo territory so it was no surprise to see a big crowd for their gig at the Barclaycard Arena on 16th December. The band played well here and we had a good view from our middle front section seats about ten rows back. Although it's a big arena, the atmosphere was excellent and both band & punters wore wide smiles throughout.

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17th - Quo concert at First Direct Arena, Leeds

The LNOTE tour headed to the impressive First Direct Arena on 17th December. The afternoon pre-gig action was all based around the Stated Quo tribute band gig at The New Roscoe, just out of the city centre. They played for almost two hours and played all the old favourites plus some album tracks never played by Quo live, a great way to warm up for the Quo gig and yet another chance to meet up with old friends. Thanks again to the Stated Quo guys for making the effort to arrange the pre-gig, it really is appreciated. Their incredible setlist follows.

Heading to the First Direct Arena at about 6pm, the doors were already open and the masses were piling into the venue. This must be the cleanest venue in the UK, I've never seen so many people mopping floors all around the venue (even around the seats on the venue floor!) and the whole place seemed well organized and modern. We again opted to catch up with friends rather than attending the supports so it was after 8.30pm by the time we made our way in. It's an interesting layout in this arena, with quite a small seated floor area and large amounts of raked seating going quite high. I was fortunate enough to secure a ticket in the centre block, right in the middle on the second row, just about perfect.

Quo's performance was top notch here, the usual LNOTE set again (Nottingham's changes are a distant memory now) but a day off had helped things a lot and the band seemed very fresh and Francis was excitable and smiling a lot. Richie's interactions are becoming more natural and his involvement with the other band members all over the stage is a delight to see as he grows into his role in the band. I really enjoyed this gig from a perfect spot to take it all in.

Seven down on the UK tour (and 21 so far in 2016), just four to go. Next stop Manchester.

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18th - Francis interview in the Lancashire Telegraph

The following article appeared in the Lancashire Telegraph on 18th November, titled "‘People keep asking me if that’s really it’ says Status Quo's Francis Rossi" and penned by John Anson.

FRANCIS Rossi is in chatty mood. He’s backstage having just completed a soundcheck for a show as part of Status Quo’s Last Night of the Electrics tour.

On Monday, the band come to Manchester playing all the hits with the full Quo sound for the last time.

“Hang on a sec,” he says, before launching into a massive guitar solo. “Right, got that out of my system, I’m all yours.”

The official line is that the tour which ends next week will be it for Quo as far as plugging in the guitars and them playing in front of a massive wall of distinctive Marshall amps. Such full-blown tours have taken their toll on the band over a career spanning 50 years.

In June, Rick Parfitt, Rossi’s partner in crime in the band, suffered a heart attack on stage while the band were in Turkey. He has subsequently announced his health will not allow him to return to the band.

His place has been taken by guitarist Richie Malone.

“We agreed to finish the shows the day before Christmas Eve so I could get home for Christmas Eve,” said Francis.

“My family have this big Italian affair going on at Christmas Eve, it’s all about food. All the family will be there and I’m really looking forward to that and then vegetating until about April.”

The physical demands of major tours have been the main reason for Quo calling them a day. But fans need not worry, the band will continue with acoustic shows in 2017. But surely, the lure of that big full sound will prove too hard to resist?

“People keep asking me if this is it,” said Francis. “There are bands who have announced they have retired and then toured for years after but that’s not the idea at all.

“I’m tired, I’m old, I look in the mirror and see some old bloke. But then I get really enthused about music, and there are some electric shows in Scandinavia next year because we haven’t hit Scandinavia yet so it is getting really confusing.”

Having had to play a number of shows without Rick, Francis has been surprised at the way things have gone.

“When Rick fell over it was a shock,” he said. “We all knew he would do one day because of his lifestyle but it was still a great shock. What I didn’t expect was this kind of Dunkirk spirit which came over the band.

“In the Seventies if something like that had happened we’d have just gone home and stopped playing. But you can’t do that now - it’s too much of a business, you have to keep going.

“In my mind we’re going to do the acoustic shows next year. But then it strikes me that by end of next year I’ll be 68 pushing 69, that’s surely too old. All my mates are dying, tell you what mate, I’m getting nervous.”

The concept of acoustic Status Quo could be seen as some kind of mickey-take and the irony isn’t lost on Francis.

“I wasn’t sure whether the fans would want it,” he said. “Would they come out and see it? Would they buy the albums?”

