The following story appeared in the May 20th issue of The Sun tabloid newspaper.
Rick Parfitt has revealed the amazing 25 year love story behind his heart op ordeal. The Status Quo rocker is being nursed after his quadruple bypass by girlfriend Laura McNeil - the woman he fell in love with in the early 70s. The couple had a ten year affair and only met again in December. And now, three weeks after Rick had open heart surgery, they have declared their love for each other.
Rick, 48, talking for the first time about their amazing relationship, says, "I've been in love with Laura since we first met at one of Quo's shows. It was the start of a crazy exciting affair. We've both been married twice, had children and gone our seperate ways. But I never stopped loving Laura and now things have gone full circle. Somehow fate has brought us back together again. We met purely by chance backstage at our Wembley show at Christmas. I knew straight away that I wanted Laura back. She has helped me through the nightmare of the heart operation and it has made our reunion even more special to me. Now for the first time in our lives we can be open about our relationship and tell the world how much we love each other."
Laura, now a 42 year old mum of two, was just 19 and working backstage at London's famous Marquee club when she first met Rick. She says "I'll never forget his opening line. He came up to me, flashed his killer smile and said: 'My name's Dick - do you like it?' I didn't know whether to slap him in the face or burst out laughing. He had that cheeky grin though and I just couldn't get annoyed."
Rick was just about to get married to his first wife "Marietta and although there was a real spark between us, nothing happened. Weeks later after his wedding we bumped into each other again and he invited me to Bristol to watch Quo play. I knew he was married but I was only 19 and, if I'm honest, I fancied him like mad. There was just something about him - you knew that he loved his life. After the show we sat in the reception of the Holiday Inn talking into the early hours. There was no sex involved at all and at 7am he took me to the station. By not trying to seduce me, he won me over completely and, when he rang me a few days later, I didn't hesitate to meet him. He picked me up from work and we ended up back at my place in bed together. There was an enormous sexual attraction between us. He became my first love."
Rick says "I'm not proud of the fact I was cheating on my wife but Laura became like a drug to me. She never put pressure on me and our meetings were so exciting. We'd go weeks without even seeing each other and then I'd call and we'd fix a date to meet. I'd pick her up in my Porsche and we'd spend three or four days together partying around London and staying in hotels. The secrecy was exciting and I was hooked. Four years later after our affair started, Laura got married herself. That put an end to things for a while, but the marriage wasn't the happiest and we started to see each other again. It was usually the same scenario. I'd call her when I was in the country, we'd meet and spend a few days together. Laura never complained, never put any pressure on me to leave my wife even when her first marriage ended."
The affair finally came to an end when Laura wed again. She had two daughters Antonia, nine and Mimi, seven. Laura says "I was a little bit older and a little bit wiser by now. Rick may have been one of the reasons why my first marriage failed. But when I met my second husband, John, I felt differently. I was determined to settle down and put him out of my mind. I next saw Rick when we met by chance at the Reading Festival in 1987. I was heavily pregnant and very happily married. We said hello and I walked away pleased that none of the old feelings had come back."
Rick's marriage to Marietta ended in 1983. He wed second wife Patti and they have a son, Harry, seven. But that relationship came to a fiery end two and a half years ago. Then last year Rick's romantic life took another twist when he again began dating Marietta, mother of his 22 year-old son Richard.
He says "Marietta is a wonderful woman and we both thought it might work a second time around. But she lives in Germany and it proved to be too far. I'd decided it was over when Laura came back into my life in December. I was sitting in the dressing room waiting to go on stage, when she stuck her head in and said "Hello Rick, remember me". She thought I didn't recognise her but I was just sitting in shock. Laura looked fantastic and I knew straight away that I wanted to know her again. But I had no idea if she was still married. I took her phone number and promised to call after Christmas."
Laura says "I'd been seperated from my second husband for three years. I actually went to Wembley to see Steeleye Span, not realising Quo were on the bill too. But when I saw Rick on stage I knew I still fancied him. Straight after Christmas, he rang. We met in a pub near his Middlesex home and it was as if we'd never been apart. The electricity was still there -in fact it was stronger than ever".
The rekindled relationship was still in its early stages when Rick collapsed with a major heart angina attack and had open-heart surgery which saved his life.
Laura says: "Rick rang me from the hospital before the operation. I couldn't believe that I could lose him just as we'd finally got together. I felt cheated, but pleased that it was me he called in his hour of need. After the op, Rick asked the doctor to call me at home and let me know everything was OK. I went in the next day and was so relieved to see him sitting up alive. I knew I wanted to look after him and I was so thrilled that he wanted me to be there. It has been wonderful to be open about our relationship at last. I'm no longer the mistress who has to be kept secret."
Laura has been at Rick's side almost constantly since the operation. He says "I don't know what I would have done without her. Apart from my children, she has been the person on my mind throughout all this. She's been at my side, fetching and carrying after me and has been just brilliant. My illness has made damn sure that I don't keep my feelings to myself anymore. I tell her constantly that I love her and I really mean it. If I'm honest, I never really stopped loving her from the day we met."
But Rick is determined that there won't be a fairytale wedding to complete the astonishing love story. He says "we've both learned that the sure-fire way of ruining a good relationship is to get married. I've told Laura that if I have a few too many drinks and get down on one knee she is to say no. And I've promised to do the same. Right now I'm happy to be alive and happy to have Laura in my life again"Revisit the May 1997 event list
Rick Parfitt appeared on the morning TV show "GMTV" on May 22nd. He was on at about 7:40 for 10 minutes talking about the operation and the events which led up to it. He certainly didn't look like someone who had major surgery only three weeks previously.
He said he had surprised his doctor at the speed of his recovery and hopes to be back kicking ass asap. He particularly had a message of thanks to all the fans who had sent get well messages.Revisit the May 1997 event list
A story about Rick and Marietta appeared in "The Mail on Sunday" on May 25th, as a precursor to the release of Marietta's book about her life with Rick. Here is an excerpt - "Ludicrous as it may seem now, Marietta was impressed by the passionate love letters and poems the aging rocker wrote. One ran 'I love your hair, I love your flair, I love your eyes and Oh! those thighs'. Marietta says 'At the time I believed them but, with hindsight, they're not much better than Status Quo lyrics. In fact, Rick's love life has been like a Status Quo record - repetitive, shallow and basic'."Revisit the May 1997 event list
Quo got 3 of their hits played on "Happy Hour" on VH-1, introduced by Jules Carling. She introduced the piece, saying it was Rossi's 48 birthday. The songs played were Caroline (Live At The N.E.C 1982), The Wanderer and Whatever You Want - all taken from the "Rockin' Through The Years" video.Revisit the May 1997 event list