It was wholly appropriate that this was the last gig of the year and what a tribute it was to Rick Parfitt at a sold out Half Moon in Putney.
John Coghlan’s Quo: Half Moon, Putney, London
Friday 30th December 2016
Video: Mark Taylor, Pictures: Andy Rawll, Words: Steve Göldby, Tribute: Mark Taylor
Original Quo drummer John Coghlan spoke with us before taking to the Putney stage and revealed his favourite memories of Rick which go right back to the 1960s and include some hilarious anecdotes, some poignant retrospectives and a superb dedication to the man John describes as “one of the best rhythm guitarists in the world”.
Here’s the conversation in full.
Of course, this gig was always meant to be a celebration of great rock’n’roll songs by one of the great rock’n’roll bands but it naturally turned into something more than that after the events of less than a week ago.
The tribute to Rick began as soon as the band took to the stage with a poem, ‘The Rhythm King’, written by Wilbert Soetens and recited by John himself.
There he stands, legs apart with his Telecaster hanging Down Down
Caught in the spotlight for yet Another Game In Town
This is his moment and he is feeling mighty Fine Fine Fine
And the magic is complete when he hammers into Caroline
Thousands of people clapping and jumping to this thunderous beat
No need to be there If You Can’t Stand The Heat
Such a power coming from his side of the stage
Everybody is getting fired up and Don’t Think It Matters, the age
This feeling is only to be delivered by this One Man Band
It doesn’t care for explanation, everyone will understand
It never was a Slow Train which came down on his Railroad track
Pushed himself more than once Over The Edge but he always came Back To Back
And if he ever was in need for a Softer Ride or felt like a Lonely Man
He never lost his Tune To The Music and was Rocking On, Again and Again
But now, intro’s have fallen quiet and never again we hear the sound of an encore
He’s a Broken Man and the time has come that he Can’t Give You More
The Rhythm King is Too Far Gone, his loss has a massive impact
It is like a meteor coming down on Heavy Traffic and That’s A Fact
So Ends Another Life, he is now a High Flyer and can Shine On from above
Is There A Better Way to remember and celebrate his life than to play and enjoy his music with love
And that’s why the memory will not only be Living On An Island
No way, it is Rocking All Over The World and not too silent
It also means that the mighty Frantic Four will nevermore play and sing their rhymes
But they have given millions of people the joy of their life and far more than 4500 Times
April, Spring, Summer and Wednesdays, Rain or shine, one thing will be clear
I always will listen to and play the music of Status Quo for a day, a week, A Year
It makes me feel that Something’s Going On In My Head
And that way, you see, to me Rick Parfitt will simply never be dead.
John stated: “You gave me the ride of my life with your music. You will never know what it means to me.”
The Half Moon, bedecked with a beautiful candle memorial to Rick, then experienced Quo Power with ‘Junior’s Wailing’, the track that opened the ‘Live 77’ album, before ‘Roll Over Lay Down’ and ‘Down The Dustpipe’ really laid down a marker for this recognition of a tremendous band and a tremendous man.
Guitarist Mick Hughes also addressed the audience with some wonderful words for Rick, opening his salvo with a heartfelt “Rick is Rock!” after Russ Chadd had joined the band, playing harmonica on ‘Down The Dustpipe’.
Harmonica for the rest of the gig was courtesy of Olle who flew in from Stockholm specially for the occasion and flew back again the same night. This was demonstrative of the kind of dedication that Rick inspired.
Just as Quo always did, lead vocal duties were split between band members and big compliments to Rick Abbs here who is the perfect Francis Rossi soundalike and really nailed tonight’s song selection which included John’s favourite, ‘(April) Spring, Summer And Wednesdays’ and ‘A Year’, a real favourite from ‘Piledriver’ album and one of the most emotive moments of the night.
‘Wild Side Of Life’ and ‘Spinning Wheel Blues’ all hit the spot during the first half of this very special evening but the absolute highlights were saved for the second half of the set.
‘Caroline’, ‘Paper Plane’ and ‘Pictures Of Matchstick Men’ made the second half really something else and ‘Rain’ and ‘Hold You Back’ were more than memorable too but the encores of Quo classics ‘Whatever You Want’ and ‘Down Down’ sealed the deal completely.
