The following interview with Francis appeared in the Eastern Daily Press on 9th June, titled "It’s weird being alone: Status Quo’s Francis Rossi on life without Rick Parfitt" and written by Simon Parkin.
"Ahead of an acoustic gig in Norwich, the guitarist and singer tells us about coming to terms with the death of his musical partner-in-crime and why he’s jealous of Ed Sheeran.
“I was thinking the other night it is kind of weird being alone now,” says Francis Rossi.
The Status Quo stalwart is reflecting on how things have changed since the death of his long-time musical partner-in-crime Rick Parfitt. “It’s like when I got divorced from my first wife. As much as you know you have to carry on there is a side of you that can’t help but feel it and look back. I’m not used to being on my own. I’m having to get used to it, but it’s very different.”
That he is still coming to terms with Rick’s death on Christmas Eve 2016 is unsurprising given that the pair had been band mates for almost 50 years.
Rick joined Status Quo in 1967 after he had met Francis while performing at Butlins in Minehead. Together with fellow original members, bassist Alan Lancaster and drummer John Coghlan, they enjoyed a string of hits from psychedelic-pop breakthrough hit Pictures of Matchstick Men to hard-rocking classics like Caroline, Down Down and Rockin’ All Over The World, which became immortalised when they opened Live Aid.
In 2015, the band passed a milestone enjoyed by only a handful of musicians, spending a total of 500 weeks in the UK album charts.
The subject of Rick’s sudden death is the one time in our chat when the guitarist’s jack-the-lad, quick quitted banter changes for something more sombre and reflective.
“It’s a very different dynamic now that Rick has left us,” says Francis. “His health for the last few years hadn’t been what it could have been but it was still a huge shock. There was a point where we had to face the fact that Rick is not there and the rest of us in the band had to focus a more on the future, and a new young guy coming in to play, whereas before we’d been on automatic.”
Loved by fans, but often derided by critics, Status Quo has part of the landscape of British music for as long as most of us can remember. And it was the front duo of the blond hard-rocking guitarist and wiry singer that was inseparable in the public’s image of the band.
It was surprising then when Rick’s autobiography, as well as chronicling decades of rock’n’roll excesses and his series of heart attacks, suggested the pair weren’t as close as people thought, and that their relationship had plenty of ups and downs.
“Oftentimes Rick and I would disagree but we’d discuss things and through that sometimes you’d find what you want,” says Francis. “But remember too, and this isn’t to put what we had together down at all, but it was an image. It is something that the pair of us worked on together for years and in the end it becomes this image, this logo, me and Rick as Status Quo.”
Rick’s death hasn’t been the end of Quo. Later this month the band comes to Norwich to perform an acoustic show, off the back their hugely success Aquostic albums, complete with backing singers and strings.
The first Aquostic album, complete with cover photo of Francis and Rick with only a pair of guitars to protect their modesty taken by singer-turned-photographer Bryan Adams, was the band’s most successful in years.
“The whole project came about accidentally,” says Francis. “Some of it was driven by the fact that Rick’s health was failing. It has proved to be most enjoyable and it was easier for Rick.”
Despite initial misgivings Francis was surprised how well the normally hard-rocking songs worked in a stripped back acoustic form. “One track that we did was Paper Plane, which is a very straight forward track, which I said that wouldn’t work, but actually it sparkled,” he says. “That was really the point at which I thought maybe this does actually work.
“In The Army Now, on the second album, was another that we really couldn’t see working, but it did. Because these songs have kind of proved themselves over the years you have the basics, and when we transferred them to the format of the four of us sitting around strumming it got the creative juices following.”
The band’s first acoustic show at London’s Roundhouse was also a nervy moment. “When the lights went down and the noise of the audience, I thought oh s*** weren’t not even as loud as that. We’re used to the roar going up and then the opening guitar hits.
“But actually what we found was that the course feeling was still there. A lot of people have since said I never knew you had such nice songs. It makes you think what they were listening to, but Status Quo is like Marmite. People either love us or hate us.
“When people hear Status Quo as much as it is instantly recognisable there is an equal minus to it in that people have their preconceptions. But take away the noisy guitar and people just listen to the melody. I found that quite uplifting that people have said actually they’re quite nice tunes. It takes me back to the fact that Status Quo is a pop band really.”
