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That was the Quo month that was ... May 2021

14th - Francis article on Planet Rock website (UK)

The following article, titled "Status Quo's Francis Rossi: 'I still dream that Rick Parfitt is alive'" and written by Scott Colothan, appeared on the Planet Rock website on 14th May.

"Status Quo's Francis Rossi has told Planet Rock that he still dreams Rick Parfitt is alive and he really misses his late band mate.

Francis Rossi is the very special guest on My Planet Rocks with Wyatt this Sunday (16th May) and he spoke candidly about his relationship with Rick Parfitt, which he said had sadly "soured" as the years went by.

Rick Parfitt died on Christmas Eve in 2016 from sepsis after being hospitalised in Marbella, Spain following an infection of a pre-existing shoulder injury.

Francis Rossi has continued touring under the Status Quo moniker following Rick's untimely passing and the band embark on a headline UK tour in February and March 2022.

Asked by Wyatt if people tell him 'you can't go out and call yourselves Status Quo!', Francis replied: "Yes they do. I can't help that. Rick and I used to laugh (for) years that one of us would go and what the other would do. Of course, Rick would have carried on (if I died first), why wouldn't he?!"

Francis continued: "The sad thing is Rick is one of the best friends I've ever had and that got soured as years went by. Partially because we grew up to become different people - we (weren't) those jolly little kids anymore. We drifted apart sort of sadly really.

"I still dream about (Rick). I dreamt about him last night and we were doing some sort of gig. In fact, when he first died, I dreamt a lot that he was there and I'd say to him 'what are you doing?' 'What do you mean?' 'I thought you were dead!' 'No, I was.'

"I dreamt that many times that he was there again, because the times he's had heart attacks and then there he was again. 'How do you do that?!' People think I don't miss him. I miss him!"

You can listen to Francis Rossi's full My Planet Rocks interview on Planet Rock at 7pm on Sunday 16th May 2021 where he also discusses why he thinks Status Quo never really broke America and his plans for the future. He also picks songs by The Who, Iggy Pop and Yes."

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15th - Francis on the Kevin O'Sullivan show (Talk Radio, UK)

Francis was a guest on the Kevin O'Sullivan show on Talk Radio on 15th May. He was in good form and looked really well after his extended break from Quo work. The full interview can be seen on YouTube here.

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15th - Francis article in The Mirror (UK)

The following article about Francis appeared in the UK's The Mirror on 15th May, titled "Status Quo's Francis Rossi takes up veggie smoothies to get back on tour at 71" and written by Emma Pryer.

"Sorry if I interrupt you, I haven't got long left," Francis Rossi boldly declares, with a cheeky glint in his eye.

He's joking, of course.

For, at the age of 71 (he's 72 in a fortnight, but doesn't want reminding) the Status Quo legend has adopted a strict health regime to ensure he doesn't Roll Over Lay Down any time soon.

There's swimming, stomach crunching, hour-long fitness sessions, walking, fruit and veg super-smoothies, vitamins and herbal supplements aplenty.

This is post-lockdown Rossi, working hard to claw back the years.

But at the same time he's not afraid to have a pop at his own potential fragility, declaring: "Some of us need to die off. There are too many old buggers out there. I've had pneumonia. Old-monia, I call it, because I've had it three times.

"If anything will kill me, it will be that. When you go, you go. I realised that when my mother, Annie, died. I touched her skin and she was gone. I don't care what happens to me after that."

The fitness crusade is driven by upcoming work with Quo, who have been knocking out hits like Rockin' All Over The World for five decades.

Francis has been teetotal for years after shaking off a drink addiction in the 1980s. And he quit a cocaine habit that had cost him £1.7million after his septum fell out in the shower

Five years ago he also faced seeing bandmate Rick Parfitt - who he had known since they were 16 - die of sepsis aged 68, after living a life of excess.

Only last year, Francis had a cataract operation after nearly losing his sight.

But as he speaks to the Sunday People, he says he has at least been fortunate enough not to have Covid.

