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That was the Quo month that was ... March 2016



12th - Rhino at the London Bass Guitar Show

Rhino appeared on both days of the London Bass Guitar Show held at Kensington Olympia in London over the weekend of 12-13 March. Rhino's Revenge performed a special set on Saturday and Rhino gave a bass guitar masterclass and Q&A on Sunday. An excellent clip of "Two Suns" (from the first "Rhino's Revenge" album) can be seen here.

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21st - "Last Night of the Electrics" UK tour tickets pre-sale starts for FTMO fan club members

The FTMO pre-sale for the UK dates of the "Last Night of the Electrics" tour started on 21st March. The tour consisted of 11 dates in arena-style venues, as follows:

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25th - "On The Level", "Whatever You Want" and "If You Can't Stand The Heat" double CD deluxe editions released (UK)

Three more double CD "deluxe" editions of Quo albums were released in the UK on 25th March. Each of the new editions was re-mastered by Andy Pearce with the assistance of Bob Young from the original tapes.

The bonus materials for "On The Level" were some archive recordings as well as a live concert from Mainz, Germany (on 22nd February, 1975). "Whatever You Want" was adorned with a collection of B-sides plus the full US version of the album (known as "Now Hear This"). Finally, "If You Can't Stand The Heat" had a bonus disc consisting of seven demos.

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28th - Quo interview in Total Guitar magazine (UK)

The following "no-holds-barred interview with the six-string double act" of Rick and Francis appeared in the UK's Total Guitar magazine in March, titled "Status Quo on riffs, grooves, punch-ups, prison and Kit-Kats" and written by Henry Yates.

Introduction

Since breaking out in late-60s London with their beery brand of boogie-rock, the Quo have rocked it all over the world. As they release a three-disc hits package, guitar/comedy double-act Francis Rossi and Rick Parfitt look back...

Your new hits package, Accept No Substitute!, features 54 tracks. What are your own favourite guitar moments?

Rick Parfitt: “The one that comes to mind is Forty-Five Hundred Times. I’ll always remember sitting there doing it, getting goosepimples. The amps were all around the room, and we just sat in a circle and vibed with each other. Nobody knew where anybody was gonna go, and in those days, you didn’t give a fuck about overspill, so the amps were cranked. It was magical.”

Francis Rossi: “I think with any band that’s been around a long time, there are some great moments coupled with lots of shit. I find the best solos are the ones that are succinct. Not 45 fucking minutes.

“Nobody’s smoking dope any more in audiences, so the idea of playing a solo for 45 minutes [snores]. It’s all about the tunes to me. I think Big Fat Mama is alright. Whatever You Want is great. They’re catchy but they’re simple.”

They like to boogie

When you first met, what did you think of each other as guitar players?

Rick: “I first saw Francis in The Spectres in 1965. They hit you straight on the nose - wallop. I mean, he wasn’t as accomplished as he is now. When Francis is in the mood, he can play like a bastard.”

Francis: “Some people think I’m a blinding player. But I know that’s not true. There are so many seriously fucking good players around. Plus, the whole younger generation are so much better, because they can access all sorts of tutorials online. Rick is a fantastic rhythm player.”

The trademark Quo boogie isn’t as easy to play as it sounds, is it?

Rick: “That’s what everyone thinks! When you form a band, it’s ‘Oh, we’ll do a bit of Quo, because it’s easy…’. Until you come to do it. If you’re going to play something relatively simple, right, it’s got to be done properly.

“It has to be done with 100 per cent commitment, and played with power and conviction. And if you don’t do that, it’ll sound pathetic. There is something about the two Teles, when Francis and I lock in with our right hands. There’s a chemistry.”

Francis: “It’s not as easy as it sounds. Because if you don’t believe in it, it sounds like a sack of shit. There’s millions of people doing it. You hear that shuffle everywhere. It’s just that Quo do it in your face.”

Clubs to arena

What do you remember about early days?

