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



2nd - Article on Rick's split from Lyndsay (AOL, UK)

The following article about the alleged split of Rick from third wife, Lyndsay, appeared on AOL on 2nd October.

"Status Quo star Rick Parfitt's third marriage has come to an end.

The guitarist, 67, married Lyndsay, who is mother to the rocker's eight-year-old twins Tommy and Lily, in 2006. Rick is alleged to have finished with his third wife over the phone.

An insider said: "It's been a very difficult time recently and the relationship has suffered. It appears it's reached the end of the line."

News that the ex-couple are living separately comes after Rick pulled out of the band's upcoming tour following a heart attack. Rick was taken ill after a show in Turkey on June 14 and the heart attack and associated complications led to doctor's orders to rest for the remainder of the year. A statement from the band said Rick "died for several minutes directly following his heart attack which resulted in mild cognitive impairments for which he continues to receive neuropsychological support."

Band manager Simon Porter denied reports Rick has money issues and said claims his wife paid for his repatriation to the UK after the heart attack in Turkey on her credit card were "completely untrue", and that the band had paid for it.

"Rick is going through a massive change in his life as he strives to become fit and well again," he said. "Although he is unable to join the band on tour at this time, he continues to be a member of Status Quo and also continues to be rewarded accordingly. All that is important to him right now is his health and his children. I would make no further comment on what are clearly personal matters other than to request privacy during what is an extremely difficult period for Rick, both professionally and personally."

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15th - Quo concert at Hallenstadion, Zürich, Switzerland

The Hallenstadion is a few kilometres out of the city, so an efficient tram ride saw me arriving there at about 5.45pm. There were two lengthy queues at the "front" of the venue so I wandered past them in search of other options. Two smaller queues were forming on the "other" side of the venue and I spotted a couple of familiar UK fans who'd done this gig before, so joined that queue in the knowledge they'd be well positioned for scoring a good spot once the doors opened. The queues soon became long but doors opened at a little after 6pm so it wasn't a long wait and then it was the usual dash for the best spots. It was a significant run from the entrance to the stage (this is a big venue!), but I was happy to be second row on Rhino's side, not bad for a very short queuing time! This was my view looking back in the arena then:

It was a lengthy wait until the show got under way, with the support band appearing at 8pm. They played heavy rock and quickly announced themselves as being from Australia & called Laced In Lust - I hadn't heard of them before but they certainly didn't lack confidence and well down well with the growing audience in the Hallenstadion. They only got twenty minutes to display their wares, but did a fine job and got an appreciative farewell as they vacated the stage for Quo's crew to take over.

The venue had filled up nicely by now, here's my view at about 8.30pm:

It was the usual clinical process of preparing Quo's stage and the crew were ready with time to spare, the drone not kicking in until about 9.05pm.

It was down to Richie Malone to do the honours and open the gig as usual with "Caroline" and then a weak pairing really of "The Wanderer" and "Something 'Bout You Baby I Like". After those, it was good to get into rockier territory with "Rain", perhaps a surprise inclusion to some given Rick's absence but nonetheless a crowd favourite and Rhino did a good job on lead vocals. Next up was a welcome return for "Softer Ride", again always a crowd favourite and it really got the big audience revved up. "Beginning Of The End" kept the momentum going but it was "Hold You Back" that got things really rocking. The medley also went down well, with "Paper Plane" being one of those never fail songs.

"The Oriental" and "Creepin' Up On You" kept their place in the set, they seem tired but I was surprised how much this audience got into them before it was time for the band to all take centre stage with "Gerdundula", which was played brilliantly and at least gives all five members their chance to be up front. The set really starts to build again at this point, with "In The Army Now" getting the full treatment and some seriously loud reactions in the singalong parts thanks to the sheer size of this crowd. Leon certainly stepped up the drum solo to play to the crowd and then it was time for the "big four".

"Roll Over Lay Down" is always a winner (and one of my favourite Quo songs) and then it was time for perhaps the killer song of the entire current set in the shape of "Down Down", with Francis milking the crowd for all they had. When he has a big audience in the palm of his hand like this, it's hard to imagine he can ever stop doing it. "Whatever You Want" (with a fine intro from Richie) and "Rockin' All Over the World" did their job in climaxing the crowd to end the major set.

It was good to hear "Burning Bridges" kicking off the encore, it always gets the crowd bouncing along before the inevitable "Rock and Roll Music" (with Rhino taking lead) and "Bye Bye Johnny" closed out a memorable performance at about 10.45pm.

This may well end up being the biggest gig of the LNOTE tour (and Quo almost sold as many tickets as the Dalai Lama the day before!) and it would have been a lucrative one. The merch stand was frantic and all T-shirts sold out. The gig was also recorded by Live Here And Now and there were very long queues to pick up the CD after the show (so much so that I've opted to mail order it instead). A nice piece of memorabilia also disappeared quickly, the flyer for the band's next appearance at this venue, apparently already booked in for November 2018!

I really enjoyed this gig - the band played well and fed off the massive audience. The vibe was great too, passionate but friendly, and thousands of punters once again went home happy, job done.

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15th - Francis Rossi article in The Sun (UK)

The following article appeared in the UK's Sun newspaper on 15th October, titled "Pal's Damning Verdict: Rick Parfitt slammed for dumping wife ‘like second-hand car’ by Status Quo bandmate Francis Rossi" and written by Laura Armstrong.

"STATUS QUO rocker Francis Rossi says his bandmate Rick Parfitt dumped wife Lyndsay “like a second-hand Bentley”.

Hellraiser Rick, 68 — who clinically “died” for three and a half minutes after his third heart attack in June — split from Lyndsay, 56, last month following a series of furious rows.

And Francis, who has played alongside the rhythm guitarist for 50 years, told The Sun on Sunday the couple’s ten-year marriage hit the rocks because he thought he could do better.

He added: “Rick’s problem is that he has always found things to be kind of a let-down.

“He is always saying, ‘I could make that better. That’s not quite right. See that, there? That’s what they should have done’.

“He always has to have the latest Bentley or Porsche. And I think that perhaps with his various women — all lovely women — he is the same.

“I used to say to him years ago that when you get into a relationship, only you know what it’s like behind that door. So if it suits you, then fine.

“Maybe what he had didn’t suit him any more. But Rick does have a tendency to go somewhere, then look back and wish he was where he started.”

The marriage split came just months after Rick’s latest brush with death in a hotel room in Antalya, Turkey.

And Francis revealed that in the run-up to the near-fatal attack, the rocker — who claimed he had quit booze in 2014 — had secretly begun drinking again.

He said: “We’ve all known something like this was coming. For years we’ve been making jokes about Rick being found here, there and everywhere.

“We’d laugh and joke about it. So many bits and pieces had gone wrong with his ticker.

“Everyone knows about George Best and Paul Gascoigne. No matter how much the world loves them, when they get new organs I think, ‘Shouldn’t they go to some kid that needs them, rather than a bloke who is going to drink again?’.

“It’s not necessarily Rick’s fault — like they say, it’s the demon drink.

And then he’s a drinker. In his defence, it is so hard to stop but the one thing that was going to mess him up is drinking — and he’s been drinking again

“I don’t know how much he was drinking but you can’t do any of that if you’re him.

