Quo appeared on the very popular German TV show "ZDF Fernsehgarten" on 1st September. The show was broadcast live from the grounds of the ZDF broadcasting centre at Mainz and was presented by Andrea Kiewel. A clip of the band setting up can be viewed here, thanks to Richie Malone's Instagram account. The band played "Liberty Lane" from the new album and closed out with, of course, "Rockin' All Over The World".
Francis was interviewed as part of NME's "Does Rock 'n' Roll Kill Braincells?!" series which was published on 2nd September. The article is transcribed in full below.
"In Does Rock 'N' Roll Kill Braincells?!, we quiz a grizzled artist on their own career to see how much they can remember - and find out if the booze, loud music and/or tour sweeties has knocked the knowledge out of them. This week: Status Quo frontman Francis Rossi.
1: Why would one-time Status Quo bassist Alan Lancaster leave the room whenever your 'Rockin' All Over the World' video appeared on TV?
"I suppose because we replaced him with a puppet of himself."
"He didn't think that single was going to work, and thought releasing it was one of the biggest mistakes we ever made. So we used a puppet of him dressed in his clothes because he refused to do the video. Between takes, we'd see this dummy sat down on a seat with its head down on a table - and the amount of times we all thought: 'Well, Alan's obviously jetlagged and fell asleep at the table!'. But it worked really well. Rick [Parfitt, late Status Quo guitarist] and our manager would drive around Soho with it in a Range Rover and the police once turned up going: 'What the fuck's going on? There's a dead guy!' - because that's what it looked like. (Laughs) Sorry, I've made myself laugh. Write this down - 'Close to death, Rossi is perked up by a man from NME!'"
2: You appeared in a number of Coronation Street episodes in 2005. Which character left to become Status Quo's hair stylist?
"Very good! I haven't the fucking foggiest what her name is. I learned how good soap actors are and how hard they work. You see the script and think 'that's a sack of shit' and then in 20 minutes, the actors would transform it."
WRONG. It was Candice Stowe, played by actor Nikki Sanderson.
"What happened for at least the next two years was we'd do various grin 'n' grips - what we call meet-and-greets - and the amount of times people would go: 'Where's Candice?'. We'd go: 'Who?!' 'Your hairstylist, she's here somewhere, can we meet her?'. We'd explain it was just part of a story, but they'd get annoyed and fume: 'Don't be silly, we saw her when she actually left - she became part of your tour!'.
It wasn't your only acting role. In 2013, Rick and you bizarrely starred in your own action movie, Bula Quo!
"It wasn't very good! It might have been if the idea had been left to Rick and I. Initially it was going to be quite violent - we were looking forward to that! - but they wanted to appeal to a wider audience so tried to make it funny. Some nice people in it, reasonably well-paid, it was great fun to do and be in Fiji - but a resounding failure. In fact, I had to go to the so-called premiere, and once the house lights went down in the cinema, I crept out on my hands and knees so no-one would see me! (Laughs)"
3: Which singer-songwriter invaded your This Morning performance of 'It's Christmas Time' in 2008 wearing natty red shorts and sunglasses?
"Oh yeah, I remember - I thought it was just some random punter?"
WRONG. It was Patrick Wolf.
"Oh I obviously wouldn't know him anyway with respect. Sorry Patrick! Oh jeez, I'm not doing that well am I? Obviously rock 'n' roll has addled my brains - it's nothing to do with the cocaine, hash or the alcohol."
4: Death In Vegas sampled 'Pictures of Matchstick Men' on the track 'Scorpio Rising' in 2002...
"Yeah, got paid in the end!"
...But which indie icon sang on the track?
"It was Liam Gallagher - cos Noel has the same birthday as me. It's me, him and Scary Spice - that's a lot of fun innit? Three fucking big mouths! But it was Liam, to his credit, that insisted that I got paid. He said: 'You've got to pay him - that's a complete nick [from 'Pictures of Matchstick Men']'- which it was. I've got great respect for him because it shows he's not the kind of arsehole him and his brother try to portray."
CORRECT. Noel once branded Status Quo 'the poster boys for Help The Aged'...