Rick: “We’d pack these clubs with four hundred people, rammed like sardines. You’d fight your way through the crowd to get onto the stage, crank everything up and hit ’em like a ton of bricks.

“In those days, it was a complete sweat-bath, everybody fucking rocking in a small environment like that. Everywhere we went, we were tearing the place up. We were very frightened the first time we went to Scotland, because the audience had a reputation for being tough.

“If they didn’t like you, you’re gonna get bottles, fruit, the lot. We went on at Green’s Playhouse and tore the place apart. We got mobbed up there. You felt like The Beatles. You couldn’t get to the car without being ripped apart.”

How did it feel when you broke through in the mid-70s?

Rick: “It was great. You’ve been playing these poxy little clubs. Then all of a sudden you find yourself doing Wembley Arena, and you start to feel like a rock star. You start to take on this kind of attitude, y’know, the iconic legs-apart stance that Alan Lancaster [bass], Rossi and myself had.

“It was just a wonderful time. Anything was possible. You’re young. You’re earning a lot of money. You’re getting famous. Your albums are going to number one. You’ve got songs coming out of your ears. I think we found out what we were in the 70s, which is this blues-based, hard-rocking band.”

Francis: “It was great to be successful, but it goes to your head. When I look [back] at myself I think, ‘prize dickhead’. Three or four albums went in at number one on the trot. We sold shitloads of records. But I still think the Frantic Four lineup has been overblown. I find it hard to live up to sometimes. It was probably easier when people said, ‘This is shit, who wants to see them?’ That always made me dig in.”

Hotel howlers

How wild did the band get in those days?

Rick: “It was fucking mad. We’d heard about Led Zeppelin riding motorbikes up hotel corridors. So we used to book the floor of a hotel, take all the doors off and it became one big party area. The road crew would go down and nick everything from reception - pianos, plants, stuff like that.

“There were various clubs. My club was the magic fingertips club - use your imagination! Young ladies knocking about, foreign substances flying around. Life was one big fucking rollercoaster of fun. Because you were young, you could survive hangovers and still do the gig.”

Francis: “It was a bunch of fucking idiots being overly indulged. Rick came into my room once and there were 12 women: two or three in bed with me and a few on the side. There was coke all over the place.

“In the early days, there was a guy in Germany who used to get a projector and show a bit of porn. We’d shine it on the curtains and the fucking thing shines right through, so there was this giant knob across the street. So then the police would come...”

What’s the worst trouble you ever got in?

Rick: “In the late-70s, me, Francis and Alan got in a fight with the security people at Vienna airport. They didn’t like us, so they started to strip us down, take our shirts off. Francis and I had got through, and we thought, ‘I hope the guy doesn’t do that to Alan’. Because he was always the tough guy, like a little bulldog.

“All of a sudden it went off, so Francis and me dived back in to help Alan, who was having a fight with this security guard, who was in fact a policeman. We were marched off and sentenced to three months, but the judge then pulled out a calculator, and converted the sentence into a fine of £3,000 each. We did actually go to prison for 24 hours. And it was horrible, awful.”

Aquostic guitar

What’s been the hardest time to be in Quo?

Rick: “It’s not all been beer and skittles. Maintaining the success is more difficult than reaching the top. Through the 90s, we did these covers albums, on the advice of other people, which didn’t do us any good.

“Over the years, I think we’ve done some great stuff, and we’ve done some crap stuff. But it’s impossible to maintain that level of the Hello album (1974) and Blue For You (1976) - where the magic was all fresh - for 50 years.”

How did it feel to put down the Teles for the Aquostic album?

Rick: “It was weird. I quite enjoyed it, because it was out of my comfort zone, and I like a challenge. But it’s a funny thing, playing an acoustic, because you have to use different muscles.

“You’re reaching out and across the guitar, as opposed to a Telecaster, which sits on your hip, and you literally play it downwards. When you’ve never really been onstage playing an acoustic in anger, it’s quite painful, actually, to make that transition. It was vastly different.