He needn’t have worried, both Aquostic I and Aquostic II which feature reworked versions of classic Quo songs have done tremendously well.

“The creative process was fabulous,” he said. “With new songs you get very precious about them, they are like your children and you don’t want anyone messing with them.

“But with the established songs, they’ve already proved themselves so we'd just give it a go and try things.

“When the acoustic album first came out people said ‘I didn’t know you wrote such nice songs’. I just thought what did you think you were listening to all those years?

“But then you have to think that with all the noise going around them perhaps some people just switch off, I know I do with certain artists, so perhaps by stripping the songs back it gives people to actually listen to them.

One thing the acoustic albums and forthcoming shows have done is make Francis an even better guitar player.

“I have improved and I like to be able to say that,” he said.

“I still practice. The best time is about an hour after the gig, we’ll have had something to eat and I’ll be on the bus and I’ll play my best then - which is frustrating in a way because you want to be be your best at the gig - but you’ve already played for nearly two hours on stage, you’re relaxed and nobody’s watching you. It’s great.”

With acoustic shows scheduled to replace the big electric stadium tours can Francis ever envisage a time he would stop playing entirely?

“I understand what people mean when they say I couldn’t retire for good as I’d miss it,” he said, “but there are some times I miss the ex-wife but I don’t want to be married to her again.

“If I didn’t miss it then then the entire thing would have been a waste of time.

“So whenever it does happen, I’ll want to miss it. I won’t vegetate and get bored though, I’ll just do stuff.”

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18th - Francis interview in the Express & Star (UK)

The following interview with Francis appeared in the popular Midlands Express & Star newspaper on 18th November, titled "Status Quo's Francis Rossi speaks ahead of Birmingham show" and written by Andy Richardson.

"Francis Rossi should be hanging up his guitar but Status Quo is a habit he can’t kick. He talks tours, Rick and how young blood is shaking up the band.

He pretends to be a granny when he picks up the phone. “Helloooo,” he croaks, in his best 93-year-old, slightly-demented old lady voice.

“Is it possible to speak to Francis, please?”

He croaks again: “Helloooo.”

One. Two. Three. Four.

The seconds pass.

“It’s alright, it’s me,” he says. “Sometimes it throws people. They think they’ve called the wrong number.”

I thank Francis for the 30 minutes that we’re about to spend chatting. But he’s no time for false humility. And, before we go any further, let’s be straight on the language. The man who founded Status Quo is, by no stretch of the imagination, potty mouthed. Line him up against Texas singer Sharleen Spiteri, for instance, and he seems like a choirboy. But Francis likes to pepper his language with the occasional f***. Like a chef seasoning a steak with a dash of salt and pepper, it enhances the listener’s experience. So we’ll keep it real with his quotes and tell it like it is, using a trusty asterisk when he profanes. Besides, we wouldn’t want to pretend Francis was something he’s not. And he wouldn’t thank us for painting him as an angel.

So I thank him for his time.

“Look, we’re f***ed without you guys. If an artist didn’t need a little help he wouldn’t speak to journalists, would he?”

Quo are on the road for what’s been billed as their last ever electric tour. They’ll play Birmingham’s Barclaycard Arena on Friday – and if you believe it’ll be their last electric tour you also probably believe that a big fat guy with a long bushy beard and red velveteen pantaloons will be climbing down your chimney on December 24.

Francis laughs. “In theory we won’t be doing any electric tours any more.”

In theory. Did you hear that?

“Look, I’ve been through this so many times. Since Rick fell over – we call it falling over, and we had to bring Richie Malone in, I hate to admit it but young blood has done something. That’s not going at Rick or saying anything bad about Rick. Any band, particularly one of our years, becomes complacent somewhat, perhaps.”

So it won’t be the last electric tour then... Happy days, if you’re a Quo fan. They’ll be rockin’ all over the world for the foreseeable.

‘Rick’s falling over’ is Francis’s diplomatic way of making light of the near death experience of guitarist Rick Parfitt, who had a heart attack in Turkey in June and is no longer fit enough to tour. In truth, ‘near death’ is a misnomer. Rick was actually dead for a little while until paramedics got to work.

“When he fell over, we were looking at him on the floor. What the f*** is going to happen, we thought? We knew it would happen because he’s a wild man. We couldn’t stop and have the summer off. We’d have been sued the s**t out of. We had buses and crew booked and we’d have had people suing for loss of earnings. That’s the thing that people have to understand, we have to keep going.”