“After the attack he opened up and told me, ‘This is payback for being the wild man’.

“I’ve known him a long time, since we were just 16, and usually when I see him after something like this has happened, I’ll say, ‘Oh, he’ll be all right’.

“After the previous heart attack, as soon as I saw him I knew he’d be OK. But when I saw him in hospital soon after this one, I didn’t think he would be fine.

“At that point, he still seemed to be in 1984. I knew then he had probably played with us for the last time.”

The most recent heart attack left Rick, who has battled health problems for years, with “mild cognitive impairments” after he was revived by doctors.

But Francis, 67 — who watched the desperate fight to save his friend’s life — admitted he still finds it staggering that Rick survived the ordeal at all.

He said: “When I got the call to say Rick had collapsed, pandemonium broke out.

“John (“Rhino” Edwards, Quo’s bassist) and I ran to his room and John got there first. When he saw him there, he turned to me and ran his finger across his throat.

“He was gone, and all I was thinking was, ‘You f***ing d*** — look what you’ve done to yourself’.

“When the paramedics came they did CPR on him, they hooked him up to adrenalin, they pumped him, they shocked him — still nothing.

“There was no one there. Then they took him to the hospital and the following morning the doctors said that he wouldn’t make the day.

“They got his family there and told them if he did come round the best they could hope for was that he would be incapacitated and paralysed.

“Somehow, hours later he was sitting up and drinking a cup of tea with two sugars. How did he do that? That man has the constitution of an ox. But that was probably his last scare and he has to be really careful now.

“He may write, he may look at a solo album and do bits and pieces, but I don’t think he can handle the physicality of doing gigs any more.

“I spoke to him on the phone recently and he said, ‘I think I probably shouldn’t come back’.”

Despite Rick’s decision, Francis insists his departure will not mean the end for Status Quo.

The stricken guitarist has been replaced on the band’s Last Night Of The Electrics tour by Irish guitarist Richie Malone. And Francis said their latest recruit had added new life to the band. He said: “Rick’s been there so long — me and him are the whole thing — that I would rather not have done the tour without him, to be honest.

“But we had to find a way to carry on, as we couldn’t afford to cancel it.

“And the injection of youth, with young Richie, has been revitalising.

There’s something happening up there that wasn’t happening before.

“I think there has also been a bit of the old British Dunkirk spirit. We’ve pulled together as a team because it has felt like us against the world.”

The European tour comes as the band release new album Aquostic II — That’s A Fact! next week, the follow-up to 2014 acoustic album Aquostic (Stripped Bare). And Francis revealed more acoustic tours will follow.

He said: “Will we sell any tickets next year? Who knows? But I’m not done here. There are mornings when I think to myself, ‘Jesus, I wish I’d done something else’. But then there are moments that are such fabulous peaks.

“When everything goes right on stage, it’s just so good — I don’t know why.

“When it really works, it’s almost like there’s energy in the centre of the stage and you’re surfing it. It can be so good, and so delicious.

“I’m always chasing that moment of wonderful.”

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21st - "Aquostic II - That's A Fact!" album released

The second incarnation of Quo's acoustic material was released on 21st October (via Universal Music On Demand and earMusic/Edel in Europe) in the shape of "Aquostic II – That’s A Fact!".

The album was released in three formats - the standard edition 14-track CD, a Deluxe edition 25-track double CD, and a 20-track double vinyl. The standard CD edition includes 14 reimagined Quo classics such as ‘In The Army Now’, ‘Hold You Back’, ‘Roll Over Lay Down’, ‘Ice In The Sun’ and two brand new tracks. These and extra tracks are available on deluxe/vinyl, as well as another brand new song ‘Is Someone Rocking Your Heart?’. The song ‘For You’, released originally on ‘Rockin' All Over The World’, is available only on the 20-track vinyl format. Additionally, the 19-track Deluxe Edition comes with a second disc which features 6 tracks recorded at the band’s 2015 Stuttgart ‘Aquostic’ show, which are unavailable elsewhere.

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21st - Francis and Richie on Good Morning Britain (ITV)

The usual pre-UK tour appearance on ITV's morning TV show, Good Morning Britain, took place on 21st October, but saw young Richie Malone standing in for Rick Parfitt. Richie was given a "Mastermind" style quiz about his knowledge of Quo (and he did OK) before a brief interview with both of them on the couch. The full appearance can be viewed here.

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21st - Francis interviewed on Steve Wright In The Afternoon (BBC Radio 2, UK)

Francis appeared on the Steve Wright In The Afternoon show on BBC Radio 2 on 21st October. He was interviewed by Mark Goodier, standing in for Steve Wright, and the Aquostic version of "In The Army Now" was played just before the interview started. They discussed the original recording of the song and how the Aquostic version came about. Talk soon inevitably turned to Rick's absence and Francis said that he "is "working to get better". When asked whether there would be any more electric shows, Francis commented that for he and Andy "the heart and mind want to go on" but the physical aspects of touring are becoming much harder now. He also talked about touring Aquostic in 2017. After the interview, the Aquostic version of "That's A Fact" got a spin. This was Francis in sensible mood, answering Goodier's questions thoughtfully and he came across more sincerely than he had in recent interviews.

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21st - Francis interviewed on talkRADIO (UK)

Francis was interviewed by James Whale on talkRADIO on 21st October. Aquostic was discussed first and the way it appeals - and doesn't appeal - to the fanbase. The "Down The Dustpipe" single was talked about as a way of demonstrating how the music business has changed and Quo's longevity was dissected. The full interview can be heard here.

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22nd - Francis interviewed on The Danny Baker Show (Radio 5 Live, UK)

Francis was interviewed on the Danny Baker Show on BBC Radio 5 Live on 22nd October. This was an excellent in-depth 25-minute interview with Francis in a sensible mood, pre-empted by the Aquostic version of "Roll Over Lay Down". He said that the band has been "re-enthused by" doing Aquostic and that it was an open forum on the songs. A snippet of Aquostic "Gerdundula" was then played and Francis talked about the history of the song. Talking about Quo's rock heritage, Francis said he sometimes felt "trapped by the genre" and said "I love country", unsurprisingly. They then went on to discuss Rick's health with Francis claiming he's "probably played his last show with us". He also said that having young Richie on board had forced the band to up their game.

Talking about the older days, they discussed festivals and how they've changed to become more of an experience now, as well as the highs and lows of the early package tours. The Aquostic "Ice In The Sun" came next before Francis talking about his sense of panic, it being much worse now than it used to be. But he countered by saying that some gigs are "such a joy", highlighting again how conflicted he is between the hard work of touring and the joy he often gets by doing it. He mentioned that he generally doesn't go to see other bands, before the original version of "Everything" (from "Ma Kelly's") from played. Danny said he'd then play their first hit, which turned out to be some ice cream van music! Next up was Aquostic "Caroline" with Francis confirming that it was first written this way and that he'd love to tour Aquostic in 2017. Finally pressed to confirm or deny that the days of electric gigs really were coming to an end, Francis conceded that it's "hard to give up the adulation" so maybe there's hope...!