“It was tricky, because everything had to be incredibly accurate, with something as intimate as that. With the strings behind you and other instruments going, it’s all got to be spot-on. There was quite a lot of pressure there. But I enjoyed it.”

Francis: “I didn’t really want to do the album. I didn’t think it would work. It transpired it was a very good move.

“What happens is, the melodies have to get through, whereas a lot of what goes on with Quo is the feel and noise of the backdrop. But it was a very successful album, and that had to be down to the melodies.

“People kept coming to us and saying, ‘Oh, I didn’t know you wrote such nice songs’. And I’m thinking, ‘Well, what the fuck were you listening to?’ I really enjoyed reworking Rock ’Til You Drop, Rollin’ Home, Marguerita Time, Claudie. A lot of people think, ‘Oh, if you can play acoustic guitar, you must be good’. But it’s just a fucking guitar!”

Loved by millions

You’ve always been loved by the public, but slammed by the critics...

Francis: “There is something about Status Quo. It must have that X factor. Because some people hate the fucking band, and other people think, ‘Oh my God, I’ve got to have a wank, they’re on’. It’s better than porn to some people.

“I’m very much aware that a few million people around the world think Status Quo are great. The rest either don’t know us, or can’t stand us, or don’t give a shit.”

Rick: “We got some rave reviews in the 70s. But then, of course, they get on your back after a while and pan you. You get to the stage where you don’t read it anymore. Really and truly, if the fans like it and I like it, then I don’t give a fuck what they say. I never read any of the write-ups about the albums. I’m just not interested. I get the feedback from the fans when we play live - that’s all I need.”

Have a break?

Have you enjoyed being guitar heroes?

Francis: “Yes, but you mustn’t take it too seriously. If you don’t keep your feet on the ground, you end up like many that have got carried away. I dare say there are a few bands that believe all the press that they’re wonderful. Well, no, you’ve just sold some records, that’s all. Let’s just get a balance on this. You’ve just sold some records.

“And in fact, I wish I could sell as many records as fucking Kit-Kats. We went to the Kit-Kat factory once for something. There’s no way anybody on the planet is ever gonna sell as many records as they sell Kit-Kats.”

Do you think you’ll keep gigging until you drop?

Rick: “Well, I have done, twice. Last time [in 1997, when Parfitt had a quadruple heart bypass], I had an operation on the Friday, and I played the NEC on the Saturday. So that’s quite rock ’n’ roll. And then, about 18 months ago, I had another heart attack out in Croatia, in the middle of fucking nowhere.

“We cancelled the gig, obviously, then they flew me home, operated on me, and about three weeks later, I was back onstage. So I’ve almost dropped while I’ve been rocking. Let’s hope there’s not a third time..!”

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undated - Rick interview in Guitarist magazine (UK)

An interesting interview with Rick was published in the UK's Guitarist magazine in March 2016, titled "One for the road: Status Quo's Rick Parfitt on first gigs, pratfalls and stage rigs" and written by David Mead.

"Status Quo’s Rick Parfitt explains the perils of getting your wings, the mysterious ‘mush’, and reveals his favourite venue.

What was your first live gig?

“The first big group I ever saw were Herman’s Hermits at the Atlanta Ballroom in Woking. The venue had a sprung floor, a new thing in 1960, and I was amazed, not just seeing Herman’s Hermits, but also to be bouncing up and down! It was a great experience.

“Soon after, I saw The Kinks at the Taunton Odeon. Then I used to go to see beat groups at the local Co-op venue. Every time I went along, I’d watch the guitar player and learn a new chord. I only went to three shows, of course.”

Describe your current stage rig...

“Quite big! Quite loud! White! It’s called Marshall! It’s got a microphone in front of it! There’s loads of stuff I don’t understand behind it. I have a live AC30 in an enclosed box sitting behind the backline.

