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That was the Quo month that was ... February 2023

10th - Article on Quo fan and collector, Shane Healey, in The Guardian (UK)

The following article about passionate UK Quo fan and collector, Shane Healey, appeared in The Guardian on 10th February, titled "Experience: I've seen Status Quo 487 times".

"I went to my first Status Quo gig in December 1986, in Whitley Bay, on Tyneside, at an old ice rink. I was 14. My dad said it was stupid, so my grandad took me. He was practically deaf anyway, so it didn't bother him. After that, I was hooked.

I don't drink, I don't smoke, I've never touched drugs. My addiction is seeing Status Quo. They've been on the go for 55 years and they've virtually never stopped touring. They really are - excuse the pun - always rocking all over the world.

I've never left the UK, unfortunately, because of medical problems - I have epilepsy and sometimes have seizures - so I've only ever rocked around Britain. The farthest south I've been to see them is Cornwall; the farthest north is Aberdeen. The venue I've been to the most is probably City Hall, Newcastle, my local.

At first I wasn't working and so only went to one show a year. When I got a job in 1994, working nights at B&Q, I started doing quite well and it became 10 a year. I met friends through the gigs and we started to go together. Ten shows a year turned into 15, which turned into following the whole tour. Soon I was doing the entire UK tour every year. The most gigs I've seen in one year is 42. It nearly killed me.

I don't drive, but my friends will give me lifts or I'll take the train. At the venue, I always like to get down the front if I can. I'll try to get within the first 10 rows, often the first or second. We've had nods from Francis Rossi in the band. A few times, I've been lucky to be let inside to watch the soundcheck.

The best show I saw was probably in 1988, at the National Exhibition Centre in Birmingham. They were all on top form, the crowd were top notch. After shows, you'll be knackered, sweaty, your eardrums gone. You'll be hyper and it will take you two hours to calm down. Then you'll think: "Oh, I've got to do this again tomorrow." It just rolls on and on. We used to sleep in the backs of friends' cars or vans. By the end of the tour all you want to do is sleep. I always say: think how the roadies feel.

It's silly when I think about the amount of money I've spent. I was keeping a tab but it was getting scary so I stopped. It used to cost about £1,500 a tour, including tickets, travel, accommodation and food. I reckon I must be into six figures by now. But as my grandad used to say: you're not here for ever, so you might as well spend it.

People knock me for doing what I do, but I always ask: "What's your passion? Do I knock you for doing that?" Some people smoke or drink - how much does that cost them?

When I'm at a show, I get a feeling of being among friends. There are others who have been to many more Quo gigs than me - one person I know is well towards 900. People know my situation, so if I have a seizure, they look out for me. Generally, we keep to ourselves, but we send each other Christmas cards and never forget each other's birthdays. When Rick Parfitt died in 2016, it was a hell of a shock, even though I knew he'd been unwell. It was like losing a family member. But even without Rick, the Quo keep on going.

My other big interest is vinyl collecting. I've got about 20,000 records. Of those, 6,500 are Quo records from all over the globe. It's written into my will that when I die, I'll be buried in a casket made from melted-down Quo records. The undertakers say it'll take round about 1,000 of them.

Hopefully I won't pop my clogs any time soon, though. I still enjoy the Quo now as much as ever. My most recent show was the beginning of 2022; unfortunately, I've had quite a few health problems recently so haven't been to many in the past year, but I'm hoping to get back soon. I would love to make it to 500 shows. God willing, with my health situation and with everyone staying fit in the band, it should be done within the next couple of years.

If I do make it to 500, I won't stop. What else am I going to do? I'm going to keep going until I drop."

Revisit the February 2023 event list  

15th - Francis article in Guitarist magazine

The following article on Francis and his Telecaster appeared in Guitarist on 15th February, written by Jamie Dickson.

"Francis Rossi: "You really need to be a s**t-hot player to make a Telecaster sound good. Particularly when playing lead"

Status Quo's Francis Rossi on baiting the purists, swapping guitars with Badfinger, and why he's not an all-time-great Tele player

We can't talk about the Fender Telecaster and its relationship with rock guitar without speaking to Francis Rossi. The Status Quo guitarist is synonymous with the Leo Fender-designed workhorse. Who better to go deeper and down into its appeal?

