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That was the Quo month that was ... June 2012



2nd - Quo concert at Strawberry Fest, Enniscorthy, County Wexford, Ireland

Quo ventured to Ireland for the first time in two years, with a gig on June 2nd at Wexford's Strawberry Fest and unfortunately the whole day was plagued by torrential rain. The stage was drenched for Quo's set (played to a very small crowd) and health and safety concerns led the band to cut their set short at just one hour. There were a number of tents providing entertainment and Aslan and The Minutes were the main support bands on Quo's stage.

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2nd - "Bula Quo" article in The Times (UK)

The following article appeared in the 'Saturday Review' supplement of The Times newspaper on June 2nd.

"It is fair to say that Rick Parfitt and Francis Rossi of Status Quo are not in their element on horseback. After an hour of trekking through the Fijian jungle on their way to shoot one of the more ambitious scenes in their forthcoming movie, they are beginning to wonder why they agreed to get into the film business at this late stage of their careers.

Suddenly they catch sight of the 150ft waterfall they have been seeking and gratefully dismount. As they survey the location where Parfitt is to tumble, apparently to his doom, into the foaming pool they begin to think that this acting lark might be better than the day job. The feeling is short lived.

Rossi, the impish lead guitarist who chopped off his ponytail two years ago but still sports his characteristic earring, felt the first few spots of rain as the crew unpacked. "I thought, it’ll be over in a minute... it’ll be over in a minute. It suddenly went from this tropical heaven to being under an umbrella, pissing down, cold, miserable."

The silvery waterfall Parfitt is to leap into suddenly becomes a coffee-brown torrent, blasting the actors with cold air and swelling the river downstream so much that the local guides urge non-essential crew to return down the mountain or risk being washed away.

So began one of the stranger shoots of a deeply eccentric pop-group caper — a hit-and-miss cinematic sub-genre that encompasses The Beatles' A Hard Days' Night and the Spice Girls' Spice World.

Bula Quo!, the provisional title for the film meaning "Hello Quo" in Fijian, stars Parfitt and Rossi as themselves in an action comedy in which they invoke the wrath of a gangster (played by Jon Lovitz) by disturbing a game of Russian roulette. Craig Fairbrass, the villainous Dan Sullivan in EastEnders, plays their manager and Laura Aikman (Dr May Phelps in Casualty) is his love interest, but really the film is about the veteran guitarists being chased from one ridiculous incident to the next while leaving a trail of chaos.

When The Times visited them on location in Nadi, on the west coast of Fiji’s main island, it was not immediately obvious why two rockers, who are eligible for free bus passes, should choose suddenly to embark on their acting careers. It is something of a mystery even to them.

The blame ultimately lies with Coronation Street, in which Parfitt and Rossi made guest appearances in 2005. Their scenes were directed by Stuart St Paul, a veteran stunt co-ordinator whose film career includes operating the right-hand side of the alien queen in Aliens, and he ruminated on the idea of casting them in a feature-length film. St Paul gamely prepared a script, but Parfitt was sceptical. "We did some shots at Pinewood with us jumping off a trampoline with an explosion in the background," he says, sitting in his hotel room facing the beach. "Luckily, that was as far as it got, because it would have been crap."

Parfitt — shaggy haired, affable and with a face slightly crumpled by life before he decided to be "sensible" — reclines languidly after pouring a couple of glasses of champagne (which, he says, is "bloody hard to get on this island"). "It felt to me like the wrong setting. I’d been talking to some Quo fans and they were saying, ‘It’s lucky you didn’t do that movie.’ Then suddenly, six weeks ago, Stuart got in touch.

"He’s been working on it for all this time to bring it up to speed, to make it... not Carry On Quo, but to be a lot more amusing. We got the call, ‘The movie’s back on.’ And I thought, ‘Oh God, is it?’"

This time they loved the script, and were delighted to be going to Fiji. "Look at that," Parfitt motions with his hand towards the sunset. A turquoise sea is framed by palm trees and skirted by fruit bats.

Luxurious as this sounds, Quo are well out of their comfort zone. The film has a budget of only £1.5 million and there are no trailers in which to rest during the interminable breaks between filming. While on tour Parfitt and Rossi share the top deck of a tour bus fitted with dressing rooms and containing "all the luxuries, you know, champagne, crisps, boxes of Quality Street". On set, while waiting to shoot a chase sequence in a boatyard, Rossi was lying down on a flattened cardboard box and Parfitt lay next to him on an old stained cushion. "We’re very, very pampered on the road," Parfitt says, "that’s why it comes as a bit of a shock when you start at the bottom rung of the ladder."

To make things worse, Parfitt has strained his back while leaping theatrically away from an explosion and made it worse by landing on Rossi’s hip when the baddies kick a door off its hinges. When I call him a few weeks later he tells me about his journey home: "I came back in a wheelchair," he says. His left leg was "twice the size of his right" after two botched stunts, one involving leaping on to a fruit stall. "At my age I shouldn’t be doing my own stunts, but there you go."

Rossi — likeable, mischievous and grumbling — greets me during a night shoot by asking about my jet lag. "By the time we got used to it they put us on nights." He turns to Parfitt. "In the old days we’d have taken drugs, but we can’t now, can we?"

