Francis presented his ninth show on Planet Rock radio on May 1st. First up, he was in familiar territory with The Eagles and "Get Over It" and he again mentioned his experiences of seeing them live back in 1979 and then again more recently. Next was Led Zeppelin with "The Ocean" before a real surprise, with a track from the "mighty Quo" off the yet to be released 'Quid Pro Quo' album in the shape of the brilliant "Two Way Traffic" (which he described as "a bit pacy"!). Francis followed up with the "naff but successful" Creedence Clearwater Revival with "Up Around The Bend" and then Procol Harum with "Conquistador".
Next was "Burlesque" from Family and Francis said he takes solice from the distinctive "voice" of Roger Chapman. Breaking his Pink Floyd drought, he played "Comfortably Numb" and said he's "never been that keen" on them. Next up was David Bowie with "China Girl" and then The Doobie Brothers with "China Grove", before another Rossi solo song with "Tallulah's Waiting". The penultimate song was Journey's classic "Don't Stop Believin'" which Francis described as "quite spesh" before the show was rounded out with Nazareth and "My White Bicycle".Revisit the May 2011 event list
Francis presented his tenth show on Planet Rock radio on May 8th. A slightly less chatty Francis meant that twelve tracks could get an airing within the hour-long show. First up was "Owner Of a Lonely Heart" from Yes and Francis talked about meeting Trevor Horn at Live Aid and Trevor asked Francis if he could produce Quo! Francis talked about Queen next and an incident at Live Aid where Freddie Mercury had said to him, "Don't worry, if I wanted you, I'd have you" - this was an obvious intro for "I Want To Break Free" (which Francis suggested was, erm, very good). Then it was straight into The Who with "Rough Boys" and he remembered attending a gig in Putney when they first announced that they would be called "The Who" and everyone thought it was very clever then. Up next were 10cc with "The Things We Do For Love", before a repeat airing of Jethro Tull's "Aqualung".
Introducing The Doors as one of those "naff" bands, Francis played "Soul Kitchen" and then into Rainbow's fabulous "Since You've Been Gone", a "magic four chord thing". Confessing (again) to being besotted with Jeff Lynne, next up he played The Traveling Wilburys with "Handle with Care". Then one from the new Quo album, in the shape of "Rock 'n' Roll 'n' You" before Rory Gallagher's Taste with "What's Going On", a "guitar riff with a bit of vocal in-between". The penultimate song for the week was Roxy Music with "Virginia Plain" which led Francis to a discussion about "Paper Plane" and how it was inspired by the word "plain" from this Roxy Music song. Francis closed the show with another homage to Jeff Lynne, with ELO's "Wild West Hero".Revisit the May 2011 event list
The long-awaited announcement of the UK Winter tour dates finally took place on May 11th, about a week after the fan club members received their pre-sale ticketing opportunity. As had been indicated by Francis during recent interviews, the tour is to be an "arenas-only" affair, shortening the usual 30-40 date tour down to just 11 bigger shows. For the first time in many years, the traditional Wembley Arena show also goes in favour of a gig at the larger 02 Arena. The full tour dates follow and the "Quofest" package also includes Roy Wood and Kim Wilde as supporting artists.
The following interview with Francis, entitled "Rock 'Til You Drop" by Gavin Martin, appeared in The Mirror UK newspaper on May 13th.
"In their 46 years together, Status Quo partners Rick Parfitt and Francis Rossi have sold 118 million albums. They've starred in Coronation Street, both been awarded OBEs, number Prince Charles among their fans and broke countless chart records to assert themselves as a Great British rock institution.
Musical trends, wives and drug habits come and go but it seems nothing can stop the Quo. Parfitt has even survived a quadruple heart bypass and a 2005 throat cancer scare.
Despite a hernia operation early this year Rossi, 61 - who formed The Spectres in 1962 - is raring to go on tour to promote the band's new, 29th, album Quid Pro Quo.
"I think the hunger to do it comes from the insecure little show-off that's always been there," grins London-born Francis. "In the last 10 years, every time we have a single out I'm looking for the chart position and I'm elated when it goes up.
"Records sell a fraction of what they used to but there's obviously some affirmation of success that I need, because financially it means nothing."