"Yeah, but we're the band to be rude about. Which is why Paul Weller always used to deny that Rick taught him how to play guitar - which he did - because it wasn't good for his image. They used to call the Oasis boys Quoasis* 'cos he sounds a little bit like me when he tries to sing. Like me, he's only trying. But I quite like Oasis other than that they've been overblown by hype. So they're not the second coming of Christ, they're not the second Beatles. Amy Winehouse wasn't this voice of a generation and inspirational brand new singer - she sounded like many singers of the '60s. Then she started to believe it - poor cow! - and that's what ruined her."
"But we met them [Oasis] on Top of the Pops and they were pleasant. When you get two jack-the-lad bands like us, we both get our testicles out and put them on our chest. We compete over who's got the biggest bollocks and who can talk the most bollocks. Anyway..."
*During Oasis V Blur in 1995, Damon Albarn said that due to their repetition of simple chords and phrases, Oasis should call themselves Oasis-Quo. Noel Gallagher responded by wearing T-shirts emblazoned with 'Quoasis'. History lesson over.
5: Name the guest stars on your 1995 album 'Don't Stop'.
"Brian May, The Beach Boys and Maddy Prior."
CORRECT. What were The Beach Boys like?
"Fabulous! I was never a Beach Boys fan - it was too twee to me. But it was a buzz being with them. Mike Love keeps going up to the room going [Imitates lothario] 'I'm Doctor Love' and all of the women - his voice vibrates their beds and they're all over him. And Brian [Wilson] was just coming around then. I remember doing a smudge - photograph - chatting to him in a car and suddenly [He whistles then stays silent]. Exactly that! It was like 'Oops, he's fucking checked out again!' and they'd come and get him and walk him off somewhere."
You were friends with Queen. Did you see Bohemian Rhapsody?
"No, one of my daughters and my wife love it to death. I can't watch it because there's some things in there that are not true."
What's your favourite Freddie Mercury memory?
"Messing about with him after we'd done Live Aid. He was frisky and we knew him well and he just got behind me and got me in a Half Nelson. And if he'd wanted to shag me there and then, he could have done! He just laughed and said: 'Don't worry, it's alright'. He was one of the strongest people I've met in my life. Growing up, we were convinced by the system that gay people weren't tough and couldn't serve in the army. As if we'd managed to get through to the '60s without gay people fighting for us in the forces - what fucking idiots! - and as I was lying bent over that table, I thought: 'Yeah, I knew they were wrong!'"
6: Who photographed you naked for the cover of your 2014 acoustic album 'Aquostic (Stripped Bare)'?
"Come on, I'd have to be dumb not to know it was Bryan Adams!"
"It was very strange because we had our pants on at first and he said: 'Guys you'll have to take them off'. At a photo session, there's shit-loads of people in the room. The things you do for dosh, eh?"
7: Status Quo used to communally wank off together. What unusual place did you once project the pornos onto?
"The idea was the projector would go on to the net curtains in the Central Hotel in Bielefeld - but we didn't realise it used to shine across the road onto the other building. You'd see a huge member across the street and think: 'LOOK AT THE FUCKING SIZE OF THAT!'.
CORRECT. Did you ever receive any complaints?
"Only that the movie wasn't very good or long enough! (Laughs)"
For a bonus half-point, can you guess which two bands out of The Beatles, Muse, Take That and Coldplay have also admitted to having jerked off together?
"I think The Beatles. It might have been Muse because I know Muse quite well. One doesn't like to think of Take That doing it! (Laughs) They don't do that sort of thing surely?! They're probably too bashful. Get the pun there? Never mind! So The Beatles and Coldplay."
WRONG. It was indeed The Beatles. Paul McCartney once said he and John Lennon would shout out the names of people like Brigitte Bardot during their group spaffing sessions - with Lennon yellling names like 'Winston Churchill' to throw them off. But it was also Take That. Member Howard Donald once claimed he and Robbie Williams had a group wank, with innocent 'lil Mark Owen watching.
"Really? Oh, I'm knocked out by them! I'm proud of those boys!"