We're sitting in the garden music studio of his sprawling seven-bed mansion in Purley, Surrey, and it really is spectacular. Guitars line the walls.

Francis is promoting a new compilation CD of famous hits from different bands. It's called '80s Rock Down - and Quo features with the hit single from 1986, We're In The Army Now.

The sun is out, his West Highland terriers play on the manicured lawn. Yet something is niggling Francis.

"Coming out [of lockdown] is a problem for me. Going back to work with Quo is a problem for me," he says, looking genuinely concerned. What on earth does he mean?

"Physically, can I do the Quo gig? I'm fit, but I cannot emulate the lung capacity any more and I have to increase that.

"I've been practising in my room at night. I've been trying to sing Paper Plane and I get about a quarter of the way through it and it just tires you out," he says, with a big huff for dramatic effect.

The first lockdown struck last March after a rare family holiday in Cornwall with 20 family members (he has eight kids so it doesn't take much to fill a house). Francis has been at home ever since.

And he let himself go a little. "There is so much energy you use up in performing. And I got lockdown lazy. I did no exercise at all from December to April."

Hence the new fitness campaign. At 7am there are 30-length dips in his indoor pool.

"I need to build up to 60 lengths for my lungs," he adds.

He aims for eight minutes of crunches and 60 sit-ups in between making the beds.

Then there are daily sessions over Zoom with his personal trainer John, who is in Portugal.

Breakfasts include a potent concoction of fruit and veg. "Evening" dinner is at 3.30pm - so his stomach has settled by the time he would be going on stage.

Today his wife Eileen - he lovingly refers to her as Lady Greystone, after the name of the house - is serving lasagne with ricotta and a tomato sauce.

He goes on: "I try to put all my veggies in my smoothies.

"Broccoli, kale, spinach, carrots, raspberries, strawberries. Then I have apple cider vinegar for digestion. I learnt from the road that I feel better performing when my stomach is empty and generally better with sleep, so I have it very early, but I do love to eat. I could be a fat f*** really easily."

After dinner, there's an hour-long power walk of the neighbourhood - a leafy lane awash with picture-perfect houses and sweeping driveways.

A long-term family osteopath, kinesiologist and acupuncturist called Tina McCutcheon helps Francis and his family with any aches and pains.

She's due to visit in the next fortnight. "I put my shoulder out lifting weights because I'm not good at the warm-up," he sighs.

Statins and any sort of prescription medication are out - but herbal supplements are in.

And that's about as strong as the "drugs" get.

He declares: "Years ago, millions were addicted to Valium. It was a legal drug and people couldn't get off it. There are alternatives and medication for me is a slippery slope."

Francis takes such a long list of supplements that his PA and tour manager has to email it over.

There is ProFlora 5 for gut health and mental agility, Omega 3 oils for his joints, magnesium for energy, milk thistle for detoxification and good old Vitamin D.

There is one vice - a single cigarette, between 5.15pm and 6.30pm daily. It's American spirit tobacco, with no preservatives or additives.

He says: "I light it and the nicotine hits worse than any drug or alcohol. I've got to have one vice! I have to have something after quitting the rest."

When I say he looks fit and lean he starts forensically examining himself. "Look at this," he says, trying to pinch what he calls "dodgy skin" on his arms with two fingers.

"Look at this neck," he frowns. "My big Italian couz said when you get to about 63, that's when it [ageing] starts.

"He was right. I've got a very vain side, and then another side. That's vain too!

"I'd never have surgery though. I don't want to look like Liberace!"

And, with a wince, he adds: "You get the face in the wrong light and..."

So does Eileen, the mother of three of his children and wife of 32 years (at least that's what he reckons - he can't remember their - anniversary), get annoyed with all his insecurities?

Tucking into a mid-morning bowl of porridge and berries, he replies: "I always say to my boys, if you find a woman like your mother, you'll be extremely lucky.

"I'm pretty snappy with her in the mornings and she's very Little House On the Prairie. She sees the good in everything. I call her my Schatzi - 'my darling', in German.

