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That was the Quo month that was ... October 2014

1st - Interviews with John Coghlan and Rhino Edwards in Blackmoon magazine (Norway)

In-depth interviews with John Coghlan and Rhino appeared in Norway's Blackmoon music magazine on 1st October. These excellent interviews are well worth a read and it's good to hear from Quo members other than Rick and Francis. The Coghlan interview can be found here, while the Rhino interview is here.

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3rd - John Coghlan's Quo at The Rockstock and Barrel festival, Burton Town Hall, UK

John Coghlan's Quo played at the first annual Rockstock and Barrel festival in Burton-on-Trent on 3rd October. This real cider and real music festival was held at the town hall and the following piece (titled "John's so happy to still be rocking all over the world" by Nigel Powlson) appeared in the Burton Mail before the event and includes interesting comments from John Coghlan.

"THERE probably isn't a music fan in the country who wouldn't recognise a Status Quo song – and whenever a classic track starts, it's party time.

So expect a great atmosphere when John Coghlan's Quo headline the Friday night at the first Rockstock & Barrel Festival in Burton, promising to play a combination of the band's greatest hits and classic album tracks.

The new 500-capacity festival at Burton Town Hall takes place on October 3-4 and combines a strong line-up of bands with Burton's first ever cider festival.

John's band will make sure everyone has a great time. He says: "We play the classic tracks that I featured on. I played on the hits from 1968 to 1981. All the fans know what I did and what I play. A lot of them follow us around just to hear songs like Roll Over Lay Down, Caroline and Paper Plane.

"The great thing about Status Quo is that when you hear any of the records played on the radio you know straight away who it is."

John joined Status Quo in 1962 at the request of bassist Alan Lancaster and guitarist Francis Rossi. He was an essential part of the first 14 Status Quo albums and his drumming can be heard on classic songs such as Rockin' All Over the World and Whatever You Want.

The band slowly evolved what has become the classic Quo sound.

John says: "Going back to Pictures of Matchstick Men (1967) it was pop they all wanted. We had a couple of hits but it dried up.

"Bob Young, our tour manager and harmonica player suggested changing the whole thing, getting rid of the frilly shirts and the pop paraphernalia. We grew our hair long, wore denim, did a bit of blues and boogie and it took off. We developed a very good sound – that guitar sound is famous now."

It was a more natural sound for the band as well.

John says: "In the early days we were really young guys and our producers wanted to create a pop sound. When the hits stopped a lot of other bands just gave up but we changed our direction."

John has many happy memories from the 1970s golden era of Status Quo when they were hardly ever out of the charts and were often seen on Top of the Pops.

"There was a lot going on. John Peel had Paper Plane as one his favourite songs; we sold the Hammersmith Odeon out for a whole week, there were tours, hits, more tours.

"From then it was down to the fans who have always kept us going. They have always been there for us."

After 20 years John left the band and has since worked with many noted musicians, including the short-lived Rockers featuring Phil Lynott, Roy Wood and Chas Hodges, as well as having his own band.

He says: "I left because I was worn out and wasn't enjoying it any more. We all fell out in Switzerland and that was it."

In March 2013 things went full circle as John was reunited once more with the classic original line-up of Status Quo to play on the Frantic Four Reunion Tour.

He says: "Time goes by and we got back together. We did another 16 shows this year. It was great fun and lovely to be back with the boys.

"Originally it was film maker Alan G Parker who had the idea and we got together in the studios and the four of us turned up and just played, for the first time all together in 30 years. We jammed for two hours.

"The word was out that the four of us could play together again. Tickets went on sale and all nine gigs sold out in half an hour.

"Then Europe wanted us and there's a DVD out now as well."

Status Quo are now often cited as a British institution.

John says: "There isn't anyone who isn't a rock 'n' roll fan as such. They might like opera but they still know Status Quo.

"We have parents bringing their children to see Status Quo, some times it is three generations. It's amazing really."

So what is the secret of Quo's longevity?

John says: "A lot of fans tell me that when you go to a gig it's good party music. You don't see many people sitting down. You have a drink and have a great time. I don't know how it's lasted so long but maybe it's because it's simply good music."

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19th - Quo article in the Sunday Mail (UK)

The following interview-based article appeared in the Event magazine of the UK's Sunday Mail newspaper on 19th October, headlined "'It got to the point where I didn't know who he was': How Status Quo survived drugs and heart attacks to still be Rockin' All Over The World" and written by Michael Hodges.

"Hard-drinking Rick Parfitt says he’s learned his lesson after the agony of another heart attack. Clean-living Francis Rossi’s not so sure, and despairs at his ‘weird’ behaviour. In a jaw-droppingly frank interview they tell Event how their friendship’s survived.

