|Simon Porter||Francis Rossi||John Rhino Edwards||Richie Malone|
|Mojo magazine||The Spectator||Sky News||The Guardian|
|Kent Online||Observer (US)||Nordoff Robbins||Walkway|
On behalf of family, band, management, crew, Rick’s many friends and, not least, Quo’s huge army of fans, I would like to thank everyone who has sent messages of sympathy and support today.
It is very much appreciated and perhaps now is the time to reflect at the end of a terrible day, coming at a time when we should all be celebrating both Christmas and the end of another year.
On a personal note, I have known Rick for over thirty years as a friend, PR and, for the past fifteen years, as Quo’s manager. There have been incredible highs, numerous laughs and some extremely dark periods. It has been an absolute rollercoaster and I probably wouldn’t have had it any other way.
I really think that we all thought that Rick was invincible, given his numerous and astounding recoveries from situations which would certainly have killed the average human being. Indeed, early this morning when I initially heard the news that he had taken a serious turn, my mind instantly thought that he would come around by Boxing Day.
Sadly, as we now know, his luck had run out and his line that ‘it will take more than death to kill me’ has taken a hollow ring. Quo fans should know and take comfort in the fact that his passing has, ironically, come at a time when
Rick was in a happier place career wise than he had been for a long, long, time.
I had dinner with Rick in Malaga on Tuesday evening and met with him again on Wednesday morning. Although he was in pain from a shoulder injury incurred as a result of an accidental fall, he was in good spirits and extremely excited about the future. Rick had come to terms that he would be unable to tour with Quo again, but he continued to be very much part of the Quo machine and we discussed future plans for the band. More importantly, however, Rick was ecstatic and excited with the news and contracts that I was able to give him for his autobiography, a solo album and a UK ‘evening with’ tour, all scheduled to take place in May of next year.
Sadly and less than three days later, all of our exciting plans have now gone bust in an instant.
Rick was the ultimate Rocker and lived the dream, plus a whole lot more. In perhaps the worst ever year for showbiz deaths, it is perhaps fitting that he topped the list right at the end of the year. He would have liked that…Back to the top of the page
I was not ready for this. Rick Parfitt had been a part of my story for fifty years. Without doubt the longest relationship of my life: this was also the most satisfying, frustrating, creative and fluid. From those early days, we worked together to create the Quo sound, look and hits. We spent years on the road, on the stage and in the studio, rarely far from each other, honing what we did.
We were a team, a double act, a partnership and yet also two very different people, handling the pressures of growing older, constant touring, dealing with success and keeping the creative flame burning in different ways. He developed his own sound, his own style, casually inspiring a generation of players.
Rick was the archetypal rock star, one of the originals, he never lost his joy, his mischievous edge and his penchant for living life at high speed, high volume, high risk. His life was never boring, he was louder and faster and more carefree than the rest of us. There were any number of incidents along the way, times when he strayed into areas of true danger and yet still losing him now is still a shock. Even in a year that has claimed so many of our best, including now George Michael, Rick Parfitt stands out. I was not ready for this.Back to the top of the page
I first met the hurricane that was Rick Parfitt at a London recording studio in 1985. We hit it off straight away, and since then hardly a day has gone by without thinking about, talking to or seeing him. He made me cry so often, always with laughter, then last week for the first time, he made me cry with sadness. It’s surreal that there’s now an I in the middle of RP.
There are a few of us who knew the Reverend Rock Parfait well, and it was my privilege to be one of them.We wrote a song together in 2004 called This is me. I’m finding the lyrics very poignant at this time.
Love you Ricardo, Rhino xxBack to the top of the page
Well what a year it's been.. some incredible highs and incredible lows. I Still can't believe the "Wild old Man of Rock n Roll" Rick Parfitt has passed away.
Who would of thought that all them years ago when I first got into Status Quo and in particular Rick that I would end up many years later in the band filling in for Rick while he recovered. This year has of course been truly amazing for me while on tour with Quo and now my idol has passed away.
Hard to believe considering he only rang me a few weeks ago and we had a great chat - he was in top form and cracking jokes as always.
So many amazing memories from over the years meeting Rick and travelling to gigs, I was very privileged that he took a liking to me all them years ago and as you can see in the video he always kept an interest in my playing.
I'm very honoured to have had his blessing while stepping into Quo, he was very proud and and said to keep up the good work.
Rick I hope you are having the party of a life time up there with the rest of the legends that have passed away in 2016.
Thanks for the memories and an awesome body of work left behind. ROCK ON.Back to the top of the page
Written by Phil Alexander.
IN A WORLD FULL of affectation, Rick Parfitt was a musician who enjoyed his status as a rock star, wearing it with good grace and a broad grin.
The partnership he formed with fellow Telecaster-wielding guitarist and frontman Francis Rossi powered Status Quo from an aspiring and at times underrated psychedelic outfit to one of the biggest and most popular rock acts of the ‘70s. If the band’s crunchy sound was based on the twin-guitar axis of Parfitt and Rossi, their appeal also derived from the duo’s down-to-earth attitude.
Parfitt himself was born in Woking, Surrey on October 12, 1948, and he began playing guitar at the age of 11. Later, he fell into the cabaret circuit before meeting Rossi when the pair performed at a Butlins holiday camp. Status Quo would come together in 1967 and score their first UK Top 10 hit, Pictures Of Matchstick Men, the following year.
