Since the last time I was active on this blog, Mr. Rick Parfitt of Status Quo unfortunately died. He was a well-loved character among rock fans in general. He was also a very important part of a band who are one of the most successful rock bands in history. Because of Status Quo`s image as down-to-earth rock`n`rollers in denim, it is easy to forget that these guys created something that few others have managed in both record-sales and popularity. They kept their music “simple” throughout it all, but if it was so simple; why isn`t everyone doing it?
Rick Parfitt – we salute you! Enjoy the read.
Quo maintain foolish image in foreign parts
`Cheapo lighters` tribute as french toilet roll brigade laud artistic triumph
By Julie Webb
“We have to be careful,” says Francis Rossi, “not to learn anything clever like or people might think we`re intelligent and that would ruin the image.”
Coming from a member of Status Quo, that`s a perceptive remark.
Actually, right now it would appear that Quo are going through an identity crisis, because backstage Alan Lancaster is doing Freddie Mercury impersonations singing Mama, just killed a man.
However, seeing as this is Alan Lancaster, by the time he gets to the “Scaramouche” bit he`s singing “Caramoo”. Mercury would not have been amused.
He wouldn`t have appreciated the references to a “hose pipe” either – but then thick witticisms are part of Quo`s charm.
The place is Paris. The venue – the Palaise De Sport. Bigger than the better-known Olympia it`s a strange/looking, tatty venue – a cross between Manchester Bell Vue and London`s Roundhouse. It holds over 5,000 people and already it`s packed with les French.
Now in England you can pick out a Quo freak a mile away. Jeans, long hair combed over face, loose neck (from too much nodding), loo roll in one hand, beer bottle in other. In France it`s slightly different. They don`t look as messy for a start – the jeans are well pressed.
In one hand there`s a pack of Gaulouise, in other a chuck-away cheapo lighter. And judging from the smell there`s a clove of garlic slung in the back pocket.
Quo are huge in France. No hype – they`ve just got a gold elpee there and only four other `foreign` bands have achieved that.
The big white chief from Phonogram, who is based in Amsterdam, has flown in especially to see them. “Yes” he confirms heavily. “They are a big band in Europe”. But not, however, one understands, as big as another of his “products” – the heavyweight, Demis Roussos. Win some, lose some.
Richard Parfitt is looking like thunder, and not in the mood for conversation.
“My gear`s buggered,” he elucidates. “It`s buzzing, but we`ve sent out for new speakers.”
… which it appears have not yet arrived.
He`s beginning to twitch.
“Nervous, course I am. Specially when the gear`s not right. Still it gives us adrenalin and adrenalin makes it sharp so it might be good after all.”
Lancaster, fresh from “Caramoo,” grabs my notebook and writes in block capitals, “We are very rusty.” Later, further inspired, he adds “We have been working solidly for ages and ages, writing, recording and bricklaying so we haven`t done any live gigs so excuse us if we`re not very together tonight.”
The `recording` part of that statement is the nearly completed new Quo album, tentatively titled “The Tuppenny Halfpenny Dance Band”.
Parfitt: “We just went in the studios and did it. No interruptions, nothing. Went in and rehearsed and recorded. We had 15 or 16 songs ready and got it down to nine numbers…”
He tails off, thinking the subject of the album is finished.
No, Richard. That`s not enough. Tell me more.
“Well, it`s black, plastic, round…”
I give up.
“There`s more variation, there are some nicer slower things, some of which we`re even contemplating doing on stage…”
Manager Colin Johnson profers beer to the assembled company in an effort to maintain an air of normality while Coghlan (John the drummer) wanders aimlessly around the dressing room.
It doesn`t bode too well for the gig.
Still the audience are making enough noise. Support band Nutz aren`t exactly ripping the stadium apart but someone out there likes them.
A quarter of a hour later we`re reminded that it`s Quo they`ve come to see. A chant which at first sounds like “Sieg Heil” turns out to be “Sta-tus” and the band (disgruntled, unprepared nervous and whatever) run out on stage.
And it`s at this point that it comes home to you why Quo are the big draw they are. Okay, so the sound wasn`t wonderful but the band are incredibly good at hiding their true feelings.
Parfitt seems like he hasn`t a worry in the world. Lancaster looks far from rusty as he booms the words of “Junior`s Wailing”. Rossi is his usual cheeky self (but refrains from calling the audience Frogs). And Coghlan hardly seems to notice when half his drum kit disintegrates.
The important factor is that they`re on stage and there are 5,000 odd kids waiting for a show. So they give them what they want.
Predictably the numbers that go down best are “Roll Over Lay Down” (that`s Quo`s version of a love song incorporating those magic seductive words `Roll over lay down and let me in`) plus “Roadhouse Blues”.
In between each number the Frenchies hold Gaulouses packets aloft and with the other hand light their cheapo lighters (so much more effective in the dark than match sticks). They also stamped their feet and made appreciative French noises.
By the encore (“Caroline” and “Bye Bye Johnnie”) equipment hassles are a thing of the past. The audience have been carried by the band`s sheer energy, and the band have been swept by the crowd`s enthusiasm.
It would have been imprudent to have checked the hall for damage afterwards but obviously it wasn`t extensive since the promoter was smiling.
Mr. Big from Phonogram, along with numerous hangers-on, waited patiently for a good ten minutes outside the dressing room door for a post gig chat.
Parfitt appeared…and disappeared back to hotel for bath. Coghlan socialised; Lancaster and Rossi retired to a nearby room to work out some of the songs from the album.
So why not socialise?
Rossi: “Like I said, we`ve got to be careful not to learn anything from other people otherwise we might get intelligent.”
Quo know their onions. I look forward to New Year`s Eve when they bill top at Olympia.
I have personally transcribed this from the original paper. If you have a music-related web-page where this fits – please make a link to the article. With a great, big thank you to the original writer of the article from all of us music fans!
This number of New Musical Express also contains articles/interviews with these people: Bob Harris, Steeleye Span, Roogalator, Santana, Stephen Stills, 10 cc, Jean-Luc Ponty, Cat Stevens, Paul Simon.
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