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26th - Rick article on Teamrock.com

The following article, titled "Rick Parfitt: I won't return to Status Quo" written by Stef Lach and Dave Ling, appeared on Teamrock.com on 26th October.

"Rick Parfitt says he won't return to performing with Status Quo in any capacity.

The veteran guitarist suffered a serious heart attack on the road in June and his management later revealed he’d “died for several minutes” during the incident.

While he is expected to make a full recovery, he won't play any part in the band's current run of farewell electric shows and he now reveals he won't return to Quo in any performing capacity – although he remains involved in Quo's business activities. He has been replaced by Richie Malone and after the tour ends on December 23, Quo will only perform acoustic shows in the future.

Parfitt tells Classic Rock's Dave Ling that he won't go to any of the electric shows and that he has no interest in being a part of any future acoustic gigs.

On whether he will attend the electric shows, Parfitt says: "That wouldn’t be a good move. Some fans would think, ‘If you’re well enough to be here then you’re well enough to play.’

"Plus, standing there in the audience… no, I don’t think I could do that, but I do wish Richie Malone all the best. He’s a fucking good little player and it must be all of his dreams come true."

And on whether he will ever return to Status Quo in any capacity, he adds: "No. I don’t think I really want to. In my heart I’m a rocker, I’ve always been. If I’m going to make music it’s got to rock.

"There would probably have been room for me if I decided I wanted to, but I’m not a great fan of the whole acoustic malarkey. It doesn’t float my boat. What I am disappointed in is missing the last of the band’s electric shows."

Parfitt, 68, adds that he is healthy and says he recently passed his driving test. "I would say that I’m fully recovered," he says. "As the weeks pass I’m better and better. I don’t know whether I will be able to improve on that because I feel as well as I did when I fell over.

"So I can’t complain. I’ve just passed my driving test – which was incredibly stressful at my age – but I’m mobile again now, so that’s a big difference."

If he hadn't been struck down by ill health, Parfitt says he would have ideally liked to wrap up Quo's full electric touring career in 2017, to celebrate the band's 50th anniversary. But he says Francis Rossi was adamant that the current tour would be the last.

Parfitt says: "Francis wanted to stop anyway, which I didn’t really agree with. Next year is 50 years of hits – that’s when we should have stopped. But once he digs his heels in that’s it and nobody else can do anything about it. We could have rocked on a bit more, but this is nature’s way of telling me to take a breather... for now."

He says that if Quo were to go back on the decision to call it quits in terms of electric shows after this tour, it would be with his blessing.

"Let them do whatever they want to do," he says. "It’ll be with my blessing.

"Francis will do what Francis will do. I shall not say anything to the contrary because I don’t want any bad feeling. After 50 years of travelling the world together that’s the very last thing I want."

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28th - Quo concert at SSE Arena, Belfast

Quo headed to Northern Ireland for a gig in Belfast on 28th October. It was another big crowd, the biggest Quo audience in Belfast for many years according to locals I got talking with. Great atmosphere and the band were in a very relaxed mood (despite some scheduling issues with the crew arriving very late). The set remained the same, but Richie seemed a lot more relaxed and even had a go at backing vocals. This was a very enjoyable evening for me, made all the better by securing barrier spot in front of Richie and Francis.



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28th - Press release on Rick's position in Status Quo and also Quo's 40th Top 40 album

The following press release appeared on the official Quo webiste on 28th October.

Rick Parfitt

Further to various previous announcements and also to ensure that there is no misunderstanding, Status Quo today confirm that Rick Parfitt will indeed, as previously reported, step back from his regular touring commitments with the band. This is for reasons of health, following his recent heart attack.

Status Quo would, however, like to make it completely clear that - contrary to some inaccurate reports this week - Rick's connection with and within the band of course remains intact and that he will continue to be involved with future non-touring commercial activities of the band.

Quo's 40th Top 40!

Meanwhile, the band today notch up an incredible 40th Top 40 album with 'Aquostic II – That’s A Fact!' which is released via Universal Music On Demand. Excluding compilations and live albums, this also gives Quo their first run of four consecutive Top 10 albums of new studio material in exactly 30 years.

The last run of four was with 'Never Too Late' (1981) #2, '1+9+8+2' (1982) #1, 'Back To Back' (1983) #9 and 'In The Army Now' (1986) #7. This run of four is 'Quid Pro Quo' (2011) #10, 'Bula Quo' (2013) #10, 'Aquostic - Stripped Bare' (2014) #5 and 'Aquostic II - That's A Fact!' (2016) #7

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29th - Quo concert at 3 Arena, Dublin, Ireland

The massive 3 Arena was home to Quo's second night in a row on the Emerald Isle, on Saturday 29th October.

Most known in Quo circles as the venue for the 'final' Frantic Four gig in 2014, this time the venue was partially curtained off and filled with 3-4000 fans. The queue for the standing area formed early and Richie Malone wandered past at one stage, stopping to chat with friends and fans alike. It was a surreal moment when a knock off T-shirt seller tried to sell Richie a piece of his dodgy merchandise, Richie taking it all in great spirits.

The pre-gig action was centred in the nearby Green Room bar, with a big turnout of Quo fans eager for a drink, meeting up with friends and a good Quo singalong. The craic was great, a really enjoyable few hours before heading to the gig at about 6.45pm. Doors were already open but we easily secured a central spot one off the barrier, perfect.

Uriah Heep took the stage at 7.30 and blasted their way through the same hour-long set as in Belfast. It was seriously loud and well received by this audience starved of any live performances by the band in Dublin for over 35 years. Their music is not really my cup of tea, lacking as it does that melodic element that makes Quo so engaging (for me at least).

With the Heep set done and dusted, the Quo crew did their usual clockwork job of preparing the stage for Quo and they appeared at just after 9pm. The venue (in its reduced capacity mode) was full by now (with no standing tickets left on the day and all the raised seating well-filled). The setlist remained as it was in Belfast, but the band's performance was raised up a notch from the previous night I thought. The vibe on stage was really good, with Richie being involved and embraced - and also receiving something of a hero's welcome from this home country crowd. The crowd was vocal and involved from the start, especially so for the "big" songs later in the set. Leon had a top night and Francis appears to be relishing his role as ringleader, never missing anything that was going on around him and keeping everyone in check (including Rhino for fluffing a few lines).

As the band left the stage, Andy went over to Richie to make sure he received acknowledgement for his efforts, a nice touch for his home crowd, and Richie donned Blues Brothers gear and the Irish flag very proudly too!

The post-gig action was once again at the Green Room, so the evening was far from over! A big day of Quoing with great mates, happy times and, even though it's not the same without Rick of course, the band still puts on a great evening's entertainment. Here's to the next one!

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29th - Richie Malone interview on Calon FM

Richie was interviewed by Andy Snowden on North Wales's Calon FM radio on 29th October. In this long interview, Richie described his love of Quo and how he ended up being selected as the replacement for Rick Parfitt on the "Last Night of the Electrics" tour. Mirroring my own experience of interacting with Richie, he came across as being incredibly humble and a true Quo fan at heart. The full interview can be heard here.