"I may not do what husbands are supposed to do, but I love her."

So far as work goes, Francis' mind is constantly whirring.

He's been hoping to gig with his pals ZZ Top again - but Covid has prevented that.

In June he starts his spoken word tour, named after his autobiography, I Talk Too Much. And next February, Quo kick off a 14-date Out Out Quoing tour.

Over 50 years they have sold nearly 120 million albums, produced 85 singles and won dozens of awards. So he's going to be busy - and will be grateful for the energy he is building up.

But Francis lets us into a secret before out chat ends. Being lazy in lockdown rather suited him.

He watched plenty of war documentaries on TV, enjoyed his stunning garden - complete with Japanese acers and Chinese handkerchief trees - and painted four sheds brimming with gardening and music equipment.

"I'm a two-faced Gemini. I can't help my mind racing ahead and wanting to be busy," he says.

"But the other side of me just doesn't want to do anything. It's the yin and yang. I loved the winter here. I love the grey days. I like to light the fire, sit and watch TV, do the crosswords and jigsaw puzzles.

"Perhaps it's because of all the touring, but it's been bliss to me."

It's Whatever You Want, Francis. And it seems to be working well."

'80s Rock Down (3CD £12.99) is available May 21 and on Limited Edition vinyl in June. The "I Talk Too Much" spoken word tour runs June 29 to September 5. The Out Out Quoing tour is next year, from February 27 to March 18.

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16th - Francis on My Planet Rocks (Planet Rock Radio, UK)

Francis was interviewed by Wyatt Wendels on the My Planet Rocks show on 16th May.

The show kicked off with the 1988 version of "Rockin' All Over The World" before Francis went through his selection of 80s songs (from the "80s Rock Down" compilation CD he's put together), interspersed with some good chat with Wyatt. Francis chose "Higher Love" by Steve Winwood, "Real Wild Child" by Iggy Pop, "You Better You Bet" by The Who, "Addicted To Love" by Robert Palmer, "Owner of a Lonely Heart" by Yes and, finally, "Run To The Hills" by Iron Maiden. The show closed out by playing "Roll Over Lay Down".

Listen to the hour-long show here.

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19th - Francis on The Steve Wright Show (BBC Radio 2, UK)

Francis continued his promo appearances with yet another interview on The Steve Wright Show on 19th May. Steve played snippets of "Down Down" and "In The Army Now" to lead into the interview, before kicking off by discussing the "80s Rock Down" compilation CD.

He played Iron Maiden's "Run To The Hills", Snowy White's "Bird Of Paradise" and Mike Oldfield & Maggie Reilly's "Moonlight Shadow" from the CD before talking about Francis's upcoming (and rescheduled) spoken word tour as well as the recently-announced Quo tour in 2022. Francis also revealed that he misses Rick and dreams about him regularly. The interview played out with "Rockin' All Over The World".

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20th - Francis on BBC Breakfast (UK)

Francis was interviewed on BBC Breakfast on 20th May. The nine-minute interview can be seen in full below.

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25th - Francis article in Wexford People (Ireland)

The following article featuring an interview with Francis appeared in Wexford People on 25th May, titled "Lockdown, deeper and down" and written by Brendan Keane.

"In September, 2019, hard rock legends Status Quo released the brilliant 'Backbone' album and the plan was to tour to promote that through 2020.

That tour will now take place in the spring 2020, with a date in Dublin, in February, part of the schedule.

When the entire world came to standstill in March last year Quo's original plans were knocked on the head and frontman Francis Rossi chatted to this newspaper about the effect life off the road has had on one the most hard working bands in rock.

'Well, as a band we had actually stopped in 2019,' said Rossi.

'We were having a year out and then obviously we would have done it all last year but now that's changed,' he added.

'That's the weird thing, I'm about to do the rest of the talk tour which should have been finished early 2020, and then the beginning of next year, in February, we're gonna do what we should have done last year so it makes you feel a bit like treading water.