At 3.59am on August 2, 2014, aboard the Status Quo tour coach outside the port of Pula in Croatia, Rick Parfitt’s heart stopped working. Again.

Fifty years of cigarettes, alcohol and drug abuse had finally called time on the 66-year-old.

‘There was so much pain. I thought, is this it?’ Parfitt says, revealing for the first time the true terror of the coronary that almost took his life.

‘The pain was completely awesome, just unbelievable.’

'It was his second heart attack in three years and one that came, in the doctor’s words, ‘within inches of killing me’.

Today, in the plush comfort of a London hotel, Parfitt is very much alive, complexion clear after weeks without drinking or smoking and the famous clump of blonde hair still sticking to a head that has been banging for almost five decades.

But back in August the guitarist’s face twisted with agony as he staggered past the berth of bandmate and oldest friend Francis Rossi – and down the aisle.

‘I knew the driver would get help if I could just reach him,’ he recalls. ‘But I was expecting to die, I thought everything would go black at any moment.’

Somehow Parfitt made it to the front of the coach and frantic calls to the emergency services saw his heart temporarily stabilised by Croatian doctors.

‘They put special drops on my tongue that open your arteries and let the blood flow,’ he recalls.

‘It’s instant. Pow!’

Within hours a Learjet air ambulance had landed at Pula airport and a British medical team was evacuating Parfitt to London’s Royal Brompton Hospital and the care of world-renowned heart surgeon Jonathan Clague.

When Francis Rossi was woken up he didn’t rush to Parfitt’s side. Quo had always indulged in rock ’n’ roll excess but Rossi had naturally slowed down with age.

His partner hadn’t and Rossi could no longer bear to see Parfitt living a lifestyle that increasingly looked like a suicide note attached to a 12-bar blues.

‘They said Ricky had been taken away in the night,’ Rossi says.

‘I sighed, said “Alright” and turned over. It sounds callous but it’s self-inflicted, he can’t leave stuff alone. There have been so many scares, loads of times you haven’t heard about.

'My mother took so long to die it was a relief when she went and if we’re not careful it will be like that with Ricky, he’ll get so incapacitated.

'It got to the point earlier this year where I didn’t know who he was. He wasn’t the bloke I met.’

It’s a disturbing observation from the man who knows Parfitt better than any other, but it is the first of many remarkable admissions the men will make in a searingly honest interview where they talk openly about a relationship that has lasted longer that most marriages, and at times has been just as fractious.

In half a century Status Quo have known unimaginable personal tragedy and astonishing professional highs.

They reveal how as teenagers they first experienced the toxic reality of Britain’s pop industry in the late Sixties and early Seventies (‘Everybody knew there was paedo stuff going on’); how the unlikely figure of Cliff Richard came to Parfitt’s side when his two-year-old daughter died (‘He tried to comfort me but I couldn’t be comforted’); and what it was really like to open the biggest ever concert in the history of pop (‘I looked down from the helicopter flying in to Wembley and thought: bloody hell, this is massive!’).

Parfitt was born in 1948, Rossi in 1949. They met as teenagers at Minehead Butlins in 1965 and formed Status Quo in 1967, embarking on a massively successful career that has brought both men luxury homes and fortunes estimated at £10m.

From the early Seventies, the chugging blues-rock of songs like Caroline, Down, Down and Rockin’ All Over The World helped sell more than 130 million records worldwide and notch up a staggering 65 British hits alone.

There was little new about what Quo offered but there was an insatiable appetite for it, as Rossi points out.

‘If you like it why does it have to be new? Most of us have the same sex with the same person most nights and we keep going back for more.’

Recently Quo have been adjusting the template. Their latest and possibly most unlikely project is Aquostic, an album of acoustic guitar reworkings of some of Quo’s and rock’s best-known songs backed by a string sextet, accordion and singers.

On the eve of the album’s release I spend a day with the two men, getting two very different views of their career.

I join Rossi at his imposing house set in Surrey woodland where, dressed in shorts that show off an impressive collection of varicose veins and accompanied by a terrier that breaks wind throughout our conversation, he is overseeing a tree replanting operation in his large garden.

Parfitt meets me at the hotel he uses as a ‘bolthole’ when not at his permanent home near Marbella in southern Spain.

What emerges are two alternative views of what the future might hold now that Parfitt is attempting sobriety. But similar memories (where they are still intact) of their very wild times.

At its height Quo’s success saw Parfitt go from bread deliveryman to rock star with a mansion in Sussex and 13 cars in the drive. Though Parfitt was often too drunk to drive the cars.