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undated - Francis interviewed on MetalTalk

Francis gave a very long (two-part) interview to the MetalTalk website during October, billed as a "heart to heart" interview and containing some great comments.

"HEART TO HEART WITH FRANCIS ROSSI PART ONE

He's pressed the button on the National Lottery show, he's received the OBE from the Queen, he opened up Live Aid in 1985, he's sold over 128 million records and counting and he's about to set off on his final Electric tour with the iconic band he co-founded forty-nine years ago.

Francis Rossi is a big believer in luck and he doesn't bullshit about the bullshit industry he's been in all his life. And the great news is that he hasn't completely ruled out a 'comeback' Electrics tour.

Francis is instantly personable and bubbly and starts the conversation off on a great footing.

"So any groups we can we talk about that I might know then?"

Yes, how about Status Quo?

"Status Quo? Oh yeah - I remember them. Do you know my PR [Chris Hewlett] is jealous of me because I can beat him at The Times crossword, the cryptic one that we do. There's the cryptic and the concise that we do and I know how to do him on the cryptic now so I've fucked him off [laughs]."

Well we had a bit of concise news yesterday that Rick isn't coming back. Not completely unexpected but it's got to be massive for you personally as we cannot think of a longer standing partnership in rock'n'roll.

"No, but you have to understand that we've all seen this coming for some time, I think even Rick, and when the rest of us cleaned up in our late-30s/mid-40s, Rick was still hammering it, having the time of his life and in his press statement to Sky News he said 'I've been the wild man and this is the payback'.

"But I did find it weird that he said he didn't like the Aquostic because when our manager first mentioned it he was really, really all up for it and now he isn't but it's something he needs to adopt now and go and do and it has to have a facade, if you like, to it, so good luck to him and he and I are still partners in many other things. It's just very strange, a) to be still doing this at this age and b) to be split up and doing the Aquostic... it's really confusing because it's out of the norm. We're out of the comfort zone.

"It was a real panic in the summer trying to make it work and I suppose that Dunkirk spirit came through. We fought together as a team and as a team to make it work and Richie [Malone, Rick's replacement] - I keep saying 'kid' but I think he's maybe 30 and I'm still going 'all right son' to him - he's done something, whether it makes the rest of you stand up and go 'we've got to try a bit harder' but something's happening that is really quite joyous and I can't understand how or why.

"You expect, 'oh blimey, Rick's not going to be there' for the first couple of shows because it's an emergency but the longer it went on the more surprised we were by it.

"Rick's going to make an album and maybe do some dates. We'll see."

And will you be having any involvement in Rick's forthcoming album?

"No, I don't think so because that would be almost Status Quo all over again. I think he's making his own decisions but one thing I again found weird was that he said he's always been a rocker at heart. It's a great statement but he came from cabaret and he loves old school music hall stuff, which I love too. I think he believes in that image of the archetypal rock star that he looks like and I think whatever he does is good so I don't see why he doesn't do the... he did talk to me last year about doing an album with Frank Ifield stuff, various songs like that he's loved, 'I'll See You In My Dreams' and all that, then he was talking about a ukelele album.

"I think at the moment he's kind of missing the rock thing. As I said, we're both kind of confused at the moment, thinking 'where the fuck are we and how the fuck did we get here?' when less than a few months ago it was 'we know who Quo are, we know what they're doing' and suddenly... hello, even we're thinking 'what the fuck's happening' so it's quite good from that point of view."

So have you missed him on stage and has the band dynamic changed dramatically?

"Yes - it couldn't not. I used to say to my wife, 'did you miss me?' 'Well you weren't here, were you.' Of course you miss them but we had to do something and luckily it seems to be working. We've had no complaints about the shows and people are kind of surprised. They miss Rick but they're not feeling cheated or anything. It seems to be working for them and us but maybe I would say that.

"Those that have seen it thus far are kind of surprised and say 'we miss Rick but great show.' Well fine. It's kind of sad for all of us. It could have been me and you could just put another bloke in front of the mic with a green guitar and so long as you're doing the catalogue as near to the truth as possible, people are going to love it and that's a good thing for all of our egos, that it goes on without us anyway. Let's face it, Presley's been dead how long? I saw an advert for an Elvis Presley album the other day and I'm thinking 'but he's dead', but there he is. And that could still be happening with Quo in another ten or fifteen years.

"I just find it really weird what's happened with our industry since I began in it, that it seems to have gone through its peak and it's coming out the other side and we're all going 'what happens next, what's everybody going to do?' and the generation coming up behind us, who I call the 'X Factor generation', they don't really know, like us old school, how to fall flat on their face with a bad idea, get up and go on to the next project. They maybe know how to do that once or twice and then it's 'I can't do this'.

"If you look at X Factor, and I do occasionally, it's moved aside. The guy who won last year, the Irish guy, he seems to have all sorts of problems. They win and go all the way back down the ladder again and become just competition for everyone else out there. Anyway, I'm waffling here... ask me a question..."

Tell us more about Richie Malone then. His band Raid supported you in the mid-2000s, right?

"I don't actually remember them supporting us, I just remember he used to come and see us a lot and we'd see him at soundcheck and he modelled himself on Rick somewhat, well quite a lot really, which wasn't a problem and the first time we saw him it was very apparent that he had a similar playing style to Rick and when he first got in, one of the things we had to say to him when we got him in was 'you can't be a clone of Rick because the people won't like that. They love Rick and they don't want you trying to be Rick. You have to try and be yourself'. He's got to do his own thing."

So you're all ready for tomorrow night in Belfast then, the first night of The Last Night Of The Electrics?

"Yes, I'm very much looking forward to it but I hate to say but I have to say, no more than any other show. Going back to the X Factor thing, they say 'I'm going to give 100% tonight because it means so much to me'. So what the fuck were you doing last night? You decided to walk out and give 70%? I find all that weird, like when we did Glastonbury that time, 'what are you going to do at Glastonbury?' Err, Status Quo, what the fuck do you think we're going to do? We're bored and we're going to do the Floyd catalogue.

"'Are you going to do something special?' Well no, you mean the previous night wasn't special? Maybe I'm a bit of a schmuck like that but that's how I see things - each night you're on there, you do your fucking damndest."

Yes, totally get you. So it's a case of appreciating exactly who is paying your wages, right?

"Absolutely right. There's an issue about filming at one certain venue and I don't like that because the audience become second. They want to take the audience barrier out another few feet. No, you don't - fuck off! The people in the room come first and all these things are very important to me, on the night, with those people."

And that's very good to hear and I guess that's one one of the reasons why you've been on top of your game for so many years now?

"I think it's sheer fucking luck and nothing to do with that."

But you make your own luck in this world, don't you?

"No, I really do believe that. I always used to think with Status Quo, when we were kids, we were very unlikely to break through but we did and once we did we were very unlikely to maintain it... which we did... when we did 'Rockin' All Over The World' everyone was going 'fantastic timing' and I thought 'I'm not going to tell them'. If it had gone out when we decided it should have gone out, it would have been four months earlier so the fantastic timing would have been four months out.

"We went to make the album but John Coghlan broke his foot or ankle or something playing football so we had to postpone it for four months and then go to Sweden and do it and everyone's going 'fantastic timing' and you go... [whistles] 'I'm not going to tell them it was just sheer luck.

