The following article, titled "The brilliance of boogie: How Status Quo transformed my life" and written by Dave Ling, appeared on the Classic Rock magazine website on 7th September.
"For many of us who experience a musical epiphany, it comes via the TV set. Older Classic Rock readers may recall seeing clips of Elvis Presley shaking his hips with zero regard for good taste on The Ed Sullivan Show in the US; for others the defining TV moment was looking on aghast as Jimi Hendrix poured lighter fluid over his guitar and set it aflame. And unless you saw the Sex Pistols intimidate Bill Grundy, force him to squirm and eventually collect his coat, you'd have had no clue that the entire music scene of the 1970s was about to crash and burn.
In whichever decade you made your own seismic channel switch, the effect was always the same - lives were changed forever.
Personally speaking, planet Earth was tilted from its axis forever on one particular fateful Thursday evening in 1975. I have no idea which idiot DJ was presenting, but Status Quo were performing Down Down on the weekly TV chart programme Top Of The Pops, and after watching them bludgeon their way through one of the greatest rock'n'roll numbers ever committed to vinyl, nothing in my life would ever be quite the same again.
Why did this colossal No. 1 hit make such a lasting and potent impression upon a small, pudding bowl-coiffured 12-year-old from Kent? Gosh, if only there was a simple answer to that one...
Coincidentally, a similar thing had happened a year or two earlier, The Sweet entering my living room via the irrepressible bubblegum swagger of Blockbuster on TOTP, then Hellraiser, Ballroom Blitz and later a string of spectacular hard rock B-sides. But then The Sweet had the image, they were colourful and fun, and the Sweet Fanny Adams album had raised vocalist Brian Connolly and company into icons.
But Quo...? Well, Quo were different. They were gloriously scruffy herberts, and that was real dirt under their fingernails. And although they seemed every bit as cocky as The Sweet, the campness was missing. The three at the front - the long-haired dark one that did the nasally-inflected singing; the long-haired blond one that just played the same chords over and over again; and the bushy-haired bassist that pumped out the notes whilst bopping up and down in the background - all stood there winking at the audience and looking as blokey as you could get.
Their legs were spread out wide, their hair was flying, and they were throwing rock star poses yet wearing regular down-to-earth clobber that you'd find in any Sunday-morning street market. At a push, the drummer could even be forgiven for that dreadful moustache - after all, this was music as it was meant to be played. Hard, heavy, unpretentious - and catchy as a cold.
Scraping together whatever pocket money hadn't yet been squandered on copies of Popswop magazine, I prepared to take the plunge. Wagging off school, I took the bus into nearby Lewisham and bought a copy of On The Level, the album from which the Down Down single had been lifted.
Getting it into the house and then up to my room without alerting the suspicions of my parents was problematic, but the music was absolutely incredible: hard rocking and tough, and laced with sticky, utterly unforgettable melodies. When they did realise I'd invested in another album, my parents reacted as I'd feared.
My father, with typical bluntness, continually insisted that I turned it down because he would, "Rather hear the lavatory door slam" than be forced to overhear the thumping, bass-driven strains emanating from my stereo for the 50th time. Of course, my parents' disapproval only strengthened my resolve to wear out the darned thing.
Gradually, On The Level went on to achieve the impossible, forcing its way on to the turntable more often than even The Sweet's Sweet Fanny Adams and Desolation Boulevard albums. In my heart of hearts I knew I was entering a sacrilegious realm, but there was no turning back.
In honour of my new hero, Francis Rossi, a denim waistcoat was purchased and an unused tennis racket transformed into a makeshift imaginary (but in my mind very, very green) Telecaster guitar. A dog lead allowed me to interrupt my 'playing' and conduct audience singalongs, with an old piece of headphone cable serving to link my tennis racket to a beer-crate 'amplifier' - well, it was in the days before such things became radio controlled. Guitars, I mean.
As well as memorising every note of music and lyric by heart, countless hours were spent gazing at the record's gatefold sleeve. A collage of candid pics was especially well thumbed. Shots of band members looking wasted in hotel rooms, collapsed on beaches and taking the piss out of innocent passers-by (a Polaroid of one respectable, short-haired schoolteacher-type bore the brilliant handwritten legend 'Toronto pongo') offered a backstage pass into an exciting, hedonistic and irreverent new world.
Man, I was hooked.
Contrary to my fondest hopes, the transformation from bespectacled glam-rock wannabe into a denim-clad Quo boogie-head didn't exactly revolutionise my popularity at school. Quite the opposite, in fact. In my entire year, just three people declared themselves Quo fans besides myself, and they quickly learned to regret it. Quo have never been popular with the cognoscenti, but back then those prepared to align themselves to such an unfashionable institution had to prepare themselves for the austere life of the social pariah.
In 1976 and 78, although neither album allowed the band a single to top the British chart again, Blue For You and Rockin' All Over The World proved that On The Level was no fluke. By that time I'd taken a Saturday job, and had backtracked to invest in the entire Quo catalogue. After each purchase I'd go into school ranting and raving about the likes of Piledriver, Hello and Quo.