He’s talking casually about it now, of course, though at the time it was anything but. Quo were over for a little while as Rick lay prone and with no life in his body.

“We were coming back from a gig and talking to our PA about what to eat. We were in Turkey so we thought we’d have a kebab. We got back to the hotel and in came Andrew and John. Then the PA came in and said Rick was feeling a bit funny. She went to check him and then all hell broke loose. The phones were ringing. John ran right round to him.

“I got my clothes back on and by the time I got to his room John was making the cut-throat sign, to say we’d lost him. They told us he was dead. He was on the floor for 20 minutes, but Rick reckons it was five. His feet were crossed, I don’t know why, and I had to uncross them. The paramedics came and did their stuff. Look, I guess it was payback time.”

Francis pauses as he finishes the tale. He and Rick have been on the road for 50 years. “When Rick was down, we were looking at each other and saying: ‘What the f*** do we do?’ It would have been the same if it had been me or Andrew falling over.

“But we have to carry on. We live in a capitalist world. We’d all love to think it’s different but it’s not. It comes down to money. And in our industry – showbusiness – you have to keep going. You know, there’s a reason why they call it showbusiness. Guys like us are putting on a show. You don’t get to see what goes on behind. You don’t get to see that there are bits of tape holding things together.

“It’s not just about the music. We’d like to think it was but a lot of the people who’ve become heroes over the past 40 years wouldn’t be in that position if it was just down to music. The true musicians stay at home. What drives us is the love of music but there’s also something else: there’s that ‘Are you looking at me’? thing...”

Quo have become re-energised during the summer and autumn. They’ve been in imperious form, thrilling fans with a series of live shows and dazzling punters and critics alike with their new album, Aquostic II. The absence of Rick may gnaw at some die-hard fans, but the simple fact is they’ve become more exciting since. “When Richie started, I didn’t want him in. I wanted Rick in. But Richie’s been a fan since he was 10 or 12. And I got to tell you, he’s brought something special to it.”

They’ll park the electric shows at the end of the year and focus on acoustic gigs in 2017. Francis is looking forward to them – though he’s got a number of reservations.

“If people don’t come out to see it, it will go bust. It’s just like a business, we’re the same as the corner store, the local cleaners. The tour has to make money otherwise it goes under. If we were doing a bunch of electric shows we know they’d sell a certain amount. But whether any promoters want to put their testicles on the line with the acoustic shows and book them remains to be seen.”

It would be easier, of course, for Francis to take a raincheck. After all, he’s 67 pushing 186 after a long rock’n’roll lifestyle built around alcohol and drugs. He reckons he spent £1.7 million on cocaine in the 1980s, which resulted in a piece of his nose falling out. These days, he’s teetotal. But he never managed to give up his addiction. The roar of the crowd is a habit he can’t kick. He feels validated by the love of his fans.

“There’s that ridiculous thing with performers, I don’t care whether we’re talking about actors or musicians. All the time, their motor is running and they’re thinking: ‘Don’t look at me, why aren’t you looking at me? Don’t look at me, why aren’t you looking at me’?”

It’s a dichotomy that he’s come to terms with over many years and he wonders why kids coming through the ranks aren’t as committed as him. “I see these kids on The X Factor saying ‘I’m going to give it 100 per cent’.” He’s almost foaming at the mouth.

“I hate that. I just think ‘What were you doing last night then, just giving it 60 per cent’?” How dare these kids phone it in. How dare they not walk it like they talk, the same way as Francis and Rick.

“It’s different with the new kid in the band. I don’t know how, why or which way. But it’s bum twitch time. It’s making it fresh. It’s given the band a kick in the arse.”

Aquostic, however, is the music that’s really invigorated the band. Quo released their debut acoustic record in 2014 and it was an instant hit. It was their first new studio album to earn a gold disc since 1996’s covers record, Don’t Stop. And in terms of their own original material, it was the first since 1988’s Ain’t Complaining.

“It’s been good for one’s ego,” says Francis. But he’s been puzzled as to why people imagined Quo would be no good with acoustic guitars. After all, they’ve been playing the humble six-string since the 1960s. All they had to do was turn off the amps.

“When the first one came out, I was amazed by the amount of people that said to us: ‘Ooh I didn’t know you had good songs’. And I think that was because as many that love the grinding oooo ooo oooo Quo noise, the same number hate it.

