It’s Ready, steady ... Quo for rock royalty

Francis Rossi
Francis Rossi
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WHICH British band has sold more than 118 million records, had 64 UK hit singles (22 of which have made the Top 10) and appeared on Top Of The Pops a record breaking 106 times? writes Martin Hutchinson.

The answer of course is Status Quo, who are headlining the Lytham Proms on Friday August 5.

“We’re really looking forward to coming to Lytham,” says legendary frontman Francis Rossi. “We’ve driven past many times on our way to Blackpool and we used to wind up my cousin as she never believed that there was a windmill in the town.”

Francis, along with Rick Parfitt, has fronted the band since 1967, and they had their first hit Picture of Matchstick Men in 1968.

Throughout the 70s, they were at the forefront of heavy metal, recording such albums as Quo, on the Level and Blue For You; and having the hit singles Caroline, Paper Plane and the chart-topping Down Down.

Their Rocking All Over The World became the anthem of Live Aid in 1985.

They’re a band not short of statistics – they’ve had Top 10 hits in five different decades and were awarded a certificate by the Guinness Book of Records in 2005 for holding the biggest number of international and UK hit singles, they’ve performed over 6,000 concerts in front of over 25 million people, travelled over four million miles and have spent 23 years away from home recording more hit albums than any band except The Rolling Stones and have spent over seven and a half years in the singles charts (415 weeks in total) – the eleventh highest.

They’ve even been on Coronation Street – 12 million tuned in to see them play at Les Battersby’s wedding.

They have been voted the hardest working band of the year by the Performing Rights Society on more than one occasion and Francis and Rick have also been awarded the OBE for their serviced to music and charity.

It all makes choosing a set list difficult.

“How do you change the set without alienating people?” he says. “Whilst you want to get your new stuff out there you have to remember that people want to hear your hits. It’s a lovely problem to have though.”

Well known for their punishing tour schedule, they do change the set for their Summer Festival gigs.

“Yeah, it is slightly different, we always need more of the well-known hits.”

This also means that the band may not be able to play much of their excellent new album Quid Pro Quo.

“Well, maybe one or two tracks. And we can’t play all the hits because the pace of the gig is more intense and we sometimes play the songs a bit faster and some of the songs don’t work. There’s an intensity live that pushes the beat along – plus of course the adrenalin.”

Francis and Rick, along with fellow band-members Andrew Bown, John ‘Rhino’ Edwards and Matt Letley are no strangers to Blackpool, as they regularly play here on their tours.

They even switched on the Illuminations in 1993 when more than 25000 people turned out to see them – at the time the biggest crowd since Jayne Mansfield in 1959.

This year however, their shows will be at the Arenas, the band having made the decision to cut back on theatre dates.

“It was a difficult decision to make,” explains Francis.

“But we can’t physically keep doing it. If one of us gets ill, and one of us usually does; these bugs get released for us to catch and it can cause cancellations which we don’t want to do.”

The Quo have been appearing at many summer festivals and Francis, now 62, loves doing them.

“I look forward to all the summer things,” he admits. “They’re out of the norm. People get weird in the summer, they dress up and are really out to have a good time. As long as the weather holds.”

Francis is happy with the division of work between touring and playing festivals.

“I think we have an even balance. Sometimes when you’re doing festivals here, there and everywhere, we long for the routine of a tour; then when we’re on tour you can sometimes fancy a change.”

n Status Quo will take the stage on Lytham Green at 8pm on Friday August 5.

Tickets are available from the Lowther Pavilion box office on (01253) 658666, from See Tickets on (0844) 8737334 (www.seetickets.com) or on (0844) 880 6614, priced £35 if bought before August 1 and £37.50 after.