The new album includes a re-recording of Quo perennial In The Army Now. Although ambivalent about the politics that have led British forces into conflict, Rossi has long supported charities for injured servicemen.
"We met guys who'd had their arms and legs blown off," he says. "That did me in. You see these people trying to be philosophical about what has happened to them, but how philosophical can you be when you've had your legs blown off?
"So anything we can do, we do. People say, 'Oh you're so good. You do so much'. But I have to point out that there's very little negative for people in showbiz doing charity work."
Rossi believes that the contrast between his fastidious, moody character and Parfitt's easy going nature have helped keep Quo together.
"We don't have fights," he smiles. "The closest we ever got was once in Munich. He threw a towel at me so I threw it back. We're both very aware that if I hit him or he hits me, we're the type of guys there's no coming back from that."
These days, Rossi lives quietly, enjoys collecting koi carp and doing a bit of clay pigeon shooting, but in the past his wild living had serious side effects. His cocaine habit got so severe it eroded his septum.
"When I look back," he says, "I can't see the fun. I just see the idiot taking the drugs. My nose is still in a bad way from it. You think, how did I get there? I can't figure it out. I'd never have anything to do with putting powder up my nose, but sure enough I did."
The appeal of that other rock 'n' roll staple, groupies, proved rather fleeting.
"That only went on for a short time between 18 and 20, and occasionally after that," Francis admits. "You go out with a bunch of guys you pull a girl. You get back to the hotel and think, 'I shouldn't have done this'.
"You go for a leak and come back and she's taken her clothes off. Then you have to perform and you don't really want to. You also know she's going to tell everyone, so the appeal of that quickly left me."
Rossi has eight children by two wives. So how has he fared as a dad?
"I don't think I'm a very good father," he says, "or I wouldn't have had children and been in rock 'n' roll. However, I love my children to death, they want for nothing and they're reasonably well adjusted."
Has he any advice for young musicians hoping to emulate Quo's longevity?
"If they really have the drive and tenacity to do it," Rossi grins, "they won't listen to a silly old sod like me."
Quid Pro Quo is out on May 30, available only at Tesco."Revisit the May 2011 event list
In the band's first show for about a month, Quo headlined the Midsummer Magic event in Lincoln on May 14th. Supported by Dawn Trader, the band played their usual set with no new material from "Quid Pro Quo" making an appearance (unless you count "Rock 'n' Roll 'n' You" being played through the PA after the gig!). Some good fan photos of the gig are available here, while a small set of superb professional shots can be seen here.Revisit the May 2011 event list
Francis presented his eleventh show on Planet Rock radio on May 15th. He opened the show with Hawkwind's "Silver Machine" and said they always used to call them "Hawkbump", before heading into classic rock territory with Bad Company and "Can't Get Enough Of Your Love". Next up were The Pretenders with "Day After Day" and Francis said Quo had tried this song and it wasn't as easy as the shuffle suggested it might be. He went on to talk about the early days of touring with Montrose, before playing their "Good Rockin' Tonight". Next up was Jeff Beck with "Hi Ho Silver Lining" and Francis talked about how it was one of the first double-tracked solos he heard. He also rated Beck's guitar playing very highly. Another homage to the Beatles next, with John Lennon and "Starting Over" (a "brilliant" song according to Francis) and Paul McCartney with "Every Night". The first public airing of "Frozen Hero" from 'Quid Pro Quo' came next with Francis revealing that this song was originally intended for the "Care Factor Zero" movie soundtrack!