The last one was a particularly underrated record, in my opinion, and many pleasurable hours were spent pretending that the sofa in front of me was a bank of seated fans at the Empire Pool, Wembley, as I boogie'd away to the strains of the epic Slow Train. Alas, my sheep-like classmates were far too busy shaking their collective funky thang to the latest automaton output from Kool & The Gang, or the soundtrack album to Saturday Night Fever, to take much notice. Undeterred - like the band themselves - I rocked on.
Those sixth-form pupils who did admit to a liking of rock music simply stared down their noses and walked away at the mention of Quo, careful to snobbishly display their copies of the latest Led Zeppelin, Pink Floyd, Genesis and Tom Petty & The Heartbreakers albums amid their homework. The more knowledgeable among them took great pleasure in the reminder that my heroes had once been psychedelic one-hit-wonders, and those ill-equipped to argue with such finesse simply played the 'boring three-chord wonder' card. But at the end of the day it was nobody's loss but their own.
Buying a copy of Live in 1977 was what turned me from being a merely obsessive fan of Status Quo into a shameless, quivering anorak. Recorded at Glasgow's Apollo Theatre, it boiled the band's essence down into four sides of charismatic, fun-filled, strictly no-frills boogie-rock.
Besides the music - which kicked unfussily into gear with a gently-building Junior's Wailing and ended with a breathless, presumably satin scarf-waving, encore of Chuck Berry's Bye Bye Johnny - there was way too much to take in, in one gulp. From the bluster of an informal stage introduction from Jackie Lynton, to Francis Rossi's endearingly off-the-cuff and matey between-song banter, the timeless appeal of Live was in its detail.
"This is a song that did a lot to get us where we possibly are... are we somewhere?" quipped Rossi before In My Chair. Quite often he seemed to be speaking another language - a mixture of Cockney and pure filth.
"Ah, the people at the top," he chided, addressing those on an upper tier who insisted upon jumping up and down in time with the music, causing the balcony to rise and then drop by a frightening nine inches. "I can only see you now and again when the light goes up there, see. That's George on the lights, and Malcolm [Kingsnorth, soundman] - they all shit themselves when that balcony moves. So get the balcony to move a bit, and they'll all be running about and shitting themselves. A nice buncha fellas, but very scared of balconies."
The guitarist's comments were nothing to worry genuine smut-merchants like Derek & Clive, but along with the lyrics to Big Fat Mama and especially Roll Over Lay Down (nudge, nudge), the unexpected titter factor was certainly welcomed by this particular schoolboy.
Musically, Live was a fascinating audio banquet, the singalong strains of Most Of The Time making a huge impact. The live version of Forty-Five Hundred Times, furiously improvised to last almost twice as long its original nine minutes and 50 seconds, provided irrefutable proof that, like Deep Purple's Space Truckin' and Dazed And Confused by Led Zeppelin, Quo could retain the listener's attention across lengthier and more ambitious musical passages.
Every riff, every throwaway line, every roar of the Glasgow crowd was eagerly digested, and one thing quickly became clear: I had to see this band for myself, in concert, live!
But my parents felt differently. Just as they'd barred me from attending The Sweet's Hammersmith Odeon gig in 1976 and would ultimately forbid me from making the trip to Knebworth Park to see Zeppelin three years later (even though I'd got a ticket!) , I was deemed too young to see Quo on their Rockin' All Over The World tour.
Despite the fact that the Rockin'... album was not received with universal acclaim by diehard fans - or indeed by Quo themselves; Rossi later describing it as "poxy" - my own enthusiasm for the band remained totally undimmed. Seeing Quo on Top Of The Pops once again, this time playing the album's John Fogerty-penned title track, I swore that it would only be a matter of time before our paths finally met.
Once again recorded with Pip Williams (bizarrely, a session man on The Sweet's earliest singles and a producer of Barclay James Harvest, Uriah Heep and the Moody Blues, among others), the next Quo album, If You Can't Stand The Heat, was also deemed 'controversial' by diehards. The likes of Again And Again, Long Legged Linda and Like A Good Girl were balanced out by the glossy single Accident Prone, which some felt was unnecessarily radio-friendly.
Years later, Alan Lancaster theorised: "When Pip started producing us, everything started to go wrong." The rest of the band would no doubt argue that the bassist's imminent move to Australia also caused as many problems as whoever was behind the desk. Going back to ...Heat all these years later, it's obvious that big problems were on the horizon.
Finally, however, came the day of reckoning. Almost five years after my Down Down watershed, I would get to see Quo on stage. A school pal and I had managed to obtain a pair of £5 tickets for the band's gig at Wembley Arena on May 10, 1979. The night before the show was a sleepless and incredibly nervous one. Famous for their partisan, football-style followers, I actually pondered upon the wisdom of wearing a Thin Lizzy badge alongside my usual Quo pins... might somebody take exception and beat my head in for being unfaithful?
I needn't have worried. Entering Wembley was like being in Star Trek and getting beamed down on to an alien planet. Except this one was populated by people wearing denims plastered with patches - Zeppelin, Purple, Uriah Heep, Black Sabbath and, yes, Thin Lizzy - mostly with long hair and obligatory pint glass in hand. The show itself was little short of a religious experience.