'I find that very off-putting, we're doing stuff that should have been done last year and from a schedule point of view it's very weird.'

When the pandemic first broke it reminded him of being in school and finding out you had day off.

'Initially, it was like when I was at school and imagining going in one morning and school was closed because there was a problem and it couldn't open,' he said.

'It was like wow, yeah, we've been let out and I did all sorts of things at home.'

Commenting that he enjoys spending time at home where he can 'vegetate' he said he found the lockdown moving into winter more beneficial: 'Winter was even better for me, it's when I always hibernate, but I must admit that in the last couple of months I've been thinking it would be nice to get going if only to get what needs to be done, done.

'I'm a bit of a conspiracy theorist and thought it was all a bit weird that suddenly we were like, you know, 'all take this jab' and now we're doing it. The thing with internet and that is you can have such false information. I've now turned off all the lights on my phone so I don't hear any news alerts that quite often prove to be false.'

Having spent the last five decades touring constantly Rossi said he's apprehensive about the physical aspect of getting back out on the road.

'I'm getting kind of rusty, and I'm worried about my lung capacity,' he said.

'I come up to 72 next week, I think it is, or the week after, and I never thought about age in that respect before other than a saggy neck and losing one's hair but I'm now beginning to think about the actual physicality of it. We've always said a Status Quo show is quite a physical gig and I'm beginning to realise more-and-more that it's very, very much true.

'This band has never, even when it was still the Spectres, before Rick joined, it's never been off that long. There has been security in that in terms of paying bills and all that stuff, but in terms of the physicality that's the uppermost thought in my mind now.'

However, he said one positive aspect of the pandemic has been the fact he's less stressed than normal: 'There's always a plus and minus to everything. The plus was that I worry far less than I normally do and I'm far less stressed than I normally am.'

'I am very much a self-stressing person,'he said. 'I will find something to f**kin' worry about even if there isn't nothing (laughs).'

When reminded that next month, nine years ago, Quo headlined the Straw Fest in Enniscorthy on a day and night when the heavens opened, he recalled the day vividly.

'Oh I remember that, it lashed rain. I had a fabulous breakfast that morning. I did. It's the Irish sausages and stuff, I like 'em, I get Irish sausages anyhow. I don't know that there's much meat in them but it's the taste of 'em, I love em. Yeah we got a great breakfast and sat in that place and got absolutely f***king drenched.

'All day it rained and barely anyone turned up and then they got drowned.'

Obviously, now in the latter part of their career Rossi said the future of Quo is a little uncertain, especially with regard to recording plans: 'The problem that everyone forgets is that now it's all about streaming. People don't buy an album anymore and the industry itself is trying to completely get rid of the CD so every time someone plays a stream of ours we get a quarter of a penny!.

'That's impossible; you just can't function. There is something very disheartening about that. We can make an album, I think we did possibly 100,000 in the end [with Backbone], 3,500,000m streams, lovely, but that means the band didn't make any money on the 3.5m streams.'

'Unless the Status Quo shop sells what it's got in the shop the shop's gonna close,' said Rossi.

'It can't not close and that's where everybody from my generation, from McCartney to U2, the Stones and whomever else are going, hello, unless you do something.'

However, he said the new generation of songwriters are in danger of getting ripped off by the industry too.

'The younger generation are going "no, who cares, I've got streams" ...well yeah but you're not going to be able to f**kin make anything,' he said.

'How are we going to do the live shows? The records for many, many years were subsidising the lives shows so what the f**k is going to subsidise the live show now? ' he added.

'The person in the hall paying for it on the ticket and I don't think that's fair.'

He agreed that in spite of technology now making it easier for artists to record albums at home it's also given a lot of power to the corporate music industry.

'Exactly, but it's gone worse than the 50s and 60s because there are fewer [companies] and they don't have to do anything anymore,' said Rossi.

'They just press a few buttons really,' he added.