Francis says his influences growing up were the likes of The Everly Brothers, Connie Francis, Guy Mitchell and Little Richard, though one later love proved controversial. “Once in about the mid-1970s in Germany I mentioned liking ABBA and the record company guy said ‘I don’t think it is good to say that’. When I asked why not, he said it’s not good for our image.”
The band have never been strangers to East Anglia from their earliest days of gigs in Norwich and Ipswich pubs through to shows in such unlikely locations as the palatial grounds of Holkham Hall. And they are one of the few bands to have played both Portman Road, where they supported Rod Stewart, and Carrow Road, which they headlined exactly 20 years ago.
“Rick had been ill around that period and we played it as a comeback show,” recalls Francis, when asked if he recalls it. “I think that was the one where our manager at the time thought I’d be a great idea to go back on in an Ipswich shirt — it wasn’t!
“We’ve done every kind of venue, from Wembley to weddings, bar mitzvahs, corporate shows to playing at the bottom of a quarry and at the foot of the Eiger in a snowstorm. That’s what happens with longevity.”
He adds that he doesn’t know what the long-term future of Status Quo holds, but what keeps him going? “Ego, insecurity, money — the usual things,” he laughs. “Like everyone I worry about the future. I’m probably going to live until I’m 90-odd. Most of it is down to being an insecure little show off, which is what most people in this business are.”
Ed Sheeran’s a genius and I’m jealous
The sales success of the Aquostic albums bucked recent trends — with a notable local exception. “The amount of albums we used to sell in a few days, if you do that in the entire length of the album nowadays you’re very lucky, except if you’re the ginger fella [Ed Sheeran]. I love him to death, but I’m very jealous of the git. You know I’m Italian? I’ve had a contract put out on him because he is just too good. He is very talented and a nice guy too, apart from having too many tattoos in my opinion, but then I’m an old person.”Revisit the June 2017 event list
The following article appeared in the UK's Daily Mail newspaper on 12th June, written by Rebecca Davison.
'It absolutely floored me': Rick Parfitt's widow Lyndsay reveals heartbreak over celebrating twins' first birthday without the Status Quo rocker following his sudden death last year.
Rick Parfitt's widow has revealed she experiences 'moments of weakness' every day since the rock star's sudden death last year.
Lyndsay Parfitt - who had nine-year-old twins Tommy and Lily with the Status Quo guitarist - said she is determined to stay strong for her children's sake.
The veteran musician died aged 68 on Christmas Eve 2016 after suffering a severe infection while in a Spanish hospital, which he had visited due to complications with a shoulder injury.
Speaking about the twins' first birthday without their father, Lyndsay told Hello! magazine: 'It's a horrendous hurdle for us all.
'Lily and Tommy came in to me first thing this morning with their birthday cards. Lily was subdued. She picked up a card and used her little finger to rip it open across the top of the envelope.
'She said, "This is how Daddy opened his cards. If Daddy was here, he would be giving me a card, too".'
She said her daughter's remarks 'absolutely floored her', adding: 'It was very emotional.
'I have moments of weakness every single day, but I try to be tough. I know nothing I do or say can replace the loss of the father they idolised.'
Lyndsay, 58, said she hoped the twins would follow in Parfitt's footsteps in his approach to 'live life to the full'.
'When I look at the twins, I see the richness and happiness they brought to Rick's life and my life and that gives me comfort,' she added.
The couple married in 2006. Parfitt was previously wed to Patty Beedon and Marietta Boeker."Revisit the June 2017 event list
As part of BBC Music Day, a blue plaque was unveiled in Woking in memory of Rick on 15th June (coincidentally one year to do the day from Rick's last live performance with the band). The actual unveiling was performed by Rick Parfitt Junior at 1.30pm and the event drew a big crowd in Woking's central Jubilee Square. It was also heavily covered by local radio and TV, with the unveiling being streamed live. Notable Quo-related attendances came from John Coghlan (and the other members of John Coghlan's Quo) and Jackie Lynton and a number of fans also turned up, including representatives of the band's fan club, FTMO. (No members of the current Quo line up were present, though.)