John took to the mic once again to pay a final tribute to his former bandmate and close friend and it’s clear those tributes will keep coming from JC’s Quo and a fanbase still stunned by Rick’s passing but grateful for the opportunity to air their accolades to a truly legendary performer.
These songs will never be forgotten, Status Quo will never be forgotten and Rick Parfitt will never be forgotten and we were reminded exactly why tonight in an evening that we felt truly privileged to be attending.
TRIBUTE TO RICK PARFITT BY MARK TAYLOR
Rick Parfitt was born in Woking, Surrey on 12th October 1948 and first started to learn to play the guitar at the age of 11.
In 1963, at just 15 years-of-age, Parfitt was playing guitar and singing in The Feathers pub on Goodge Street in Camden, London, where his talent was spotted by an agent from Sunshine Holiday Camp down on Hayling Island who approached his father. This resulted in Rick landing a regular performing job.
There he joined up with The Harrison Twins, to form a cabaret trio called The Highlights.
The following year The Highlights performed at Butlins, Minehead and it was here that he met Francis Rossi, Alan Lancaster and John Coghlan who were then in a band called The Spectres.
Their manager, Pat Barlow, asked Rick to join them as they needed an extra vocalist. They first changed their name to Traffic Jam then shortly afterwards to The Status Quo.
Rick Parfitt was a member of Status Quo just in time for their first hit single, the 1968 psychedelic flavoured ‘Pictures Of Matchstick Men’ which was a hit single on both sides of the Atlantic and incidentally their only hit single in the US throughout their entire career, reaching number twelve.
For their third album, ‘Ma Kelly’s Greasy Spoon’, Status Quo dropped the psychedelic sound and image and went for a more hard rock boogie sound and long hair and denim dress sense, but it wasn’t until their fifth album, ‘Piledriver’, released in 1972, where they jumped labels from Pye to Vertigo that Status Quo really started to make an impact on the album and single charts with successive hits throughout the next few decades.
In 1974 Status Quo enjoyed their only UK number one single with ‘Down Down’, although three of their albums released between 1973-76 all hit the top spot.
Rick Parfitt enjoyed co-writing credits on some of Quo’s biggest hits including ‘Again And Again’, ‘Rain’, ‘Mystery Song’ whose fast riff was reportedly written after staying up all night after drinking a cup of tea which was laced by Francis Rossi with amphetamine sulphate, ‘Whatever You Want’ with its instantly recognisable guitar intro from Parfitt and the ballad ‘Living On An Island’, all songs where Parfitt would take on a main vocal part.
With his good looks, long blond hair and cheeky smile Rick Parfitt was very much the rock’n’roll star who had an eye for the ladies, fast cars and fast living. He certainly lived up to ‘The Wild Side Of Life’ monicker.
It’s Francis Rossi who best summed up his working partner of almost fifty years with his eulogy.
“I was not ready for this. Rick Parfitt had been a part of my story for fifty years. Without doubt the longest relationship of my life: this was also the most satisfying, frustrating, creative and fluid. From those early days, we worked together to create the Quo sound, look and hits. We spent years on the road, on the stage and in the studio, rarely far from each other, honing what we did.
“We were a team, a double act, a partnership and yet also two very different people, handling the pressures of growing older, constant touring, dealing with success and keeping the creative flame burning in different ways. He developed his own sound, his own style, casually inspiring a generation of players.
“Rick was the archetypal rock star, one of the originals, he never lost his joy, his mischievous edge and his penchant for living life at high speed, high volume, high risk. His life was never boring, he was louder and faster and more carefree than the rest of us. There were any number of incidents along the way, times when he strayed into areas of true danger and yet still losing him now is still a shock. Even in a year that has claimed so many of our best, including now George Michael, Rick Parfitt stands out. I was not ready for this.”
Status Quo were household names in the UK, not just for their music but also for their countless jovial interviews where Parfitt and Rossi would appear on prime time TV like a comedy duo regaling tales of tomfoolery on the road which was laden with dark tales of drugs, alcohol and women, yet the country warmed to them as if they were part of our institution.
They were often mocked by comedians on TV such as Little And Large or The Two Ronnies who infamously did legendary sketches dressed as Parfitt and Rossi, something the pair would themselves find hilarious.