Anxious not to miss our last train home, my friend and I reluctantly left Wembley during closing number Bye Bye Johnny, awestruck and with ringing ears. Once fully consummated, and off the back of their last great album of the era, Whatever You Want, my live relationship with Quo blossomed during the next decade. On successive UK tours, another friend and I queued outside Hammersmith Odeon in order to obtain the best possible tickets for each of the band's seven-night run.
But that's another story. The 70s was where it all began, though.
This feature was originally published in Classic Rock Special No.1: Status QuoRevisit the September 2022 event list
Quo played at the British Rock Fest in Germersheim on 10th September, marking the 50th anniversary of the British Rock Meeting in the same location in 1972.
The band posted a Facebook video of the full version of "Softer Ride" from this gig.Revisit the September 2022 event list
Quo played at L'Olympia in Paris on 12th September, a gig rescheduled from 28th March 2022. The band posted a Facebook video of the full version of "Beginning of the End" from this gig.Revisit the September 2022 event list
Quo played at Le Transbordeur in Lyon on 13th September, a gig rescheduled from 25th March 2022. The band posted a Facebook video of "Mystery Song" from this gig.Revisit the September 2022 event list
Between their public gigs in Germany, Quo slotted in a private gig at the headquarters of a large paper company, Palm Paper Aalen, as part of their 150th anniversary celebrations.
An article about the event can be found here. Unusually for a private/corporate gig, some decent live footage has emerged:
Yet another compilation album was released on 16th September, in the shape of "Quo'ing In - The Best of the Noughties" (earMUSIC), described as "the most definitive collection of 'Quo' songs covering their career since the turn of the new millennium".
The release offered three formats: 2-CD Jewelcase, digital and Limited Edition 3-CD Deluxe Digipak. The 3-CD set features a previously unreleased and newly mixed live recording, from the Westonbirt gig on 22nd June 2008. Brand new 2022 studio recordings of "Caroline", "Rockin' All Over the World" and "Paper Plane" are also included, as well as different mixes of "Backbone" and "Cut Me Some Slack". "It's Christmas Time" appears on a Quo album for the very first time.
earMUSIC's promo for the release included the following quote from Francis.
"Francis Rossi said of the album, "Coming into the Noughties we were under pressure. Struggling to maintain our place at the top table and, in a way, weighed down by what had gone before. This was a time of change and the band that recorded 'Heavy Traffic' is different to the one that laid down 'Backbone' but what did not change was the passion, energy and desire to build on what had gone before. The fact that so many of the songs fitted into the live sets along the way is testimony to their strength. Anyone who knows me will be aware that I don't deal in nostalgia, but I do think that what Status Quo achieved during this twenty year period - in the face of challenges that none of us could have predicted we'd have to deal with - is worth celebrating".Revisit the September 2022 event list
The following article appeared in the UK's Daily Star newspaper on 16th September, titled "Status Quo's Francis Rossi says Corrie stint came from 'mouthing off' at Bruce Jones" and written by Sarah O'Hara.
"Status Quo icon Francis Rossi has revealed that he and late band member Rick Parfitt appeared in Coronation Street, as Les Battersby actor Bruce Jones kept asking them for photographs at every gig.
Speaking exclusively to Daily Star ahead of the release of Status Quo's new album, Quo-ing In: The Best Of The Noughties, Francis explained how the band wound up appearing in the soap because of Bruce.
"As with everything in your career, it's like wow, because I really didn't want to do it," said Francis.
"I don't want to do anything. I'm terrible. I am!" he joked.
"He [Bruce Jones] came to see us regularly in Manchester and he'd say 'can I have a photograph?'
"He sat on the drum riser with me and Rick, and I said, 'how many times do you want a photograph?' I said, 'why can't you cut us in your gig?' and I was just mouthing off.
"Then low and behold, up comes this b****y offer. I said, 'I shouldn't have said that."
However, Francis recalled that appearing in the soap was a great experience and that he has huge admiration for the cast, with Quo arriving on the street to play at Les Battersby's wedding, after their tour bus broke down in the soap.
"It wasn't until I got there, and watched them in the morning. Everyone is there at the same time. Everyone is reading their scripts. Rick and I were taken around the street, and we were watching these two people act.
"Then suddenly, they do a couple of run throughs and we were watching television."
He added: "That's what I found when I first did Corrie, that blimey these people know what to do."
"Some of the smash up scenes they did, with me and Battersby's wife. They have a fight scene and they have to be careful not to wreck the set too much, because they have to put the set back together and wreck it again."
Francis continued: "It was a great learning curve, great people to be with."
Both Rick and Francis were also taught how to choreograph a fight on-set, which saw the stars even throwing punches at Les Battersby on the cobbles as part the story.
The fight training came in handy as the two displayed their acting chops once more in the 2013 film Bula Quo, and in a strange twist of fate, Francis revealed: "The [Coronation Street] fight co-ordinator is the guy who directed the movie."
The comedy film, which sees Francis and Rick get caught up with the Mafia, also spawned songs including Bula Bula Quo, which feature in the group's latest compilation of music from the noughties onwards.