“Even the people who work around us were surprised – like my driver, who’s an Elvis fan and who’s been with me for 50 years. I was in the car one day and we were doing acoustic and he said ‘I didn’t know what you could do’. It’s odd, of course we can. But it’s such a joy that it’s worked and happened. I didn’t expect anything from it at all. But now that it’s done okay the drug has kicked in again. Now I want to do more. I ask myself why I’m being greedy and I don’t know. There’s something that just wants more.”

The lust for success isn’t confined to Aquostic. Francis still wants his band to become bigger, better, best.

“At my age and after you’ve had however many top 20 hits – surely it’s enough. But no. It isn’t. Enough suggests it’s finished. It never reaches its conclusion.”

Besides, if Francis didn’t have that drug, if he wasn’t addicted to success, what would become of him? Would he be using his bus pass and calling in at his local pub for Wednesday’s half price fish’n’chip lunch?

“I’m terrible. I can’t put it down, I just can’t. I never have since I was first in a band when I was 13. Even if we’ve got some downtime, I’m calling the manager, I’m playing the guitar, I’m trying to write a new song.

“For all of this year I’ve worked. The record was made here too so it never goes away. If you retire and stop, people say I’d miss it but I don’t buy that. I sometimes miss my ex-wife but I don’t want to be there again.

“Music is much more powerful than just missing it. It’s like having a stick on your forehead with a carrot on the end. You’re always trying to reach that carrot. It’s terminally frustrating that you can’t reach the carrot – and besides, what would happen if you did?

“One of my daughters asked me a year ago what I would do if I retire. She said: ‘You play guitar all night’. And I do. I sit in this music room and have the TV on then I play nice and loud.”

Quo’s present tour will take Francis through until Christmas. And then it will be time to sit down with his family and become a grumpy old man. He’s chuffed that he can spend autumns on the road and – last electric tour or not – it’s impossible to believe he won’t be doing it for many years to come.

“We’ve had some good nights there and there’s nothing quite like playing a good gig. I tell you, you wake up the next morning and you just want it back.

“The ying to that yang is that when you have a bad show you see people losing their rag. But I never understand it. What the f*** is that for? You can’t carry it with you. If we’ve been bad, I get undressed and go and eat something on the bus. But when it’s good, it’s magic. It’s like good sex, it’s very hard to forget. At 1.50pm the other day the PA came up to me and said you should be asleep. I told her I didn’t want to go bed yet because the gig would be gone the moment I fell asleep and I didn’t want it to end.”

He’s looking forward to returning to Brum, a city he’s visited more times than he can remember.

“Wolverhampton and Birmingham are great. I know some of the guys from there: Jeff Lynne, Roy Wood, Noddy, Don Powell, Robert Plant. They are some of the best people on earth. I said to Planty last year – and you know, this is Robert Plant, THE Robert Plant – ‘why is everyone so nice’?

“He just laughed it off. Mind you, it was hard work learning that accent.” And he goes off on a tangent, demonstrating his mastery of the Black Country accent. “The way to do a Black Country accent is easy. Just say ‘bike’ as though you’re a Londoner. Now, say bike again but run it into baked potato.” And it’s perfect. Noddy Holder wouldn’t be able to roll his vowels so much.

Francis will finish Quo’s tour on December 23 then arrive home for Christmas Eve. “I’ll get in at 9am and light the fire. Then I’ll do my old person-in-a-chair thing. I’ll fall asleep with a crossword and snore.”

He’ll unpack his things and get on with being a family guy. “It won’t last long,” he laughs. And you know damn well he’s right."

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19th - Quo concert at Manchester Arena, Manchester

Quo headed to the vast Manchester Arena on 19th December, the biggest indoor arena in the UK. The size of the arena was certainly a talking point when Richie happened to meet friends in the same pub in which we were enjoying a few pre-gig drinks in the city, with him showing us photos he'd taken during the soundcheck.

Pre-gig socializing meant we didn't head into the arena until after REO Speedwagon had done their thing. With a fourth row ticket in hand, I was expecting to be way off to the end of a row (as most of the non-premium seats seem to have been) so it was a nice surprise to be third in off the aisle on Rhino's side. With two encouragable folks next to me, we managed to park ourselves just in the aisle in front of the seated security guy protecting the front row VIPs for a great view of the gig.

What was obvious, though, was that this is just too big a room for Quo now. There were curtained off sections around the top ring of seating, but most of the back open raked seating was completely empty and so probably not the best view for the band off stage. The arena is so large, though, that even at half full, it's still a big gig and there were probably 9-10,000 in by the time Quo appeared just after 9pm.