Follow-ups proved elusive, and it took until 1972 for the band to score their second Top 10 hit with Paper Plane. The Quo, however, were off and running, their newly boogie-fied sound turning on a generation of teenagers on to a new kind of very English rock’n’roll. While Rossi was more prolific as a songwriter, Parfitt’s deft touch is evident on hits like Rain, Mystery Song (both 1976) and Living On An Island (1979).
The band’s trajectory would continue upwards into the ‘80s, The End Of The Road Tour in ’84 proving a premature farewell. Indeed, the following year they would be one of the acts – alongside Queen, U2 and others – who left an indelible mark on Live Aid’s global audience estimated at 1.9 billion.
Parfitt never hid his enjoyment of the high life, although it appeared to catch up with him on occasion (most notably in 1997 when he had a quadruple heart bypass). Despite this he continued to record and play with Quo until June of this year when he suffered a heart attack. At that point, Quo announced that he would cease to tour.
On Saturday, December 24, 2016, Parfitt’s death was announced via a detail statement from Quo’s longstanding manager, Simon Porter. It reads as follows:
“We are truly devastated to have to announce that Status Quo guitarist Rick Parfitt has passed away at lunchtime today.
“He died in hospital in Marbella, Spain as a result of a severe infection, having been admitted to hospital on Thursday evening following complications to a shoulder injury incurred by a previous fall.
“This tragic news comes at a time when Rick was hugely looking forward to launching a solo career with an album and autobiography planned for 2017 following his departure from Status Quo’s touring activities on medical advice.
“He will be sorely missed by his family, friends, fellow band members, management, crew and his dedicated legion of fans from throughout the world, gained through 50 years of monumental success with Status Quo.
“Rick is survived by his wife Lyndsay, their twins Tommy and Lily and Rick’s adult children Rick Jnr and Harry.
“No further comment will be made at this time and Rick’s family, and the band, ask for their privacy to be respected at this difficult time.”
MOJO would like to extend our condolences to Rick’s family, friends, bandmates and associates.Back to the top of the page
"I should never have been ashamed to love Status Quo" by Rod Liddle
I bought a record in a second-hand shop in the summer of 1981. A double album. I made sure nobody was looking when I handed over my money, and kept the purchase hidden in its brown paper bag all the way home. Back in my room, I locked the door to make sure my house-mates couldn’t surprise me — and plugged in my headphones. What followed was more than an hour of dirty bliss, a guilty pleasure before the term had been invented.
What I was listening to was a compilation album of Status Quo’s singles and most popular album tracks. I can’t remember what it was called — ‘Again and Again and Again and Again and Again’ would have been fitting, but too arch for the Quo. My housemates, if they had known what I up to, would have been both mystified and contemptuous. The music we were supposed to enjoy at the time was either the angular, dour and humourless post-punk of the Gang of Four and Echo and the Bunnymen’s portentous scouse warbling, or the glitzy cheap synth New Romantic dross which was rapidly becoming flavour of the decade. An awful decade for popular music, in the main, I would contend. By then Status Quo were the sine qua non of all that was bad about rock music, in their naff denims and with their strangely thin estuarial whine.
To be honest, they always had been — even when the brand of music they played, hard rock, dominated the pages of the music press to which I and other gullible idiots dutifully paid homage. Quo were a bit of a joke — for their simplicity and repetetiveness — in the mid-1970s and quite beyond the pale five or six years later. Anyway, I sat there, and the guitars went chug da chug da chug and I experienced a sense of elation. The same sense of cleanliness and freedom that I suspect people experience when they have been trepanned, or have undergone a vigorous colonic irrigation. And I noticed, as I sat listening to this culturally samizdat music, how effortlessly catchy were the songs: the tunes were perhaps not the most complex ever imagined, but there was always a clever hook. When I’d played all four sides of the album, I played them all over again, to no great diminution of pleasure.
The death of Rick Parfitt — described as the ‘rhythm guitarist’ of Status Quo — passed without much of a fanfare. Certainly nothing which would compare to the weeping and wailing in the media when Lou Reed or David Bowie or Leonard Cohen shuffled off their mortal coils. And yet Parfitt has a good claim to have been one of the most successful and prolific songwriters this country has ever seen.
Status Quo had more chart hits than any other British band, the Beatles included. Sales of 120 million records — rather more than the amount sold by George Michael, whose death and, uh, genius, you are probably still now reading about. Rather more than the one hit recorded by Lou Reed or the none whatsoever from Leonard Cohen (assuming you’re not counting those horrible cover versions of ‘Perfect Day’ and ‘Hallelujah’). And Parfitt was responsible for writing many of the great Quo hits, usually in collaboration with a chap called Bob Young. All those relentless boogies of the 1970s — ‘Rain’, ‘Whatever You Want’, ‘Again and Again’, ‘Mystery Song’ — when Quo were at their peak, that was Parfitt.
But the band were loathed by people we might call opinion-formers — and became a byword for that very worst of things, conservatism. Working-class, blue-collar conservatism. For example, they got on very well with Prince Charles and Prince Charles famously liked them: in terms of gaining the approval of music critics, this was a death knell. And when BBC Radio One wished to demonstrate to the hip young population that it was not naff any more, it made it public that Status Quo were banned from their airwaves. It’s OK to do this to bands beloved by the white working class: they don’t count. Their cultural preferences are to be derided and ignored, because they are primitive and coarse.
