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That was the Quo month that was ... July 2013

1st - Premiere of "Bula Quo" at Odeon West End, Leicester Square, London

The long-awaited premiere of the Bula Quo movie took place on 1st July at the Odeon West End in Leicester Square. The star-studded event was well-attended and FTMO offered fans the chance of tickets to attend as well (for £30 with proceeds from their sale split equally between Nordoff Robbins Music Therapy and the James Whale Kidney Cancer Trust). Some professional photos from the red carpet can be seen here, while there are some interviews with Quo and other members of the cast on the Red Carpet News TV YouTube channel.

The following Q & A session with Rick and Francis about the movie appeared in the UK's Mirror newspaper on 1st July, titled "Status Quo on swimming with sharks, fighting with kitchen utensils and eating Jeff Lynne from ELO" by Andrew Woods.

"It’s just your everyday story of Fijian crime lords, the human organ trade and… Status Quo.

Bula Quo – bula being Fijian for ‘hello’ – hits selected cinemas this week and it marks both a turning point for Brit rock legends Status Quo and indeed movie history – this big screen feature being just about the last thing you could possibly imagine Rick Parfitt, 64, and Francis Rossi, 64, starring in.

Indeed, it is an ambitious project that cost guitarist Rick more than he bargained for. We caught up with the pair to talk sharks, cannibalism and wigs…

Bula Quo is a quirky caper following Quo on the run from the local Mafia – headed up by Hollywood comedian Jon Lovitz – after they witness a murder, following a gig on the tropical island.

As the pair evades the gangsters on jetskis, in scuba gear and in some hilarious fight scenes – interspersed with Quo tracks old and new – they uncover a horrifying local trade in human organs. Organs a little fresher than those belonging to our ageing heroes…

Fair to say, no one saw this coming…

Rick: Yeah, it’s a strange one. Good fun though.
Francis: I don’t think we’ll be called upon on Oscar night, let’s put it that way [laughs].

How did it come about?

Rick: We get to look at a few scripts now and again and nothing really interested us. Then we saw this and thought: ‘Wait a minute, there’s an actual story here.’
Francis: It seemed like a good bit of fun. An old fashioned caper. It’s not meant to be taken seriously.

Are you a fan of the Cliff Richard, Beatles and Spice Girls movies?

Rick: Yeah. I loved Summer Holiday! I wanted to drive that bus. I have never been against us doing a film, but it had to be the right one.

How did you find the grueling schedules of a major movie?

Rick: It was hard. 7am often until late in the evening, but we’re used to that with touring.
Francis: We actually enjoyed that side of it. We were prepared to work hard and we did. Even though we often caught 40 winks while they were preparing scenes.

The film features Jon Lovitz and Brit star Craig Fairbrass, who plays your tour manager, what were they like to work with?

Rick: Craig is a friend of mine and we meet up a lot out in Spain, where he has a house. He is great and Lovitz was a scream. A very funny man. There’s one scene where we are trying to remember our cues, and he farted, sending the crew in fits.
Francis: Now, that’s timing!

You seem to have a natural camaraderie from your years playing music together…

Rick: Yeah, it’s like a marriage but without the sex. We enjoyed doing Corrie, where we got to beat Les Battersby up. That was a great experience, and so we always entertained the idea, we just didn’t have the right script. But we do know each other inside out. We know when to give the other space. This is a double act.
Francis: I caught the start of the film at home – my kids were watching it – and I did think: ‘Yeah, there is something about those guys!’

There are quite a few action sequences, did you use stunt doubles?

Rick: Well [laughs], we might have used them in some scenes. Ha ha.
Francis: Yeah, I mean we have to protect ourselves. Our bodies are our livelihood.

Is the ‘shark scene’ real?

Rick: Well we were in the water. In diving gear, yes. Only we were in Hastings, not Fiji.
Francis: Smoke and mirrors they call it.

There’s also a funny fight scene involving cooking utensils…

Rick: Yeah, I whack some guy with a ladle I think it was. In fact, the chase that ensues into the market after almost killed me. I ran across some tables and slipped on some loose fruit – guavas I think – and came a cropper. Went home in a wheelchair with a sprained ankle. We were really worried that I might have caught an infection from the fruit.
Francis: He’s a trooper. If you could bottle what he has, you’d make a fortune. There was one time, he had a quadruple heart bypass. Had a heart attack on the Thursday, had surgery on the Friday and on Saturday he was onstage at the NEC in front of 12,000 fans. During the show, the stitches came apart and he started bleeding on stage. He is a proper action hero.