It was the usual set and the band looked fresh after a day off, trying hard to work up an atmosphere in the vast space in front of them. The front rows were all standing throughout but it was hard to get a good audience volume going. I enjoyed the gig thanks to being close to the stage for good band interactions and the people around me were up for a good time too. The general atmosphere didn't seem to quite get there though and it was a shame to see so many empty seats for what could be the band's last gig in this city.

Next stop Glasgow, just three to go...

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20th - Quo concert at Hydro Arena, Glasgow

For their only venture into Scotland on the LNOTE tour, Quo rolled into Glasgow on 20th December for the gig at the impressive modern Hydro Arena just on the edge of the city centre. This gig wasn't on our original plans, but we added this and Newcastle to complete the UK tour "full house" - and very glad we made the long trip up from Manchester for this one.

Staying at the hotel just next door and socializing in the bar there with many Quo friends, it was a very short walk (albeit in the rain) across to the Hydro and we took our seats earlier than usual to take in REO Speedwagon's set. They got a good reception and the venue was filling nicely during their performance. Although the arena was partly curtained off, what remained was full by the time Quo were ready to come on so my audience estimate for this one is 5000 (given that the maximum seating capacity is about 10000).

As the lights went down, the crowd made plenty of noise and this was a sign of what to expect for the rest of the evening. From a very central spot on the fourth row, it was a blast from start to finish. Next to me was Japanese guy over just to see three of the LNOTE gigs and he was singing every word and air guitaring all the way through, great to see! The band seemed to feed off the enthusiastic Glasgow audience and pulled out another good performance, with the vibe on stage being better than the previous night in Manchester I thought. Francis was chatty (and even diverged from his usual scripted pieces a few times) and the smiles on stage were reflected back in their thousands from the keen audience. As the band left the stage and said their goodbyes, I was lucky enough to score a stick from Leon (after he'd made several attempts at other gigs to get one to me, a fine throw from the Caveman did the job!).

This gig was a lot of fun, enjoyed from a pretty much perfect position and with an encouragable crowd throughout. Seeing fans getting into it is always a joy and my Japanese air guitaring partner for the night certainly did that!

Next stop Newcastle, just two to go!

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20th - Article on Rick's heart attack in the Daily Mail (UK)

The following article appeared in the UK's Daily Mail on 20th December, titled "Status Quo star Rick Parfitt's life was saved by a dodgy KEBAB when he suffered heart attack and 'died' for three minutes" and written by Rory Tingle. The article came out shortly after Rhino's tour log in which he described the actual events surrounding Rick's heart attack in Turkey. The article in the Mail was a completely twisted version of the facts and is only included here for the sake of completeness.

"Status Quo rocker Rick Parfitt's life was saved by a kebab after he collapsed and 'died' in a Turkish hotel.

Parfitt, 68, was found lying on the floor by a colleague who had rushed past his room to be sick after eating the dodgy meal.

She sounded the alarm and paramedics were called who were able to resuscitate the star.

Parfitt had returned to his room feeling unwell a show in Antalya, Turkey, last June - as the rest of the band gathered in guitarist Francis Rossi's hotel room for a meal. Instead of their healthy usual fish sushi, the band ordered dodgy doner kebabs, which prompted their PA Lyane Ngan to vomit.

Thankfully, Parfitt's door room was ajar so Mrs Ngan caught sight of him before it was too late.

Now bass player John 'Rhino' Edwards, 63, has finally revealed how the greasy kebab saved the iconic guitarist's life, in the band's new tour magazine.

The band-mate joked: 'He's a jammy b******!

'If there had been sushi at the hotel Lyane would have been with us eating in Francis' room and wouldn't have gone to check on him.

'Also a team of paramedics with all the necessary equipment for heart failure based at the nearest hospital had left the hotel two minutes earlier after another emergency and just turned around.'

Edwards revealed that as he and Rossi ran into Parfitt's room a paramedic looked-up, put her fingers across her throat and said 'dead'.

The medics continued giving electric shocks for several minutes before finally resuscitating the 'technically then 'dead' star.

Now Parfitt is recuperating in Marbella, Spain, and living apart from third wife Lyndsay, 56, and their twin children after bitter rows over his hard living lifestyle.

He suffered 'mild cognitive impairments' following what was his third heart-attack. He has also had a quadruple heart bypass.

But he claims the adrenalin-rush and physical effort required to perform live shows makes a return to the stage unlikely.