"Louie Louie" (by The Kingsmen) inspired Francis to strum the tune on his tele, then he played Bob Dylan's ("fantastic") "Watching The River Flow". A long ramble about playing at Butlins somehow led to The Animals with "We Gotta Get Out of This Place" before closing out with Led Zeppelin's "Heartbreaker".Revisit the May 2011 event list
Francis and Rick appeared on the Steve Wright Show on May 17th, with Chris Tarrant sitting in for Steve. The usual banter ensued and Rick claimed that 'Quid Pro Quo' is the best Quo album for 25 years! Chris played "Rock 'n' Roll 'n' You" and talked about the healthier lifestyles. Rick also talked about the three year-old twins and life in Spain. They discussed the band's mismanagement and an incident in South Africa where they both signed a whole book of blank cheques! Chris went on to play "In The Army Now (2010)" and then talked about the band's touring commitments for 2011 (including Rick suggesting that the set will be updated to include four or five songs from the new album).Revisit the May 2011 event list
Quo performed a private concert in Falkenberg, Sweden, on May 22nd. The event was the staff party for the SKAB Group and marked the 100th anniversary of the company. The party attracted some 550 guests in the Falk Hall and many local artists provided entertainment during the day. The fact that Quo were to perform at the party was kept secret until it was announced by Thomas Anderson (CEO of SKAB Group) together with his sidekick comedian, Per Andersson. Quo kicked off with "Caroline" (of course!) and went on to perform a well-received 50-minute set.
The event was covered by the Hallands Nyheter newspaper.Revisit the May 2011 event list
Francis presented his twelfth show on Planet Rock radio on May 22nd. The show kicked off in rocking style with Def Leppard and "Animal", with Francis commenting about Jeff Rich's association with the band. Next up was Don Henley with "Boys Of Summer" and then Cheap Trick with "I Want You To Want Me" and Francis talked about touring with them. Francis spoke highly of Billy Idol before playing "Rebel Yell" and then ventured into heavy territory with Motorhead's iconic "Ace Of Spades" (the only Motorhead song Francis knows!).
Introduced as one of his favourite bands, next up were Squeeze with "Electric Trains" and then the "very commercial" Foo Fighters with "Rope". A long story about exchanging guitars with one of the members of Badfinger led to the playing of "Come And Get It" and then Dire Straits with "Sultans Of Swing". He commented on Knopfler's unique style and how they broke around the world. Leading up to playing "Tusk" by Fleetwood Mac, Francis talked about how his old studio was next to his bedroom and that he no longer thinks this is a good idea! Another sneak preview of the new Quo album came next with "Let's Rock" ("it's good though, innt?") before closing the show with a track from The Cars, in "You Might Think".
Francis's closing comment suggested that this was his last show for Planet Rock, but he did leave the door open for more in the future!Revisit the May 2011 event list
Quo appeared on the popular morning TV show, Daybreak, on May 24th. To close out the show, Francis and Rick were interviewed on the banks of the River Thames outside ITV's Daybreak studios on South Bank and a small band of Quo fans had braved the clear chilly morning to await their idols (Rick described them as being "mad" for doing so!). Then followed a playback performance of "Rock 'n' Roll 'n' You" which was marred by the restarting of the song and then some skipping while they were trying to mime to it! The band handled it well, but it was a disappointing promo effort on national TV.
The following comments from the band and management appeared in the UK's Daily Star newspaper after the appearance.
"STATUS QUO struck the wrong chord on a live telly show – again and again and again.
New single Rock ’n Roll ’n You repeatedly skipped back to the beginning when their backing CD failed.
Status Quo frontman Francis Rossi, 61, said: “It was an unfortunate situation. We did feel like proper Charlies but these things happen on live telly.
“Typically, everything went perfectly during rehearsal but as soon as we performed live the equipment had a hissy fit, making us look and feel daft in front of a million viewers.”
Manager Simon Porter said: “It was a little embarrassing but the boys have seen and done virtually everything during their many years in the business so they weren’t that fazed.”
Simon claimed the problem on yesterday’s Daybreak breakfast show was caused by a CD player as the group performed outside the studios on London’s South Bank.
A Daybreak spokesman said: “The band and fans still enjoyed a great performance.”Revisit the May 2011 event list
To kick off the "Quid Pro Quo" album release, Rick and Francis appeared at a launch party at The Hard Rock Cafe in Köln on May 25th. About a hundred fans awaited their arrival, where they posed for a few photos with a guitar in front of the HRC logo on the wall and then signed lots of items for the fans. They stayed for about half an hour, during which time the album was played in the background.
Revisit the May 2011 event list
Francis was interviewed by Stevie Mac on the Madhouse Show on Wirral Radio on May 26th. He sounded very upbeat about the new album and excited about being on the Radio 2 'A' playlist with "Rock 'n' Roll 'n' You". There were no revelations in the interview but it was good to hear Francis sounding so positive and excited about the new material.Revisit the May 2011 event list
The following review of "Quid Pro Quo" appeared on the BBC Music website on May 26th and was written by Mike Diver.