‘We were out of our trees. Wongered on dope, Scotch and Bourbon,’ he recalls over a cup of tea and an electronic cigarette. ‘We were young and impetuous. We loved it.’

Parfitt is almost alarmingly frank about the seedy new world the band found themselves in when fame beckoned and in particular the ‘den of iniquity’ that was Top Of The Pops.

‘You were free to do anything,’ says Parfitt of the show that became an amoral fiefdom for celebrity DJs.

‘I was only 18 and there were all these girls around with skirts up to their belly buttons.

'You didn’t ask their age – you just snogged them. That’s what you did in those days. That’s what they were there for, that’s what they wanted.’

In fairness, Parfitt and Rossi were teenagers themselves, kept in the basement dressing rooms with no idea what was happening above their heads.

‘DJs like Jimmy Savile had dressing rooms we never got to see,’ says Parfitt.

The coming era would only get darker: in the Seventies and Eighties, parts of the pop industry exploited naive young people as a matter of course – even if many didn’t notice at the time.

‘Oh we did,’ Rossi interrupts. ‘Everybody did. You mean the paedo stuff? But look at what was happening in our [Catholic] Church. “For f*** sake, look at the showbiz people, don’t look at the priests!”’

But Quo’s world was more straight-ahead rock ’n’ roll – music, women and, increasingly, cocaine.

Parfitt would participate enthusiastically.

‘Cocaine ruined my first marriage [to German Marietta Boeker]. I had two beautiful children, Richard and Heidi, who I didn’t see. I don’t ever remember changing nappies. I was turning into a maniac, terrible.’

Then, in 1980, Parfitt suffered an unimaginable loss. He was clean and sober, spending the weekend with his family when two-year-old Heidi died.

Watching TV with Richard, Parfitt wandered through to the kitchen to ask Marietta where Heidi was. Marietta thought she was with Parfitt; they found her face-down in the pool.

‘I got her out, held her nose, breathed into her mouth, pumped her chest.’ He remembers.

‘Marietta was in hysterics but Heidi was too far gone; when the ambulance came there was nothing they could do.

'One of the most difficult things for me was the sheet being pulled back when I had to officially identify her afterwards.

'And the phone calls to the grandparents. Think of making them. Unless it’s happened to you I can’t explain what it feels like.’

In Parfitt’s bleakest moment his neighbour Cliff Richard, whose poster he’d put on his bedroom wall as a boy, came to the house to offer consolation.

‘Cliff lives his life by his faith, by the way of the Lord, and he tried to comfort me, but nothing could.

'I looked to the heavens and asked for anything that could show me that Heidi was at peace but there was no sign. I’ve been an atheist ever since.’

Parfitt forsook God but remained true to Cliff, the star he admits made him go ‘weak at the knees’ when he first met him, and he is still seething over BBC coverage of the South Yorkshire Police raid on Richard’s Berkshire apartment in August following an allegation of sexual assault in 1985.

‘I am really annoyed about it and I feel for him,’ says Parfitt.

‘With this kind of thing you’re guilty until proven innocent aren’t you? It changes your colour in front of the public at large.

'I think it’s disgraceful that there’s no anonymity. Hang on, nothing has been found, he’s not been arrested.

‘I hope nothing comes of it and if it doesn’t I hope he takes the BBC to the cleaners. I don’t mean anything bad against the BBC, but they should not have covered it [the raid] like that.

‘I’m sure nothing inappropriate has gone on, I’d be devastated if it had.

'Cliff has been wonderful over the years. His popularity goes without saying and I think he has done incredibly well to protect himself in terms of whether he’s gay or not, whether he likes women or whether he doesn’t: nobody knows!

‘He’s done brilliantly in keeping that to one side. I think his faith gives him the strength to do that.’

Divorced from Marietta after Heidi’s death, Parfitt did as he always did: ‘I went for it.

'We were in LA and Led Zeppelin were riding motorbikes through hotel corridors so we followed their lead. We went into a rock ’n’ roll stupor.’

Nonetheless the band successfully weathered punk then the New Romantics.

When Bob Geldof and Midge Ure put together Band Aid to record the charity single Do They Know It’s Christmas in 1984, they naturally asked Quo to appear alongside stars such as Sting and Duran Duran.

When the famous participants gathered at 11am on November 25 at a Notting Hill recording studio it was clear some had been drinking and were in search of a chemical pick-me-up.

‘Francis and I were popular because we had all the Niki Lauda on us – the powder,’ says Parfitt, explaining the rhyming slang.