And yet, as Rossi explains here, maybe not. Rossi loves the Tele. He has stuck with it through thick and thin. But he's no purist. Here he explains why he has no time for the purist sensibility, why he put a tune-o-matic on his, and decided that Lace Sensor were the aftermarket electric guitar pickups he needed to augment his sound.

We're talking to a series of great guitarists about the Telecaster...

"Well, I'll find you someone who can play one! You really need to be a shit-hot player to make a Telecaster sound good. Particularly when playing lead. I never thought I did. I still don't. People think I'm looking for compliments: 'Oh no, you're a player.' I fuck up so badly. I know a lot more than I did, but I still look at the fretboard when I'm in the midst of the gig and think, 'Oh God...'"

How did the Telecaster come into your life?

"We were touring with Badfinger. Pete Ham had this Grimshaw and he said, 'Do you want to swap?' So I swapped my Gibson Stereo for this very average Grimshaw. Within a week or so, the bridge collapsed. We were in Scotland somewhere and the [tour manager] got two Telecasters brought in. Three days later, I had to make up my mind which one to keep. There was a blonde one and a sunburst. And I kept the sunburst."

In the late '60s, you bought your iconic '57-bodied green Tele. How did it end up looking like that?

"I sanded it down because I thought I'd like just the wood colour. Within a few weeks, I'd painted it matt black. You know, you're at that age where you're like, 'Black! Yeah!' It looked fabulous. But then it had dried out by the time I got to the gig, and I got it out and thought, 'Oh, it looks fucking horrible.'

"So I sanded it down again and painted it with this green Ronseal that you could see the grain through. I think it was a kind of rebellion: 'Oh, I'm wild, look at me, I've painted my guitar and drilled holes in it, I don't care...'"

You made a few mechanical changes, too?

"One time in Belgium, a pickup had died, or dropped half its output. So I put in another one and then I wanted to go for the five-way switch to get that slight out-of-phase thing. I like to mess around with different tones. So I went for Lace Sensors. The real Tele hardcore were saying, 'Oh, it's sacrilege what you've done there.' But that's just going to make me do it all the more!

"I put on a Gibson tune-o-matic bridge, first off, which added to what I call the 'nuttiness' of the sound. It wasn't so spiny. But later I went to metal saddles - one time I used a brass nut as well - so I was making it screechier and screechier. Obviously, you're losing top-end off your ears as you get older."

What made you so loyal to that Tele?

"I got used to it, I think. I liked the maple neck. I liked the way it looked. I'm not a person that gets much satisfaction from change. And the reason that Tele went in 2015 was because it wouldn't stay in tune.

"I could not get the fucker to stay in tune. It just wouldn't have it any more. I don't know why. Subsequently, I hear it now occasionally on certain records or on live things that come up on YouTube, and I think it sounds lovely.

"However, there is a myth that Rick [Parfitt] and I played Teles all the time. Various albums, various songs, we used lots of different guitars. I even had some punter arguing with me. I told him it's a Stratocaster on Down Down. 'No, it's not.' Yeah, it fucking is! But I don't wish to break the myth. That Telecaster served me very well."

In your opinion, what's the defining Quo song featuring that green Tele?

"The one that comes to mind is Don't Waste My Time. It's as a rhythm guitar that I always found that Tele was particularly nice-sounding, and that's what I wanted to play. I'll be lying in bed tonight after the gig thinking, 'Shit, I should have told him a different song.' But let's go with Don't Waste My Time."

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16th - 'Celebrating Seven Decades of Quo' exhibition opens at Barbican Music Library by City of London

The first UK exhibition devoted to Quo opened on 16th February at the Barbican Music Library in London. The 'Celebrating Seven Decades of Quo' exhibition featured seven cabinets of interesting Quo memorabilia (one for each decade) and was free to visit. The exhibition runs until 22nd May 2023.

An excellent review of the exhibition, along with great photos of some of the exhibits, was published on 21st February on the Ian Visits website.

Revisit the February 2023 event list