It’s been documented that your wild days in rock and roll caused Francis’s nose to fall off due to cocaine use. Yet, in Bula Quo we noticed that in certain scenes Rick’s hair seems to disappear.

Rick: Yeah, well I got a rash on my face on the first day of shooting and the doc gave me some steroids to get rid of it. Then the next morning I’m combing my hair and great clumps of it are falling out. I’ve always had good hair – never had it cut since 1969 – and so it was a bit of a disaster. The steroids were really strong and consequently killing my hair. So yeah, there are some scenes where there’s more of it than in others.
Francis: I don’t have that problem [laughs].

The film opens with a back story of how Fiji was once a centre of cannibalism, where the locals believed that the powers of their victims were passed on to them through ingestion of the flesh. Who would you eat and why?

Rick: Jeff Lynne from ELO.

Why what has he done to you?

Rick: Well, he’s just so bleedin’ talented, he can play everything and anything. Yeah, I’d eat him. I’d have to watch out for that beard though.
Francis: Neil Tennant from Pet Shop Boys, because I hate him. Well, I used to hate him. Mind you, I loved that song they did, what was it? It’s A Sin. I don’t hate them really. I even sent him an email after their Olympics performance.

So… Bula Quo, do you think there will be sequel?

Rick: Well…. Er....
Francis: There are discussions. And the word is… [whispers] India. But you won’t tell anyone will you?

Of course not. So Namasté Quo it is!

* Bula Quo is on general release from July 5, and the official soundtrack ‘Bula Quo’ featuring the original score and bonus classics is in stores now."

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5th - Quo concert at Festungsarena, Kufstein, Austria

Quo headed to Austria for their first gig of the month, playing at Kufstein on 5th July. The day was hot and humid and fans enjoyed the familiar set in the amazing surroundings of the amphitheatre in an old castle.

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5th - Rick article in OK! magazine (UK)

The following short article appeared in OK! magazine on 5th July.

"STATUS QUO rocker RICK PARFITT is set to undergo an operation on his leg to improve his circulation.

The 64-year-old musician underwent heart surgery in 1997, and treatment to clear a blocked artery following a frightening heart attack in 2011.

He had an extra stent inserted into his heart last year and now he is preparing to undergo another operation to place one in his leg to improve his circulation and reduce the risk of further complications.

Parfitt admits he is frightened by the idea of losing mobility in his leg, telling Daily Mirror, "I am having another stent in my leg to improve the circulation there. My mobility has never been affected before and (bandmate) Francis (Rossi) keeps saying, 'How do you keep bouncing back?' But one day I won't (bounce back), so now everything has to stop."

Parfitt goes on to reveal doctors have ordered him to quit smoking: "I've been told if I don't stop smoking I could die very soon, so I'm literally stopping today. I want a peaceful healthy time now and I want to see my youngest kids... grow up. So anybody who sees me with a cigarette after reading this, either slap me round the head or kick me up the a**e because that's over for me."

The news comes just days after it was revealed Parfitt's wife Lyndsay has been diagnosed with breast cancer."

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6th - Quo concert at Lovely Days Festival, Ottakringer Arena, Wiesen, Austria

Quo co-headlined (with ZZ Top) the Lovely Days Festival in Wiesen on 6th July. The sell-out crowd of 8000 enjoyed a fine Summer's day with other acts on the bill including Opus, Nick Simper & Nasty Habits, Roger Chapman & The Shortlist, and Steve Winwood.

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7th - Quo concert at Clam Rock, Clam, Austria

Quo played at the Clam Rock festival on 7th July. A crowd of about 5500 were entertained by Tokyo, Roger Chapman, Quo and finally ZZ Top. Roger Chapman's band included Gary Twigg on bass (from Francis's band during his solo tour) and Paul Hirsh on keyboards!

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17th - Quo concert at Rochester Castle, Rochester, Kent

Quo played in the grounds of historic Rochester Castle for the fourth time on 17th July. The fans were treated to the following set on a glorious Summer day in Kent.

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20th - Francis article in the Daily Mirror (UK)

The following article about the demise of ice cream vans in the UK included quotes from Francis in the 20th July edition of the UK's Daily Mirror newspaper. The article was written by Ben Griffiths and titled "Status Quo's Francis Rossi used to sell ice cream - now he backs Sunday People campaign to save ice cream vans".