Status Quo are currently performing their 'Last Night of the Electrics' world tour with former tribute-band guitarist Ritchie Malone standing in for his blond-haired hero.

Edwards, who has taken over Parfitt's vocal duties, added: 'Rick had been telling me he was having little turns, feeling weird, then it passed.

'But he's one of those people that's always got something wrong with them!

'He very rarely says he's feeling amazing, which ironically he does now.

'In all seriousness, it was a question of when, and not if something like that happened.

'You can't do no exercise and get up and do shows under the amount of pressure and stress we as entertainers undergo.' Edwards added that he hoped the incident would serve as a 'wake-up call'. He added: 'We're all made of steel when we're young, but sometime you have to grow up a bit.

'You'd think he'd had enough wake up calls in the past, but unfortunately that hasn't so far been the case. I just really hope this has been the real deal.'

Status Quo were originally called The Scorpions, and founded by schoolboys Francis Rossi and Alan Lancaster in 1962. Parfitt joined in 1965.

But he has endured a strained relationship with Rossi, 67, for a number of years, admitting he 'doesn't really want to return to Quo'.

Instead he is planning to record an album with fellow former members John Coghlan and Alan Lancaster in the new year. He said: 'It will take more than death to kill me. I'm just aware of the nervousness I get before I go on stage.

'It does pump your heart slightly when you start to pace up and down the room, and you're about to go in front of thousands of people.

'I do not want to tax myself in any way. I've been told medically not to.

'So whether it's a full gig or a cameo I'd still get fairly nervous and I do not want to get out on stage and drop dead in front of the fans!'"

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22nd - Quo concert at Metro Radio Arena, Newcastle

Quo hit Newcastle on 22nd December as gig ten of the UK leg of the Last Night Of The Electrics tour. They were warmly welcomed by a close to capacity crowd in the Metro Radio Arena and played as well as they had all tour. Many were claiming that this was the best gig of the tour, in fact. We enjoyed the show from the third row on Rhino's side and also enjoyed the after-gig drinks in the nearby Jury's Inn with friends from far and wide.

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23rd - Quo concert at Echo Arena, Liverpool

What a day it was to close out the UK tour in Liverpool. The pre-gig action was all about The Cavern Club, with Stated Quo again doing the honours and they played a blistering set in the low, hot, packed back room. It was great to see so many familiar faces from all around the world, all gathered once again to hear live Quo music, a fantastic rocking afternoon! The setlist was as follows.

The Quo gig was bittersweet for me - they played really well, there was no mention of it being anything special from Francis (of course) but the whole band were making the most of this opportunity to say farewell (for now) I think. There was a lot of relaxed energy on stage as the band inevitably looked forward to a well-deserved rest. The gig was pretty full too, in the modern Echo Arena, and it was a worthy end to their live gigs in this popular city. As the heavies moved in to clear the arena floor after the gig, there were a lot of emotional folks standing there, the finality hitting home.

Back at the Jury's Inn hotel across from the arena, I enjoyed some time with Richie who was staying there overnight before heading home to Ireland the next day. As with other encounters during the tour, he remained an incredibly humble young man and so appreciative of both the opportunity and the fan's reaction to him. For me, it was an emotional end to a great few months on the road (not knowing what the next day would bring...).

Revisit the December 2016 event list  

24th - Rick Parfitt passed away

The tragic news of Rick's passing started to hit the news on the afternoon of Christmas Eve, 24th December. The following statement - on behalf of The Parfitt Family & Status Quo Manager, Simon Porter - appeared at 3:10pm on the official Quo website. A separate page dedicated to the various tributes and memorials for Rick can be found here.

"We are truly devastated to have to announce that Status Quo guitarist Rick Parfitt has passed away at lunchtime today.

He died in hospital in Marbella, Spain as a result of a severe infection, having been admitted to hospital on Thursday evening following complications to a shoulder injury incurred by a previous fall.

This tragic news comes at a time when Rick was hugely looking forward to launching a solo career with an album and autobiography planned for 2017 following his departure from Status Quo’s touring activities on medical advice.

He will be sorely missed by his family, friends, fellow band members, management, crew and his dedicated legion of fans from throughout the world, gained through 50 years of monumental success with Status Quo.

Rick is survived by his wife Lyndsay, their twins Tommy and Lily and Rick’s adult children Rick Jnr and Harry.

No further comment will be made at this time and Rick's family, and the band, ask for their privacy to be respected at this difficult time."

Revisit the December 2016 event list