(U.K 1962 - Present)
In January 1968, the group released the psychedelic-flavoured "Pictures of Matchstick Men". Rick Parfitt was invited to join the band just as the song hit the UK Singles Chart, reaching number seven; "Matchstick Men" became the group's only Top 40 hit in the United States, peaking at number twelve on the Billboard Hot 100. Although Status Quo's albums have been released in the United States throughout their career, they never achieved the same level of success there as they have in Britain. Though the follow-up was the unsuccessful single "Black Veils of Melancholy", they had a hit again the same year with a pop song penned by Marty Wilde and Ronnie Scott, "Ice in the Sun", which climbed to number eight. After the breakthrough, the band management hired Bob Young as a roadie and tour manager. Over the years Young became one of the most important songwriting partners for Status Quo, in addition to playing harmonica with them on stage and on record. [extract from Wikipedia]
|Status Quo 1970|
"We had a lot of faith in ourselves, but we had to turn our back on this pop thing," says Parfitt. "Fifty to sixty girls down the front screaming: fantastic, but we knew it weren't gonna last. But we knew we were good, we knew we had something, so we decided to literally heavy things up.
We came off the road in 1969 and we went back to just wearing jeans, T-shirts and pumps." "We rebelled against the system," he goes on. "Being told to wear frilly shirts, 'get your hair cut right, put that right, boys'. We hated it. I remember putting my head round the curtain once, and the tour manager said if I did that again l'd never work in show business again and I thought, 'Fuck that'. "The jeans had to be ripped, the pumps dirty, the hair long and unwashed - we were real scruffy bastards - and we decided to take on this heavier music: "Junior's Wailing", "Roadhouse Blues" and Them's "Gloria". We just wanted to be a lot heavier - and scruffier."
|Francis Rossi and Rick Parfitt 1970|
In typically confident manner, Rossi was often heard to introduce the band thus: "You haven't heard of us, we're Status Quo, we're loud and you'll hate us." "l knew the band were good before I'd joined, and then when I joined it got that little bit worse, of course," laughs Parfitt. "But we eventually became a very, very good band. We believed in what we did, we've never not believed in what we do, right from the start. And we just worked and worked and worked." "We thought, 'Somebody's going to tell us off for this', but they didn't," adds Rossi. "We were really going places now - we were playing what we wanted to play, we were wearing what we wanted to wear and we were getting genuine reaction from the people.
"The change was pretty black and white. You could see it in people's faces when we took to the stage. They looked at each other as if to say: 'ls this the same "Matchstick Men" band?' But at that point we didn't care; we were like, either fucking like it, or piss off," says Parfitt. "We went the complete opposite, with the long hair, ripped jeans and pumps. It got to the point where we used to buy the filthiest, most disgusting jeans from people in the street. If we spotted someone with a really beaten-up, nasty-looking pair of jeans at a show, we used to try to buy them from them. Some of the pairs we had were hideous - smelly and dirty and everything." "I mean, you can call it a classic look now, but back then what we were aiming for, I suppose, was something that was the complete opposite of having an image," adds Rossi. By the turn of the decade, Quo were slowly becoming visually and musically more recognisable, but there was still a spot of stagecraft to be learnt.
"We call it the attack stance. In the early days we used to play these halls that had stages at the end of them and the crowd used to sit down cross-legged on the floor while we were playing our set," Parfitt adds.
"The thing was, because they were sitting down and we were up high on the stage, we felt so far away from our audience. We started to lean forward and move our legs apart in a simple effort to get closer to our fans. We didn't want to be so far away, so the stance was born."
|The Quo Stance|
"We drove, did a gig, didn't wash. Did the next night's gig, didn't wash or shave, drove to London overnight, it had to look like that. It was a total rejection of all that 'press your trousers, make sure your make- up's right'. From then on, l'd always shave at night, so there'd be a bit of stubble the next morning."
The sound was best nailed on "Down the Dustpipe", written by Valley Music's Carl Grossman. lt also represented a welcome return to the charts, spending 17 weeks there and peaking at No. 12.
"It was a word-of-mouth hit," says Bob Young, who provided the track's lusty harmonica. "It only got anywhere by people coming to gigs and telling their friends, and them asking for it. It proved to us that some people were enjoying the band, no matter how unfashionable we were supposed to be."
And so, the Status Quo sound and image was born. The rest is history. [extract from Just Doin' It by Bob Young, Francis Rossi and Rick Parfitt. Cassell Illustrated, 2006. p31-32]