Apparently (non-exhibitionists) Muse contain some Status Quo fans...
"Chris [Wolstenholme, Muse bassist] came to Plymouth to soundcheck 'Don't Waste My Time' with us once. I hadn't heard of Muse at that point but he played with us and then later, I heard 'Hysteria' and 'Stockholm Syndrome' and I fucking love that shit. Muse played 'Burning Bridges' at the beginning of one of their gigs just for the hell of it. It makes me sick that people like Muse are that brilliant and I'm not so can we change the fucking subject?! (Laughs)"
8: Who had to apologise after a 2010 job advert stated 'Status Quo fans need not apply'?
"Sounds like something the Pet Shop Boys might say. It rings a bell but I don't remember - sorry!"
WRONG. Brighton and Hove city council were forced to apologise for its recruitment website, 'Say No To Status Quo', which was emblazoned with the slogan: 'Status Quo fans need not apply'. Quo-loving applicants were warned off four strategic director positions.
"Oh yeah! Fair comment, really! All that denim, tattoos and blokes with shit badges - who wants that working for them? I don't! You want someone to maintain the other status quo and dress a certain bloody way. That's life, innit?"
You've received a lot of criticism over the years. What's the funniest thing that's ever been said about you?
"The funniest thing is that 'they're really good'! All the jokes about Status Quo I find funny. When [Angus Deayton's 80s comedy group] The Hee Bee Gee Bees did 'Boring Song' [as Status Quid] I thought it was fucking brilliantly funny. We're not like the Bee Gees who got upset at their parody 'Meaningless Songs (in Very High Voices)'. You can find the comedic angle in anything. Bono might talk like the second coming of Christ, but he looks and sounds like that bloke from Police Academy [Bobcat Goldthwait]"
9: In 2008, a conman posed as you for a year before being rumbled by Dover council after he failed to bring three friends to their local festival. Which three pop star mates did he pledge would come down?
"Fucking hell! Why would I know that shit?! I just remember him - and meeting some of the women conned by him. And his fake ponytail! When I saw it, I thought: 'Jesus, he looks nothing like me!'"
WRONG. The conman promised that Brian May, Paul McCartney and Charlotte Church would play. Before that, he'd been treated to rides in the mayor's limo - and even judged a carnival float contest.
"Interesting, as I'd not long met Charlotte Church then! I knew two of them - McCartney and Brian May - and Charlotte Church I met at Buckingham Palace. She's got a fouler mouth than I have! She's like me and Adele - but with a Welsh accent. There was even a guy who used to pretend to be Rick who had blond hair and would drive a blue Bentley and check into hotels and say 'Yeah, Francis will be along later to pay the bill'. And the fucking hotels would believe him!"
10: In 2014, which band did you perform 'Rockin' All Over the World' with on Ant & Dec's Saturday Night Takeaway?
"Oh - was it McBusted? Or Bucfly?"
CORRECT. It was McBusted.
"They were a fucking great little band - but both suffered from their poppy image which meant people didn't take them as seriously as they should, which is a shame."
The verdict: 6/10
"See, it's a good job you didn't tell me it was a competition or I'd have tried desperately to fail! Six out of ten? That's pretty good. That's made me feel better already. I might go and have a polish [wank] now."Revisit the September 2019 event list
Francis gave an excellent long interview with FaceCulture in the Netherlands and it was published on YouTube on 5th September.
The long-awaited first album by the current line-up, "Backbone", was released on 6th September. As usual, a large number of formats and packages were made available to attract the collectors including CD, vinyl and box sets.Revisit the September 2019 event list
Francis was interviewed by Piers Morgan and Susanna Reid on the popular morning TV show, Good Morning Britain, on 9th September as part of his promo efforts around the new "Backbone" album.