And yet in truth, Quo were a sort of British equivalent of the much more respected US band Creedence Clearwater Revival — a basic rock-and-roll outfit, plugging away at their retro schtick in a more complex and not necessarily better age. No surprise, then, that one of Quo’s biggest hits was a cover of ‘Rocking All Over The World’, written by CCR’s brilliant and irascible frontman, John Fogerty.
So, RIP, Rick Parfitt. This has been a big year for the deaths of Baby Boomer rock n rollers. Two thirds of the very, very, boring prog rock giants Emerson, Lake and Palmer, for example, have bought the farm: only Carl Palmer is left standing. And Bowie, of course, and Prince. And a great many who were rather less famous — Dale Griffin from Mott The Hoople, to mention just one.
You might argue, controversially, that a certain sexual or pharmaceutical (or both) hedonism eventually caught up with them: these days, to check out in your sixties is usually the consequence of not having lived the life of an ascetic. Hepatitis B acquired through dubious sexual contact or the use of syringes will lead to liver cancer as sure as night follows day, except with a rather longer time lag. Cirrhosis will grab you in your late fifties and early sixties. Cocaine will eventually convince your heart to give up the ghost at any time from 45 to 65. I mention this because people keep asking: why are so many of our favourite pop stars dying? Because their time is up, according to the lives they led.
Librarians and credit stock controllers might well last a few more years than Rick Parfitt managed and get to laugh a bit longer at Corbyn and know who wins next year’s edition of The Apprentice. Unless they get knocked over by a bus next week.Back to the top of the page
"Status Quo guitarist Rick Parfitt was a hard rocker with a soft centre - It can be a mistake to meet your heroes, but Rick Parfitt was always charming and friendly", says Sky's Ian Woods.
The last time I saw Rick was in September, three months after, in his own words, "I died for three minutes".
I'd flown to Spain to interview him because he was announcing it was the end of the road for him touring with Status Quo.
It was doctor's orders. He'd had cardiac arrests and heart surgery before, but his most recent collapse was by far the most serious.
In what would be his last ever interview, he told me: "I've got to apologise to the fans really because it's my fault.
"You know you live the rock and roll lifestyle and at some stage you've got to pay for it.
"And I'm now paying for it. So it's my fault that I'm not with the band now."
But he didn't want to retire completely, and so was planning to work on a solo album and collaborate with a writer to produce an autobiography.
His story would have been published early in 2017.
And what a story it was.
Fifty years of rocking all over the world. More hits than any other band. And the opening act of Live Aid - the greatest show on earth.
I'd been a Quo fan as a kid. There was a poster of Rick and the band on my bedroom wall with his signature pose - blonde hair covering his face, head down over his white electric guitar.
The band knew I was a fan, and after interviewing them for Sky News I was asked to write a book about their reunion tour with former members Alan Lancaster and John Coghlan.
I worked on a couple of DVDs and enjoyed hanging around with them backstage.
Sometimes it's a mistake to meet your heroes and see their flaws.
But Rick was always charming and friendly - quick to crack a joke; a hard rocker with a soft centre.
A few years ago I was sitting with him in the garden of Francis Rossi's home, and he lit a cigarette.
"I thought you'd given up," I said. "I have," he replied. "Just the odd one."
But he couldn't quite quit all his bad habits - to the frustration of his colleagues.
During our interview in Spain in September he told me he'd stopped drinking.
Minutes after we switched off the camera he was already sipping from a glass of red wine.
It was a more genteel vice than the drugs which he took so regularly that meant much of the seventies and eighties was a blur. He'd asked a colleague to help him recall key events for his autobiography.
I was filming with the remaining members of Status Quo just over a week ago, and they all talked about Rick's health and how amazed they were that he had survived so long.
Now they are stunned he has gone. It wasn't his heart which failed him, it was an infection.
The band were always planning to keep playing without Rick, but there was always the possibility that he might return for a cameo role in their final ever gig, if indeed there is a final-ever gig.
They've been threatening to retire since 1984.
Happily, he bowed out at the top.
After being mocked for years for their style of music, Quo have won critical acclaim for their recent live performances and for two acoustic albums.
Their bass player John Edwards told me recently that at what turned out to be his final gig, Rick was on top form.
Rick Parfitt has a legacy to be proud of, and I'm privileged to have known him.Back to the top of the page
"Goodbye Rick Parfitt, you were one of rock's heroes" by Michael Hann.
People mocked Status Quo, but they were wrong – this was one of the most powerful British rock bands of all, and at their heart was Rick Parfitt’s crushing rhythm guitar
There he would be, stage right, dressed almost always in a shirt – usually white, or blue denim – with one too many buttons undone, untucked over blue jeans, white sneakers on his feet. His white Telecaster would be held with its neck at a 45-degree angle – the better to synchronise swinging it with his Status Quo bandmate of decades, Francis Rossi – and from it would come riff after riff after riff after riff, unyielding, implacable.
