Tag Archives: Alan Lancaster

Rick Parfitt 1948 – 2016

rick_parfitt_of_status_quo_forced_to_abandon_european_tour_music_scene_irelandA week ago today I was enjoying a Christmas Eve meal with the in-laws when the awful news came through – Status Quo man Rick Parfitt had died. More than any high-profile musician to pass away in the previous twelve months – whether it be Lemmy, David Bowie, Prince, etc. etc. this one affected me.

Francis Rossi & Rick Parfitt On Stage In 2015
Francis Rossi & Rick Parfitt On Stage In 2015

I knew I was going to have to make some comment on his passing – but what to say to begin to do the justice to man and his contribution to music? There were some lovely words on various news sites etc. following Rick’s death but he was quickly replaced there when George Michael passed away the very next day.

Rick Parfitt
Rick Parfitt

No disrespect to George Michael, who was a great singer, but for me the amount of coverage that he was given vs. Rick seemed to suggest that he was by far the more significant and iconic figure. And maybe to many he was, whilst perhaps it was also reflective of how often Quo have been derided in the press as three chord wonders etc.

Anyway, I suspect that my family may have grown a little tired of the sound of Quo blasting from my speakers over the past week as I’ve paid tribute to Rick and the boys through the stereo and reacquainted myself with much of their music that had slipped from the kind of regular rotation that it used to enjoy.

Status Quo Live In 1981
Status Quo Live In 1981

Quo were my first love as a band, way back in 1981, and have been right up there ever since. Having received the brand new “Never Too Late” album as an Easter present that year, I obtained their entire album back catalogue as quickly as I was able to and have followed the band through all the highs and lows ever since.

Status Quo Live In 1984
Status Quo Live In 1984

In the summer of 1984 I went to see the band live for the first time on their “End Of The Road” tour. At the time I thought it would be my one and only opportunity to witness them play, as the tour was billed as a farewell to the road. And contrary to the jibes aimed at the band, until this year’s “Last Night Of The Electrics” final electric tour before a switch to acoustic touring, that has been their one and only “farewell” tour!. Luckily for me, and many thousands of others, a re-grouping in 1986 meant the return of the band on record and on stage.

Rick Parfitt On Stage In 2007
Rick Parfitt On Stage In 2007

Since then I’ve enjoyed a further fourteen Quo shows, including my wife’s first ever rock concert on the “In Search Of The Fourth Chord” tour. Nothing compared to a great many regular gig goers I’m sure, and I have to confess that my enthusiasm waned at times for their concerts as the set list remained pretty static for long periods of time. Nonetheless, every single show that I went to was well worth the time and money as the band never failed to give anything but a top-class performance.

Roy Lynes, Alan Lancaster, John Coghlan, Rick Parfitt & Francis Rossi In Late 1960s
Roy Lynes, Alan Lancaster, John Coghlan, Rick Parfitt & Francis Rossi In Late 1960s

Having been an ever-present since joining in the late 60s, it was with great sadness that I learnt of Rick’s decision not to return to the band following his latest heart attack this summer. I could completely understand that though, given the need to protect his health and also his desire that if he was going to make further music it needed to “rock” – which sadly the band’s recent studio output and future touring plans do not accommodate.

Francis Rossi On Stage
Francis Rossi On Stage

Francis Rossi has been on the receiving end of an awful lot of stick from so-called Quo fans who seem to take great delight in slagging off everything that the band have done since the “frantic four” ceased to be in 1982. Whilst I realise that Francis has been for a long time the leader of the band I think that this abuse is very unfair. There is an argument that if he’s had his way then Quo would have been doing acoustic and country-style music for decades and that he resented playing the old hits all the time. There may be some truth to this. Certainly he is more inclined to go down the acoustic and lighter Quo route than Rick was, and many a musician who’s been performing for a long time is surely going to tire of some of the material that really has to be played to satisfy both the hardcore and casual concert goer?

