Personalities | Francis Rossi & Rick Parfitt | More Than the Status Quo | Guitar Heroes

The twin-guitar partnership of Francis Rossi (b. 1949) and Rick Parfitt (b. 1948) has been at the heart of Status Quo since 1967.

Francis Rossi (originally known as Mike) was born in Forest Hill, London. He formed the band that evolved into Status Quo with bassist Alan Lancaster while at school in 1962. Rick Parfitt, born Richard Harrison in Woking, Surrey, was playing in The Highlights on the same bill as Quo at Butlin’s, Minehead in 1965 when he first encountered Rossi.

The pair struck up a friendship and Parfitt was invited to join Status Quo as rhythm guitarist to Rossi’s lead shortly before the fashionably psychedelic ‘Pictures Of Matchstick Men’ became their first British (and only American) hit early in 1968. Two years later, the single ‘Down The Dustpipe’ heralded an abrupt change of direction and third album Ma Kelly’s Greasy Spoon (1970) confirmed that Quo had swapped psychedelia for 12-bar boogie, taking their lead from The Doors’ ‘Roadhouse Blues’.

As the 1970s progressed, Quo honed their accessible hard rock, finding mainstream acceptance via a string of hit singles and well-received albums. The image of Rossi and Parfitt, long-haired, clad in denims and plimsolls, legs astride and heads down hammering out three-chord crowd-pleasers like ‘Caroline’ is as iconic as any in rock’n’roll. Both have long been associated with the Fender Telecaster – Rossi has played his green 1957 model since 1968, whilst Parfitt’s favoured white guitar hails from 1965.

Shortly before famously opening Live Aid in London with ‘Rockin’ All Over The World’ in July 1985, Quo had apparently retired, but the Wembley gig proved the catalyst for re-formation and the band remained active. Although singles like ‘Living On An Island’ and ‘In The Army Now’ amply demonstrated their versatility, Rossi and Parfitt relish playing up to the cartoon image of Quo, as the title of their 2007 album, In Search Of The Fourth Chord, attests. Status Quo command a substantial following in Europe, particularly Holland, and have chalked up more hit singles in Britain than any other act, becoming a national treasure in the process. Rossi and Parfitt were awarded the OBE in the New Year Honours 2010 for their services to music.

Essential Recordings

Status Quo: Ma Kelly’s Greasy Spoon

Status Quo: Hello!

Status Quo: Blue For You

Status Quo: 1+9+8+2

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