"I think so many people's careers are just sheer luck when you just bump into the right people at the right time. It could have been that when I first met Rick, I could have thought 'he's just some bloke, who the fuck are you?' I met my wife at Butlins on 29th May 1965 as I walked into Butlins with John Coghlan. There was my first wife with her sister and two or three days later, there was Rick and he worked in this little cabaret act, which was fine and I don't mean that in a demeaning way - he sometimes thinks I do - and people say 'it was really fortuitous that you met' and it just seems to be like that."

Shortly after the original Butlins meeting, you became The Scorpions.

"Spectre, Scorpions... yeah... but Scorpions was very short lived and then our manager at the time wanted to call us The Muhammad Alis, then he said 'what about The Queers?' I don't think so... and he kept coming up with these names, then went for Traffic, then it was Traffic Jam because [Steve] Winwood had a band, then he came down the stairs one day in this basement in Lambeth Walk - it stunk, it was fucking gross down there - and he says 'we've got to change the name again. What about Quo Vardis? What about Status Quo?' Yeah - that's all right.

"And that's one of those fabulous things. We should have tailored that story. Like one of those shit movies. 'We realised we were going to be successful and weren't going to change and this was our destiny'. No - it was sheer fucking luck."

Well it's refreshing to hear this kind of honesty and do you think that's another part of why you've been at the top for so long - because people do appreciate that kind of honesty and the fact you don't bullshit.

"I try not to because showbiz itself is bullshit and I must be bullshitting somewhere - I don't mean this morning - because the very thing about showbiz is, and I'm possibly getting on people's tits because I want to tell them 'it's not that clever back here, it's all held together with bits of tape, gaffered, it's falling over', and another thing I've been going through recently, is historically people in our position don't talk about money... [whistles] 'it's not important'... well it certainly is. If we don't take x a year, we go bankrupt, you can't afford to record the stuff, you can't afford to take it out, you can't afford to pay your crews, your office, so I find it quite weird that whenever that subject comes up it's like people haven't heard the question.

"We all need to know that we live in this scandalous system and it's a lot different than in the 70s and when Rick fell over this year - we always call it 'fell over' - people were saying 'why don't you just stop?' and I'd have loved to have had the summmer off and got paid but promoters now sue for loss of earnings, understandably, and it has to go on and it's not the 70s. It's just funny in this world these days that that's what it's like and I just think people need a dose of that truth."

Are you happy with the reception that Aquostic, the two albums and the gigs, have received from the fans?

"Immensely so because the reaction is that it's the biggest album we've had for some time which again leads you to the Capitalist thing again; if it's successful what are you going to do? You do another one. And also I find it weird that the drug this business is, and we were discussing this when we had the first album out, 'it would be nice to do the second one and do the same amount of pieces' and at that point it was 'yeah!' and now it's 'no, we want more'. And that's part of this business, it always wants a little bit more... it's like that woman you always wanted to meet. She always wanted a bit more... [laughs]..."

Feel free to elaborate...

"I didn't think it would be received well at all and I didn't think the show would be that good at all but it was such a fabulous feeling in The Roundhouse hearing the audience... wow... because you don't really hear them when you're doing the electric, it's such a fucking din.

"Like with you at the Union Chapel. When something hits you that you didn't think was going to happen. I love that about life you know.

"It's interesting, for some years, I don't know why, for some years there's been friction between us and The Pet Shop Boys, something went on with John Edwards some years ago, but there are certain songs of theirs I don't want to like but I like them and I've got no idea why, and I sent them a mail a couple of years ago and said 'I hate to admit this but I love your new single'. They wrote back, very polite, 'thank you very much' and at the end, p.s. 'is there any chance you could do a cover of this track?'

"And like yourself, it was 'fuck it - I didn't expect it to be like that' and that to me is the joy of music, per se, as is, whether it be thrash, Metal, whatever it is that we like, or don't like, I love it when something comes left field and goes 'you didn't think you'd like this'.

"I heard that Shakin' Stevens single the other week. Have you not heard it?"

I haven't actually, no...

"It's fucking... you think.... really? Again, it makes you just think again. We worked with them and I thought it was brilliant and it's stylised kind of and it's all right, yeah, lovely, lovely, well done, I like some of his tunes but this one, who the fuck is this? And lo and behold, I love it when music does that to you."

Well I'll give it a go on your recommendation then.

"'Last Man Standing' I believe it's called."

Well when I was a teenager you were pretty much one of the heaviest bands around. Your style hasn't changed but the music scene has and the extremities have been pushed to the limit now. Have you ever been tempted to go in that direction?

"Yes, they really have. In the mid-60s we were this rock band with a sort of 'Rock Around The Clock', Everly Brothers, rocky sort of Little Richard thing, got back to London and everyone was doing this soul thing and we had to do a load of stuff to get a gig. We were Madeline Bell's backing band so she did our stuff and we eventually go through various singles and come out with '...Matchstick Men' which has all that stuff which people call psychedelic, so there we were hitting success and we were a rock band with a soul set and a pychedelic single.

"So we kind of had to morph and change and go to where we actually really felt comfortable and there's this bad thing about pop and I realised I had like pop music, blues music, rock music, country music, Italian opera, the Top 40 classsics, maybe some Strauss waltzes - I love waltzes - all the things that when you're a young man and your testicles are getting in the way... it's one of the things I didn't like about the 70s, the way people were compartmentalised, 'I like this' and 'I like that', and we were probably one of the worst bands for doing that to people because they could identify with us and wear the uniform. I think we should all be able to like what we like.

"I have this engineer who I've worked with since I was twenty and we have these discussions about music and he says 'the only thing I really hate is Italian Opera and I thought... 'Oh'.

"It's funny how you develop a like or a hate for something. Something goes into you and... I just love music generally, I can't help it. Even thrash Metal sometimes, that's the one I don't want to like and then I hear something and I go 'that's brilliant!'

So who is your favourite thrash Metal band then?

"There's a band, Clawfinger, which me and John really love from Scandinavia and some various bands I don't even know the names of but wow, they can play and they've got the commitment and energy, it's just to me the overall lifestyle, it's probably good in that part of the industry where everyone identifies with it but it then means you can't like Pickettywitch or you can't like Abba or whatever is poppy around these days.

"I mean, I like Bruno Mars. I don't think I'm supposed to, being in the archetypal rock band. I love Pet Shop Boys, I love country music, Dolly Parton, Randy Crawford, it goes on and on and on...."

Going back to The Last Of The Electrics, we all know it's the last, this is it, December 23rd in Liverpool is the end but is the door totally and completely shut or is there a chance you may change your mind?

"To be really, really honest, and as we're having this heart to heart, as far as I am concerned it is the end but you know what happens in this business, you know what we're all like. We could take a year out and go 'ooohhh'... and I'm having some fabulous shows this year, whether it's a change is as good as a rest or the unput from the young fellow [Richie Malone], but if I go until 2018 or 2019, I'll be 70 and the thing that's getting really hard about the electrics is the physicality of it. It fucking hurts.