‘When it came to our turn I couldn’t talk, let alone sing.’

Parfitt’s vocals were unusable but despite this handicap Do They Know It’s Christmas became the fastest-selling UK single of all time.

When Geldof then planned Live Aid in 1985, a dual concert linking Wembley and Philadelphia, there could only be one act and one track to kick it off. ‘Bob said, “I want Rockin’ All Over The World.” You know Bob, he’s persuasive. “Just open that ****ing show for me!”’

Parfitt claims he was petrified before Quo went on stage at Wembley to a global audience estimated at 1.9 billion, but something in his eye suggests he knew they were going to nail it. When the first chord was met by a roar from 75,000 throats it was clear they had.

‘We were on for 14 minutes, felt like 14 seconds. Came off stage, was handed a glass of wine, interviewed by Janice Long and after that I don’t remember a thing.

'Apparently I was seen getting into a helicopter with David Bowie. I’ve no idea what I did for the day. People tell me I was in the pub but there’s footage of me back at Wembley on stage at ten o’clock in a silver suit.

'Goodness knows where the suit came from or how I got back to Wembley.’

History successfully made, Parfitt happily embarked on another bender, but Rossi was increasingly troubled by the rock ’n’ roll lifestyle.

‘Our behaviour is indulged because people make money out of us,’ he observes, relocated now to a room stacked with mini-amps and a guitar on which he picks out a walking blues as we talk.

‘It’s fed into us: “Go on, have some drinks, be an ****hole.” Where else can you come into work in a mess? How many times did Rick come into work a mess?’

Rossi has theories about Parfitt’s self-destructive behaviour.

‘It’s weird. Self-loathing and yet self-adoration; almost narcissistic.’ And his habits were draining his physical reserves.

In 1997 Parfitt, smoking ‘50 Marlboro red a day and drinking an awful lot’, was hit by ‘a lightning bolt. I fell on my knees and thought, what the f*** was that?’

Told he’d be dead in 24 hours unless he went on the operating table Parfitt agreed to an immediate quadruple heart bypass.

‘Afterwards they said rest for six weeks. I lay on my sofa. A day passed. Then another. I thought “bugger this” and got back on it. The way I looked at it I’d been completely re-plumbed, I was brand new. Let’s go!’

Parfitt went through another marriage and another divorce (from second wife Patty Beedon, with whom he has a son, Harry), survived a throat cancer scare in 2005 and, inevitably, had a heart attack in December 2011.

Two stents were inserted into Parfitt’s chest. It was a chance to start again and, as you will be coming to expect, Parfitt did just that.

‘Yeah, I was straight on to the fags and booze,’ he says. ‘When was I ever going to learn?’

The answer came this summer. But this time, says Parfitt, whose twins Tommy Oswald and Lily Rose with third wife Lyndsay were born in 2008, it’s different – he has too much to live for.

‘I will never ever have another cigarette; I will never ever have another drink. I’ve never believed in rehab, too much publicity, load of rubbish sitting there painting pictures all day.

'I’ve decided to do it myself. I’ve been given a ninth life – cats are jealous of me.’

Parfitt also has a new album to promote.

He tells a story about the photo-shoot with Canadian rocker and photographer Bryan Adams – with jeans and white shirts removed for the remarkable naked cover artwork.

'I got to his studio first and had to wait,’ he says.

‘So Bryan made me a cup of tea. I was star-struck, saying to myself: “I’m having a cuppa with Bryan Adams!”’

It’s a revealing admission: Parfitt takes being a rock star seriously but part of him that’s usually hidden doesn’t really believe he is one. Perhaps it’s this part that does the drinking.

Rossi, married to Eileen for 22 years, and with eight children from two marriages, still smokes but only drinks water.

He isn’t hopeful about Parfitt’s chances, but if his words are harsh it is perhaps because he’s hiding concern for a man he has known since that far-off Butlin’s summer.

‘I may have two cigarettes today, I have some kind of control over it,’ he says.

‘That, for me, is what Rick lacks – self-discipline. If it’s not in there it’s extraordinarily hard, in your 60s, to teach self-discipline.’

It was partly this dissatisfaction with the rock lifestyle that attracted Rossi to Aquostic, an album that touches upon country.

Down, Down becomes a hoedown. Caroline, forever in memory as the one where diminutive bass player Alan Lancaster appeared on Top Of The Pops in a bubble perm, leather jacket, medallion and no shirt while the riffing Parfitt and Rossi coolly ignored him and drummer John Coghlan, becomes a demented blues workout.