I dare you to laugh at Rick Parfitt. People did, often and long, but they were wrong. Parfitt was one of the greatest British rock’n’rollers, and if Status Quo had long since passed into light entertainment, so what? They had earned the right to make money, playing to appreciative crowds; they had earned the right to do whatever they wanted. It’s just a shame Parfitt couldn’t be with them on stage until the end – at their gigs in the run-up to Christmas, illness had made him an absentee.
You didn’t go to Quo for chameleonic reinvention, like Bowie. You didn’t expect a mastery of styles and intoxicating sexuality, as with Prince. You’d look long and hard for insight into Cohenesque insight into the human condition. But what you did get, especially from the classic “Frantic Four” line-up of the 1970s, was rock’n’roll as a physical force, something that hit you like a cannonball. Their breakthrough album, 1972’s Piledriver, was aptly named.
When the Frantic Four reunited for a series of gigs in 2013 and 2014, they were a reminder of what Quo had been, and a lesson that it was well within their powers to return to that. And at the centre of that bludgeoning onslaught was the rhythm guitar of Parfitt, his downstrokes turning his right hand into a blur, hitting the barre chords again, again, again, again. And when he took to the mic to perform one of his own songs, Rain, it was as heavy in its own way as anything I had ever seen on the stage at the Eventim Apollo, or Hammersmith Odeon, or whatever you want to call it – as crushing as Slayer or Iron Maiden or Judas Priest or Them Crooked Vultures. It was breathtaking.
Quo’s music – so often characterised as “heads-down, no-nonsense, mindless boogie” – was hardly sophisticated, but it gets treated with a contempt it really doesn’t deserve. It’s true that even in their heyday their albums could be patchy, but at their best they were punk before punk, their dedication to stripping away the fripperies as wholehearted as the Ramones, and their willingness to turn the blues into a hypnotic drone making them something akin to a Norwood Neu!, as Saint Etienne’s Bob Stanley once suggested to me.
It would be fair to say that Parfitt never seemed to make any great claims for profundity. He appeared happy enough for Quo to be A Bit Of A Larf – hence the appearances in ropy films (Bula Quo!), the cheerful admission that he and Rossi were off their nuts on cocaine through the recording of Band Aid – rather than one of the building blocks of British rock music.
Beneath it all, though, and for a long time, there was darkness. His two-year-old daughter drowned in 1980; he had recurrent health problems – a heart attack and a quadruple bypass in 1997, another heart attack, another heart attack. And the drugs and drink years turned out not to have been a non-stop party.
“Through the late 70s and all through the 80s I was a bit of an ogre,” he told our own Simon Hattenstone in 2007. “I fell into the sex, drugs, rock’n’roll big time, and Richard, my eldest son, saw me at my worst. It was a big shock for him and he deserted me. I don’t blame him ’cos I was just not with it, I wasn’t here … Richard has described me as turning into a Mr Hyde. He said, you just became a different person, and it was almost like being out of a movie where you’d wake up and all the facial hair had gone and the claws had been drawn back, and you wake up and you’re this normal person for a very short space of time until you decide to drink the potion again. For three or four years he didn’t talk to me, and he came back to me at about 14. Wisely his mother kept him away from me.”
So the cheery, laughing man you saw on stage had won the right to that persona. And for all his rock star affectations – the flapping shirt, the bling, the golden mane that had started to look a bit out of place quite a long time ago – the thing about Parfitt was that he didn’t seem like a rock star, so much as what an ordinary bloke would be like if he were transformed into a rock star.
That might account for the love people had for Quo, for they really were a group who were loved. That’s why they could continue playing arenas – because they were, in a way that only hard rock bands really can be, a “people’s group”. They were reminiscent of things that people like, rather than the things they aspire to – a night at the pub, rather than on the dancefloor at Studio 54; a day trip to the seaside, instead of a month in Mustique; chewing the fat with your mates, not trying to think of something to say to a supermodel. And at the heart of it was what seemed to be a deep and genuine love between Parfitt and Rossi, bandmates for almost 50 years, and friends for longer.
Mystery and magic have a place in rock’n’roll, of course they do. But so, too, do their less exciting counterparts – familiarity, reliability, certainty. Parfitt and Status Quo embodied those characteristics, and they shouldn’t be scoffed at. No one says of Nile Rodgers, “Yes, but all he does is disco.” They celebrate the fact that he took one thing and took it to a state of perfection. Of course, disco is glamorous; it’s flashing lights and beautiful people and New York and the thrill of the night. Status Quo were last orders and the geezer in the tour T-shirt and Croydon and the bus home. But that’s life. To be perfect at one small part of music’s great display is a colossal achievement in itself. Goodbye, Rick Parfitt. You were one of rock’s heroes.Back to the top of the page
Written by Tom Acres.
One of the writers behind Status Quo’s autobiography has paid tribute to guitarist Rick Parfitt after he died on Christmas Eve.
Kent journalist Roger Kasper co-wrote 1993’s Just For The Record, which told the story of Parfitt and band mate Francis Rossi’s journey from ambitious youngsters to global stars.
The death of Parfitt in a Spanish hospital prompted tributes from around the world, and Mr Kasper said the festive season had been “tarnished by his passing”.
Parfitt had appeared several times with Quo at the Castle Concerts in Rochester but in July he pulled out of one of the gigs after suffering a heart attack while on tour in Turkey.
The previous year their sell-out concert had to be cancelled when Parfitt fell ill with a stomach complaint.
