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That was the Quo month that was ... June 1998



6th - Dutch Quo convention at Eerbeck

The following review comes from Terry Woudenberg who attended the convention (see also Terry's excellent "From The Collector Of..." web site at http://home.wxs.nl/~wouden/home.html).

This convention is over the years more a family meeting, nice to see the same faces again and again. This day was visted by more than 200 fans from Germany, Belgium, Holland and one fan from France. After lots of Quo music, Quo vids and a contest among fans, the first tribute band entered the stage. "Quotation" from Holland had a massive set, also with songs Quo never played live. After "Quotation" it was time for "Piledriver" from Dortmund, Germany. And I can tell you that the play very well all the hits from the seventies, nice to hear "Can't Give You More" live. "Piledriver" is the best tribute Quo band I ever gigged. If you get the chance to see them you must meet them for a nice rockin' Quo evening. If not you can also buy there album titled "Piledriver".

Thanks to Peter and Jan for the well organised day and I hope we will meet all the same faces next year including PILEDRIVER.

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14th - Quo concert at Bos Pop Festival, Weert, Holland

This review was written by Terry Woudenberg.

It was not so nice weather for a festival, Rain was on our heads the whole day. The Army entered the festival place at about 8.30 pm just before Mr Mallsteen. I think that this man can play very well his guitar but it is not my music. Mr Mallsteen left the stage at 10.15 pm and guess what - the Rain stopped. Tonto, Pete Hillier and all the crew entered the stage to build up the white Wall of Death. After a very short sound check from Tonto and his friends, Quo opened at 10.45 pm with "Whatever You Want". The die-hards from The Dutch Army were as always in the front facing Francis and Rick. Quo did a good job and we loved to see them back here in Holland. The problem at festivals is that not all the people are coming for Quo. Crowd surfing was very popular and I can tell it is not so nice staying in the front and heavy people are coming over you. The boys also didn't like it and at one point Francis yelled something to the security boys about it. A highlight of the gig was the encore. Quo started with "Caroline" and after that straight into The Waltz. Just before "Rock 'n' Roll Music" and "Sweet Soul Music", Rick was playing a bit of ballad, all the other boys where laughing about it and they refused to play this song with Rick. The tune is well known but I can not tell you what it was, Elvis P. maybe. Nice to see the boys back in town to see them alive and rocking, short set without "Get Out Of Denver", "In My Chair" medley and "Down Down".

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undated - Francis Rossi and Rick Parfitt interview in "Loaded" magazine

The following interview with Francis Rossi and Rick Parfitt appeared in the June 1998 issue of the UK magazine "Loaded". Note that the interview contains some strong language.

Headline: "Status Quo are the ultimate party band and the party never stops." Strapline: "Even if your nose falls off, you have a triple heart bypass and your groupies have metal legs"

Martin Amis once remarked that, when he met John Travolta, his face was so iconic he felt he'd fallen into an Andy Warhol painting. Meeting Status Quo, Britain's most successful rock band (total world-wide sales in excess of 100 million units; over 400 weeks in the British singles chart; more than 100 appearances on Top Of The Pops), is not like falling into an Andy Warhol painting. It's more like toppling arse over tit into the middle of a mucky Donald McGill seaside postcard. Or finding yourself as a bit-part player in a real-life version of Spinal Tap.

Status Quo have always had a knack for the ridiculous, ever since the late 60s, when they first broke into the charts with "Pictures Of Matchstick Men" - a song considered something of a psychedelic pop classic even by those who actively detest the band. "I wrote it on the bog," says Francis Rossi. "I'd gone there, not for the usual reasons - having a crap and what have you - but to get away from the wife and mother-in-law. I used to go into this narrow frigging toilet and sit their for hours, until they finally went out. I got three quarters of the song finished in that khazi. The rest I finished in the lounge."

There are many people who argue that Status Quo are the world's most preposterous band. Adored by only the kind of people who like to be thought of as zany, endlessly quote from the Fast Show's Colin Hunt sketch without realising they are themselves Colin Hunts, and probably collect glass animals. Almost certainly, they will have beer towels stitched to the backs of their denim jackets. The Quo, as they are affectionately known by their ardent followers, would probably argue that they are immune to such criticisms and that their success speaks for itself. "We've been around the block a few times," says Rossi. "We've heard all the criticisms, and frankly, we couldn't give a monkey's."

Holed up in Brighton's Grand Hotel, the first thing that strikes you about Francis Rossi and Rick Parfitt is that they're not a stupid as their music might lead you to expect. In fact, they are decidedly clued up. The second thing you notice is just how happy they are to be alive. Maybe they're just fucking amazed that they are still alive. When Rossi says they've been around the block a few times, he means they've done it all - and done it harder, faster and nastier than most.

"So," says Parfitt. "What magazine are you from? Loaded? So you want drink, drugs, sex and fighting?" That should cover it chaps. And we're off. On a 90-minute tour of Status Quo's furious, daft, horrible, dangerous, death-defying, denim-clad career...

Francis, legend has it that, as a kid, you had an unusually large head. How big was it, exactly?