"It was a great experience. We went to Fiji to make it, and the people who looked after us were the most gentle and affectionate people," said Francis.
"It wasn't like, you're going to make a Quo album. It's a side project if you like. Some of the songs on there are really good."
He then jokes: "Yeah he would say that."
Quo'ing In: The Best Of The Noughties takes in the past 20 years of that career, from Jam Side Down to Backbone and Looking for Caroline, with Francis saying: "Even I've heard things recently and I forgot how good they were."
The album also includes their 2010 re-recording of In The Army Now with the British Army Choir, in aid of Help For Heroes, with Francis saying he had "the greatest respect for a gentleman called Sgt. Elliot", who worked with them while they made a new video for the song.
"He was such a fabulous bloke. Smart, elegant. Everything about his demeanor I had the greatest of respect for," said Francis.
The album also revisits some rarities from the back catalogue, including their collaboration with The Beach Boys Fun Fun Fun, sixties hit Pictures Of Matchstick Men, The Party Ain't Over Yet and new studio re-workings of Quo classics including Rockin' All Over The World and Paper Plane.
Joking once more, Francis says: "We've been playing these songs for the last 400 years."
These songs from the noughties onwards have also found their place amongst the band's earlier hits in the band's sets, with Quo recently completing a series of tour dates that were postponed due to the pandemic.
Looking to the future, Francis is also heading out on his Tunes and Chat Tour in 2023, following the release of his autobiography I Talk Too Much and a previous successful talking tour.
He says: "I'm looking forward to doing that and hope to see as many people as possible."
"A few more tunes in that than the talking one. The only thing I'm not sure about is what I'm going to talk about. As you can see though, I find something."Revisit the September 2022 event list
Quo appeared on the popular German variety TV show, Fernsehgarten on 18th September.
The band played "Paper Plane" before a short (and very amusing!) interview between Francis and the host, then they closed out the show with "Rockin' All Over The World".
The show was live streamed and a replay is available (with Quo appearing at 1 hour 56 minutes into the replay).Revisit the September 2022 event list
Quo played at Ancienne Belgique in Brussels on September 20th and a great set of photos from this gig can be seen here.Revisit the September 2022 event list
The fourth FTMO fan club convention was held at Butlin's in Minehead over the weekend of 23rd to 25th September. The event drew over 1,000 fans to this important location from Quo's history and, for the first time, included three full days of Quoing heaven!
It was something of a drummer's convention, with John Coghlan wrapping up his JCQ farewell tour, Jeff Rich running his Drum Masterclass and Leon Cave enjoying the weekend as part of his birthday celebrations (and also playing with The Middlenight Men).
The opening night featured two well-known Quo tributes, in the shape of Dog Of Two Head and Scotland's Heavy Traffic. Heavy Traffic's excellent version of "Caroline" can be seen here, while footage of headliners Dog can be found here and here. The event certainly got off to an impressive start!
Saturday was big day, topped off with four tribute band gigs. First up were (relative) locals Quo-No and their splendid version of "Backwater" can be seen here. Next up was the Belgian Quo Band and their brilliant performance of "Creepin' Up On You" can be seen here. Leon Cave took the drum stool for three songs of their set too! They were a hard act to follow, but Big Fat Mama cranked out an awesome set and their version of "I Saw The Light" is well worth a look here. It was finally time for the headliners to take the stage, in the shape of John Coghlan's Quo, this being the final show on their farewell tour. Their version of "Down The Dustpipe" can be seen here and a brief clip from "Bye Bye Johnny" can be seen here. What a huge day of rocking!
There was no respite for the tired fans on Sunday, with another heavy session in order culminating in four full live sets. First up were Quo'd, who were introduced by the one and only Jackie Lynton! Their performance of "Again And Again" can be seen here. Next up were The Middlenight Men with Leon Cave on drums, definitely something different! There was plenty of love in the room for the next act, Baz Barry's Spare Parts, and their brilliant rendition of "Shy Fly" can be seen here. The headliners for the day were meant to be Swedish favourites, Sounds of Status, but unfortunately border control problems crossing over from France into the UK meant that not all of the band made it to Minehead (thanks, Brexit!). Heavy Traffic took on the job of headlining, playing their second full set of the weekend, and did an incredible job. Well-known Quo tribute bass player Brino took a place in the band, as well as the two members of Sounds of Status who made it into the country! This hybrid band performed very well together and produced a set worthy of the closing spot for this convention. A long clip of their set can be seen here and their rocking version of "Hold You Back" can be seen here.
A great review of the convention weekend by German fan Werner Kilian can be found here.
Check out this fantastic photo montage from the convention weekend to get a feeling for what was an awesome event for the Quo faithful.
The following interview with John Coghlan appeared in the UK Express newspaper on 24th September, titled "'I would have loved to meet Charles and Diana' - John Coghlan" and written by Paul Jeeves.
"It was to become one of the biggest moments in British rock history as then future King Prince Charles became the first member of the royal family to attend a pop concert.
But as the nervous members of Status Quo lined-up dutifully to meet the expectant royal ahead of their 20th anniversary concert at Birmingham NEC, their long-serving drummer John Coghlan was sat brooding a few hundreds miles away at his remote Isle of Man home.