"It hurts the following day. The body's older and we always said there's a physical commitment to it and if you don't, it's fucking boring to listen to. I see that in Little Richard every time I say that. If you look at those Little Richard clips, 'Good Golly Miss Molly, 'Lucille' and you watch it and you're off, you're moving with him, with it, and that's what I think Status Quo has always had, because people say 'I don't get that' and then they walk into a venue and they feel this excess of rhythym that's going on, they get suckered in..."

And at that point, one of Francis' dogs, Molly, one of his two 'Westies' sat on his foot. "You fucking stink," remarked Francis (to Molly, not me) not and he proceeded to tell the story about how he wanted to take his favourite dog, Nancy, on the Last Of The Electrics Tour but couldn't as it would not have been right to split the pair up for a month.

Maybe, just maybe, there will be another opportunity in 2017 or 2018. We know what happens in this business...

Part Two of MetalTalk's Heart To Heart with Francis Rossi and if Pet Shop Boys and Shakin' Stevens revelations had you reeling yesterday, you better fasten your seat belts for this one.

PART TWO

We left things on a canine note [in part one] then and there's some tales from the Doghouse coming up later in this, Part Two. We resumed the conversation with a revisit to the now legendary Union Chapel gig last month. Quo followed that performance with a massive gig in London's Hyde Park two days later.

So how did the two compare Francis?

"The difference was vast but we had to go and do something first otherwise we'd have had to go straight into Hyde Park. We hadn't played in front of that many people with Aquostic before. I think the most we did was about 15,000 in Stuttgart and realising that at that time, sitting down in the venue, the bigger the venue the further people go back you need a loftier elevation to get above them and then thinking about Hyde Park it was 'oh dear', we're only on forty minutes, are we going to sit down? No, we don't want to be sitting down so we stood up and that's what we tried at The Union Chapel.

"So perhaps all of this is a change, it's kind of unsafe and it's not certain what happens next. Perhaps we have become blasé about the whole electric thing but to go up there with Aquostic and they said 'the sun is going to be in your eyes' and everybody was trying to hide the guitars away from the heat, from the direct sunlight, the string players were covering up their instruments with big towels to protect the strings, but... something happened that day... which, as I've said to many people, everybody in this business, we're all insecure little show-offs, we all want to show off but don't look at me because I'm shy. Why aren't you looking at me? Don't look at me because I'm shy. Why aren't you looking at me..?

"And I feel like I've been there all my life. I'm sure some are more cocky than that and some are less cocky but the times you get up there and it works, it's a joy!

"So perhaps it's that a change is as good as a rest... it's making me quite jumpy right now thinking about how we are going to do it. I'm not worried about tomorrow night's show, I probably will tomorrow afternoon but generally we know how to do that, enjoy that, it's a comfort zone and this is out of comfort zone. It's very strange that humans hate being taken out of their comfort zone but quickly try to make that the comfort zone again.

"It's quite exhilarating, 'oh shit, what's going to happen here...' and then it works, it's like someone playing with your knob end, isn't it. It's marvellous. I say that because it's something that everyone can relate to."

So forty nine years of Status Quo and you're still up for challenging yourself.

"Yeah, but kind of kicking and screaming. As I said before, I think it was weird when Rick said he didn't want to do Aquostic because when we were doing the ad for Australia, which everyone said 'it's disgusting - they're just doing it for the money'. Yes... I'm not doing it because I love Australian fucking supermarkets but anyway, we were doing it at Shepperton and it was set up in a certain order and there was something about it, and we did the last take and the thing about these things is they are never as easy as you think - it's work. We finished about seven in the evening and I didn't want to do it but that's what we do - we take it out of the comfort zone."

While you're on the subject of Rick, you've offered refunds to fans who don't want to see the band without him. Has there been any take-up on that offer?

"About fifty I think. I was talking to my manager [Simon Porter] this morning and he said someone had come back for a refund then phoned back up and said he's changed his mind.

"Now what made him one way or the other? What made him think 'no, I don't want to see them without Rick', then think 'yes, I do...' It's weird. People don't like change, including me."

Well change is inevitable in life I suppose. Tell me what the absolute highlight of your career has been, the one crowning moment of the whole trip, if there is one?

"I don't know really and if I'm really honest, one crowning moment would be fucking sad. I'm sure the Live Aid thing was good but that was something that we wanted to do and it wasn't until we walked on and saw all the media... then we thought 'oh shit, this is quite serious', and the total feeling of euphoria in that gig... never before, never since will we feel that again. People were just so happy to be part of whatever we were all trying to do, so probably that, but if I'm really truthful it could well be some gig in the back of Norway or Sweden, that's usually what happens. You're not particularly up for it one day and then it's like someone playing with your knob end again. 'How did this gig end up being like this? Why is this so good?' Then for the next few days, which is a problem to me, you get on stage, and in my head, I'm looking for whatever it was there last night and usually if you're looking for it you can't find it.

"The ideal is that you get up there and... energy develops in the middle of the stage which you can then suddenly lock onto and ride and whenever we get a gig like that, that is when it becomes so good. That's when it's like that climax point between two humans when the.... you know... is going on. You think 'this is fucking marvellous' and then I don't want to go to bed. Well because, well you can't live on last night's gig, which is sad, but you can't... you must know, you're obviously a player in a band somewhere?"

No, absolutely not. I could never achieve the standard I'd want to achieve if I went down that road so I took a different path...

"Hang on a second - look at me. I haven't and I've got away with it. That's one of the things that still bothers me. I'm still practising, ridiculously trying to catch up, I was such a cocky little shit when I was younger... really, I didn't start really focusing and trying to practise until I was in my mid to late thirties and I'm desperately trying to catch up now. The younger generation are so far ahead, where I'll never get to..."

But you wrote 'Pictures Of Matchstick Men' when you were a teenager.

"Yes, well I was trying to copy 'Hey Joe'. I was... I was sat there trying to... [hums 'Hey Joe' guitar riff]... and then it suddenly came out [hums '...Matchstick Men' guitar riff]... and I said this to people over the years, I must try that again, go upstairs to write and go 'Im going to try and write a song like...' I haven't done that since then because of this... strive to be original, which I think is pointless. Just do whatever it is, however you juggle those notes, however you get it there.

"It's weird because at that point we were on the end of that... [hums four bar guitar riff]... and by 70, early 70s, that was gone and I never thought that would ever come back again and sure, with that Britpop and Oasis... [hums very similar four bar guitar riff]... everything's cyclical in this business so for musos to sit there and say 'I want something challenging' and to find something different... I don't necessarily want it different, I just want it... whatever it is that's there, that... 'why is that so fucking good?'

"Going back to The Pet Shops, they got slagged so bad... one of the first records of theirs I ever got into was 'It's A Sin' but the slagging they got for it, and I'm thinking 'what are you talking about?' 'But it sounds like this and it sounds like that...' Yeah, but it's fucking marvellous and I stop every time it comes on the radio, and that's usually in the bathroom, turn it up, just fucking listen to that, I don't know why, again, that's one of the things I love about music, there we are, strutting along, then it hits you. It's just a joy."

Well thanks for the answer on Live Aid because I've just won a bet as I said you would say that.