Rossi: Fucking massive. Same size as it is now. Only I was eight years old at the time. Caused me no end of problems. My head was much larger than my body. As a consequence, when I was at the top of the stairs looking down, the weight of my head would pull me and I'd tumble down the stairs. When I hit the bottom I'd start crying: "Record, record!" Someone would put a record on and I'd feel better. When I watched the Godfather films a while ago, I suddenly understood why I like the shuffle rhythm so much. There was a little guy singing a wedding song, and it was a shuffle. The song they used to play me when I fell down the stairs was "Poppa Piccolino", which had a shuffle beat. It sounded exactly like someone tumbling down the stairs. So it brought it all back.

When did you realise that you weren't cut out for a nine-to-five kind of life?

Rossi: When I was 15. I decided to leave school. There was a custom there - when you left people would write stuff on your clothes. Your school blazer, your shirt, the works. On the day I was leaving, it happened to me. I thought, fair enough. That's the custom. But the headmaster called me into his office, caned me and expelled me for coming to class dressed so scruffy. I stood on the pavement outside the school afterwards and I was thinking, fuck this for a game of soldiers. People have been following this custom for years, and this old bastard goes and expels me on my last day - at that point I lost all respect for authority. I thought, "Bollocks to all that. I'm going to do something interesting with my life." That's when I made up my mind to have a go at being in a band.

How long before you got as taste for rock'n'roll excess?

Parfitt: A matter of minutes. See, me and Francis met up at Butlin's. Very quickly, we realised we were into the same things: rock 'n' roll, birds and booze. And to be perfectly frank with you, the booze and the birds took precedence. I mean, every night, after the show, we was out on the piss and we pulled every manner of bird. And some of them birds, I'll tell you, simply beggared belief. One night, I walked into Francis's room. He's sitting there, feeling up this bird, looking happy as a monkey with a crate load of bananas. And I'm sort of nodding off. Anyway, at a certain point I hear this almighty yelp...

Rossi: Yeah, I've got me hand moving gently up her leg, moving up the thigh and heading straight to the jackpot. Anyway, there I am, giving it a bit of a grope, and all of a sudden...there's this fucking metal sound. Fuck me! The birds only got a metal fucking leg, ain't she! I mean, don't get me wrong. I'm as dirty as the next cunt, but you've got to draw the line somewhere, haven't you? And I happen to draw the line at metal legs. I mean, call me old-fashioned...but fucking hell!

You must have had a fair bit of stamina in those days, what with the boozing and the womanising...

Rossi: Well, yeah. We were insatiable, to tell you the truth. If we weren't shagging birds, we'd be watching porno films. In the early days, after a show, we'd often pop back into one of the roadies' rooms to watch a bit of porn. Now this was before the days of video, so you didn't have any fast forward, rewind or pause. It was a proper film on this poxy little projector. Once you'd set it running it just ran and ran. So, you know, you had to come prepared. We'd all get into the room, stick towels over our laps, and when it got to the juicy bits we'd have a crafty wank. Anyway, one time we were in Germany and this horrible Kraut bird turned up in the projection room, and sits between me and Rick. Now us lot, we're trying to concentrate on the fucking film, towels over our laps, having a bit of a polish. But this bird has got zero sense of decorum. She's going, "Do you want a blow job? Do you want a fuck? I'll take it up the arse if you like." She's got no sense of decorum, this woman.

Parfitt: No sense of fucking occasion...

Rossi: Too right, Rick. So, I has to say to her, "Fuck off love, can't you see we're having a bit of a polish?" See, there's times when you have to put your foot down.

Are you saying the novelty of groupies started wearing off?

Rossi: Not really, `cos there was always something a bit different going on. Like, one night, we met these two girls who had some amazing stuff on them. It was a stud spray - you sprayed it on and it made you stay harder for longer. So I sprayed some on and I thought, "Hmm, this is pretty good". I was merrily working away on this girl and she must have thought I was God's gift. We started at one in the morning and I was still going strong at half past four. Suddenly this other bird comes and says Rick's having a problem. See, he'd OD'd on this fucking stud spray. I come out of the room and my knob is still hard as a baseball bat. And there's Rick, standing in the shower, screaming with pain.

Parfitt: I was standing there with my knob under the shower. The fucking thing would not go down. The harder it got, the more it hurt. It was stinging beyond belief. One of the girls said, "It's alright, I can help. I'm a nurse." I yelled: "Don't touch it! Whatever you do, don't touch it!" God knows how long I stayed in the shower. It was the only relief I could find. I was in the shower trying to get it down, trying to think about anything but women. I was in there all night, trying to get the fucking thing to behave itself.

You must have had your fair share of wierdos over the years?

Parfitt: Christ, yeah. I had a fucking weird experience in America with this girl. We were playing in a club in Atlanta, Georgia, and I'd had a smoke so I was feeling pretty good. After the show this girl came into the dressing room. She'd had a smoke too. It's fair to say that we were totally off our lids. Anyway, we had a bit of eye-to-eye contact and we were having a good laugh together. Then, suddenly, she started getting a bit heavy and asking me strange questions, about my wife and all that. Then she handed me this ring and told me she was a witch. She told me that, if I ever took the ring off, life was going to be a real problem for me. I totally freaked out and got her out of there.

