previous page: 2.a. About the current band (Status Quo)
page up: Status Quo FAQ
next page: 2.c. What do they play? (Status Quo)

2.b. Band history (Status Quo)


This article is from the Status Quo FAQ, by Mike Dimmick dimmicmj@aston.ac.uk with numerous contributions by others.

2.b. Band history (Status Quo)

The band was formed originally in 1962 by Francis Rossi and
Alan Lancaster, at their school in south-east London. They
soon joined up with a drummer, John Coghlan (please tell me
I've spelt that right!). They rapidly went through a number
of name changes, being first the Scorpions, then the Spectres.
As the Spectres, they were booked to do a holiday season in
1965 at Butlins holiday camp in Minehead, Somerset, where they
met Rick Parfitt who was working with a cabaret act there. In
late '66, the Spectres were signed to the Piccadilly label,
shortly before it was taken over by PYE.

After several flopped single releases (available on the
compilation, B Sides and Rarities, and now on 'The Singles
Collection 1966-73,' on the Castle Communications label, C/N
CCS CD 821) they changed their name to Traffic, and then,
after Steve Winwood's Traffic had a hit single, to Traffic
Jam. They released another single, which was banned, and
decided that they needed another voice in the band. They
invited Rick Parfitt to join.

Shortly afterwards, in 1968 they changed their name to The
Status Quo and released a song that hit the UK charts at
number seven: 'Pictures of Matchstick Men' (which was recently
covered by Ozzy Ozbourne for the film 'Private Parts'). Their
debut LP, 'Picturesque Matchstickable Messages from The Status
Quo' was released later that year, and provided another hit,
'Ice in the Sun,' as well as a number of other singles that

Their second LP, 'Spare Parts' was released the following
year, under the name of 'Status Quo', but it and the single
from it, 'Are You Growing Tired Of My Love,' failed to go
anywhere. The band decided on a change of direction and
image. Out went the Carnaby Street frilly shirts, and in came
the long hair, jeans, and heavy music, along with their heads
down style.

In 1970, now down to a four-man line up, after the original
keyboard player, Roy Lynes, had left, they released their
third album, 'Ma Kelly's Greasy Spoon,' and the single 'Down
The Dustpipe.' Dismissed on Radio 1 by Tony Blackburn, it
nevertheless got to number 12. However, attitudes were
beginning to change, and John Peel played 'In My Chair' later
that year, which also hit. '71's single, 'Tune To The Music'
flopped, however, and later in '71, they released what was to
be their final album on Pye, 'Dog of Two Head.'

In early '72, Quo left Pye and signed to Phonogram's rock
subsidiary, Vertigo. They took the daring step of producing
their next album, 'Piledriver,' themselves, and it turned out
as rough and ready as the title suggested. The single from
that album, 'Paper Plane,' hit number 8 in the UK chart. That
single began a chain of hits that was almost unbroken until

In January 1975, 'Down Down' became Quo's first UK number one.
Depending on which chart you look at, it is still their only
one to date. If I remember correctly, Anniversary Waltz was
number one in the Independent chart, but only got to number
two in the BBC chart which most people consider 'official'.

Andrew Bown, a former member of the Herd, joined the band in
October 1976. The band remained in the same line-up until
1981, when John Coghlan left after an argument in a recording
studio in Montreux, Switzerland. Quo were recording the album
that was to become '1+9+8+2,' the title implying both the year
it was released and that it was the band's 20th anniversary.
He was replaced by Pete Kircher, who had been the drummer with
the Original Mirrors.

Later in 1982, Quo were asked to kick off the Prince's Trust
launch gig at the NEC in Birmingham. The recording of the
concert was later released as the album, 'Live at the NEC'.

Due to disagreements within the band, they decided in 1984
that their next tour would be their last one, and titled it,
'End of the Road.' Although they said that they would
continue to record, it became the end of the road for Quo in
their then current form.

In 1985, both Francis and Rick recorded solo albums. Rick's,
titled 'Recorded Delivery' ended up costing him money he
didn't have, and was never released. Francis' ('Flying
Debris') had two singles released from it, which made it into
the charts and then suddenly dropped out again. A large
number of the songs from both solo albums were subsequently
released as B-sides to Quo singles.