"Well it has to be that, but I don't know that it was - it could be some gig I've really forgotten. In fact this year we did Rochester Castle (see here) and it was just something again, it was just, I don't know what it was, but everyone knows about Live Aid and, as I said, that euphoria about everyone raising money for a cause, it really made it feel good."

And it revitalised Quo as well. Legend has it that gig put you back on the map.

"I don't really know. We were one of the acts that didn't have product out at the time. Many of the acts at that time had product out, which you know, boosted their sales by three to four hundred thousand, which is serious. Rick and I were in town in the summer and we weren't working, which was unusual, and Bob [Geldof] was at the same thing as us, at the time he was in the Boomtowns I think, something like that, an upstart, some cocky little Irish bloke, and he said 'I want you to do this, that and the other'. 'No, sorry Bob, don't know what you're talking about?' Then a couple of weeks later, doing some PR or something, I said 'look Bob, we're not getting along very well, we're under rehearsed...' and he said [does perfect Bob Geldof impersonation] 'doesn't matter a fuck what you sound like, would you just fucking do it'. 'Yeah, all right'. But subsequently, we realised he said that to everybody, the bastard.

"That's how you did it. You just didn't know that it was going to be such, and we were very, very lucky that nobody wanted to go on first, 'yeah, we'll go on first, get on, get off, get it finished...' because as I said, we were under rehearsed, we weren't getting along, we had to be there early, on the fly, everything was out of the comfort zone, let's just get it fucking done."

But it turned out to be a masterstroke, going on first.

"Well again, we didn't know that. It was nothing to do with us. It was just 'yeah, OK, we'll go on first' and then every newsreel around the world carried that. So then we were asked to do the second one. U2 opened the second one. They didn't want to be top of the bill that night, did they. And that's what all the problem was in the first one. People in our business are full of this 'no, I'm top of the bill, I couldn't go on before him, I've sold more records than him, I'm bigger', all of that shit goes on. So we just went on first. It's a charity gig - why are we jockeying for position? This is to raise money for people so we just went on and got every newsreel round the world and people are still talking about it now."

And another career highlight must have been getting your OBE in 2010?

"Yes, I think that's fabulous but I don't think people like us deserve it however, not wishing to sound negative, I balance that with the fact that when it was announced, the amount of news people that came to my house and the studio to film us, whatever, I thought 'I see', people like us raise the profile, because the bloke who's the milkman, that does something really worthwhile, won't get the profile so we maintain the profile of the honours system, which... I'm not necessarily a royalist but I have the greatest respect for Her Majesty because of what she does. We met her two or three times and she's the last of a dying breed. She believes it's not her right but her duty to do what she's doing and that's the difference whereas I think subsequent generations will think it's their right. She doesn't see that, she sees it as her duty. I don't think her sister would have done it.

"Hold on - I'm getting a bit too... I'm going to get my bollocks cut off for saying all that..."

They'll be carting you off to the tower...

"Yes, to the tower young man, there's your testicles..."

But don't you think you deserve it [the OBE, not a trip to the tower] for making a lot of people happy?

"Well... our payment for that is literally money and a good life. A fabulous life, a great lifestyle... I mean, there are times when you think, 'shit...', it's like anything else but my main feeling is that we have... hold on, just a moment... why are you doing that? Why are you dropping your arse down my shoulder? You know when a dog sits on the back of a chair and looks out the window, she's doing that but her bum's sliding down my...

"I don't really think we deserve it. Perhaps we've given people... no, they've given us much more than we've given them I believe. I had no education whatsoever... all those things, I think most of us this side of the fence receive better than we've given. That's just how I feel."

OK, all right. I think that...

"A bit of Scouse crept in there. Do that again..."

Scouse? No, Teesside...

"Yeah, I know but it was there... [mimics perfect Liverpoool accent]"

I might have Liverpool on my brain because we're kind of hoping to be there for the last ever one on 23rd December. We're definitely doing London, Johnny Main is definitely doing Glasgow, and we're all hoping to be in Liverpool as it's a special occasion. Will there be any...

"No! I know where you are going. No."

[I was actually about to ask whether any former Quo members would be appearing on stage that night, or on any other nights of the tour...]

"Going back to what I said before, why would that one night be any more special than the previous ones?"

"And that would mean I'd have to start doing that last night thing every night and hang on a minute, that would be a weird thing and plus the people that come every night would be like 'I heard him say that three weeks ago', so we do the show as best we can and then we move onto whatever's next.

"And as you said, maybe there will be a comeback in a few years' time but it sounds ridiculous, doesn't it? And the other thing too, going back to what we said about it needs to turn over a certain amount of money, if they don't come and see the Aquostic, something else has got to happen. I don't know what that is but something else will have to happen. Or maybe we will retire and I'll end up making records for other people?"

But you ain't complaing though and that's one you said previously you should never have recorded. Why was that?

"I just thought it was a piss poor track. It was one of those periods when... all the bands, they get in their decade and then as we move into the next decade, things change, sounds change, approaches change, compressors, drum sounds and all that changes and that band started to follow the latest which we did through the 80s and 90s and you can see us going 'oh fucking hell', and I see The Stones doing it and The Bee Gees used to do it, many bands do it in fact and then we go back to it and come back to who we are.

"Because there's a train of thought there and we started to do the vocal and Andy Bown and I had this thing at the time when we'd go 'all riiight', and I started doing it when I was doing the vocal, just fucking about, and what was the record at the time... 'Ride on time, because you're ride on time...' [Black Box] and that thing was going on and what was modern at the time was the sample and I was going 'all riiight' and it just got played in and at the time I thought 'yeeeah!'

"And now I think 'noooo!' In fact ten minutes after I thought 'no'. We were, like, in the doldrums, we were lost there and wondering what to do. I think. And we'd upset lots of people - coming back to John Edwards and Jeff Richards [Pet Shop Boys 'celebrity fan'] - and I do love our fans, especially for what they've done for us, but they are also quite vociferous in what they want and what they don't want and we've got to be careful because we're subject to their own image of what they think they are. But it's just Status Quo and if you like it or you don't, you're going to fuck up sooner or later.

"I think our fans are really good because it's like a football team, 'they played shit today, they'll have to get rid of the manager', but they turn up next week to see the team again and I think that's what happened with us and probably lots of bands, that they feel they can say stuff and I suppose they're just being fans doing that but sometimes it's disconcerting... 'oh, what the fuck have we done wrong this time?'"

So what's your favourite Status Quo song then, the one you look forward to playing the most?

"Out of how many songs... you want me to pick one... what a sad existence I've had... I love the country ones, 'Marguerita...', I love 'Claudie', I love a track called 'All We Really Wanna Do', I love 'Never Too Late'... I love 'Tongue Tied'... there's loads of them... and there's loads of them where I think 'that's a load of shit, what was I thinking about?' And you don't know what you were thinking about."

What were you thinking about when you did 'King Of The Doghouse' in 1996?