'It's all in the ether really. There are no hard copies. No six or 12 records in a box, no vans delivering, no guys going around the shops its just nothing; I can see where that's progress but at the same time it's shot you in the f**king arse hasn't it? It's shot us all in the a**e.'

Commenting specifically about the future of Quo, he said: 'Will Quo make another album? I don't know. If they do is anybody gonna want a copy? I don't know. You can't really see how you're gonna tell some teenager you should listen to these old men, they're in their 70s, you'll love it. If someone had told you that years ago you'd have gone f**k off.'

In 2016, Rossi's long-time partner sidekick, Rick Parfitt, died and the passing of one of the greatest rhythm guitarists ever rocked not just Quo but the rock world.

On his 'talk tour' Rossi spoke graphically about Rick's death but was told to tone it down because his description of the events leading to his death caused people to literally have heart attacks in the crowd.

'I talk about him in the talk tour and I've had to pare it back a little bit,' he said.

'I was asked to because two people had heart attacks listening, getting over-emotional about it,' he added. 'Seriously, people had to stop the show and bring in medics because of someone in the front row so they said to me "you're making it to graphic. It's too real" and I said well they asked me, what do you want me to do? I can't lie. It was graphic, it was real. He had a profound effect on all of us. Three of us were stood there watching him die.'

Rossi has come in for some unfair criticism about his apparent lack of emotion when Rick died and agreed there are no rules to dealing with death: 'They expect me to do something and I'm going, no, no, I'm not going to do that; I'm not going to sit here and pretend to get all emotional and cry.

'I can't do that; it didn't happen when my mother died, it didn't happen when my father died. Whether it's stiff upper lip, whether I'm a cold-hearted ba***rd, I don't know.'

'In life we seem to have a book that says when your parents die, right you better say and do this, when this one dies, you better do that, or this one gets married, this one's birthday....congratulations, I can't do that, I'm sorry,' he said.

However, there is no escaping the close bond there was between two of hard rock's most iconic guitarists.

'Rick was a very enigmatic person, he looked great, however, there were things about him people don't wanna know because they think I'm being nasty,' said Rossi. 'Rick and I were extremely close when we were 16 to 25, perhaps. We were really, really close and then we get older, success and money come along, drugs and alcohol come along, various tragedies came along into Rick's life, various wives and girlfriends and we had all that start, you know 'you shouldn't be doing that', 'he should be doing that'. So there were always wedges between Rick and I and the various other people.'

'Management could not separate us so you had this divide and rule,' said Rossi.

'So all these things went on behind the facade at the front - this picture that was presented that was all 'ahh them two are fabulous together', and we were, sometimes, and much earlier in our career,' he said.

'There were other times when it wasn't that good. I still dream about him regularly, particularly, after he first died.'

Immediately after Rick's death, Rossi said the dreams were very vivid and that other members of the band also dreamed about him.

On 'Backbone', which features Parfitt's replacement, Irish guitarist, Richie Malone taking lead vocals on one of his own tracks, Rossi took control of the project.

'I said I would do the album if everything went as I said, you know, the last album kind of thing I suppose,' said Rossi. 'I wanna make the decisions, I wanna produce it, I wanna say what's good and what's bad,' he added.

'I'm going to say what goes on there because you're so used to having a product that people like, sort of, well if it goes wrong it's my fault and if it's great, it's my fault.'

'I thought if we're gonna do one we're gonna do what I like and we did, and I'll listen to the album probably at the end of this year and see what I think of it,' he said.

'I think when I made it I was very, very happy with it and so were the band.'

While there are advantages to the digital age in which we now live there some downsides too and for Rossi the lamentable thing about all things being digital is there's no physical trace.

'If everything is in digital and everything gets obliterated we could have nothing,' he said, envisaging some king of cyber-driven apocalyptic future.

'It could be a point where there could be no recollection to show that there has been a civilisation here at all because nothing's there it's all on digital and it's gone,' said Rossi.

'You can't read it, you can't do anything with it. but that's progress,' he added.

'I often think one day everything might disappear up its own a**ehole and we'll all just suddenly be gone.'"

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