At 8pm, Radio 2 aired a programme billed as "The Status Quo Story. Francis Rossi and Rick Parfitt unravel the history from psychadelic origins to the boogie rock sound of a true British rock institution." A lot of the material was borrowed from the BBC documentary "Excess All Areas", but there were additional contributions from Roy Lynes, Alan Lancaster, Colin Johnson and John Coghlan. A full transcript of the programme appears on Andy Jermond's " Quoratory".Revisit the March 2001 event list
The following interview between Garry Bushell and Francis Rossi appeared in the UK tabloid newspaper 'The Sun' on Saturday 24th March, headlined "Guitarist Rossi strikes a cord".
FRANCIS ROSSI'S eyes are glinting with mischief. The Status Quo star has just told me who features in tonight's TOP TEN GUITAR HEROES (C4, 10pm), and now he's watching me explode. What? No Eddie Van Halen? No Jeff Beck or Joe Satriani? "This show is going to get everybody at it," chuckles Rossi, who presents this giant wind-up with fellow Quo star Rick Parfitt - the Beavis and Butt-head of rock. "I can't say I agree with the list meself. "Especially not No 1. But who's to say who the world's best guitarists are? It's all subjective. I mean, we play our guitars for pleasure Garry, but you do it for revenge." The show includes Eric Clapton, Jimi Hendrix, Ritchie Blackmore and Carlos Santana. Veteran rocker Rossi, 51, has met 'em all. Who was the wildest? "Jimi on stage, obviously. He set fire to his guitar, he s*****d it. Yet off stage he was a quiet, pleasant fella. "Away from gigs, Brian Roberston of Thin Lizzy was the wildest. He liked to hit people. Go out with him and you'd end up in a ruck."
In his day, Rossi famously snorted enough cocaine to keep Danniella Westbrook happy for days - and did just as much damage to his schnoz. But now he gets more pleasure pruning a rose in his Surrey garden than powdering his nose. And the only Charlie he's interested in is Charlie Higson from The Fast Show. "That was one of the best shows ever," he enthuses. "We saw Paul Whitehouse at the BBC and spent hours pumping him for information. Does Ralph really love Ted? We went through all the sketches. That show was brilliant. The same gag every week ... " Unfair cynics might say the same of Quo of course - brilliant but the same chords every hit. Rossi was born in Deptford, South London, with a silver ice cream spoon in his mouth. Grandad Albert was an Italian immigrant who made his lolly from ices. But Rossi froze out the family business for rock 'n' roll. He was ten when he had his first guitar lesson. "It was with a fella in Lewisham. He looked at me and said, 'What do you want to learn, foxtrot or waltzes?' I said, 'Buddy Holly' and he said, 'None of that s*** here,' so I never went again. "Terrible. Instead of tapping into my interest he shut it right down."
Rossi formed his first band a year later. He was 18 when he had his first hit, with Pictures Of Matchstick Men. "No one expected Quo to last, Gal," he goes on. "Back in the Sixties we were all told, 'Get a proper job.' "And ever since then all I've tried to do is make it last and prove the cynics wrong. "Well look at us now. Quo are still here, you f*****s!" Hendrix isn't, of course "I often wonder how cool he would have seemed if he'd lived. He would have had to have changed. "Eric Clapton still sounds great to me but he's seen as being very conservative now. The truth is, he's just grown up and Jimi would have had to as well." Rossi rates unplaced legends like Rory Gallagher and BB King as highly as many of the Top Ten list.
He says: "I admire Jimmy Page of Led Zeppelin. And Ritchie Blackmore (Deep Purple and Rainbow) has a really melodic, distinctive style. Weird man, though. You know he thinks he's a minstrel now? I've heard of selling out for the loot, but a lute ... " He shakes his head. "Must be all that pre-Minstrel tension."
This is the Quo boys' first shot at TV presenting. "To be honest I didn't fancy it at first," says Rossi. "It's worked really well, though. "On paper, some of the links might sound naff. But you just do it with conviction. I ended up enjoying it. "I said to Rick, 'Perhaps we'll do this presenting lark full-time when we're 62 and too old to rock ...' "
Father-of-eight Rossi shares his home with second wife Eileen, and most of his kids most of the time. The new Quo album is out next spring. Before that they've got four major summer dates with the Beach Boys - at Hyde Park, Edinburgh Castle, Warwick Castle and Liverpool Docks - and a huge Xmas tour. Backstage, Rossi and Rick are more likely to be playing whist than groupie roulette. "Or if we're really feeling daring, ludo," Rossi grins. "I'm in the studio a lot with my sons," he says. "It's something I fantasised about doing when I was younger but never dreamed I'd ever do." Rossi likes some younger rockers, particularly the Stereophonics. But isn't too impressed by chart music. "Every act has got some dodgy dance routine, haven't they?" he moans. "But at least today's pop is well made. Highly polished. Well, they've got a machine now that puts all the voices in tune so they don't even have to be able to sing any more. It's more about ambition and self-belief now than talent." He adds: "Kylie was a lot sexier before she started trying. I blame Hutchence for that. She looks like a chicken from the rear now, and I used to think she was great."
Apart from The Fast Show, Rossi loves Gene Wilder and hates the soaps. "I stopped my kids watching EastEnders years ago because it was such rubbish. It still is but I am addicted to it." Did you watch PopStars? Rossi laughs. "I wouldn't have got very far in front of Nasty Nigel Lythgoe would I? "Imagine it. He'd have said, 'Can you dance?' and I'd have replied: 'No, but I can stand here like this with my legs apart ... I wouldn't have lasted five minutes!"Revisit the March 2001 event list