Looking back on the book, Mr Kasper, who is from Gravesend, recalled landing the gig after interviewing the band at the NEC in Birmingham for the News of the World.
“They revealed their autobiography plans for the following year and I handed them my business card and cheekily suggested that if they needed help with writing it, I was their man,” he said.
“Amazingly, they chose me, and I would meet with Rick on Mondays at his flat in Chessington to interview him. I remember jumping into his soft-top Aston Martin and driving to his mum’s to go through her memories and family album.
“Then to the grave of his tragic daughter Heidi, who died in a swimming pool accident at his home. This was the only sombre moment I ever spent with Rick.
“Then to the house where his wife Marietta had thrown the contents of his wardrobe out of their bedroom window into their front garden. He was still chuckling about that.
“Back at his home, I found I had a flat tyre. He watched as I jacked up the car and changed the wheel. I thought the petrol-head would have rolled up his sleeves and lent a hand! Ever the rock star.
“He’s gone to live on his own island now – Christmas was tarnished by his passing.”
Parfitt was admitted to hospital last Thursday evening due to complications arising from a pre-existing shoulder injury, which had already seen him depart from Quo’s touring activities.Back to the top of the page
"R.I.P. Status Quo’s Rick Parfitt, the Man Who Changed How I Hear Rock" by Tim Sommer.
I blame Rolling Stone for a lot of things. I could provide a long list, but that would certainly involve me unfavorably comparing Dave Grohl to Tico Torres.
But here’s something that really bugs me about Rolling Stone: at some point they decided that Great Britain was only of interest to their Lenny Kravitz-and-Pearl-Jam-befogged readers if Kurt Cobain happened to mention it in passing during an interview.
I’m not entirely sure why Rolling Stone went in this direction, though I have some theories. Perhaps it began as a defense against the onslaught of British accents in the early days of MTV, coming on the heels of a British punk movement that Rolling Stone’s Skunk Baxter/Timothy Schmidt-centric sensibilities despised more than the Geico Gecko hates cats. I can imagine these fine and talented gentlemen shaking their heads and going, “But they don’t have chops! They haven’t paid their dues!” Man, I can totally see that conversation, can’t you? Pass the dust, I think I’m Henley.
Or maybe it was the prevalence in the early 1980s of Human League-type synth bands that must have so deeply offended Waddy Wachtel and Max Weinberg. Of course, exceptions were made, mostly for Bono and U2, and sometimes for The Edge as well.
Rolling Stone’s Anglophobia changed America’s dialogue about the story of rock and pop, and not for the better. Before long, this perspective spread to the formerly open-minded precincts of FM radio.
Once upon a 1970s time, FM had been very friendly to all manner of British acts, including those who weren’t big sellers: Who else recalls hearing Gentle Giant, Wreckless Eric, the Strawbs or even the godlike Hawkwind on mega-wattage, major-market FM radio stations? But by the middle of the 1980s, the collapsing star of open-playlist FM radio had fallen into lockstep with the party line, with exceptions made for those Keith Forsey-produced hits and all that kohl-eyed sobbing to be heard on the big “Alternative” stations.
By the peak of the Nirvana era, Rolling Stone routinely dismissed anything that sounded British and didn’t clearly belong on a mixtape Cameron Crowe would have sent Dave Marsh for Christmas (are these references too obscure for you? I think they’re pretty standard, and it’s not like I am alluding to the Jewish Autonomous Oblast or anything like that. I figure a “Dave Marsh” reference is more oblique than, say, a “Second Darrin” reference, but probably a bit more familiar than a “John Corabi” reference. But, ahhh, is a “Second Darrin” reference and a “John Corabi”reference the same thing? Now, a few paragraphs back, “Pass the dust, I think I’m Henley,” that was good and obscure).
Soon, the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame, which mirrored this Rolling Stone sensibility, began turning this Brit Lives Don’t Matter quirk into the accepted narrative of rock ’n’ roll history. I have written a lot about this—the Hall of Fame’s bizarre omission of artists like Thin Lizzy, the Cure, the Smiths, Depeche Mode, Iron Maiden, T Rex, Roxy Music, Judas Priest, Kate Bush, Mott the Hoople, etcetera—so I won’t go into it again here. Let me just say it’s freaking weird. They’re not telling the whole story, and it’s ugly.
See, when there was a lot of rock media—oh, Creem, Trouser Press, Christgau-era Village Voice and even old-school Spin—there was a generally warm and fuzzy notion that rock was American and British (and sometimes Canadian and even occasionally German). There wasn’t this big, floppy idea that rock could only come from the same country Chicago and Little Steven came from.
Some of the biggest bands in the Western World have flown under the American radar, and that sucks. Perhaps none of these omissions is more bizarre or more jarring than Status Quo.
Status Quo were a wonderful and utterly mainstream rock band who filled stadiums in their homeland year after year and decade after decade; yet they couldn’t buy a Fribble in the United States with five bucks and an iPhone that had the words “Find Friendlys Near Me” typed into the search box (search box? Is that what they call those things? In any event, Search Box is a pretty decent name for a band).
First, some raw numbers: Over a 48-year span (!), Quo placed 57 (!) songs in the U.K. Top 40. That bears repeating: Status Quo had 57 Top 40 hits. They are one of only a handful of rock bands (of any national origin) to have spent over 500 weeks in the British charts, and they sold over 120 millions records.