BBC Radio Surrey's Allison Ferns spent the afternoon covering the event, chatting with John Coghlan, fans and locals and also playing a pre-recorded interview with Chris Tarrant. Photos from the event can be found at:
Video coverage of the event can be found at:
The following interview with Francis appeared in the Yorkshire Post newspaper on 16th June, notionally about the band's "Aquostic" gig in York.
"Status Quo lost band member Rick Parfitt last year, but the veteran rockers are still gigging. Martin Hutchinson reports. Recent events have seemed to put the future of Status Quo in doubt.
The passing of Rick Parfitt on Christmas Eve 2016 could possibly have seen the end of the band, but as frontman and last-remaining founder member Francis Rossi tells me, this is far from the truth.
“Everything’s all right at the moment in the camp,” he says. “I’m even recording an album with Hannah Rickard, one of the singers on the Aquostic albums which has a country feel and it’s going quite well.”
But the death of his long-standing partner-in-rock, who joined the band in 1967 must have been a shock. “Yes, well it took a long time to sink in – probably still hasn’t, really.”
Rossi remembers the day clearly. “We arrived home from the UK tour at about nine in the morning on Christmas Eve and I got a call from Simon (Porter, the band’s manager) between ten and ten-thirty saying that Rick was very ill and within two hours he was gone.
“To be honest, it was something we were expecting, but I’m not quite sure I’m used to it and it reminds us of our own mortality. It was weird playing a gig when he wasn’t there, but we’ve been dealing with it.”
Parfitt had retired from Quo earlier in 2016 following a heart attack in the summer, but he’s played on the second Status Quo acoustic album and had been recording a solo album as well as writing his biography.
“I have no idea whether any of this will be finished,” Rossi says. “They played one of his solo tracks at the funeral.” And there will be a memorial to the blond guitarist at some point.
At some shows in the summer, Parfitt’s place had been taken by Freddie Edwards, who is the son of Quo’s bassist John ‘Rhino’ Edwards, and then during the December tour by Richie Malone, and I ask whether Richie is now a fully-fledged member of the band.
“Yes, he is,” says Rossi, 68. “Freddie was a great stand-in, but he has his own career. Richie is extremely good and can commit to the band. He has been watching us from when he was very young and knows what we’re about.”
In fact, the introduction of the Irish guitarist could be a bonus.
“Yeah, we may have been becoming a bit complacent. There’s a new edge to it all now and one’s interest is different.”
Rossi had been hoping Status Quo would have been able to hang up the electric guitars after the December tour, but this isn’t proving to be the case, as well over half of the shows in the diary are still electric, maybe the idea of an acoustic Quo isn’t as popular as it might have been.
“Well, the second album didn’t do as well as the first,” says Rossi. “But the show at The Roundhouse was very encouraging, it’s all about profile.” The demand for the electric Quo is still high though. “Yes, and that’s what’s weird. We had an acoustic tour of Australia lined up, but that’s now become electric as they wanted a ‘Last Night Of The Electrics’ tour too.”
However, there are some great things resulting in the electric tours continuing, as Rossi explains.
“We have managed to keep our crew on. They all have families and mortgages, so being able to keep them on makes me feel good, as they rely on us to keep them employed.”
He sighs. “To be honest, I didn’t think this year would happen, but it is, so we just keep going.”
With a mixture of electric and acoustic shows in the diary, there could be confusion as to which version the band plays.
“Yes,” agrees Rossi. “Probably more in the acoustic shows, and especially if the song is one we’re still doing electrically. However, once rehearsals have been started I’m OK.” And Rossi is still getting used to playing the songs acoustically. “That’s right, I’m frightened most nights.”
But the acoustic versions of Quo classics is an interesting project, with a new slant being given to songs like Down Down, Caroline, Rockin’ All Over The World and Roll Over Lay Down.
“I was a bit unsure at first when we started the Aquostic stuff,” admits Rossi, “but as time went on we got a bit ‘precious’ about it and we’re very pleased at how the songs sound.”