Francis Rossi & Rick Parfitt
Francis Rossi & Rick Parfitt

What is beyond doubt to me, though, is that Francis and Rick have been the public face of Quo for many years now. With Rick gone many have called the band the Francis Rossi Band or Francis Rossi’s Quo.

The Frantic Four
The Frantic Four – John Coghlan, Rick Parfitt, Alan Lancaster & Francis Rossi

Let’s look at the facts. Whilst Rossi, Parfitt, Lancaster and Coghlan were all band members between 1967 and 1981, the “frantic four” itself only lasted from 1970 (following the departure of keyboardist Roy Lynes) to late 1976 (when Andrew Bown became an official member). So, depending on your point of view either fifteen or just seven years. Plus a handful of reunion gigs in 2013 and 2014 of course. In that time they produced eleven (or six!) studio albums.

Rick Parfitt, Francis Rossi & John "Rhino" Edwards On Stage In 1988
Rick Parfitt, Francis Rossi & John “Rhino” Edwards On Stage In 1988

John “Rhino” Edwards has been playing bass for Quo since 1986. By my reckoning – and leaving drummers aside as there have now been four since Coghlan left – that means the core of Rossi, Parfitt, Bown and Edwards were together for thirty years, at least double that of the fabled “frantic four”, and produced sixteen studio albums. Surely, then, those band members have every right to keep calling themselves Status Quo – even after Rick’s departure and death?

Status Quo Backstage In 1991
Status Quo Backstage In 1991

Yes, the bulk of the live set is still taken from the pre-1982 albums but, again, isn’t that the curse of so many “heritage” acts who are compelled to play the old stuff live in preference over their newer material? Bottom line, for me, is that “Quo-light” is as essential overall as the “classic” band and that, frankly, we should be grateful to Francis, Rick and co. for all the great music and performances that they’ve given us since 1986.

Andrew Bown & Richie Malone On Stage In 2016
Andrew Bown & Richie Malone On Stage In 2016

Following his enforced retirement from the band, Richie Malone has come in as stand-in for Rick on the band’s recent tour dates and done a great job by most accounts. However, at this point, who knows what – if any – future the band has?

Rick Parfitt - Bad Hair Day!
Rick Parfitt – Bad Hair Day!

I digress. Back to the late Mr. Parfitt. When I was young it was Rick who I aspired to be. Sure sometimes I had to pretend to be Francis (with my shirt collar turned under to imitate his grandad shirt!) so that I could sing the lead vocals while miming away to the records, but it was Rick, the golden-maned rock god (let’s ignore some of the naff haircuts he had occasionally!), for the heads down riffing and some of the best songs too.

Rick Parfitt In 1978
Rick Parfitt In 1978

Over the years Rick composed many of the great Quo classics. Not often as sole writer (this applies equally to Francis) but his early co-writes with Francis, then with Alan Lancaster and later with Andrew Bown, John “Rhino” Edwards and recently Wayne Morris have produced some of the best songs on each of the band’s albums – the sole exception being 1994’s “Thirsty Work” which is also the least Quo-sounding album, which is surely no random coincidence.

Rick Parfitt On Stage
Rick Parfitt On Stage

I could list all his writing credits, but if you’re really interested head over to From The Makers Of… which has a comprehensive list. Selected highlights, however, include the following: “Forty Five Hundred Times”, “Rain”, “Don’t Drive My Car” and “Mystery Song” would all easily be in my all-time Quo top ten songs and the likes of “Softer Ride”, “Belavista Man”, “Mystery Song”, “Little Lady” and “The Power Of Rock” wouldn’t be far behind. Many of Rick’s songs feature his distinctive lead vocals too.

Rick Parfitt & Francis Rossi In 1970s
Rick Parfitt & Francis Rossi In 1970s

On record, then, Rick had an invaluable input into the band’s superb legacy. Onstage, is there any better sound than all those instantly recognisable riffs being hammered out on his battered white Telecaster, or the perfection of Rick and Francis as they lock into the groove? Yes, age and health issues took their toll on his singing voice but he was still superb when I last saw the band at Lechlade last year.

