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Laughing All Over The World
My Life Married To Status Quo
The long-awaited and controversial "Laughing All Over The World" finally reached the shelves in the latter part of October 1998. Patty Parfitt's story of her long association with Rick Parfitt and Status Quo has already been the subject of press attention and she has recently given numerous radio interviews to promote the book. The serialisation of the book in the UK's tabloid newspaper "The People" concentrated on the headline-grabbing revelations that in fact comprise a very small part of the book, the bulk of Patty's material is much less outrageous and appears to tell things just as they were.
The book is interestingly subtitled "My Life Married to Status Quo", an indication that an involvement with any member of Quo inevitably leads to a relationship with the whole band, such is both their workload and dedication to each other. Patty's involvement goes back to the very early days and gives her a well-rounded perspective which includes both the new and old line-ups.
The book is presently only available in paperback (ISBN 1-85782-192-X) and comes with a late 80s picture of Rick and Francis on the front. The 260 pages chart Patty's relationship with Rick in essentially chronological order, the fifteen chapters being named (or based on) Quo song titles. Two sets of pictures are also included, most of which are previously unseen private photos including Patty and Rick.
Chapter 1 is clearly aimed at the browsers, charting as it does Rick's "suicide attempt" in the Thames and his ensuing "rescue" by Colin Johnson. It is not clear why this particular story comes first apart from to grab attention, it fits more naturally into later chapters of the story. The next chapter is an odd inclusion as well - she describes (yet again) the Butlins meeting and follows this well-trodden part of Quo's history up to the point where Colin Johnson became their manager. It is here that Patty's curious acknowledgement that "Status Quo - The Authorized Biography by John Shearlaw proved an invaluable tool in researching this book" shows most. It's difficult to imagine anyone who's spent thirty years around Status Quo would need such a book to fill in any facts !! After this inauspicious start, the true nature of the book comes through from chapter 3 onwards.
The rather sweet meeting and first date is described and, later, Rick's proposal to Patty. This story is told well and is a revealing insight into what Rick was like way back before fame and its trappings came along. As an aside, the origin of Francis' nickname "Frame" is unearthed - apparently he used to work in an opticians !! Patty also talks about some joint bills of Quo and Thin Lizzy and the fact that Phil Lynott and Rick wrote lots of songs together which have never been recorded - I wasn't aware of either of these facts. The first of many of Rick's indiscretions towards Patty is revealed in his first "affair", leading Patty to head for Australia as a ten-pound pom. This chapter unfortunately provides the first of a number of factual inaccuracies, with Patty describing "On The Level" as Quo's last album for Pye.
Chapter 4 begins a recurring theme when Rick's first meeting with Marietta is discussed. Shortly afterwards, he married her while Patty was still in Australia. Prior to the wedding, Quo undertook their first Australian tour and Rick and Patty talked by phone only. It was two years before she returned to the UK, says chapter 5, by which time Marietta and Rick had had their first child. The pain of seeing Rick with another woman proved too much and she upped sticks yet again, this time to work as a nanny in New York. Shortly after this move, Quo made their first trek to the US. Chapter 6 later tells of their most successful tour yet, the "Rock Around The World" tour !!
One of the more poignant chapters is next, in which the death of Rick's daughter Heidi is discussed. It is clear that, even though at this time Rick was with Marietta, it had a huge impact on Patty as well. Rick's reaction to the loss was dramatic and the drug and drink problems which ensued are heavily reported. Ultimately, that led to the breakdown of his relationship with Marietta and a string of short-lived relationships followed. Through Chapter 8, we learn that "Rockers Rollin" was a Top 10 hit in the UK and that the last gig of the "End of the Road" tour as at Crystal Palace FC...
In the Summer of 1985, Patty returned from Australia and her and Rick got back together. In chapter 9, she talks of Rick's solo LP and how good the material is. She also has a slight dig at Francis' "King of the Doghouse" attempt. The new drummer brought in to replace John Coghlan, Pete Kersher (!), is discussed in the run up to Live Aid. It is claimed in Chapter 10 that Quo were asked to do both the UK and US shows, but turned it down so Phil Collins did the honours instead. Patty describes the events of the day very well and was clearly amazed by it all, she even got to appear on stage for the finale, standing in front of Rick !!
By Chapter 11, we've reached the point where Quo were not together as a band following Live Aid. Apparently, Alan and Rick were plotting to reform Quo without Francis - eventually, however, Rick sided with Francis, leaving Alan in the lurch in Australia. Alan was furious and he and Rick didn't speak for two years afterwards. It is claimed that Alan's band in Australia (I assume she is referring to the Bombers) had a "few" number one hits, which I have been unable to confirm. The "new" Quo line-up takes shape and Patty only really mentions John and Jeff in a claim of drug taking.
The departure of Colin Johnson after the recording of "In The Army Now" (which is incorrectly cited as a 1988 recording in Chapter 12) sees David Walker taking the reigns of Quo management. By July 1988, Rick and Patty are married and she talks fondly of the early parts of their marriage. Things go well with the conception of Harry shortly before well-described trips (in Chapter 13) to Sun City and Nassau (for the recording of "Perfect Remedy"). It is as part of her description of the Nassau trip that she mentions Rick's fascination with dressing in women's clothes, although she also says that other members of the Quo entourage in Nassau were trying it as well. Back in the UK, Harry is born and immediately afterwards, Rick undergoes a facelift which went wrong and needed rework.
History almost repeats itself in Chapter 14 when the couple and Harry move to Silverdale in Walton-on-Thames, the previous occupier being Mike Yarwood. The swimming pool almost cost Harry his life just like Heidi years before and their time at that house is described in unfavourable terms, not helped by the fact that Rick had an affair with Pip Williams' wife, Bernadette, while they were living there. Also uncovered was the fact that Rick had holidayed with Marietta behind Patty's back, the precursor to an affair which would eventually lead to their divorce.
In the final chapter, Patty tells of the distressing time when Rick finally confessed his affair with Marietta and the painful, drawn out divorce which followed. Ironically, she ends up feeling sorry for Marietta when, after Rick's heart illness, he dumped Marietta for his old love Laura. She closes by saying "I've got happy memories of laughing all over the world with Rick and Quo - and crying with love and pain." Sadly, Rick's birthday is incorrectly dated in this chapter, a strange mistake for someone to make in her position.
Far from being the "kiss and tell" story the tabloid press have touted this book as, it is for the most part what appears to be a sincere telling of a life of ups and downs between Rick and Patty. Remarkably, she doesn't really slate him, her obsessive love of him always leading her to forgive or justify his actions. The book suffers somewhat from being a little disjointed and overloaded with irrelevancies at times and the factual inaccuracies dent the credibility of its content. That said, there are some interesting stories and insights which save it from obscurity and Quo fans will learn a lot from reading it, though it probably will do little to change their opinions of Quo or Rick himself.