"No," replies Rick, who in his zenith took so much cocaine that one day his septum fell out while he was having a shower. "They wouldn’t work."

Quo have been around so long that it is easy to forget just how successful they have been. In 39 years they have sold 118 million records around the world, opened Live Aid in 1985 and had 64 British hit singles – more than any other band. Their tally of 33 hit albums is surpassed only by the Rolling Stones and they hold the record with 106 appearances on Top of the Pops.

Despite this, the pair, Rossi particularly, feel that they are taking a terrible risk. "This could be the best thing we’ve ever done or the worst thing we’ve ever done. I could end up speaking to you next year saying, ‘Well, that’s my career buggered.’" I ask Rossi what is at stake, suggesting that the band is too well-established to suffer from a box-office flop. "No, I don’t think it is like that. There is this separate entity, this thing called Quo, which I’ve protected ever since I can remember. They say Status Quo is huge — five or six million people around the world like you, but the rest don’t give a s*** ... Why isn’t that enough? I don’t know ... It’s like this f***ing carrot and you never get closer. And if you did get it, it would be [he looks crestfallen], ‘Oh’."

Rossi likes to rant, and lets loose a range of provocative opinions. Amy Winehouse made the mistake of believing her press, he says, when she was merely "flavour of the month". The X Factor ignores talent at the expense of people who can be manipulated into a product. There are "probably 20 million too many people in England" as a result of immigration prompted by the capitalist pursuit of economic growth.

Parfitt is much more laid-back, both generally and about the film. He has the advantage, when it comes to acting, of having done a year of drama school, where as a 12-year-old boy he learned the Stanislavski Method, the technique used by actors such as Marlon Brando. "The drama teacher would stand up and say, ‘Right! Richard, I want you to be a fried egg.’ I thought, ‘How can I be a fried egg?’" He repeats his impression, jiggling his shoulders in a surprisingly convincing manner. "I didn’t really learn anything from it, although I went for an audition for Oliver! and I went on with my guitar and sang Baby Face. Blue shirt, cravat, hair slicked back. Needless to say, I didn’t get the part."

He has seen rushes and is relieved. "As an actor — and I use the term loosely — it’s coming across. I’m not saying we’re Michael Caine and Laurence Olivier, but we’re getting there." Both men admire A Hard Day's Night, although Parfitt is acutely aware that other show business efforts have flopped. "The Spice Girls film was a little bit ... you know, and Ant and Dec made a film that went down like a pork chop."

The rushes from the waterfall scene look glorious despite the trying conditions. John "Rhino" Edwards, the band’s bassist since 1986, shoves Parfitt as they climb the waterfall and the latter disappears into the torrent. "I fall all the way down into this pond and then I leap up and say, ‘Awesome!’" Parfitt says enthusiastically. He smiles. It is the hardest he has ever worked in his life, but, he says, "That was a particularly great day."

The Bula Quo! film and soundtrack will be released May 2013."

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3rd - Quo concert at Rock at Speke, Speke Hall, Liverpool

Quo played at Speke Hall in Liverpool on June 3rd and it turned out to be another very wet outdoor gig for them. Ticket sales had been stoked somewhat by a Groupon deal with tickets for just 14.99 pounds, so a decent crowd braved the weather to see the band in action. The event was advertised as including three local unsigned support bands plus the better-known act, The Christians, as the support artists. The local bands never got their outing but The Christians did make an appearance, arriving on stage at 7pm for a pretty well-received set.

In the very wet conditions, Lloyd and the crew had their work cut out literally mopping up the stage after The Christians exited, as well as adding Quo's own lights to the lighting rig. After a busy 30 minutes, Quo took the stage - clad in black jackets or hoodies - and launched into "Caroline", as expected! Francis mentioned the cold conditions and the danger of water & electricity during his talky bits and the set was cut short to due to safety concerns, seeing the band go straight into "In The Army Now" after the "Proposin'" medley and then not coming back for any sort of encore. Some of the crowd were a bit miffed at the very short performance (a little over sixty minutes) and the lack of any real explanation for Quo's early departure from the stage. The full set list follows.

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5th - Rick article in The Daily Mirror (UK)

Daily Mirror article (click for larger version). The UK's Daily Mirror newspaper featured an article about Rick's latest hair style on June 5th, entitled "No more hair guitar for Rick". The piece read as follows.

"Rocker Rick Parfitt's hair always went Down, Down to his shoulders.

But the 63-year-old Status Quo guitar legend has stunned fans by having his trademark curls chopped.

Fan David Marley said: "It was a shock to see his new hairstyle because I thought he would have long, flowing locks until Quo were finished. But I don't care as long as he can still play as great as ever."

Rick showed off his new look at a Jubilee concert in Liverpool at the weekend and some in the audience were gasping with surprise.

It sounds like the singer will be shocking all over the world..."

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10th - "Bula Quo" article in The Express (UK)

The following article appeared in the UK's Express newspaper on June 10th, entitled "Status Quo: Crocking All Over The World" and penned by Terry Staunton.