There was talk of an autobiography and solo album for 2017. Neither will presumably see the light as they surely can’t have had much work done to them. There was a solo record named “Recorded Delivery” cut around 1985 so hopefully that my now finally get an official release.

Lyndsay Whitburn & Rick Parfitt
Rick Parfitt With Third Wife Lyndsay Whitburn

Rick may have had faults as a human being – too much indulgence in drink and drugs through the years and something of a weakness for the ladies perhaps – but whenever I saw him perform or appear on TV etc. there was a down to earth natural humour that shone though and he was the perfect foil to Francis.

Whatever happens now with Status Quo – and I hope the band do carry on (though I’d still rather they plugged back in and rock a bit!) – things can never quite be the same without Rick.  We’re moving house in a week, and I really should be packing stuff, so I’d better get on… Despite my best efforts, I don’t think I’ve come close to doing Rick justice. Suffice it to say he was a huge inspiration to me and many others, and is simply a massive loss. Rest in peace…

Rick Parfitt 1948 - 2016
Rick Parfitt 1948 – 2016

Rockin’ All Over The World Remix

OYm8XayZRlkOgxlU-sEOe6wASBUAfter the recent remixed “Deliverance & Damnation” release from Opeth I have another remixed album to look at today. This time it’s the legendary Status Quo.

Status Quo - 1977 Tour Programme
Status Quo – 1977 Tour Programme

The band are in the midst of having some of their earlier albums re-issued as “deluxe editions”. Last year saw “Piledriver” (1972) and “Live!” (1977) get the treatment which included unreleased material of varying quality. “Hello!” (1973), “Quo” (1975) and “Rockin’ All Over The World” (1977) have all just been released. Again unreleased material is included – in the case of “Quo” a disappointingly bootleg quality live recording – but it’s within the deluxe edition of “Rockin’ All Over The World” that the real gold is contained…

Status Quo Live
Status Quo Live

1977 looks to have been a significant year for Status Quo. On the back of a string of self-produced albums since 1972, which had all been successful, the band worked with engineer Damon Lyon-Shaw to co-produce 1976’s “Blue For You” album and the subsequent double “Live!” album which was recorded later that year in Glasgow. “Live!” was released in March 1977 and is rightly regarded as a classic live album in an era when live albums were something of an event for artists. It was also the sound of the band at their heaviest.

Francis Rossi
Francis Rossi

When the “Rockin’ All Over The World” hit the shelves in November 1977 though, there had been a significant shift in sound. Guitarist / vocalists Francis Rossi and Rick Parfitt, bassist / vocalist Alan Lancaster and drummer John Coghlan had been joined by keyboardist Andrew Bown as a full-time band member, having previously been a session musician with the group since 1973.

Rick Parfitt
Rick Parfitt

Aside from much more prominent keyboards, the record was also noticeably lighter sonically, with much more emphasis on the treble end of things. As a result, despite the quality of the songs – three of which (“Dirty Water”, “Hold You Back” and of course “Rockin’ All Over The World”) have been regulars in the group’s live set over the subsequent decades – this is an album that has perhaps proved less popular with their fanbase than it deserved.

Alan Lancaster
Alan Lancaster

The reasons for the quality of sound on the original release are varied. Pip Williams was brought in to produce the album for the band, and was assisted by young engineer John Eden. Williams asserted that the band were “under immense pressure to clean it up a bit” and that his job was to “make them more commercial with, perhaps, an American slant”.

John Coghlan
John Coghlan

Elsewhere Eden has said, I believe, that the record was two songs too long because of a “publishing issue of the writers (within the band) getting their equal share” making the album too long to get the required bottom end. I’m not sure about this particular claim as of the ten songs that the three main writers in the band have a hand in the credits are spilt as follows – 5 for Francis Rossi, 4 for Rick Parfitt and 3 for Alan Lancaster. The remaining two songs have not input from any of the three.