"The singer's grandfather was an ice cream maker who sold his wares in vans around London but the industry is being killed by red tape.

Status Quo star and ice cream van enthusiast Francis Rossi today joins the Sunday People's campaign to save ice cream vans saying: “We must preserve this lovely part of old England before it is too late”.

Frontman Francis, whose grandfather made ice cream for him and his father to sell in vans around London, thinks rules and regulations have led to the decline in fortunes of the ice cream van.

Now he has put out an impassioned plea to the people of Britain urging you to help save the nation’s dwindling army of mobile softie vans.

Francis said: “I’m fully behind the Sunday People’s campaign. Ice cream vans were my family's livelihood and I grew up from the age of two-and-a-half with them around.

“In the sixties and seventies the ice cream van was a massive part of British life - the van was almost like a place to socialise.

“It would be so sad if it was something that was consigned to yesteryear so I really hope people can come out, get out of their houses when they hear those chimes and buy some ice cream.”

Francis, 64, has had 22 top 10 hit singles with Status Quo and sold more than 118million records worldwide.

But before music his first love was always ice cream vans.

Francis said: “In the fifties and sixties my grandfather, who founded Rossi’s, used to make ice cream and we used to go out and sell it.

“My grandad would get up at 4am to make it each day in these huge vats in vanilla, lemon ice and strawberry flavours.

“The entire family were part of it. I used have to make and bag lollies to be sold in the vans but I also went out in the vans too.

“My day would start at 5am as a teenager and usually go on until about 9am. I would go home for breakfast and then go back out at lunchtime and the school runs. We would sometimes even go out in the evenings on hot mid-summer days. They were long days.

“My dad had three or four vans and the family had 30 vans in all. We would go out together.

“I grew up with people running out of their houses, running when they heard the chimes of the ice cream men.

“I remember being with my dad and on reasonably warm evenings people would come out and buy the ice cream and take it indoors.

“It would be a great occasion too and something you always associated with summer.

"People would hang around the van and have a chat with you. It was also seen as ‘hip’ to be hanging around the van. We need to get back to that.”

Since their heyday in the 1970s the number of vans on Britain’s roads has tumbled from 25,000 to 5,000 - with only 500 mobile vans now driving from street to street in the UK.

Blighted by the introduction of emission zones, London’s congestion charge, one way systems and even the advent of double glazing - the much-loved ice cream van is heading for extinction.

Now, the Sunday People has teamed up with the Ice Cream Alliance to launch ‘Cone and Get One” - a campaign to help breathe life back into this ailing industry .

We are urging you, the British public, to look out, listen out and to support your nearest ice cream ban by using it whenever you can.

Francis, who has travelled the world with Status Quo, recalled how he and his dad even used to sell ice creams to the rock band Small Faces before their fame at council estates in Southwark, South London.

He said: “My dad used to serve Steve Marriot, Kenny Jones and Ronnie Lane, who were all later in the Small Faces. So when Status Quo supported them years later on, they already knew my dad.”

Now Francis, whose favourite ice cream is a Lemon Ice, wants to fight to make sure the great tradition of ice cream vans does not die out all together.

He said: “People’s love for ice cream vans has not tired. We just need to remind people that they are still around and that is why I’m completely behind the Sunday People’s campaign.

“But there are far too many rules and regulations facing ice cream van men these days.

“It makes it extremely hard for them to make a living.

“It is positive news that the chimes can now be played for longer and more frequently because that is what gets people out of their houses to buy the ice cream.

“I want to hear more of the chimes. Our song ‘What Ever you Want’ wouldn’t sound too bad being blasted out of a van.

“There are these fantastic ice cream parlours around the world in shopping centres in the UK but there is something about them that is not the same as an ice cream van to me.

“I just hope people can come out and support the vans before it is too late.”"

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22nd - Francis on Tracks Of My Years, The Ken Bruce Show (BBC Radio 2)

Francis appeared on The Ken Bruce Show (on BBC Radio 2) from 22nd to 26th July during the 'Tracks Of My Years' segment in which stars select tracks of meaning to them. During this first appearance, Francis selected Billy Ocean's "Love Really Hurts Without You" and "Heartaches By The Number" by Guy Mitchell (and Francis said he thought his mother fancied Guy!).

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23rd - Francis on Tracks Of My Years, The Ken Bruce Show (BBC Radio 2)

In the second of five appearances on The Ken Bruce Show (on BBC Radio 2) during the 'Tracks Of My Years' segment, Francis selected "Walk Right Back" by The Everly Brothers (he talked about getting his first guitar as a Christmas present so he could strum like the Everly Brothers) and "Grow Old With Me" Glenn Campbell (which he described as a "beautiful beautiful track").