The 1982 concert was broadcast live on BBC One and made headlines around the world - but John did not even bother to switch-on the TV.
Instead as his chart-topping former bandmates were propelled towards even bigger superstardom by the future heir's seal of approval, the self-confessed "huge Royalist" settled for going back to playing music in the pub with mates.
"At the end of the day a gigs a gig," he now reflects matter-of-factly. "Yeah, it would have been nice to have played that show and met the future King, but I guess these things happen in life. You can't dwell on it too much. It's all ups and downs really. I'd have loved to meet Charles, and of course Di. I had lunch with Prince Edward a few years ago at a charity lunch in London and he was ever so nice, but that's been my only brush with royalty."
John can fondly recall enjoying street parties for the Coronation in 1953 and has marked each subsequent celebration of her reign in style. The monarch's death has hit him hard.
"We were on holiday in the South of France when we got news she was ill. Of course you hope against hope that she would recover but when we learned she had died it was just devastating.
"We watched every bit of the funeral and it was such an occasion. Nobody does ceremonies like that as well as us, it made me very proud to be British".
Having played for the Prince, John's former Quo colleagues Francis Rossi and Rick Parfitt went on to perform at "The Last Tattoo" concert in Berlin in 1992 in front of The Queen to mark the departure of allied troops in 1992, and then in 2010 both were awarded OBE's by the late monarch.
Regrets, he has got a few, but after a career jam-packed with those "ups and downs" the 76-year-old will bring to his hard rockin' days to an end on Saturday night with a final concert at the venue where it all began for Status Quo - Butlins in Minehead.
And while a seaside resort in Somerset seems a far-cry from the heady days headlining Wembley and touring the world, the drummer affectionately nicknamed "The Mad Turk" due to his dark demeanour, believes it is a perfect way to "complete the circle" as a 16-date farewell tour for the John Coghlan's Quo culminates with a headline slot at the Status Quo 2022 Fanclub Convention before 3,000 denim-clad headbangers.
Born in Dulwich, South London, he discovered drumming while accompanying his parents to live music nights at the Crystal Palace hotel. Having repeatedly tried to have a bash of the house kit, his father invested in a small kit on which John taught himself to play by jamming along to old jazz records.
His other interest outside school was the Air Cadets and he naturally joined the squadron band, from which inspired by The Beatles, he persuaded two pals to start up a fledgling beat group - The Cadets.
Fate dealt its hand during one garage rehearsal session when two passing fresh-faced schoolboys heard the racket and popped their heads inside to check out the band.
The 13-year-old duo were Francis Rossi and Alan Lancaster who had been enchanted by The Beatles and The Everley Brothers. Their band had a name - The Scorpions - but no drummer.
"They asked me to join and I thought, "why not". It was the only offer I'd had," recalls John.
Accompanied by keyboard player Jess Jaworski the quartet practiced incessantly and began gigging locally, travelling around South London with their equipment neatly packed between the lollies and choc ices of the Rossi's family's ice cream van.
Their big break came in 1965 when, having changed name to The Spectres, they were offered a prestigious six-week summer season at Butlins in Minehead. It was here they would meet a happy-go-lucky blonde-haired fellow teen by the name of Ricky Parfitt.
The guitarist, resplendent in gold lame suit, was plying his trade in a cabaret trio The Highlights but desperately wanted to join his new pals chasing dreams of chart success - and more importantly girls.
When The Spectres returned to London they changed their name to The Status Quo, and Parfitt was recruited as a second guitarist and vocalist. Their first hit, the psychedelic Pictures of Matchstick Men came in 1968, and stormed the charts on both sides of the Atlantic.
But although the lightweight "flower power" music brought instant stardom, it was a movement that sat uneasily with the band, who were increasingly finding themselves moving towards the London underground blues and rock scene that was spawning the likes of Fleetwood Mac, Deep Purple and The Small Faces.
"That psychedelic thing just wasn't us. I had this awful jacket that was terrible, it's life ended when it burst into flames when I stood too close to an electric fire at our old manager's house. It was the best thing that ever happened to that jacket, it sought of summed us and flower power up."
Amid falling sales and the prospect of a life working on a factory line, the band decided to "be true to themselves" and make a full out assault on becoming a rock 'n' roll band.
"The psychedelic thing just wasn't what we were about," laughs John. "We decided to lose the fancy outfits, grow our hair long and buy jeans and plimsolls and head out gigging the college circuit."
Having built up a huge live following 1972's Piledriver album thundered into the top ten of the UK charts, kickstarting a phenomenal run of success that would ultimately make Quo the most successful UK chart band of all time. "I always tell people I played on all the big hits," John jokes.
While Francis Rossi, 73, continues to tour the world as the last remaining original member of Quo's famed "Frantic Four" line-up following Parfitt's death from sepsis on Christmas Eve 2016 and Lancaster from MS last year, John remains philosophical about his sudden departure in 1982.
With the rest of the band succumbing to the temptation of drugs, with Rossi later revealing how he developed a £1,400 a week habit (£6,000 in today's value), John sought solace in nothing stronger than pints of bitter - making him an outsider as things spiralled out of control.