Status Quo are such an institution in the U.K. that in 2010, band leaders Rick Parfitt, who passed away December 24 at age 68, and Francis Rossi stood in front of Queen Elizabeth II (Americans may know her as someone portrayed by Helen Mirren and, more recently, the saucy and slightly geeky Claire Foy) and were awarded the OBE—that is, they were made an Officer of The Most Excellent Order of the British Empire (not a Wayne’s World reference, that’s really what it’s called).
Status Quo’s New World obscurity might make sense if they were one of those English bands who were all “Bob’s Yer Uncle!” and “Beans on Toast!” and “I Heart Tommy Cooper and Vera Lynn!” or if they were hopping around dressed like Stanley Holloway in My Fair Lady and singing “My Old Man’s A Dustman.” If that was the case, we could understand why America chose to ignore them.
But that is not the freaking case at all.
Status Quo’s music is supremely commercial and lovable, and it’s exactly the sort of stuff that should have been a total staple of FM radio in the 1970s and ‘80s (not to mention all those bloody Sirius classic rock channels that always seem to be playing Jethro Tull or “Sweet Emotion” whenever I turn them on).
But let’s get this out of the way: In the United States, Status Quo are known primarily for only one song, 1968’s “Pictures of Matchstick Men.”
Get this straight, America: that track is a psychedelic oddity Quo released at the very beginning of their career, and it bears literally no resemblance to the sound that later made them one of the biggest acts in British rock history. To associate Quo only with this one song would sort of be like thinking that the only song Pink Floyd ever recorded was “See Emily Play.”
So, if Status Quo (oh, and the Brits pronounce it STATE-us, as in Hate Us) became one of the biggest British bands of the last five decades with stuff that doesn’t sound anything like “Pictures of Matchstick Men,” what did they actually sound like?
Quo’s classic sound, immediately identifiable to multiple generations of British rock fans, is a driving but polished 12-bar boogie/here-comes-the-train-down-the-tracks-here-comes-the-train-down-the-tracks rock ’n’ roll.
It’s like a slicker version of the boogie that Dave Edmunds and Rockpile were so good at, and in that sense, it’s occasionally reminiscent of Bon Jovi covering the early Flamin Groovies, if you can wrap your mind around that; which is all to say it’s not too far from Steve Miller, not too far at all, no siree, I mean if Steve Miller mostly covered Dr. Feelgood or very early Stones; or you could say it’s like some cross between Canned Heat and Badfinger; or perhaps I would venture that Quo sounds a lot like a lacquered up interpretation of Peter Green-era Fleetwood Mac.
It’s probably safest to say that in Britain, Status Quo are regarded roughly the way Americans regard ZZ Top. Quo played churning, user-friendly roadhouse rock ’n’ roll, maybe a little dumb, but expertly executed and recorded.
And we are here not just to say all this, but also to sadly note that on the day before Christmas, Rick Parfitt, co-guitarist and co-leader of the mighty Status Quo, left us at age 68 for a different Boogie Bardo.
I can tell you the exact moment I fell in love with Status Quo, the minute that their head-out-on-the-highway-and-roll-right-past-Needles-while-doing-110-mph ramalama brought me to a state of transcendence.
In 1985, I was working for MTV News. In this capacity, I found myself standing on the wide turf of JFK Stadium in Philadelphia, awaiting the start of Live Aid.
It was precisely 7 in the morning (we had been at the venue since 5 a.m.), and the high, new sky was astonishingly clear, tall, and a blinding blue-white. The doors to the venue had just opened, and the field was beginning to fill with people. The enormous P.A. and video screen cracked and whacked into action with a sibilant burr and a sub-bass crunch, getting ready to simulcast the concert that was about to begin at London’s Wembley Stadium (the live music in Philadelphia wasn’t going to start for another five hours).
At this fairly ungodly hour, on this remarkable hot squint of a day, I heard a voice come over the P.A. from 3,539 miles away: “AND now, to start the 16 HOURS of Live AID, would you welcome STATUS QUO!”
And in a breath, Quo tickled and tripped their way into the downbeat ecstasy of “Rockin’ All Over The World,” the John Fogerty song that had been one of their very biggest hits.
On that morning, Status Quo sounded like an interstellar bar band on a voyage somewhere between Abbey Road and Austin; they were so full of joy and chug and a pure boogie-burping simplicity that they were directly connected to Eddie Cochran and Fats Domino and the Beatles in Hamburg and the Clash and the Cramps. It was like Status Quo held in their hands a ball of yarn that knit together every person on earth with the power of rock ’n’ roll.
I have seen many moments when artists reached off the stage and electrified my spine and made the goose bumps rise.
I have seen bony Pete Townshend airborne. I have seen Elvis Che Strummer eyes screwed shut. I have seen 21-year-old Michael Stipe spinning like a top, and rooster Mike Monroe balanced from a ceiling pipe. I have seen Young Marble Giants freeze a room with the power of their quiet bomb. I have seen the Fall summon the spirit of Johnny Burnette and make him speak in Tristan Tzara’s tongue. I have seen Stiff Little Fingers crawl up imaginary ladders and shriek through the walls. And I have seen Glenn Branca and his muffler-dragging guitars demand that the devil crawl at his feet. But never, not ever, did I see a more pure moment of rock ’n’ roll than Status Quo at Live Aid.