Richie gave an excellent ten-minute interview on Irish TV on 12th September. It was great to see him getting his own chance to talk about life before and with Quo, especially in his home country. The full interview can be seen here.Revisit the September 2019 event list
Quo performed as part of the BBC Radio 2 Live in Hyde Park festival on 15th September. Under beautiful sunny skies, a crowd of around 60,000 (including me!) enjoyed a big day of music from Simply Red, Kelsea Bellerini, Bananarama, Clean Bandit, Quo, Westlife and headliners Pet Shop Boys. Quo smashed out a fifty-odd minute set, focusing on hits and with little interruption from Francis. They threw in "Liberty Lane" from the new "Backbone" album and the whole set was very well-received by this big and enthusiastic audience.
Some excellent professional photos of Quo's performance can be found here.The setlist was as follows and the full gig can be viewed via the YouTube clips below ("Rockin' All Over The World" is missing from the first clip due to copyright reasons and this song is covered by the second clip from the BBC).
The third fan club convention, organized by the official fan club FTMO, took place from 27th to 30th September at Butlin's in Minehead.
Fans started arriving just after midday on Friday, packing the camp's pubs before the main venue, Reds, opened at 4pm. The usual rush to enter accommodation saw frantic activity from 4pm to 5pm as we all found our little slices of paradise known as holiday camp rooms for the weekend! The official convention opening was left to Mick Wall at 6.30pm on the main stage in Reds and then a "DisQuo" gave everyone a chance to relax, catch up with old friends and, oh, maybe have a drink or two. The first live music came in the form of up-and-coming rockers, Ryders Creed, who played a professional, energetic and well-received hour-long set. This warmed the big crowd up nicely, ensuring the headliners got a great reception. Status Quotes from the Netherlands were stunning and their 90-minute set was a highlight of the weekend. Their niche on the tribute scene is playing album tracks that Quo have never or rarely played so it was a real treat to have such a different setlist (as follows) and they sounded awesome.
The main convention day on Saturday was massive, starting at 9am and wrapping up just before midnight! The day kicked off with a record fair and exhibition in the Crazy Horse venue. The record fair gave fans an opportunity to pick up rarities and merchandise whilst the excellently-presented exhibition included lots of rare photos and press cuttings from across Quo's career, with an additional section devoted to Rhino's Revenge. It was great to wander through the exhibition to admire the rare items on display, a credit to Paul Hanvey both for collecting such an amazing array of items and also for presenting them so diligently.
A welcome addition to the original schedule saw Rhino giving an impromptu signing session in Reds at 11am. The queue grew long very quickly and not everyone managed to reach the front of the line by the time the next scheduled session was due to start. The trooper he is, Rhino returned at 4.30pm to complete the job!
The scheduled action kicked off at 11.30am with a 75-minute session, "Bob Young and Micky Moody Unplugged and in Conversation - The Story Behind the Songs" moderated by Paul Bruns. This was a really interesting session talking through both Bob and Micky's careers as well as their various collaborations over the years. They also played a few tunes with Micky on acoustic guitar (and Micky's wife also providing vocals) and the packed house in Reds was attentive throughout. It was particularly pleasing to see Bob sending a very inclusive message around supporting all incarnations of Quo and all the different members.
Next up on the same stage was "An Audience with John Coghlan and Alan Lancaster" with Alan Parker (of "Hello Quo!" fame) and moderated by Mick Wall. What was meant to be a 90-minute Q&A session based around questions related to the "Hello Quo!" documentary turned into an opportunity for Alan to attack Francis at every opportunity unfortunately. Some of Alan's comments about Francis (and also "Rhino's Revenge") were really inappropriate and detracted from what could have been another interesting Q&A. John was quite subdued throughout and Mick Wall did his best to keep things on track, while Alan Parker was his usual ebullient self and seemd genuinely happy to be there.
A short break enabled us to move back to the Crazy Horse to join the massive queues for the signing session with Alan, John and Bob Young. Scheduled for just over an hour, it ran for much longer as Alan in particular wanted to make sure everyone who waited actually got to meet him, which was a nice touch. When the signing session was over (much to John's delight!), the convention organizers managed to get all of Alan's family together with the seven Australians at the convention for a group photo.