"Drugs change people and they really mess you up," he said. "But I just went off the rails, I couldn't deal with it anymore. Everybody was concentrating on themselves rather than focusing on the band. I was fed-up with it all, I blew up."
The band was recording their anniversary album 1+9+8+2 in Switzerland. During a meal out one night with record label bigwigs John decided he did not want to be there and walked out straight over the top of the table crashing his knee-length cowboy boots into stunned executives' plates.
The next day he kicked over his kit in the studio, stormed out and caught a plane back to the Isle of Man much to the shock of wife Gillie. Within hours Quo had recruited a replacement in the form of ex-Original Mirrors drummer Peter Kircher and John's life in one of the world's biggest-selling rock bands was over.
"Looking back the pressure was just too much. We should have taken six months off and let everything calm down," he admits. "We didn't talk much about depression and stuff in those days."
A further blow came three years later when he failed to be asked to play Live Aid. Quo had split-up the previous year, playing what was billed as their farewell concert before 65,000 fans at Milton Keynes Bowl.
But after Bob Geldof coaxed them out of retirement it was Kircher who took the drum stool on July 13, 1985, as they kicked-off the greatest concert of all time with Rockin' All Over The World.
"It was very disappointing. I watched some of it on TV," John reveals. "Alan (Lancaster) had told me there would be a call, but it never came. Maybe it's hard for certain people to pick-up the phone."
After years of legal turmoil between Lancaster, Rossi and Parfitt, in 2013 the original Quo line-up reunited for two major tours - both selling out instantly and attracting fans from all over the world to see the "heavy version" of Quo back on stage.
But when in 2014 Rossi refused to contemplate recording a new album or touring a third time with his old pals, the bitter acrimony re-surfaced.
And while John admits Francis would be "more than welcome" to pop down to Somerset and join him for a couple of numbers on Saturday night, he has absolutely no hope of it happening.
"We don't really talk much anymore," John admits. "He's doing what he does and I do my thing. "Francis doesn't talk to anybody really. He fell out with Alan at the end. You just move on and keep going.
"I'd ring him and invite him to come play but I know he'd just make an excuse. It would be nice for him to come and play a few numbers with my band, it would be a lovely way to end and the fans would absolutely love it. But personally I just don't think he can be bothered. It's a shame.
"I'm just looking forward to playing and having a few beers with fans after the show."
As for the future John is planning to "whip out the brushes" and play some jazz shows, with some unique re-imagining of Quo hits. He also volunteers at Cotswold Wildlife Park, located close to his current Oxfordshire home.
"It's going to be something different and I can't wait. Jazz was my first love so it will be wonderful to give it a go. The first show has already sold out so hopefully fans will like it."
But if they do not will he never perform those famous shuffle rhythms again?
"Not before Christmas," he jokes. "I'm not retiring, that means putting your feet up and walking the dog. Well I haven't got a dog so what else am I going to do. If the boys don't want to play anymore then I'll maybe get another band. This is our last concert... but never say never."Revisit the September 2022 event list
The following article by Dave Ling, titled "The life, music and troubled times of Status Quo's Alan Lancaster", appeared in Classic Rock magazine on 26th September, marking the first anniversary of Alan's passing.
"It's November 13, 2012, the morning of the eighth annual Classic Rock Awards, and the Status Quo 'Frantic Four' - Francis Rossi, Rick Parfitt, Alan Lancaster and John Coghlan - are gathered in a cafeteria inside London's Roundhouse where the event is being held. Later in the evening they will accept an award for their 1977 concert release Status Quo Live!
As a band, Status Quo rocked hard and partied even harder throughout the 1960s and 70s. But by the start of the following decade, for various reasons, their empire had begun to crumble. Now the reunion that nobody considered possible is actually happening.
Just a few hours earlier, tickets had gone on sale for a tour the following March, these four musicians' first dates together in 31 years, and already the guys know they are flying out the door. Quite understandably, all of the Frantic Four are giddy with nostalgia and excitement.
"It's such a pleasure to be sitting here together. I'm feeling like the 'new boy' all over again," says Rick Parfitt, who joined Quo after their first hit, 1968's Pictures Of Matchstick Men. "It's freaking me out, in a way."
"I'm feeling disorientated, but I'm really enjoying it," adds John Coghlan, who's been out of the Quo line-up since 1981.
"If the reunion didn't happen [now] then it probably never would," says Francis Rossi. "I mean, look at us - we're old men."
"I've got this big mirror in my bedroom and I play air guitar," admits a beaming Alan Lancaster, who was sacked by the band 27 years previously. "I've been practising jumping off the bed like I did from [drum risers] during the seventies."
The most poignant comment of all comes from Parfitt: "Perhaps after all these years we'll finally get to know one another for the first time."
And for a short while that's how things turned out, although sadly the Frantic Four's wildly differing personas were doomed to return to type.
Alan Lancaster was incredibly proud of his family, and of the band that he co-founded as a schoolboy. Lancaster - or 'Nuff', as the group's fans knew him - had a clear vision of what Status Quo should and shouldn't be. And when others within the group began to blur those same lines, sparks would fly about the direction of a particular song or album, or the hiring of a new producer. So it's hardly surprising that he was forced out of Status Quo following the decision to carry on after reuniting for Live Aid in July 1985.