When not working in Quo, Rossi works on other projects and keeps fit. “I have a trainer that keeps coming round and hurting me,” he laughs. “I do have a solo album in the can but as I started to work with Hannah on her album it got put on a back-burner as the album with Hannah is more interesting.” And there is also the little matter of the band’s 50th anniversary this year. But Rossi appears to be uninterested. “I would rather not do anniversaries.” Whatever happens, the mighty Quo will continue to treat their fans to a great night of music at their shows, whether it be electric or acoustic."Revisit the June 2017 event list
John Coghlan was interviewed by Vic Minett on BBC Radio Coventry & Warwickshire on 19th June just before his gig with John Coghlan's Quo in Nuneaton.
As always, John was very upbeat and positive about all things Quo. He recounted his history of joining Quo, the Butlin's Summer season and meeting Rick. He talked about the change of image in the early 70s and the fun they had touring with bands like Slade. Talk then moved to John's departure in 1981, saying he'd "had enough of it all" but the break did him good and he's "never looked back really". John spoke very fondly of the reunion tours and he became very emotional when talking about how he heard the news of Rick's death.
After a break to play "Down Down", John talked about John Coghlan's Quo and how much he enjoys playing the old Quo tunes and the love he feels from the fans. He mentioned the idea of PLC but was clear on not wanting to be part of the current Quo (saying he wants to keep out of the band politics).Revisit the June 2017 event list
The following review of Quo's "Aquostic" performance in Inverness on 20th June appeared on the Inverness Gigs website on 21st June, penned by Frank Finlayson.
On such a fine evening it was testament to young support act Fraser Churchill that he managed to draw in so any of the crowd from the bar area outside. His early set displayed a lot of mellow promise with a rendition of ‘Ain’t No Sunshine’ thrown in for good measure. There was a real easy Sunday morning feel to the set at this point. Later numbers tried to lift the intensity but I felt this didn’t quite cut it in the large venue but overall it was a commendable set for the young man.
The crowd was a little light on the double denim that was ubiquitous amongst the Quo fans during the halcyon days but nonetheless there were still one or two possessing, or at least trying to possess, that classic hairstyle of the late Rick Parfitt. Although the sun still shone brightly outside the fans had filled up the sports centre by the time Status Quo arrived on stage.
Ten strong they set up in two banks of five. The front row being four guitars and a bass guitar perched on swivel bar stool style chairs with Francis Rossi taking up a central position. A strong back row of drums, keys, accordion and two backing singers with one adding violin as and when required. There was some interplay between piano and guitar for Andrew Bown who also added in slices of harmonica too.
It was a party from the off with strong showings of ‘Again and Again’, ‘Paper Plane’, ‘Caroline’ and ‘What You’re Proposing’. After the first handful of numbers they stepped down from their perches and ripped into the likes of ‘Hold You Back’ and “Down Down’ which added to the old time party feel they were generating. Personal favourite of mine ‘Pictures of Matchstick Men’ still had that certain psychedelic feel of the original and the violin when given the opportunity to shine added a real polish to this version.
Throughout the evening the band mixed fan favourites with the better known hits but always kept a celebratory tempo to ensure the evening bounced along. “Don’t Drive My Car’ had a new lickof paint and an earthy gypsy rock feel to give it extra revs. It’s worth noting that it wasn’t just Francis Rossi that held vocal duties but both Andrew Bown and John ‘Rhino’ Edwards.
‘Whatever You Want’ and ‘Rocking All Over The World’ did post the signal that this evening was coming to an end but they just couldn’t without those two classics. A quick encore return and the evening was over. An hour and a half of enjoyable, for the band and audience, of boogie rock. Francis Rossi joked at one point about the acoustic idea as ‘seemed such a good idea on paper’ but it was for those assembled also a good idea on stage too.
An excellent set of professional photographs appeared on the same site here.Revisit the June 2017 event list
The following review of Quo's "Aquostic" gig in York on 21st June appeared in the UK's Express newspaper on 22nd June, titled "Acoustic Quo maintain their rockin’ status".
"THE idea that Status Quo could transform their 12-bar blitzkrieg boogie rock with acoustic guitars, an accordion, female backing-singers and even a mandolin was once as unimaginable as, well, a Quo without legendary blonde axeman Rick Parfitt.
Yet here they are in 2017. With Francis Rossi the sole-remaining member from the original Frantic Four line-up, both unimaginable occurrences have come to pass.