“Our soundman, Andy May, gets a combined sound from the two amps, mixes it down and then feeds it to the PA and out to the audience - it’s a big, colourful, magnificent guitar sound. I have three pedals; one makes everything louder, one makes everything twinkly, and one turns everything off. It’s not rocket science.”

Best tip for getting a good live sound?

“Of course, the guitar is the key to it all. Without that, there would not be much point in having the amps. The whole combination of guitar and sound from the backline, becoming one and working together so well, is amazing - some nights, that is, not every night!

“Sometimes I look at the monitor tech and indicate that the sound is mushy, not punchy as I like it to be! In that labyrinth of wires and boxes, one little gremlin can move a little to the right and it’ll sound strange. I’ve never understood why sound can vary so much from gig to gig, and after 50 years, I’ve given up trying to fix it! It’s either a good day at the office, or it’s a bad one.”

What’s the nearest you’ve come to a ‘Spinal Tap’ moment on tour?

“We’ve certainly got lost on the way to the stage! In some of those old theatres, you can follow the signs to the ‘Stage’ that lead you down flights of stairs, until the last door you get to is locked.

“'Hello Cleveland', indeed! Everyone then troops back up and tries to go down the other side. Sometimes we’ve heard the intro ‘drone’ playing and we’re all thinking, ‘Where the fuck are we?’ and have gone so far out of our way.

“Falling over is, of course, the classic. We call those moments getting your wings, and we’ve all got them. Doing the rockstar thing and leaping off the riser, not landing on the right beat, falling flat on your face, then trying to get up. Now, that’s embarrassing. It’s difficult to hold the rockstar face when your leg is hurting and you’ve made a bit of a twit of yourself!”

What’s the best venue you’ve played?

“Hammersmith Odeon, or whatever it’s called now. We’ve been playing it forever, it would seem. Best gig in the world for me. You can give me stadiums, arenas, whatever you want. At Hammersmith, you have real contact with the crowd, you can’t fault it. You can see and feel it rocking.

“Not far behind, I’d put Green’s Playhouse in Glasgow, which we used to play. It’s gone now. Talk about feeling at one with the audience. That Scottish audience were a real challenge. If they didn’t like you then, boy, you knew all about it.”

What’s your worst journey to or from a gig?

“We have had a few, I can tell you. I do remember being in Ireland, driving from Belfast to Dublin. The guy behind the wheel was Dennis, nicknamed ‘The Skull’, don’t ask me why. He wasn’t the greatest driver in the world. About halfway there, the road went to the right; we didn’t, we went straight on and into a lake! Somehow, we managed to get out and get the car back on the road.

“I do remember being in a Transit van and getting stopped on the Falls Road in Belfast when The Troubles were at their height. We were told not to move any further under any circumstances. We just had to sit tight and felt incredibly vulnerable. After around 15 minutes, we were waved on, but, while we never found out what the problem was that night, it was not a pleasant experience.”

Your best tip for getting the audience on your side?

“You can’t ever take an audience for granted, or give less than 100 per cent. We sometimes play big, public gigs where anyone can come along. We did one recently, in Sweden, to around 25,000 people and some were Quo fans, but many didn’t know who we were.

“You’ve got to work at it. You’ve got to convince them you’re enjoying it and to persuade them to enjoy it with you; that’s where professionalism kicks in. It can be difficult to connect with those standing further back with their arms crossed, but thanks to good sound and hard work, we normally win in the end. You must keep chipping away. That’s the challenge, and we’re always up for it.”

What do you do to warm up?

“Nothing. Next! Once we’ve rehearsed, done a few gigs and the band is ‘played in’, about 30 minutes before we go on stage I’ll pick up a guitar and play the opening to Caroline, to ensure my hands and fingers are ready. I do enough stretching and all that once we’re working! Sometimes I might think to myself, ‘How the fuck am I going to do this tonight?’ but when the lights go down and I hear that audience, that’s it, somehow it happens.”

Revisit the March 2016 event list