Bass player/vocalist Lancaster and frontman/lead guitarist Francis Rossi had put the band together in 1962 as The Scorpions at South London's Sedgehill Comprehensive School. By the mid-80s Rossi felt that a retirement from touring could only be overturned in a calmer and less volatile head-space. And with rhythm guitarist/singer Rick Parfitt electing to side with Rossi - despite having allegedly initially discussed teaming up with Alan to elbow Rossi aside - in January 1986 Lancaster found himself firmly out in the cold.
Having put in so much hard work to make Status Quo one of the biggest and most exciting hard rock acts in the world, it was an ignominious place to be. Lancaster once said that watching the band continue without him was "like having your child abducted".
After Parfitt's arrival, Quo ratcheted up the heaviness of their sound, grew out their hair and had a string of No.1 singles and albums, and played numerous sold-out tours. From 1970's Ma Kelly's Greasy Spoon to their '77 double album Status Quo Live!, Quo were the UK's undisputed kings of boogie-rock. Their '74 album Quo is, barring a couple of softer moments, the band's heaviest studio release, and a watershed moment in the pantheon of hard rock.
Quo's astonishing success was based on fan power. Lambasted by the critics, the band grew bigger with each album, thumbing their collective nose at those who dismissed them as a three-chord, one-trick pony. After the double live record, recorded over three triumphant and boisterous nights at Glasgow Apollo, Quo set their sights on America with the album and single Rockin' All Over The World, having hired a specialist producer, Pip Williams, to smooth off the rough edges. For Lancaster, this was the beginning of the end. He respected Williams as a producer, but felt him wholly unsuitable for Quo.
"Back then Quo was almost like a religion to the fans. To the band it was like being in a football team; you were allowed to have the occasional bad game, but nobody wanted to hear us playing netball," Lancaster once told me, with a mischievous grin.
He would later learn that as early as 1969, Rossi and Parfitt had considered jettisoning him in favour of forming a power-trio with Kenney Jones of The Small Faces. The hushed-up idea made it to the rehearsal stage.
"When I found out years later, it made sense," Lancaster told me in 2001. "It was all part of their psychology. The band was always my baby. I had recruited everyone, including the manager. So there was intimidation."
"There was always tension between Alan and the rest of us," Francis Rossi agreed in 2001. "Early on we got [our manager] Pat Barlow to sack him, but took him back again on a three-month trial. Unfortunately that lasted until 1984!"
Behind the scenes, some bad decisions were being made. And while drummer John Coghlan stuck to alcohol, elsewhere in the group the use of cocaine was increasing rapidly.
"Drugs were ultimately what broke up the [original] band," Lancaster said in 2001. "We became the cocaine gang. If you weren't doing it, you were excluded."
In another interview he elaborated: "Once the cocaine [took over], our humour started to sound cynical. Paranoia set in, and things you'd say [as a joke] were [misunderstood]. Cocaine changed the dynamics and the synergy of us as people. The camaraderie had gone."
In 1985, Rossi and, to a lesser degree, Parfitt finally got their way. Two years earlier Lancaster had moved to Australia, where he started a family with his wife Dayle. Such was the bassist's dissatisfaction with Quo's song Marguerita Time that at first he refused to play on it, then did it only after Rossi told him the song would appear on a solo album. (For the record, Rossi disputes this version of events.)
When Quo were invited to mime to Marguerita Time on Top Of The Pops, Lancaster stayed at home in Sydney. Jim Lea from Slade stepped in to deputise. For another TV show a cardboard cutout of Lancaster was used.
"All Marguerita Time did was advertise that we were becoming a bunch of nerds", Lancaster fumed. The situation worsened when, apparently at the record label's insistence, Ol' Rag Blues co-writer Lancaster's lead vocal was removed from the track and replaced by an alternative take with Rossi singing lead vocals.
Lancaster and the 'new' Quo reached an out-of-court settlement in '86, before the release of an album titled In The Army Now. For many diehards, Lancaster's exit spelled the end of Status Quo as they were known and loved. His successor, John 'Rhino' Edwards, had short hair, played a not very rock'n'roll-looking bass without a headstock, and creatively speaking contributed little to the group's increasingly keyboard-friendly direction. To Quo's detractors, Rhino seemed like less of a stereotypical rocker.
"Alan was always much more macho heavy metal than I was," Rossi huffed. "I never really understood that obsession of his."
In 1987 Lancaster hooked up with the Party Boys, a supergroup of Australian-based musicians, for the first of two spells, and appeared on their album of the same name. Next up he worked again with John Coghlan in The Bombers, before forming the Lancaster Brewster Band with John Brewster, guitarist with local heroes The Angels.
In 2001, given the extent of the bad blood between Lancaster and Rossi and Parfitt, the mere notion of the Frantic Four burying the hatchet and sharing a stage again seemed pie-in-the-sky. Or as Rossi put it: "It would be like trying to get your dick up your own arse... impossible."