If an alien, transparent except for a glowing olive green aura and no higher than my knee and communicating wordlessly and distracting me from a Perfect Coffee Shop Tuna Melt sidled up to me and said, “Stranger, show me rock ’n’ roll,” I know exactly what I would do: I would play him/her/it “Bo Diddley” by Bo Diddley and then I’d show them Quo’s first song at Live Aid, and I’d say, “Get the picture, friend?”
So listen to “Rockin’ All Over The World” and listen to “Down Down” and “Caroline” and “Whatever You Want,” too, and maybe even “Roll Over Lay Down,” and you will pretty much get it.
Status Quo aren’t that hard to grasp, they just do their thing, and they never get too deep or too metal or too soppy or too trippy or too solo-y. Quo are, well, just Quo. They play boogie and they play it clean and they sing loud and clear and tunefully, and you know what, there’s a place for that in our world, even if Jann Wenner never heard of them and Dave Grohl never jammed with them and G.E. Smith never played any of their songs.
Oh, and they also have an album called In Search of the 4th Chord, which would have been the best Ramones album title ever.
So godspeed, Rick Parfitt. And God save Status Quo.Back to the top of the page
“Nordoff Robbins were incredibly saddened to hear of the passing of Rick Parfitt over Christmas,” the charity said in a statement. "Rick, alongside Francis Rossi, was a patron of Nordoff Robbins and a big supporter of our work. We were lucky enough to know Rick well and he spent time getting to know our work and the people we helped and he was a regular visitor to our events and our HQ to see our music therapy first hand.
“Status Quo won a Silver Clef Award in 1981, and later a Lifetime Achievement Award in 2011. They were there at our Live at Knebworth concert in 1990, and continued to generously support our events, from the Race Day, Boxing Dinner and Clay Shoot, to donating all manner of signed guitars and even welcome drinks for the 2014 Silver Clef Awards.
“We couldn’t have hoped for a more passionate supporter than Rick. The world has lost a great musician, philanthropist, and a generally great man. We’re proud to have called him a friend.”
“We have been supporting Nordoff Robbins for over 20 years and are proud to be their Patrons. The work they do, helping people through music is really amazing. We have seen for ourselves how Nordoff Robbins music therapy can have a huge impact on vulnerable children and adults who are limited or isolated by their condition. Music therapy quite literally uses the power of music to transform lives.” – Francis and Rick, Status QuoBack to the top of the page
Written by Zach Ward (Bury Free Press).
Redgrave-based rock band Walkway will pay tribute to Status Quo legend Rick Parfitt when they record their third album starting next month.
Walkway, which comprises Chris Ready, James Ready, Alex Rosedale and Andy Burlace, supported Status Quo on a number of occasions, the first in front of 10,000 people at Holkham Hall in August 2014.
Guitarist Parfitt died in hospital at the age of 68 in December.
And in his memory, Walkway will record a cover of Rain, one Quo’s tracks written by Parfitt, when they put together their new album.
Band manager Michael Ready said they intended to write a tribute in memory of Parfitt in the booklet of the album, due to be recorded next month, but after being contacted by the Status Quo fan club about doing a tribute, they decided to cover Rain.
He said: “We were absolutely devastated when we heard the news. It spoilt our Christmas because the boys thought a lot of Rick.
“We were going to be working with him and on his solo project and we had been asked to submit some songs for his solo album. Chris and James had been writing material for this since September which were going to be considered for Rick’s album as he was a big fan of Walkway.
“Rick was always very complimentary of Walkway and had given me people in the industry to contact.”
“We were really looking forward to working with him and were due to meet up again soon to discuss a number of things in the pipe line. He was a mega star.”
Mr Ready, father to lead vocalist Chris and lead guitarist James, and who fronts his own band Backstreet, says Status Quo were a huge influence on him.
“They were more influential on me as they were the band when I was growing up,” he said.
“I remember during a sound check for Walkway at one of the shows in Blackpool and Manchester last year, I was sitting in an empty 3,500 person arena with Rick having a good old chat.
“I was saying to him ‘when I was the boy’s age I never thought I would be sitting here talking to you’ because Status Quo are one of the bands that got me interested in guitar. I think the boys were more influenced since they got to know them, and they have been a big part of the boys’ lives over the past few years.
“They have the utmost respect for Quo.”Back to the top of the page
Rick Parfitt, who has died aged 68, was the singer and rhythm guitarist with Status Quo, the band which found a winning formula (the 12-bar boogie) in the 1970s and stuck to it for the rest of their career; the denim-clad Parfitt's shaggy blond mane and solid guitar playing were at the very heart of the look and sound of the Quo, who over the years have attracted adulation and derision in equal measure.
An inveterate "lad" who for three decades continually abused his body in the name of rock 'n' roll, Parfitt was never one to take himself too seriously. Defiantly unfashionable – both musically and sartorially – he nevertheless made the most of his rock star status.
At the height of his success he owned 10 Porsches, had a £1000 per week cocaine habit, was a raging alcoholic and betrayed wives (at least in the early days) with more groupies than he could remember.