"EVEN at the height of their fame, when they had a reputation as fast-living young rock ’n’ rollers, the members of Status Quo survived the rigours of the music business relatively unscathed.

So it is somewhat ironic that guitarist Rick Parfitt should suffer the most gruesome physical injury of his career at the age of 63 while messing about on a movie set in an island paradise.

Since the band formed in the mid-Sixties, he’s not once fallen off stage, drunkenly stumbled down a flight of hotel stairs, or even scuffed an elbow running from adoring fans.

No, the man who once sang about the Wild Side Of Life ultimately came a cropper attempting to hurdle a fruit stall on a Fijian beach.

"I came home in a wheelchair! I’d already pulled a muscle in my thigh being chased by baddies but then the director said: ‘Well, your other’s leg’s OK, jump over this fruit stall,’ and that really did me in. I smashed myself up quite badly."

Fellow Quo founder Francis Rossi has little sympathy for his music partner of 46 years: "Well, he was asking for it, wasn’t he. He’s not the most athletic of blokes, poor Rick.

"I’m in much better shape, because I go to the gym almost every day so whenever the script demanded we do a bit of running or jumping over things, he’d always get left behind in my dust."

The fruit-based fracas happened last month when the band spent four weeks in Fiji filming Bula Quo!, which Parfitt describes as a "crime caper" and is due for release next year.

To the soundtrack of several Quo classics including Whatever You Want, Down Down and (inevitably) Living On An Island, our heroes unwittingly witness a game of Russian roulette, which in turn leads to run-ins with gangsters trading human organs on the black market.

It was while filming their guest roles in Coronation Street in 2005 that director Stuart St Paul, then working as the soap’s stunt co-ordinator, first approached Quo about making a film but Rossi in particular wasn’t sure it was the right move for the band.

"I’m always the most difficult person to convince," he says. "Even after we’ve done something I’m never sure if it’s going to end up being good for us. I really wasn’t sure about doing Coronation Street and, back in the Seventies, I honestly didn’t think Rockin’ All Over The World was strong enough to be a hit single. Just shows how much I know, eh.

"Our manager and people in the office have seen various bits of the film and they think it’s really good but I suspect what they mean is that we don’t look as stupid or as out of our depth as they thought we would."

Traditionally, films headlined by rock stars fall into one of two categories; either the knockabout japes of The Beatles in A Hard Day’s Night and Help!, or grittier fare like Slade in Flame and David Essex in Stardust. Parfitt says Bula Quo!, which co-stars American comedian Jon Lovitz and former EastEnders actor Craig Fairbrass, combines the best of both worlds.

"It’s not a silly film, it’s not meant to be a joke, but me and Francis do get to play about a bit. We’re jumping off boats, riding horses, mucking about on waterfalls and filming with tribes up in the mountains. It’ll be full of laughs but with a good story; one of the poster slogans we’re toying with is: ‘It started with guitars, it ended with guns.’

"The original story we were pitched was a bit too brutal and heavy. This is a milder script, very funny, more of a crime caper. We want to make sure the film gets a family-friendly certificate."

For the ever-wary Rossi, however, the chief aim is to offer a true depiction of what it is like being a member of one of Britain’s most enduring rock bands, who made a record 106 appearances on Top Of The Pops.

"I don’t think many people outside the business have much idea what it’s like being in a band. Most films about rock ’n’ roll, while they’re OK for the punters, just don’t give an accurate picture of the real thing. This Is Spinal Tap got it right, ironically enough. It might be a spoof but it’s so close to the truth in places it’s like watching a documentary." Yet, while Rossi strives for an honest portrayal of his real self on the silver screen, he admits that he has caught the acting bug and would be open to offers of more fictional movie work.

"I had a blast in Fiji and I learned so much about the nuts and bolts of acting. I have a newfound respect for John Gielgud and all those Shakespearian geezers. I would seriously consider doing more films, as long as they didn’t get in the way of Status Quo’s work schedule.

"I’m not claiming I’ll be picking up a Bafta any time soon but if something came along like a Ray Winstone gangster flick and they needed someone to play his thickhead lackey who wasn’t all there, I reckon I could do that."

Quo’s work schedule may yet include Rossi and Parfitt reuniting with bassist Alan Lancaster and drummer John Coghlan for concerts next year, around the time of the film’s release. If plans go ahead, it will be the core quartet’s first shows together in 30 years.

"We’ll have to see how it goes, because Alan has multiple sclerosis and anything we do is dependent on his health," says Parfitt. "We had a trial rehearsal a few months ago which went quite well.

"Oddly, with John setting the rhythm, the songs were slower than how Francis and I play them these days. We were more laid back in the Seventies, we were all smoking spliffs for one thing so it was a lot less frantic. As we’ve gotten older we’ve got more energy."

The Bula Quo! film and soundtrack will be released next May."

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14th - Quo concert at Azkena Rock Festival, Vitoria-Gasteiz, Spain

Quo played their second of two nights in Spain on June 14th, by headlining the Azkena Rock Festival to a crowd of 12,500. Other acts on the bill included Blue Oyster Cult and Twisted Sister.

Revisit the June 2012 event list