With Parfitt alive but in failing health, Quo announced they were stopping performing electric shows following last winter’s British tour – and becoming a full-time acoustic outfit instead.
But while Parfitt’s demise appears to have altered that plan - loads of new plugged-in shows have been added to the tour itinerary – Rossi is also forging ahead with his ‘Aquostic’ shows running both bands in parallel.
Performing their first gig of either variety on English soil since Parfitt’s sudden death last Christmas Eve, there is a visible void to the left of the stage at York’s Barbican Theatre even though replacement rhythm guitarist Richie Malone is accompanied by an additional long-blonde-haired guitarist Ralf Oehmichen.
But the sound from the off is sensational as the band – complete with long-term members Andy Bown and Rhino Edwards on backing rhythm and bass respectively – launch into And It’s Better Now.
All musicians – and almost all of the audience remain seated – with only female backing singers Amy Smith and Hannah Rickard on their feet for an opening salvo including Break The Rules, Again and Again and Paper Plane.
It’s a strange scenario as Quo usually create a vibrant-atmosphere from the off but as soon as the opening chords of Caroline begin En Masse the audience rise and there they remain up and rocking for the rest of the night.
It’s a mixed audience of children, teenagers, middle-aged couples, old rockers, a few blue rinses and an abundance of bald heads – but each and everyone has a huge smile on their face and know the words to every track.
Transformed the guitars become louder, the drums seem a tad meatier and Geraint Watkins accordion becomes a little less obtrusive.
Rossi and his cohorts then ditch their seated position for the Irish jig of Hold You Back as we are treated to a set-list of less obvious gems from the band’s illustrious past.
The girls take over lead vocal duties to remember Parfitt on his ballad All The Reasons however there is no strangely no specific reference to his long-term colleague’s death made by Rossi during the one hour 40 minute performance.
But that aside during That’s A Fact, Rollin’ Home, Claudie and into the guaranteed crowd-pleasing finale of Whatever You Want and Rockin’ All Over The World you can almost forget this isn’t a normal Quo show as the party atmosphere explodes. A sweat-drenched encore of Burning Bridges has everyone in the audience from eight to 80 bouncing on their toes.
Despite all the tribulations of recent months it appears the Status Quo has well and truly been maintained."Revisit the June 2017 event list
John Keeling published a moving blog post about Rick Parfitt on 21st June, titled "Rick Parfitt: The Video That Never Was". The blog post can be seen here.Revisit the June 2017 event list
Quo headlined the acoustic stage at the Glastonbury Festival on 23rd June. Unlike their previous appearance at the festival, their set was not covered by the BBC so the only footage on offer comes from audience recordings. A short interview with some fans can be seen here.Revisit the June 2017 event list
The following press release announcing the cancellation of the Norwich gig of the UK Aquostic tour came out on 24th June.
"Status Quo have been forced to postpone their ‘Aquostic’ concert scheduled for tomorrow, Sunday 25th June, at the The Nick Rayns LCR, UEA, Norwich due to illness. Francis Rossi has been diagnosed with laryngitis.
Francis was feeling unwell even before the band played a fantastically well-received headline set on the Acoustic Stage at Glastonbury last night but after that show it was obvious that there was a problem. Medical opinion was duly sought this morning, with the result that tomorrow’s show cannot go ahead.
The band plan to reschedule the show for Thursday 16th November 2017. Tickets will remain valid but any customers with queries should return to their point of purchase.
The band are primarily known for their touring and live shows, and the postponement of a show is always a last resort. In this unfortunate instance in particular the situation was totally outside anyone’s control."Revisit the June 2017 event list
Quo played their penultimate "Aquostic" gig on the current tour in the beautiful surroundings of the Gran Teatre del Liceu opera house in Barcelona on 29th June. The setlist drew heavily from the first "Aquostic" album but also included some of the stronger tracks from the sequel, in the shape of "That's A Fact", "Hold You Back" and "Lies". It was a poignant moment during "All The Reasons" when all the band members retreated to the back of the stage, the lights were dimmed and the backing singers took over the singing.
A good quality fifty-minute video from this gig can be seen on YouTube.Revisit the June 2017 event list