Aquostic rockers ready for Sheffield show

Francis Rossi, of Status Quo.
Francis Rossi, of Status Quo.

Status Quo have vowed to keep on rocking – even without one of the band’s stalwarts.

The passing of rhythm guitarist and singer Rick Parfitt on Christmas Eve 2016 could possibly have seen the end of the band, but as frontman and last-remaining founder member Francis Rossi says, this is far from the truth.

“Everything’s all right at the moment in the camp,” he says. “I’m even recording an album with Hannah Rickard, one of the singers on the Aquositc albums which has a country feel and it’s going quite well.”

But the death of his long-standing partner-in-rock, who joined the band in 1967 must have been a shock, writes Martin Hutchinson.

“Yes, well it took a long time to sink in – probably still hasn’t really.

“We arrived home from the UK tour at about 9am on Christmas Eve and I got a call from Simon Porter, our manager, between 10am and 10.30am, saying he was very ill and within two hours he was gone.

“To be honest, it was something we were expecting, but I’m not quite sure I’m used to it and it reminds us of our own mortality.

“It was weird playing a gig when he wasn’t there, but we’ve been dealing with it.

“To be honest, I didn’t think this year would happen, but it is, so we just keep going. We have managed to keep our crew on. They all have families and mortgages, so being able to keep them on makes me feel good, as they rely on us to keep them employed.”

Rick had retired from Quo earlier in 2016, following a heart attack in the summer, but he played on the second Status Quo acoustic album, Aquostic II – That’s a Fact!, and had been recording a solo album, as well as writing his biography.

At some shows, Rick’s place had been taken by Freddie Edwards, son of Quo bassist John ‘Rhino’ Edwards, and then during the December tour by Richie Malone, who has joined the band permanently.

However, Francis says: “Freddie was a great stand-in, but he has his own career.

“Richie is extremely good and can commit to the band. He has been watching us from when he was very young and knows what we’re about.

“Bringing in some new young blood has given us a jolt, as we may have been becoming a bit complacent.

“There’s a new edge to it all now and one’s interest is different.”

And for a band celebrated for its electric guitars, their relatively new acoustic – Aquostic – shows have been going down a storm, and it will be an Aquostic show they perform at Sheffield City Hall later this year.

Francis says “I was a bit unsure at first when we started the Aquostic stuff, but as time went on we got a bit ‘precious’ about it and we’re very pleased at how the songs sound.”

The acoustic versions of Quo classics are an interesting project, with a new slant being given to songs like Down Down, Rockin’ All Over The World and Roll Over Lay Down.

Although Francis admits he is still getting used to playing the songs acoustically, having only released the first Aquostic album in 2014, after nearly five decades of performing with electric guitars.

“I’m frightened most nights,” he laughs.

In fact, the band are celebrating their 50th anniversary this year – although the dates are questionable.

Francis formed the band as The Spectres in 1962, before changing it to The Status Quo in 1967 when Rick joined – the ‘The’ was dropped in 1969.

“I know Simon would like to do something, but I don’t really get it, I would rather not do anniversaries.”

“The main problem is what anniversary is it exactly? We celebrated the twentieth anniversary in 1982, as the band was originally formed in 1962, but a lot of people tend to go from when Rick joined in 1967 and we changed the name to Status Quo.

“But you never know.”

Status Quo play Sheffield City Hall on Monday, November 27. For tickets, see www.sheffieldcityhall.co.uk