The rest of the day was spent in Reds with the live music kicking off at 6.30pm in the form of well-known German tribute, Piledriver. I've always enjoyed this band's recorded output and last saw them in Germany performing live at a post-Quo gig party. Their hour-long set was loud and proud, with all the hits and some of their own boogie rock thrown in. While they weren't to everyone's taste, I enjoyed their set and sound and it's good to see a tribute band who've stood the test of time (with the band being together over twenty years). The first of two auctions of rare Quo items came next before the live music continued at 8pm with the UK's State of Quo. Their set was Frantic Four all the way, played well as usual and with the passion we've come to expect especially from Paul Carr as Rick Parfitt. This was a crowd-pleasing set with a sound more palatable to this audience.
Another auction round followed, giving the fans a chance to part with plenty of hard-earned cash. The star attraction was a Hauptstadtrocker shirt worn by Rick that had been donated by Rhino with all proceeds going to the Save The Rhino charity. The 500 pounds reserve was smashed immediately with the winning bidder taking it all the way to 3,200 pounds!
The headline act came next, with Rhino's Revenge taking the stage at 10pm. The band played a varied and well-received set covering their own material as well as throwing in plenty of crowd-pleasing Quo numbers! The band in its tight three-piece form were a worthy headliner and Rhino spent some time over at his merchandise stall (with Mike Hrano) after the gig to chat with fans. It was good to see him again, even if he did let us know in no uncertain terms that Quo won't tour Australia again!
Sunday got off to a more relaxed start. Wandering down to Minehead, it was awesome to see the main shopping street taken over by people wearing Quo T-shirts! The convention activities kicked off at 1pm with more opportunity to explore the record fair and exhibition before more live music prevailed for the late afternoon and evening.
First up on the main stage in Reds was the Jackie Lynton Band and they did a fine job during their hour-long boogie set, chucking in a few Quo numbers and cheeky Jackie tales along the way! Next up was a chance to show off Quo knowledge in the shape of Jason Hodgson's Quo Quiz (postponed from Saturday due to the overrun of the afternoon signing session) - he told me he'd made it easier this year but it didn't help, hats off to the team who won though! The questions were as follows.
The musical entertainment continued with 90 minutes of Frantic Four bliss from the excellent Stated Quo. It was probably the best Stated performance I've seen and Mikey mentioned how nervous he was playing in front of John and Alan but the band did a great set and went down a storm. A short break followed their set to give out the quiz results and also draw the various raffle prizes.
The RPJ Band were next up and their energy from the get go was incredible. Rick Junior is a natural entertainer and very humble with it so it's no surprise that his band is so sought after. Jo Webb was excellent on guitar and the inclusion of Rick's solo effort "Lonesome Road" went down well, as of course did the Quo songs. It was a varied 90-minute set across the ages but RPJ's energy got the big crowd involved and I think he surprised a good few people with just how good the band is. This band were a great - and worthy - inclusion on the bill.
It was a tough job to follow the RPJ Band for headliners, John Coghlan's Quo, and the big energy wasn't maintained until they got a few songs into their set. It was a splendid choice of set list, though, and they are certainly a quality tribute with the bonus of John banging away on his newly-restored Premier drumkit from the late 70s/early 80s. Bob Young, Alan and RPJ all joined in too, with Alan managing to sing part of "Roadhouse Blues" before a rousing rendition of "Rockin' All Over The World" with a packed stage to close their 90-minute set and the convention as a whole.
I had a great weekend with many old Quo mates listening to a lot of great music. Hats off to all involved in putting this big event together, they do an amazing job and long may it continue! Here's to 2021...
A good review of the convention can be found here. Lewis Cutts has published a massive set of professional photos from the weekend here and fan-submitted photos can be found here.Revisit the September 2019 event list
A long-overdue significant feature article on Quo appeared in the October edition of Record Collector magazine, hitting the UK newsagent shelves during the month of September.
The twelve page article included excellent new interview material with Francis, Rhino and Andy focusing particularly on Rick and life in Quo following his death. Jason Hodgson did a fine job with the discography, a four-page selection of some of the juicier items from Quo's catalogue with realistic up-to-date pricing (seeing the 12" version of "Rock 'Til You Drop" as Quo's most valuable piece at 3000 pounds!).Revisit the September 2019 event list