But the self-styled "Wild of Man of Rock and Roll" also wrote some of the band's most memorable songs, including Whatever You Want, Living on an Island and Rain. And while the critics sneered, the Quo's core members, Parfitt and Francis Rossi (the band's lead guitarist with whom Parfitt described his relationship as "marriage without the sex") continued touring and delighting their audiences with all the old favourites.
They were still gigging more than 40 years after the release of their first single, Pictures of Matchstick Men (1968). This was mostly for financial reasons (the drug years had taken their toll financially as well as physically), but their shows were always sold out.
As the band members got older, however, the off-stage antics began to calm down – one journalist spotted Parfitt reading a book about arthritis on the tour bus – although rock'n'roll still had its dangers. In the late 1990s Rossi pulled a leg muscle while executing a scissor jump and had to complete the Quo's tour with the help of a walking stick.
Then in 2001, in an irony not lost on music critics, who claimed that Parfitt could play only three chords, the band was forced to cancel three concerts after he was struck down by a suspected case of repetitive strain injury.
In 2005, shortly before the release of their 62nd single, Status Quo's position as a British national treasure was confirmed when they were listed by Guinness World Records as having had more British hit singles than any other band.
Moreover, Parfitt, despite a string of health problems, including a quadruple heart bypass in 1997, a cancer scare in 2005 and a heart attack in 2011, continued to exude a puppyish enthusiasm for his craft, and his fans.
"The Quo fans are fantastic," he said. "They used to be blokes in their twenties but now Quo fans are aged eight to 80. And let me tell you, the crumpet in the audience is unbelievable these days – all these tasty women watching us old boys jumping around on stage. We seem to get away with it, though."
Rick Parfitt was born Richard Harrison on October 12, 1948, at Woking, and was educated locally at Sheerwater. He first met Francis Rossi at a Butlin's holiday camp in 1965 while playing in a band called the Highlights. Rossi was playing with the south London-based band the Spectres (a forerunner of Status Quo) and they discussed working together, although Parfitt did not join the band until 1967.
Pictures of Matchstick Men, their first hit, was a psychedelic number and not representative of their later canon. But their first album, Ma Kelly's Greasy Spoon, hinted at the "boogie woogie" style that was to dominate their songs. By the mid-1970s the band had abandoned frilly shirts for denim and white trainers; and so began a look and a sound that endured through every musical fashion.
The 1970s were glorious years for Status Quo; they sold millions of albums and had endless hits with singles such as Paper Plane, Caroline, Down Down and their inexplicably popular cover of John Fogerty's Rockin All Over the World. The rest of the line-up changed, but Parfitt and Rossi continued to dominate the Quo.
In 1985 the band opened the Live Aid concert, but the partying had been taking its toll. During a performance of Marguerita Time on Top of the Pops in 1983 Parfitt was so drunk that he fell off the stage, taking the drummer with him while Rossi played on. At the Brit Awards one year they were too busy taking cocaine in the backstage lavatories to collect their award. At one stage, Parfitt was using 15 grammes of cocaine a week.
"I started about midday with whisky and wine chasers," he recalled. "I liked to get fairly drunk before I began on the drugs. There were a lot of hangers-on and I was under the mistaken impression that they were my friends. The 1980s were a complete nightmare." He sank further into drug and alcohol addiction after his two-year-old daughter from his first marriage drowned in the family swimming pool.
In 1995, after Radio 1 decided to take them off their playlist, Status Quo took the station to the High Court, only to hear that the judge accept the defence that the Quo were "somewhat conservative and old hat". The following year Parfitt was found guilty of drink-driving at the wheel of one of his many Porsches.
But after his bypass operation, Parfitt stopped the drugs, curbed the drinking and tried to give up cigarettes. "I can't go on hell-raising four nights a week now," he pointed out. "If I did, I'd die."
In his fifties the womanising and bodily abuses appeared to have given way to fitness regimes and juicing. "We used to think it was all about knocking people over and smashing up bars," he reflected, "but now we appear on stage then have a chicken sandwich."
In 2012 a documentary film, Hello Quo, was released, in which eminent musicians from Paul Weller to ELO rhapsodised about the band. And for all the reunions and the nostalgia trips there was also some new work, including a tour with the masters of "rockney" pub sing-along, Chas and Dave, as special guests.
In the album Aquostic (Stripped Bare) (2014) some of the band's best-loved numbers were stripped down and performed on acoustic guitars. Appropriately, Parfitt and Rossi, both in their mid-sixties, also stripped down, appearing nude on the cover in a photograph by Bryan Adams, their modesty protected only by strategically positioned instruments.
Asked about his health in 2012, Parfitt replied nonchalantly: "It's great. I haven't had a heart attack for months. The nurses said to me: 'Don't jump around on the stage', so I just walked around." But in 2014 the band had to cancel a series of performances after he needed surgery to correct a problem with his previous bypass.
Parfitt, who with Francis Rossi was appointed OBE in 2010, was due to launch a solo album in 2017.
He was thrice married. He married, first, Marietta Boeker (dissolved); secondly, Patty Beedon, his childhood sweetheart (dissolved); and, thirdly, in 2006, Lyndsay Whitburn. She survives him with their twin son and daughter and a son from each of his other marriages.Back to the top of the page
An excellent collection of tributes to Rick has been put together by Michael Schiller at www.rickparfitt.de.Back to the top of the page