Great fun, but given what went before some lyrics take on new poignancy, especially these from Reason For Living: ‘I started to say a prayer/I waited for an answer/But there wasn’t anybody there.’

Other lyrics, like Paper Plane’s ‘would you like to ride my butterfly?’ remind us the Seventies were strange as well as dangerous.

Rossi enthuses about the ‘brilliant strings’ on the album and the chance to sing with female voices.

‘I know it’s not my image but I love pop, country and singing with girls, and that’s got nothing to do with below my waistline,’ he says.

‘I’m nearly over being Jack-the-Lad. I was desperate to be him for a long time. Just because a bloke’s all “gor-blimey” on the outside doesn’t mean he’s not screaming inside.’

After we talk Rossi returns to the garden and the workmen are planting new trees. He rejects one as it wouldn’t be at its best for 20 years: ‘I’ll be 85!’

Parfitt has the same time-scale to work out more serious problems. Leaving him in the hotel, drawing deeply on an e-cigarette, his track record suggests he might not succeed.

But he has at least come to some accommodation with the death of Heidi.

‘You don’t get over it,’ Parfitt says.

‘But you learn to live with it with warmth and tenderness. I go to Heidi’s grave and sit there and have a little natter to her. I cry and look back on those awful days.’

Which of us wouldn’t wish Parfitt well as he contemplates his remaining years playing with the twins, driving his 13 cars and that night on the Status Quo coach in Croatia where he so nearly lost it all?

Apart from Ricky, I suspect Rossi wishes it most of all."

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20th - Release of "Aquostic (Stripped Bare)" album in the UK

A long time after it was fashionable to do so, Quo released their first acoustic album on 20th October, called "Aquostic (Stripped Bare)". The album cover sported a shot of Rick and Francis indeed stripped bare, with nothing but a pair of skilfully placed acoustic guitars to protect their modesty. The following press release appeared on the official Quo website around this release.

"Status Quo release the game-changing 'Aquostic (Stripped Bare)' on 20th October. 2014 through Rhino/Warners (UK/Australia) and 17th October through earMUSIC/edel (ROW).

After 50 years at the top of their game as one of the world's premiere hard rock acts, Quo have leapt out of their comfort zone and now give the songs the chance to shine in a stripped down format; the amps are turned off, this album is fully acoustic and Quo recorded a total of 25 completely reworked Quo hits and fan favourites.

The band are helped out along the way by additional musicians, a female backing vocalist and even a string section. The arresting cover image was shot by none other than the superstar Bryan Adams. Stripped of the sheer power of the famed twin-Tele assault it's time for the melodies and the band's innate musicianship to shine through.

And shine they do. Rendered here in a simpler, sharper focus, it's the tunes and the progressions that are the stars. The lyrics seem to benefit from the extra space and these stone cold rock classics are given a fresh personality and potency. Tracks are taken from across the band's incredible output throughout the decades; some permanent features of the electric setlist, others being issued into the limelight for the first time - having been scrubbed and polished and reappraised through the prism of a new approach.

Recorded at Francis Rossi's studios, 'Aquostic (Stripped Bare)' is the result of a band looking back at where they've come from, peeling back the years, and taking a fresh look at what's been done. 'Aquostic (Stripped Bare)' is a triumphant collection of some of the defining moments of a truly seminal British rock act.

A set to change a few peoples' minds. A set to raise a few smiles. A set that didn't require producer Mike Paxman to keep putting 50p in the meter. A set to be treasured.

The album will be available on CD, double gatefold vinyl, box set and download.

The first single: 'And It's Better Now' will also be released on October 20th."

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20th - Rick and Francis interview on Good Morning Britain (ITV, UK)

Rick and Francis were interviewed by Susanna Reid and Ben Shephard on ITV's morning TV show, Good Morning Britain on 20th October. The brief interview kicked off by discussing Rick's recent health scare (and he declared that he'd given up both drinking and smoking for good!) before turning, somewhat inevitably, to talking about them stripping off for the album cover of "Aquostic". They talked fondly of working with Bryan Adams as the photographer, not so fondly about the idea in general though!

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20th - Quo on The One Show (BBC1, UK)

Rick and Francis were interviewed by Alex Jones and Matt Baker on the BBC's The One Show on 20th October and, in the short interview, they both sounded a little apprehensive about the forthcoming BBC concert at the Roundhouse. To close out the show, the band made their first acoustic live appearance with a performance of "Pictures of Matchstick Men". The performance was outside and Francis in particular was well rugged up (including a scarf), but the full 16-piece ensemble sounded fantastic, with young Freddie Edwards up front next to Rick.