The band were invited by Bob Geldof to open the Live Aid
concert on 13 July 1985, with the song that became the event's
anthem, 'Rocking All Over The World.' The song, written by
John Fogerty of Creedence Clearwater Revival, was a hit for
them in 1977. The nucleus of the band was together for that
day, but soon after, Alan Lancaster sued Rick and Francis for
the use of the Status Quo name without him.

Ultimately, Alan lost the case, and Phonogram decided it was
about time for Quo to fulfil their contract obligation to
produce a further three albums. Rick suggested John 'Rhino'
Edwards and Jeff Rich, who had worked with him on his solo
album, and together they recorded the album 'In The Army Now,'
released in 1986.

They released a compilation of most of their top ten hits
(Mystery Song, which reached number seven in 1976, is notably
missing), 'Rocking All Over The Years,' to celebrate their
twenty-fifth anniversary. Yes, I know, they can't add up -
after the departure of Alan Lancaster and John Coghlan, the
band appear to have decided to date the foundation from 1965,
when Rick and Francis met. They also held a birthday bash at
Butlins in Minehead, where Rick and Francis had met twenty-
five years before. A medley, the 'Anniversary Waltz' was
specially recorded for the album, and reached number two in
the charts.

In 1991, they received two music industry awards; the Brit
Award for an Outstanding Contribution to the Music Industry,
and a World Music Award at a ceremony in Monte Carlo. At the
Brit Awards, they caused a storm by accepting their award in
tuxedoes, then going up on stage and tearing off their suits
to reveal their denim stage gear underneath!

Quo made it into the Guinness Book of Records later that year
with the 'Rock 'Til You Drop' event. They played four venues
in under twelve hours, at Sheffield, Glasgow, Birmingham NEC
and Wembley Arena. The proceeds from the shows were given to
Nordoff-Robbins Music Therapy, the Brit School for Performing
Arts, and local children's charities. The following year, Quo
headlined Radio One's twenty-fifth birthday celebrations,
'Party In The Park' at Sutton Park in Birmingham. The
recording of this concert was released as the album 'Live
Alive Quo'.

Their self-written biography, 'Just For The Record' was
published by Bantam Press in 1993.

In 1995, Quo celebrated their thirtieth anniversary with a
complete album of cover versions, titled 'Don't Stop.' It
included collaborations with the Beach Boys (Fun, Fun, Fun),
Brian May from Queen (Raining In My Heart) and Maddy Prior
from Steeleye Span (All Around My Hat). However, Radio One
refused to play Fun Fun Fun, as with their previous eight
singles. This led eventually to Quo challenging Radio One in
the High Court. Since Radio 1 is a station with a government
grant, and paid for by the taxpayer and licence fees, Quo
reasoned, it should play the singles that the public had put
in the chart. Unfortunately, they lost this action, and their
chances of being played decreased.

In 1997, Rick went into hospital suffering from chest pains
and had to have a quadruple heart bypass operation. However,
he recovered fine and played an excellent gig at Norwich
Football Ground on 2 August. Later on, the record company
released a new compilation album, on two CDs/cassettes,
containing almost all the top twenty hits, and some songs that
didn't hit at all (such as All Around My Hat), under the title
'Whatever You Want - The Very Best Of Status Quo'. This release
caused much controversy on the mailing list, but the consensus
now seems to be that the album is worth it (since it contains
songs such as 'Down The Dustpipe,' 'In My Chair,' 'Again and
Again,' and others that are less well-known).

In 1998, the band were touring again, in Europe, Japan, and
Australia, and recording songs for a new album slated for
release in early '99. As mentioned earlier, Castle
Communications (who hold the copyright to the masters from the
PYE years) have now re-mastered much of the early material,
including rare tracks from about the right period on each of
the first four albums, and a new compilation of all the tracks
from the singles (both sides) and some out-takes and alternate
versions. Quo Anthology, anyone?

In March 1999, Quo released their eagerly awaited new album,
now titled 'Under The Influence'. Impressions of this new
album are good, with everyone seeming to like at least nine
out of the twelve songs. The first single 'The Way It Goes'
did not do well in the UK, only reaching no. 39. The second
single, 'Little White Lies,' will be released on 1 June 1999
in the UK.

Quo provided some new tracks and some old ones for a TV series
in Germany titled 'Benzin im Blut.' Some of the old favourites
have been remixed, to a mixed reception, for this series and
the accompanying soundtrack album.


Continue to:

previous page: 2.a. About the current band (Status Quo)
page up: Status Quo FAQ
next page: 2.c. What do they play? (Status Quo)