"I was half and half on whether to do a solo album - 'oh it's a disgrace when he does things for money, this person' - and I was working with this guy called Tony McAnaney and the track that really got me was a track called 'Darlin'' and a track called 'King Of The Doghouse'. The first version we had of 'King Of The Doghouse' was just donkey's knob... sorry, it's good innit - donkey's knob... it was something to me that was a cross between country and where Quo are and rock, that was it, but I didn't realise at the time that him and a couple of other people on the project were doing ecstasy so one day I'd be off doing something else and I'd come back to the studio and we're working on it and there's suicide in the dressing room and then I'd come back two days later and it was 'my God, let's all have a wank, this is brilliant', then I'd come back in a couple more days and there's blood everywhere where people have slit their wrists and I didn't understand what was going on and so I think that was truly wonderful except the version that finally went out was so watered down and so not what I signed on for but I still think they are great songs.

"It's about that famous country singer... died in the back of a car... Hank Williams. He was king of the doghouse because his wife, he'd get home, a bit too late from the gig and his wife would beat fuck out of him with the rolling pin and he'd have to go and sleep in the doghouse."

So can we expect a third solo album, because you had 'One Step At A Time' in 2010 as well.

"I have a solo album in the can already which was due for release in April but now we know that Rick wants to do an album at that point... I started getting involved with Hannah Rickard who's one of the backing singers and she loves country and we did some writing, we played it to the manager and he loved it and he played it to the record company and they loved it and I'm now committed to do that album but I don't really want that to go until probably September because you have to look at delivery dates and we'll probably go for delivery late May.

"So yes, I'm going to do an album with Hannah Rickard which may be slightly country-ish. I don't know... it's leaning that way. I always say to her 'you mustn't go copying what the Americans do'. We take a modicum of it and spin it up. I like The Shires, I like Ward Thomas and that Swedish band.... First Aid Kit. The only thing against them is they went to Nashville to record it. You don't want to do that. I'm always hoping that sooner or later something that's homegrown in Europe will make a big splash in the country scene and I would like to be that.

"Which is kind of weird, because everything I've said to you in the last hour or so it kind of contradicts. That he's tired and old and he wants to slow down and that, he gets confused... damn..."

Well talking about new recordings, is there any chance you will record Last Night Of The Electrics and do something with that?

"Oh yes, they'll probably record that, yes. I'm sure they will, they'll film it, record it, put it through a blender, add a bit more fruit and some nuts and then put it out again. It's something I don't like about this business but of course, it's what this business does. As I said to you, we'll be dead and they'll still be releasing Status Quo albums. As I keep saying, Elvis Presley, it fascinates me. He's been dead fucking yonks and he's got a new album out again."

Beethoven has been dead nearly 200 years now and he's still big...

"Well that's weird with classical things, you don't really think there wasn't stuff that Beethoven did that wasn't shit. There must have been. Or whether it was Amadeus, or was it Straussy... anyway the father didn't like what the son was doing and he used to send people in to the sons' gig to nobble it, boo it, and the mother and sister used to go and support. So it's weird that we think 'they were really great', but people at the time would say, like you and I are talking, 'have you heard Mozart's new one? It's a sack of shit, it won't do any good'. And it does...

"I talk too much, don't I..."

No, it's really good, carry on, it's great...

"But you've nodded off twice..."

Three times actually. What's it like being chairman of Rossie Whisky when you've been teetotal for so many years?

"It's a business venture and I grew up in retail so I understand business retail and it's like with the Quo cider, I've got to be careful because I quite like the cider. I try not to so I can't have it on the bus in case I drink it. I've always been in an industry that's been Devil's music and drug laden and I'm still in there, kind of, so I feel that the whisky was a business proposition, do I want to go there, yeah, all right then... I look at it that way... can't stand the stuff anyway...

"Oh... the chairman just shot himself in the foot. Did you hear the gun go off?"

Talking about retail, there is still a Rossi ice cream parlour down the hill from Southend Pavilion.

"That's another thing I was buying into that we're still working on it. It's strange because the thing I wanted to escape was that post World War II black and white bomb site world and that retail thing I grew up in. I thought 'fuck, I don't fancy this', however there is a definite thing to be learned about the whole retail structure that many poeple, even in Status Quo for many years, just don't quite get, like when you've grown up in retail. There was a cousin of mine came to see us in Marbella and we were sitting talking, and we had some friends, and we were saying about how when we were young, the Italian thing, people would say 'oh, you eat worms and you stink of garlic' and all that, and the other thing they would say to us was 'all that free ice cream, all those free sweets', and of course if you've grown up in that you go 'what are you talking about?'

"They never understand that no, you buy them, you sell them and you make a piece on the top, so if you've been eating the fucking things there's nothing to make and most people do not understand that, which is kind of weird because its just basic maths. Mind you, I'm far from a mathematician. My wife is but she's a cocky Yank."

OK, we're on the last question.

"Jolly good. I've only got one answer left anyway. I love my own jokes..."

What gear are you going to use on the tour because the 46-year-old Telecaster had to go into retirement.

"It's sat in the corner, just over there, the Tele [points]. I now use these two Status guitars I had specially made and that really puts a lot of old school people off because they're of a mind that guitars made in the 50s when pick-ups and that weren't very good, they think that's going to make them sound better, i.e. they'll buy a Signature Series Eric Clapton and think they're going to sound like Eric. We all sound like who we are when we're playing, whatever the instrument is and generally that's how it is.

"I'm knocked out with these Status guitars but I'm sure that most people think 'that's not right, what's he done with the Tele?' but it served me well for many years and I now play a different guitar."

And has that taken you out of the comfort zone as well?

"It did for a while but I've reached a nadir, this summer has done a lot for us and Rick has done a lot for us in that respect, and I'm not being rude or pretentious or anything, I really didn't expect to be where we are. What was it Lennon said, 'life is this thing that happens while we're making other plans'. We really didn't expect to be doing this without Rick, let's face it.

"And as I said before, if we cancel, we're in big, big trouble. I really don't think Angus wanted to go out with... err, whatever the fuck... I can't stick that other fellow... Axl... I really don't think he wanted to go out with that, it was just too late, everything was running and rolling, the trucks were booked, the venues were booked, everything was on, so you've just got to go and do it."

So despite it not being totally ideal circumstances, i.e. no Rick, you're obviously really looking forward to this tour.

"Yes I am, very much. I just hope people enjoy it and more than ever, I really hope they enjoy it and I can see some will be upset that Rick's not there but they're still coming so we will do our damndest to make it the best we've ever done. I don't normally say shit like that because... I don't.

"I'm now getting jumpy. My hand is rubbing nervously down my leg... but I really do hope it's the best we've ever done for them because I appreciate them supporting us for so many years and maybe in years to come they'll still support us."

Well I'm sure that will be the case and I can't wait to see it myself in London and hopefully Liverpool too.

"Thank you sir, I look forward to you being there. It really does matter."

It's been a real pleasure and an honour to speak to you today Francis. Thank you so much.

"Thank you - always remember any artist that speaks to you, I notice lots of journalists around saying 'thank you for this'. No, no, no, it's a two way street and any artist who makes you feel you're honoured to speak to them is a dickhead. It's the truth."

And that kind of attitude is yet another reason why Francis Rossi and Status Quo have stayed at the top of their game for almost half a century, and counting..."

Revisit the October 2016 event list