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20th - Piledriver beer sales pass million pint mark

News of the millionth pint of Quo's "Piledriver" beer made it to Off Licence News on 20th October, with the following short piece penned by Martin Green.

"Rockers Status Quo have passed a million sales for the first time since the 1970s after the millionth pint of the bands Piledriver ale was downed this week. The 4.3% abv ale was launched seven months ago in a partnership between the Whatever You Want rockers and Wychwood brewery.

It picked up a listing at Morrisons, along with various off-licences across the UK and Europe, and sales are now soaring.

Guitarist and singer Francis Rossi said: “This is incredible news - we haven't seen sales figures like that since the 1970s. People seemed to love Piledriver from the moment we launched it, and that success just kept rolling.”

Chris Keating, marketing manager at Wychwood, added: "We're overwhelmed – the reception from the fans has been amazing. Word has spread about what a great beer Piledriver is, because it's not just Quo fans who are buying it - beer fans are too.”

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21st - Quo concert at The Roundhouse, Camden ("friends and family" only)

As a full rehearsal for the BBC show (on the 22nd October), Quo performed the full "Aquostic" album live at The Roundhouse in Camden on 21st October. The event was only open to "friends and family" numbering a few hundred people.

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22nd - Quo on The Ken Bruce Show (BBC Radio 2, UK)

Quo appeared on Ken Bruce's Radio 2 show on 22nd October. The band were already at the Roundhouse in Camden and Francis and Rick gave the interview by phone. They first played "And It's Better Now" live before a brief interview about "Aquostic" and a few questions from listeners. They played "Pictures of Matchstick Men" next before a few more listeners' questions rounded out the segment.

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22nd - Rick and Francis on the Simon Mayo Drivetime show (BBC Radio 2, UK)

Simon Mayo interviewed Rick and Francis (from the Roundhouse) for his Drivetime Show on 22nd October. They mentioned how nervous they were feeling and talked about how the album came about and its recording. Francis said it was the "most stressful" show they'd done for a while and even the rehearsal show was stressful because they knew everyone there. Simon played the acousitc version of "Rockin' All Over The World" to close the interview.

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22nd - Quo concert at The Roundhouse, Camden, for Radio 2 "In Concert"

Quo performed to a sell-out crowd at The Roundhouse in Camden on 22nd October. The band - in full 16-piece form, including Freddie Edwards up front on guitar - played the "Aquostic" album in full (not in album order) and the concert was broadcast live on BBC Radio 2 and also on BBC digital television. The gig was well-received and the following review of the show appeared on the Classic Rock website on 23rd October, penned by Malcolm Dome and titled "Status Quo acoustic: it can't work live, surely?".

Quo acoustic? They're getting old...
Utter rot! This was far from the usual laid back, gentle acoustic stroll most bands adopt under these circumstances. Rossi, Parfitt et al stripped the songs back to the bone, but rebuilt them in such a fashion that they still rocked. The addition of a string quartet and an accordion gave them a different type of bite.

Hold on, an accordion? Hardly rock'n'roll.
Definitely rock 'n' roll. The way Martin Ditcham attacked his accordion made a lot of guitar heroes sound like they're on life support. He was a clear highlight of the night, proving that, in the right hands, an accordion can be electrifying. And until you've heard Caroline and Down Down done on the accordion you ain't heard anything!

But the crowd must have been bored watching Quo sitting down!
Nope. Having everyone downstairs standing, as you'd expect at a normal Quo gig was a masterstroke. It had it all a dynamic atmosphere. There were regular chants of the usual 'Quo-oh-oh-oh', and everyone sung along to the classics, with no encouragement needed from the stage.

But acoustic Quo must have exposed how limited the band's writing skills are.
It did the opposite, making you realise that Quo have actually written timeless songs, the sort which can work in any environment. It made you respect them even more. People might think Paper Plane sounds like Mystery Song sounds like Don't Drive My Car sounds like Whatever You Want. But here, the differences were accentuated, to massive effect. And the vocal harmonies were spot on.

Still, bet they made everyone suffer Marguerita Time and Burning Bridges
Yep, they were both in the set, but worked a lot better than you might expect. Mind you, it helped that the crowd was almost in a Christmas party mood by the time Quo got to these towards the end of the night.

And is it true they did Pictures Of Matchstick Men? Must have been a real low point
Normally, this comes across as a novelty 60s psychedelic pop wheeze, but here it had a gravitas and made you reconsider its value. Coming at the halfway point of the set, it was a real bridge between Down Down and Down The Dustpipe. Much more than a throwaway nod to the band's earliest days.