No private house party would be complete without a couple of guys donning tea towels and broomsticks in honour of the duo’s iconic look.
A career which saw sales of over 118 million units sold, headline appearances at Castle Donington in 1982, Reading Festival 1987 and Glastonbury 2009 plus special appearances in front of Prince Charles and Lady Diana.
Despite temporarily halting the band in 1984, Bob Geldof insisted that Status Quo would open the Live Aid event held at Wembley Stadium and this was televised live around the world to an estimated audience of 1.9 billion.
In 2005 Parfitt and Rossi stared in the popular soap opera ‘Coronation Street’ in a storyline which involved them being sued by the notorious layabout Les Battersby and performing live at his wedding as compensation.
Parfitt and Rossi were each awarded the OBE in the 2010 New Year’s Honours for services to music and their long-standing work for charities including The Prince’s Trust, British Heart Foundation and Nordoff-Robbins Music Therapy.
Their acting skills were further tested in the 2013 action film comedy ‘Bula Quo’, filmed on lacation in Fiji.
Later that year fans rejoiced when it was announced that the classic ‘Frantic Four’ line-up from 1970-76 namely Rossi, Parfitt, Lancaster and Coghlan would reform for a series of dates which lasted for two years and would run concurrently with the modern day line-up.
Despite the hectic lifestyle, Rick Parfitt was plagued by health issues. Following a heart attack, Rick had a quadruple heart bypass in 1997 and was told by doctors that he could die “at any time” unless he changed his lifestyle of drugs, smoking and heavy drinking.
He had a throat cancer scare in December 2005, suffered a heart attack in December 2011 and underwent surgery on the following day before another heart attack in 2014 while on tour in Austria, resulting in him being fitted with a stent.
His final show with Status Quo was on 14th June 2016 in Antalya,Turkey. After the gig he had another heart attack and was hospitalized. His management described his condition as serious. Parfitt was clinically dead for several minutes, resulting in mild cognitive impairments. He had a defibrillator fitted into his chest.
Rick Parfitt sensibly retired from the band to convelesque in Marbella, Spain.
Plans for 2017 included work on a solo album, completing his autobiography and John Coghlan had stated that he, Alan Lancaster and Rick Parfitt would combine to work on a studio project.
Rick died in a Marbella hospital at lunchtime on 24th December 2016 from Sepsis after being admitted the previous day, following an infection of a shoulder injury.
He is survived by his wife Lyndsay, their twins Tommy and Lilly, and Rick’s adult children Rick Jnr and Harry.
Richard John Parfitt: 12th October 1948 – 24th December 2016
A TRIBUTE TO RICK PARFITT BY JOHN ‘RHINO’ EDWARDS
I first met the hurricane that was Rick Parfitt at a London recording studio in 1985. We hit it off straight away, and since then hardly a day has gone by without thinking about, talking to or seeing him. He made me cry so often, always with laughter, the funniest person I have ever known, then last week for the first time, he made me cry with sadness.
It’s surreal that there’s now an I in the middle of RP.
There are a few of us who knew the Reverend Rock Parfait well, and it was my privilege to be one of them.
We wrote a song together in 2004 called ‘This Is Me’. I’m finding the lyrics very poignant at this time:
I opened up the paper, I was all across the page
With another Signorita, will I ever act my age?
I always hurt the people that care for me it’s true, but I can’t help myself, it’s just one of those things I do
I ain’t no Casanova, not like it reads in the book
I’m just trying to find this love thing, though it’s taken a long hard look
If you need your heart breaking you’ve come to the right place, be aware of the buyer beware sign written on my face
This is me, this is me. What you get is what you see, this is me
I don’t need your sympathy
I can’t help what you think of me
Looking for something
Laughing at nothing
Dreaming of what could be
One day I will meet my fate, complete my destiny
No pearly gates, angel mates, waiting there for me
Don’t ask me the reasons why I take it to the wire, I just live it fast, life’s a blast, sometimes you got to play with fire
This is me, this is me. What you get is what you see, this is me
Love you Ricardo. Rhino xx
A Rick Parfitt Remembrance page has been set up on Facebook where you can leave your memories and pay your respects. Click here to visit the page….