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24th - Francis on Tracks Of My Years, The Ken Bruce Show (BBC Radio 2)

In the third of five appearances on The Ken Bruce Show (on BBC Radio 2) during the 'Tracks Of My Years' segment, Francis selected Adele's "Someone Like You" (he waxed lyrical about how impressive he thinks her voice is) and "Rocking Goose" by Johnny and the Hurricanes.

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24th - Acoustic version of "Down Down" aired for Coles supermarket advertisement

The latest Coles supermarket advertisement was aired for the first time on Australian commercial television on 24th July. The new ad features Quo sitting in the middle of a large crowd playing an acoustic version of "Down Down" (with Rhino on double bass!) with the lyrics tailored to the product being flogged, namely "mince"! This very amusing ad can be seen on YouTube here.

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25th - Francis on Tracks Of My Years, The Ken Bruce Show (BBC Radio 2)

In his penultimate appearance on The Ken Bruce Show (on BBC Radio 2) during the 'Tracks Of My Years' segment, Francis chose John Lennon's "(Just Like) Starting Over" (because "just loved it") and "Everybody's Somebody's Fool" by Connie Francis.

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26th - Francis on Tracks Of My Years, The Ken Bruce Show (BBC Radio 2)

In his final appearance on The Ken Bruce Show (on BBC Radio 2) during the 'Tracks Of My Years' segment, Francis chose Squeeze's "Labelled with Love" (which he cited as the inspiration for "Marguerita Time"!) and "Across the Universe" by The Beatles.

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27th - Quo concert at Scarborough Open Air Theatre, Scarborough

Quo played at the impressive Scarborough Open Air Theatre on 27th July. Despite there being a lake between the seated fans and the stage, the gig was a sell-out and the atmosphere fantastic. The band were supported by two local bands, The Remedy and Alabama Paydirt, and the following glowing review of the show appeared in the Scarborough News.

"There wasn’t an empty seat in sight at the Open Air Theatre on Saturday as legendary rockers Status Quo took to the stage in Scarborough.

With the last ticket sold on the morning of the performance, it was the first show ever at the venue to sell every single chair.

It was a feat even megastar Elton John did not pull off when he opened the revamped theatre in 2011.

Speaking on the night, Tony Viney, of Sant’ Angelo Resources, said: “Even at sold-out gigs there are always one or two single seats left in the crowd, but here every single seat has been filled, which means people in groups split up so they could see what was on stage.

“We sold 5,454 seats - every single green seat here tonight is sold.

“The two local support acts here tonight sounded like arena acts. They were brilliant we were so proud of them.

“It just shows you what we can do in Scarborough.”

The roar of the crowd filled the auditorium as the mighty Quo took to the stage. The audience clapped and danced along as Francis Rossi and Rick Parfitt rocked it out on their guitars - still going strong after almost half a century.

Quo fan Ian Keyworth, from Whitby, said: “I always look forward to seeing the Quo. I have been going to see them since the early 70s and I have been to see them all over Europe at least once a year.

“It’s nice that I haven’t had to travel very far to see them. It has always been a good venue and I’m glad they renewed it. I used to come here and watch stuff back in the 70s.”

Die-hard fans Paul and Heidi Barnfield travelled over from Calgary in Canada to see the band.

Paul said: “We try and coincide our vacations for when they are playing. I used to work for Canadian Airlines and I used to come out and see them at Wembley every Christmas. I don’t know how many times I have seen them, but I would say it’s double figures.

“It’s a fantastic venue, there is nothing like this and we’re really excited to see them.”

Status Quo was supported by Scarborough acts, The Remedy and Alabama Paydirt.

Simon Vooght, lead singer of The Remedy, said: “It was awesome, we loved every minute of it. We were playing rockstars for the day.

“It was an honour and priviledge to be asked as it’s not something you expect.”

Guitarist and former Scarborough News news editor James Hanley added: “It’s a very nice idea to get local bands in and give them a chance to play on stage. It’s a huge asset and the community should get to enjoy it,”

Mike Dunn, from Alabama Paydirt, said: “As local musicians it was nice to be asked - especially to be on stage right before the Quo.

“I can’t see how you couldn’t be a fan as they are one of those bands that has been around since the dawn of time. They are legends. It was epic.”"

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