"Rocket science it’s not, but the alchemy is as reliable as it ever was.
As British as damp holidays and warm ale, Status Quo are a national institution. For many, success is fleeting and careers against the clock. Yet the Quo press on, core duo Francis Rossi and Rick Parfitt having boogied down to their unfaltering brand of good-time rock’n’roll for too many years for a man to count on their hands and toes – and then those of their best mate, too. Borders have shifted and walls have fallen, trends have moved at a rapid rate, yet the Quo remain the same, steadfastly committed to their own cause. And now, with the release of their 29th (29th!) studio album, all anyone can really do is stand back and congratulate them. Cool, the Quo are not, and arguably never have been. But Quid Pro Quo nails precisely what fans of the band have been conditioned to expect, not putting a foot wrong across its 14 new tracks.
The 2010 version of In the Army Now is a pale shadow of the band’s 1986 number two hit – but it’s tacked onto the end here as a bonus, wisely, so as not to interrupt the flow of the record proper. Which is, largely, driving rock for driving to, the sort of fare that sounds great blasted from car speakers on an open highway, the horizon there for the chasing. And those songs that aren’t so comfortable on the move, they’re well suited to after-hours enjoyment down the local – Rock ‘n’ Roll ‘n’ You, Any Way You Like It, The Winner and Let’s Rock are all cuts which would go down a storm on the jukebox at any lock-in. They are perfectly crafted group sing-alongs, each satisfyingly substantial of rousing chorus. Maybe don’t let ‘em loose when the young ‘uns are in, but once they’ve sauntered off to their town-centre discos, pop your pennies in and get selecting.
Bob Young’s consistently upbeat (co-)writing – he’s as important to Quo today as Rossi and Parfitt – ensures that this set never slips from third gear. True, it never really puts pedal to the metal either, but why risk the wheels falling off at this stage? Quo set out to make music their fans enjoy, experimentation a long-forgotten notion; brilliantly, though, they manage to sound like they’re having a blast throughout. This is not the time for seeking new audiences: Quid Pro Quo continues their amazing career in style, never running any risk of alienating those who’ve been along for the ride since day one. Rocket science it’s not, but the alchemy is as reliable as it ever was."Revisit the May 2011 event list
The long-awaited new album, "Quid Pro Quo", was released in all territories apart from the UK on May 27th, through earMusic/Edel. The album consisted of 14 new Quo tracks (produced by Francis Rossi and Mike Paxman), plus the 2010 version of "In The Army Now" and came packaged with a second disc, the "Official Bootleg - Greatest Hits Live" (a compilation of the official bootlegs from Amsterdam and Melbourne in 2010).
The album was also available as a limited run of 1000 deluxe box sets comprising a vinyl album in a gatefold sleeve, the 2xCD version featuring special artwork and two extra live tracks (in the shape of "Paper Plane" and "Softer Ride"), a Quo poster, individually numbered "Quo Quid" banknote, a T-shirt and a set of badges (unavailable elsewhere). The deluxe box sets retailed at £50 and the first 500 made available exclusively from the Quo site sold out almost immediately.
The track listing follows.
Francis had previewed a few tracks off the new album during his "Planet Rock" radio shows and most tracks had leaked on the internet prior to the official release. However, the CD versions played in their correct order reveal the album to be much more than the sum of its parts and it bears all the hallmarks of a modern Quo classic!Revisit the May 2011 event list
Just Quo played a gig at the Brisbane Lions Football Club on May 28th and their line-up included Roy Lynes. Roy took centre stage for "Way Down", an interesting Quo-related cover to indulge his love of Elvis! Some great photos of the band - and Roy! - in action can be found here.Revisit the May 2011 event list
The new "Quid Pro Quo" album was officially released in the UK on Monday 30th May through Tesco Entertainment and was available for purchase exclusively via Tesco stores and Tesco's online shop. This exclusive arrangement saw the new album offered for sale at over 2,500 Tesco stores in the UK and almost immediately resulted in a top 10 midweek chart position!Revisit the May 2011 event list