Andy Bown
Andy Bown

Regardless of the truth behind the publishing claim, Williams also commented on the lack of bottom end, stating “the longer than usual running time meant we had to cope with inner-groove distortion when the record was cut, while also shaving off the low end”.

Bob Young, Francis Rossi, Rick Parfitt & Pip Williams
Bob Young, Francis Rossi, Rick Parfitt & Pip Williams

Both men agree that “it was mixed on Auratones for American AM radio, so that it would sound great coming out of little speakers” and Eden notes that the pills(!) that were being taken may have had an influence on how it sounded too!

Status Quo
Status Quo

So now, some thirty-eight years later, the record has finally been remixed and released as the second disc in the album’s “deluxe edition”. John Eden was the man given the remixing task which was seemingly completed a good couple of years ago, so it’s taken some time to see light of day. The running order for the record has also been changed, at Eden’s suggestion, so it’s kind of like listening to a new album.

Rick Parfitt & Francis Rossi
Rick Parfitt & Francis Rossi

“Hold You Back” now starts the record, in place of “Hard Time” which has been moved to the end of the album. Immediately the sound is punchier. The keyboards are far less prominent. The song no longer fades out it comes to a sudden stop followed by some studio chatter from Rossi.

Status Quo & Road Crew In 1977 Tour Programme
Status Quo & Road Crew In 1977 Tour Programme

“Baby Boy” is up next and again the keyboards are stripped back. Guitar parts that I’ve never noticed before are suddenly audible. “Hard Time” has saxophone on it. Was that there before?!

Francis Rossi, Rick Parfitt & Alan Lancaster
Francis Rossi, Rick Parfitt & Alan Lancaster

“Rockers Rollin'” and “Can’t Give You More” now have their count-ins restored. The guitars sound rawer and rockier. There are some sections – such as the intro to “Let’s Ride” where it sounds as if the source tape may have degraded slightly, but with the improvements made to the rest of the track it doesn’t matter really.

Status Quo - Rockin' All Over The World
Status Quo – Rockin’ All Over The World

Even “Rockin’ All Over The World” – a song that Parfitt suggested to the band, and one that has suffered a little from over exposure over the years – sounds great. I am one of those who has always enjoyed the original album – I first had it on vinyl back in 1981 – but I have to say that this new version is a massive improvement. The sound is fuller throughout, whilst also reintroducing some rawness to the album so that it sounds much more like the real Status Quo to my ears.

Status Quo Live
Status Quo Live

There are four demo tracks tacked onto the end of the disc, recorded in 1976, of “Dirty Water”, “Baby Boy”, “Hard Time” and “Hold You Back”. These are interesting to hear, particularly “Hard Time” which has a different arrangement in the chorus and “Dirty Water” which shows the guitar solo to be a work-in-progress, but are unlikely to be listened to more than a couple of times.

The remixed album, however, is fantastic and breathes new life into the songs. It’s certainly put the album back onto regular rotation for me. An absolutely essential addition to any serious Status Quo collection…raotw-deluxe400“Rockin’ All Over The World Remix” tracklist:

1. Hold You Back / 2. Baby Boy / 3 Rockers Rollin’ / 4. Who Am I? / 5. Rockin’ All Over The World / 6. Dirty Water / 7. Can’t Give You More / 8. Let’s Ride / 9. For You / 10. Too Far Gone / 11. You Don’t Own Me / 12. Hard Time / 13. Dirty Water (Demo) / 14. Baby Boy (Demo) / 15. Hard Time (Demo) / 16. Hold You Back (Demo)

End Of The Road

July the 4th – American Independence Day – and the date on which I first saw my then-favourite rock band Status Quo live in concert.

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Status Quo – End Of The Road Tour Programme

The year was 1984, and although it wasn’t my first gig (Saxon in 1982 had that particular honour, and I had also seen Gillan, Thin Lizzy and Y&T since them) Quo’s gig at the Showering Pavillion in Shepton Mallet was the biggest venue so far.