For Lancaster, the feeling was nothing less than mutual. "I would never play with them again. It would be against all my principles," he swore as part of the same story (in a separate interview, of course). "When I left Quo they were one of the top ten bands in the world, but now they're just a laughing stock. To me, there are better covers bands out there than the current line-up. My 22-year-old daughter says she's embarrassed to tell people that her dad was in Status Quo."
Eventually, thanks to Quo manager Simon Porter, Lancaster and Rossi began to talk again, at first by phone. Lancaster realised that he'd been hoodwinked over business issues by somebody in the band's organisation. And so, against seemingly insurmountable odds, their strong childhood friendship was rekindled.
"Alan was apologetic and realised that he'd been wound up," Rossi told me. "He is the epitome of the British bulldog. He'll bite your leg off before bothering to decide whether you're a friend or an enemy. But at the point [at which he expressed regret] it [the reunion] became possible."
After Rossi, Parfitt, Lancaster and Coghlan had been reunited at Shepperton Studios for the touching conclusion of Alan G Parker's 2012 documentary Hello Quo!, and again at the Classic Rock Awards, fans were astounded when the four of them agreed to a series of dates in 2013 - the first time they would play together in more than three decades.
Lancaster stayed at Rossi's house in Surrey before the tour, working on his fitness and exercising in the guitarist's indoor pool. At the Classic Rock Awards, Lancaster had sought to quash rumours that he was suffering from multiple sclerosis.
"There's nothing wrong with my health!" he thundered. "I've passed every test known to mankind. I've got the heart of a thirty-year-old and my cholesterol's fine. The only negative is a toxicity that came from some hair dye I used several years ago. It affects my energy level, but I'm completely stage-fit."
Although he looked frail on stage, and needed to have the pick glued to his fingers, his voice still sounded amazing, and for the joyous denim-clad hordes who attended the shows the Frantic Four reunion was akin to a religious experience. Although Rossi consented to another tour the following year, and enjoyed the second one far more, his negativity towards the reunions was hard to stomach.
Following what turned out to be the final Frantic Four show, in Dublin in April 2014, Rossi spurned the aftershow celebrations. The following morning, along with Rick Parfitt, he boarded a bus to join a new tour by the group that Rossi considered to be the 'real' Status Quo.
When informed that this could sound callous, Rossi shrugged: "Look, I've never been into that whole group hug thing. No… I'm going on to the next show. I said goodbye to everybody before we went on, and I was back on the bus within two and a half minutes of leaving the stage. That's how I do things."
Although Lancaster lobbied hard for a third Frantics tour, Rossi refused. "We achieved the goal of playing some nice shows, and it's time to put the thing to bed," he explained.
Lancaster had wanted Rossi to add some guitar and vocals to a handful of his new songs, for which Parfitt had recorded rhythm guitar parts before his death, and Coghlan played drums. The project was referred to as PLC (Parfitt, Lancaster, Coghlan). Rossi declined the request. Still rallying for further Frantics activity, Lancaster pushed things just a little too far with Rossi during a Boxing Day phone call, and the pair never spoke again since.
Of the second Frantic Four tour, Lancaster once told me: "I can't remember when I enjoyed so much laughter. We'd be playing the piano in the hotel bars, it was wonderful. And of course for John and me it was also about reclaiming the legacy. People had forgotten what [the original Quo] was really like."
Alan Lancaster died on September 26, 2021, as a result of complications from multiple sclerosis. He was 72 years old. Following the loss of Rick Parfitt in 2016, that passing leaves just Rossi and Coghlan from the Frantic Four.
In a statement, Rossi commented: "I am so sorry to hear of Alan's passing. We were friends and colleagues for many years and achieved fantastic success together. Alan was an integral part of the sound and the enormous success of Status Quo during the sixties and seventies. Although it is well documented that we were estranged in recent years, I will always have very fond memories of our early days together and my condolences go to Alan's family."
Quo manager Simon Porter added: "It was an absolute pleasure to be able to reunite the original line-up for two sell-out tours in 2013 and 2014 and to give Frantic Four fans a final legacy and such a lasting memory. Although Alan was not in the best of health even then, he got through the tours with determination and grit and was a pleasure to work with."
It's no great secret that Alan Lancaster would never have held down a job in the Diplomatic Corps, but without his stubborn streak, not to mention talent, drive and sense of purpose, there would have been no Status Quo as we knew/know them, and the lives of many readers of Classic Rock would have turned out very, very differently indeed."Revisit the September 2022 event list
Continuing the Deluxe Edition reissue CD series, two more reasons for Quo fans to dip into their pockets were released on 30th September, in the shape of "Heavy Traffic" and "Riffs" (both on Universal Music).
The "Heavy Traffic" offering was a 3-CD set, with the first CD being the original album and the two bonus CDs made up of single B-sides, demo recordings and Quo's previously unreleased appearance at the Heitere Festival in Switzerland on the 10th August 2003.
"Riffs" came as a 2-CD set, with the first CD comprising the original album plus three bonus tracks (viz. "You'll Come 'Round" single, "Lucinda" single B-side and "Thinking Of You" single) and the second CD showcasing the (partly) previously unreleased gig at the Montreaux Jazz Festival on the 4th July 2004.Revisit the September 2022 event list