So, they got away with it once...
It was triumphant. Somebody on the way out said, “I wish they'd play acoustically all the time”. That won't happen. But if this was a one-off then the band showed that, with thought and application, you can turn acoustic into the new boogie."

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24th - Quo concert at Schleyerhalle, Stuttgart, Germany

Quo performed for 60-minutes at the massive Schleyerhalle in Stuttgart on 24th October as part of a chart show for SWR1 Radio. The band played as much of the "Aquostic" album as they could within the hour and the audience very vocally aired their disapproval at the lack of an encore! The show was broadcast live across Germany and represented a good promo opportunity for the "Aquostic" campaign.

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28th - Rick and Francis interview on Loose Women (ITV, UK)

Rick and Francis appeared on ITV's popular daytime TV show Loose Women on 28th October. The boys sported suits and poppies and looked in great health for this two-minute interview (the usual interview fodder but promo is promo).

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29th - Quo article in The Mirror (UK)

The following article, titled "Status Quo today: Viagra, early nights, crosswords and Cup-a-Soups" written by Rod McPhee, appeared in the UK's Mirror on 29th October.

"One goes to bed early to fill in puzzle books and crosswords. The other likes to savour a tomato Cup-a-Soup in his dressing room. Ladies and gentlemen, welcome to the surprisingly sedate world of Status Quo legends Francis Rossi and Rick Parfitt in 2014.

It wasn’t always like that of course. After forming the band in 1967 this pair spent decades blazing a worldwide trail of sex, drugs and rock ’n’ roll. They used to spend £3,000 a week on cocaine and famously rolled up to the original Band Aid recording session with a big bag of it to share out.

The coke-fuelled orgies with eager groupies and endless binges had to stop in the end – though in Rick’s case it took two heart attacks to convince him – and now they prefer to act more like regular guys in their 60s. The irony isn’t lost on them.

“There was once a time when we were on tour in Australia in my 20s and there were 12 women in my room,” says twice-married father of eight Francis, 65.

“There were three on the bed and the rest around the outside – I never had more than two or three at once. Now I like to go up to bed on my own when everyone is still downstairs. I play patience or do a couple of crosswords. I couldn’t be happier.

Francis, who has been teetotal for many years, learned his lesson a long time before Rick, 66, who nearly died 14 months ago after suffering his second heart attack.

“I started on the rock’n’roll bandwagon and basically had 50 years of abuse,” Rick explains. “We used to order huge amounts of booze on the rider for a gig – whisky, Pernod, gin. Now our rider is really boring. Tea, coffee, maybe a couple of bottles of wine and a Cup-a-Soup. I love my Cup-a-Soup. It has to be tomato flavour with loads of pepper on it... lovely.

“Anyway, back then we’d have a party every night. I’d end up going out with all these idiots and next thing it would be the early hours and I’d be lying on the floor in Stringfellows and Peter Stringfellow – a good friend of mine – would be like, ‘Come on, get up – we’re closing’.

“At 6.30am we’d go to this hotel where they’d tip a bottle of champagne into a teapot so you weren’t seen drinking alcohol. Then I’d drive myself home. It was terrible. Nothing would stop me. I did try. I went to therapists, hypnotists... nothing worked.

In 1997 Rick had a quadruple heart bypass but still didn’t mend his ways. As a result he had one heart attack in 2011 then another in August 2013 as Quo toured Croatia.

“Only facing death scared the life out of me. And it was the best thing that could have happened,” he says.

Rick’s heart has, miraculously, made an almost complete recovery and he now happily puffs on an e-cig after quitting the fags. He sticks to an ultra-healthy diet and when we meet he’s wearing Crocs while tucking into a salmon and beetroot salad.

Both he and Francis – whose party trick used to be pushing a cotton bud through the coke-ravaged septum of his nose – insist they’ve closed the door on drugs forever. “The door’s not just shut and locked – it’s welded up,” says Rick.

But they certainly aren’t about to give up sex and rock?’n’?roll. Especially sex.

“I still love it,” says Francis, married to second wife Eileen for 25 years now.

“When you’re in your 60s sex doesn’t stop.When I was younger, I used to think about sex in my 60s and say, ‘Surely not?’ But why not? I know people 15 years older than me who are still at it.

“If I do take Viagra it’s only because it’s there, not because I need it. Your body just loves the edginess you get when you take it.”

Rick, who was almost 60 when his twins Tommy and Lily were born, adds: “I’ll have to try it – I never have. They’re saying Viagra is good for the heart now, but I’ve been advised against it.”

Francis adds: “As much as you can still do it in your 60s, there’s something else you need – companionship and conversation. You think you want a nymphomaniac but in the end you really want someone to talk to.”