Billed as the “End Of The Road”, the band’s sixty-nine date 1984 tour was advertised as their last, with only recording supposed to happen following the tour’s end. It was as far as I was concerned at the time, therefore, to be the first and last time I would get to witness the band live.

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Rick Parfitt, Alan Lancaster, Pete Kircher & Francis Rossi

History shows that once the 1984 line-up of guitarist / vocalist Francis Rossi, guitarist / vocalist Rick Parfitt, bassist / vocalist Alan Lancaster, keyboardist Andrew Bown and drummer Pete Kircher had effectively disbanded once the tour (and 1985’s brief Live Aid appearance) was over Quo would regroup with a different line-up, notably without the participation of Lancaster who Rossi felt unable to work with anymore.

Francis Rossi
Francis Rossi

Continuing a trend set on their 1979, 1981 and 1982 tours, there was no support band on this trek – which was something of a surprise to me as all previous concerts I had attended had support acts – as have the vast majority since.

Not sure how I got to Shepton Mallet from my Bristol home and back again – but suspect it was the taxi of Mum and Dad that was good enough to help me out – and I think I may well have gone with a mate from school, but again the detail is somewhat lost in the mists of time.

Status Quo - Unofficial End Of The Road Magazine
Status Quo – Unofficial End Of The Road Magazine

What I am sure about, though, is the excitement of seeing the Quo in the flesh for the first time, the house lights going down and Parfitt ripping into the opening of “Caroline”.

I had no inkling of the tensions and strife within the band, or the substance abuse that has subsequently been revealed. It didn’t show once the band were on stage. This may not have been the “frantic four” or in truth been as good technically as the later “Quo lite” band of the late 80s, but they were loud, and they were heavy too – no “Marguerita Time” in the set in those days!

Rick Parfitt, Alan Lancaster, Francis Rossi Pete Kircher
Rick Parfitt, Alan Lancaster, Francis Rossi Pete Kircher

One of my personal favourites – “Don’t Drive My Car” was excellent, the original medley (known as the “Milton Keynes Medley” once a recording of it taken from the final gig of the tour was subsequently released as B-side to 1986’s “Red Sky” 12″ single) was fabulous, the always welcome “Roadhouse Blues” and the full-length “Bye Bye Johnny” as encore closer – I do wish that was still the case instead of the snippet the band plays these days.

Status Quo Cartoon From 1984
Status Quo Cartoon From 1984

Best of all, though, was “Forty-Five Hundred Times” which lasted around seventeen minutes. An endurance test for the casual fan of the band maybe, but absolutely glorious to me!

Simply a fantastic gig from a fantastic band (and, as it turned out, only the first of many through the years)…

Setlist:

1. Caroline / 2. Paper Plane / 3. Roll Over Lay Down / 4. Backwater / 5. Just Take Me / 6. Little Lady / 7. Don’t Drive My Car / 8. Whatever You Want / 9. Medley: a. Mystery Song / b. Railroad / c. Most Of The Time / d. Wild Side Of Life / e. Again And Again / f. Slow Train / 10. Hold You Back / 11. Rockin’ All Over The World / 12. Over The Edge / 13. Dirty Water / 14. Forty Five Hundred Times / 15. Big Fat Mama / 16. Don’t Waste My Time / 17. Roadhouse Blues / 18. What You’re Proposing / 19. Rain / 20. Down Down / 21. Bye Bye Johnny

1, 3 and 14 originally from “Hello!” (1973) / 2, 15, 16 and 17 originally from “Piledriver” (1972) / 4, 5 and 9f originally from “Quo” (1974) / 7, 12 and 18 originally from “Just Supposin’…” (1980) / 8 originally from “Whatever You Want” (1979) / 9a and 19 originally from “Blue For You” (1976) / 9b originally from “Dog Of Two Head” (1971) / 9c, 20 and 21 originally from “On The Level” (1975) / 9d originally a single release (1976) / 9e originally from “If You Can’t Stand The Heat…” (1978) / 10, 11 and 13 originally from “Rockin’ All Over The World” (1977)