It was only when I got back to the hotel that things started getting really strange. I started getting really paranoid. I had to lie down on my bed, but as soon as I did my body started contorting. I started convincing myself that this bird really was a witch. I started believing she'd made a little dummy of me. That she was poking it and that was why I was twitching. I thought, "Any minute she'll skewer me with a knitting needle and I'll be dead". I managed to survive, but since that night, at least fifteen years ago, I've never been able to smoke a joint. I can't handle it. Every time I've tried to take a puff since then, my mind goes straight back to that night and I start thinking about the Devil. That was one bird I could have done without.

Given that you've been together for more than 30 years, you must have had your fair share of tear-ups.

Parfitt: Fucking right. We'd fight about anything, Francis and me. I remember being on a plane, and somebody told us they'd just been on a Jumbo jet and broken the sound barrier. I said, "Don't be daft, you cunt. Jumbos don't break the sound barrier." So this bloke, he smacks me in the face. Before you know it, we're all kicking the shit out of each other. That's drugs paranoia for you. A punch-up about Jumbo jets. When you're coked off your lid, it doesn't take much to set you off.

Did you take an immediate liking to drugs?

Parfitt: Nah. Strangely, it didn't happen like that. For starters, we didn't go straight into cocaine. We graduated to it via dope and speed. The usual palaver. We were in Toronto when we were offered our first line of coke. Francis and I did it at the same time at a party. It didn't really do anything for either of us at the time. It wasn't until about six or seven months later, when we were in Ireland, that we both thought, "Hold up, there must be something in this, let's give it another go". Then we realised how out of it you can get - it was chocks away from that point. Our lives became one long fucking coke binge.

Your fondness for a line or two is quite legendary, is it not?

Rossi: Fucking right. By the mid 70's I had an astonishing cocaine habit. I'd go out for the night, come back, go to bed at some God-forsaken hour and my head would be going like a steam-hammer. I'd lie in bed trying to sleep, except sleep was impossible and it always seemed to me, in my advanced state of paranoia, that my gardener would always be doing the lawn just as I was nodding off. It seemed like some sort of fucking conspiracy.

Was there an actual point when you realised your drug habits were getting out of hand?

Parfitt: For ages it was just a load of fun. I wasn't thinking, "Fuck me, I'm living a rock `n' roll lifestyle, ain't I clever?" I just enjoyed doing it and, of course, it was totally crazy. I suppose I realised that it was all getting out of hand when I started losing freinds. Then I smashed two cars to pieces, got banned from driving, my marriage went haywire. Basically, my life began to collapse. But I wasn't in any shape at the time to do anything about it.

At what point did you decide to knock it on the head?

Rossi: There was no single point, really. Not for me. I mean, my fucking nose fell off at one point and that didn't stop me.

Your nose fell off?

Rossi: Well, yeah, in a manner of speaking. See, I'd read about the damage that cocaine can do to the nose. So, almost religiously, I would check the top of my nose to see of it was alright. Except, unbeknownst to me, it's not the top of your nose that coke corrodes - it's the bottom bit, the cartiledge. So there I am one morning, totally unable to sleep, the gardener's mowing the fucking lawn, so I thought I'd take a shower to straighten myself out. I'm in the shower washing me hair. Then I feel this stinging pain and I hear this sudden plop. And I see this lump of flesh going down the plug-hole. Fucking 'ell! My nose has fallen off!

So that was a big turning point then?

Rossi (casually shrugs): Not really, no. See, after the nose episode, I figured I didn't have anything else to lose. So I just carried on with it. Then we ended up touring in Russia, a miserable fucking country if ever there was one. And we couldn't get hold of any drugs. Not even your regular over-the-counter pharmaceuticals. That lasted about two weeks. Then the two weeks turned into two months. Two months turned into two years. And two years turned into a lifetime of abstinence.

So Rick, what made you give up?

Parfitt (deadpan): I think it was the triple bypass that did it for me.

When you look back over your careers, there must have been loads of highlights. Live Aid for instance?

Parfitt: Highlight? That's the fucking word for Live Aid. 'Cos we were high as fucking kites when we did it. We were the first band on and the sun was hardly over the yard-arm. Just past 12, midday. And we're off our fucking heads. We could barely stand. We did our bit, then watched the rest of the bands on the telly in the boozer. I say watched, but we spent most of our time in the bogs - doing loads of charlie. By the time we got back for the finale, we were on a different fucking planet.

You didn't spend too much time thinking of starving Ethiopians then?

Parfitt (laughs): Did we fuck! We were there for the party, mate. That's the thing with Status Quo. It was always like one long party. Status Quo are the ultimate party band, and the party never stops. We might have knocked the drink, drugs and birds on the 'ead, but we're still having the time of our lives. We still love what we're doing. And we'll carry on until they stick us in a fucking coffin and nail down the lid.

Status Quo's Greatest Hits is available from all good and bad record shops.

Revisit the June 1998 event list