Rick and Francis met as teenagers playing in other bands at Butlins Minehead in 1965 and formed Quo two years later. Fast forward almost half a century and they have personal fortunes estimated at £10 million each.

Chart hits like Down Down and Whatever You Want helped them sell 130 million records and their 1977 cover of John Fogerty’s Rockin’ All Over the World, was the unofficial anthem of 1984’s Live Aid.

But success didn’t come without its share of heartache. One of Francis’ sons from his 12-year first marriage got hooked on drugs in his 20s.

“It’s not fair to name him but sometimes he wouldn’t even recognise us,” says Francis. “He’d be like, ‘Who are you? You’re not my dad.’ I was so scared the whole time. He was going through such turmoil and I really loved the boy. I love all my kids.”

Did he feel guilty that he hadn’t acted as the best role model?

“Yeah,” he says. “But what do we consider a good father to be? I’m the father they’ve got. I’m sure society would say, ‘He’s taken drugs, he swears!’ But it doesn’t mean my children will.”

Rick’s family life has been even more turbulent. His daughter Heidi, with German first wife Marietta Boeker, drowned in the family pool at two. Then after the couple divorced in 1984 their son, Rick Jnr, grew apart from his dad during Status Quo’s wildest years.

Today that rift has long since healed and Rick’s son is a musician with his own band.

“The past was very chequered with Richard,” says Rick. “He saw me at the height of my drug-taking – what a mess I got into and what an ogre I became. It frightened the life out of him and if anything positive came out of that time it’s that Richard was never going to go down that road.

“He’s clean, he looks great and he does a great job on stage. I go to his gigs and I’m very proud of him.”

Rick married again in 1988 to Patty Beedon and they had a son, Harry, a year later. It was a stormy relationship which finally broke down in 2005 and Rick vowed never to marry again. But three years later he wed Lyndsay Whitburn, now 54, mother of his six-year-old twins.

With their lives more serene than ever it’s appropriate that Francis and Rick’s new Quo album is a collection of quieter acoustic versions of their greatest hits.

But going back to basics for Aquostic (Stripped Bare) was not so simple.

Francis says: “The idea might have been simple. After all most of the songs were written on an acoustic guitar. But every time we changed something we found something new to do. It was going to last about four to six weeks. It ended up lasting around four to five months.

“But it was worth it . We’ve always been criticised for having pop melodies but when we stripped them back it made us realise just how nice they were.”

The band staged a one-off gig to showcase the new album to fans.

Rick says: “Getting them just right is important and there’s a bit of tenseness creeping in. Deep down I’ve been quite frightened so at that first gig I had a little bit of a panic attack, which for a man in my state of health is not a good thing.”

Not good for Rick’s recovering heart perhaps. But when you see how much this pair still care about their music after 47 years – you have to say their hearts are still in it."

Revisit the October 2014 event list  

undated - "Piledriver" beer tasting notes (UK)

Specializing in beers and wines from rock bands, Wine & Roll held a tasting session for Quo's "Piledriver" beer in October. Their review follows.

"I didn't know that Status Quo was still alive and kickin' only I heard they are about to come out with their own beer earlier this year. They have teamed up with the Wychwood Brewery to produce this classic English bitter. Tasting notes Status Quo Piledriver Beer

Music and beer go well together without a doubt. After Motorhead's Lager and Iron Maiden's Ale the English rock band Status Quo has entered the club with their Piledriver Beer, supporting the re-issue of their first self-produced album with the same title. Although their glory years were back in the seventies and eighties, they have had more than 60 chart hits in the UK, they are on a pretty tight schedule, still making albums and touring as they are still having a massive fanbase in mainland Europe and Scandinavia.

The Piledriver Beer is a fantastic treat for their fans and beer drinkers in the UK and widely available in pubs and supermarkets across the country. I found it very pleasant and drinkable although I'm not a big fan of bitters. I had a couple of bottles in the last few weeks and all went down very quickly. Pretty ordinary and not as deep as Iron Maiden`s Ale which I have tasted before but still characteristic and once it's finished you'll cry for more I'm pretty sure.

With the Piledriver we get a very smooth amber ale, with the right strength (4.3%), and slight fruity, hoppy flavour. It has been wisely composed - using the right combination of the ingredients, resulted a light beer which is catchy like a Status Quo hit. The label artwork instantly gets the attention, it's another classic one from the Wychwood range. Great achievement from the rock 'n' roll veterans who are keeping up the flag of the music we all love."

Photos from the tasting can be found on the shop's Facebook page.

Revisit the October 2014 event list