We've been teasing this one for a while now ...
Most of us here in The States were first introduced to the British Group Status Quo in 1968 thanks to their psychedelic pop hit "Pictures Of Matchstick Men," which just missed making The National Top 10 (#11, in fact, in Cash Box and #12 in Billboard) ...
It was definitely MY favorite song at the time where, here in Chicago, it climbed all the way to #2!
What most Americans don't know is that while they may have disappeared from view here on the US Charts after this "One Hit Wonder," such was not the case across the pond, where the band has continued to flourish with an incredible 57 Top 40 Hits in their homeland, including 22 Top 10's and one #1 ("Down Down," 1974.)
New FH List Member Alan Benson has put together this brief history on the band for our Forgotten Hits Readers ... and it's really quite informative.
From FORGOTTEN HITS to ...
Chart History Status Quo
When I first heard Status Quo, it was in June of 1968, with a psychedelic pop song called “Pictures Of Matchstick Men” ... it hit #12 on the Billboard Top 40 charts and #7 in the UK, where SQ (Status Quo) are from.
They originally formed in 1962, but really 1965 is when they were old enough to be called a band. “Ice In The Sun” followed Matchstick Men and also hit the Top 10 at #8 in the UK, but only hit #70 in the U.S. They disappeared in the UK till 1970 when “Down The Dustpipe” hit #12, followed by “In My Chair” at #21. Most important, their sound changed from Psychedelic Pop to a harder, 12 bar boogie sound. “Paper Plane,” which hit #8 in 1972, started a string of hit singles in the UK ... and actually all over the world (EXCEPT in the U.S.) and eventually propelled Status Quo to become the single most successful group as far as hit singles in UK chart history! You heard correct - a band which I will guess 90% don’t know OTHER than “Pictures Of Matchstick Men” (if you are old enough to remember 1968!)
Their numbers are staggering since 1968:
Singles: 66 Top 75 (The UK uses a Top 75 Chart vs. The U.S. Top 100); 57 Top 40’s, 40 Top 20’s and 22 Top 10 hits !! That is more hit singles than any group in UK chart history - more than Queen (second with 62 chart hits) and The Rolling Stones (third with 60 chart hits.)
To put this in perspective, Chicago and The Beach Boys are tied with 35 as the most hits on the U.S. charts. That means that Status Quo have almost TWICE as many hits as Chicago and The Beach Boys COMBINED on the UK charts!! And they are mostly unknown in the U.S.!!!
[In the interest of accuracy, The Beach Boys have earned 57 Hot 100 Hits on The Billboard Chart ... and Chicago has had 50 - kk]
Their album stats are even more impressive: Four #1’s, 30 Top 10 albums, 37 Top 20’s … Status Quo are the ONLY band to chart a hit single in SIX consecutive decades (1960’s - 2010.) The Bee Gees are second with five straight decades in the UK ... when having a hit single in three consecutive decades is considered amazing, try SIX! They also have five consecutive decades in charting a Top 20 album.
The original line up (called "The Frantic Four” in the UK) included Francis Rossi (guitar, lead vocals), Alan Lancaster (bass and vocals), who recently passed away about a month ago, John Coghlan on drums, and the late Rick Parfitt, who passed away in December of 2016, on guitar and vocals, the best rhythm guitarist I’ve ever seen. Today, only Francis Rossi is left ... John Coghlan left in 1981.
My connection with Status Quo
In 1975 I was living in NY and used to listen to a show on WNEW 102.7 FM every Friday at 5 pm CALLED “Things From Britain,” where the DJ (Scott Muni) would count down the Top 10 hits on the British charts. Some songs were played in full, some just 30-60 seconds due to time restraints. I.E., “At #7 is Paul McCartney with “Listen To What The Man Said” ... they would count down till #1, and also tell you what album was #1. Interestingly enough, the #1 album was “On The Level” by Status Quo!!!
So Scott Muni says, “So here is the #1 single on the UK charts - you might be surprised to learn this group had a hit in the U.S. called “Pictures Of Matchstick Men in 1968. The band is the same (minus the keyboard guy who thought Status Quo would never make it and jumped off the train on the way to a concert before Pictures Of Matchstick Men became a hit ... ha ha ... big mistake!!!) He goes on to say, “This song is pure rock n’ roll ... pure straight rock n’ roll ... turn your volume up and here is Status Quo with Down Down, # 1 in the UK!”
Within 30 seconds I was up and air guitaring to a song I never heard before. Five minutes later, this song started me on a musical trip that has lasted 46 years till now, including 60 live concerts (57 in the UK, 3 in America), 80 CD’s and 20 DVD’s.
There are only two musical acts that have changed my DNA -
The Beatles in 1964 when I saw them on Ed Sullivan ... and 1993 when I started going to the UK to see Status Quo live, an experience like NO OTHER in my 400 total concerts I have seen since 1966 when I saw The Beach Boys live in Paris, where I went to school for one year in 9th grade. Status Quo are THEEEE best live band I have ever seen. Next, my experiences seeing SQ live!!
Status Quo live
Since Status Quo were not big in America, my ex-wife’s cousin in Scotland told me that Quo were touring that December in 1993 (this was June 1993 at the time) and that I should get tickets for their two shows at Wembley arena. I did and got 4th row and 5th center ... AND, after writing the band a letter stating I had been a fan since 1975 when I first heard “Down Down” on the radio and bought their “On The Level” album, SQ granted me a Meet & Greet with the band before the first Wembley gig! I met Rick and Francis, the two main members of Quo at this time, and they were STUNNED that an American had flown 4000 miles just to see them live!! They were soooo happy.
15 minutes later, my whole world changed as the lights went out and 14,000 fans were on their feet screaming ... a huge curtain dropped with the SQ emblem of crossed guitars and there was the late Rick Parfitt blasting “Caroline,” a 1973 hit that would become their signature opening song (and frankly the BEST opening song I have ever heard) ... everybody was up and clapping, air guitaring and (something I had NEVER seen in the States), the security guys were air guitaring , too! OMG!!!
I knew all the songs by then because I had bought 5-6 more albums from 1990-1993 and knew every song of the 26 song, two hour show ... besides "Caroline, " highlights included "Whatever You Want,” “In The Army Now,” “Rockin All Over The World,” the song that Bob Geldof, who organized Live Aid in 1985, asked Status Quo to open the show with. SQ performed that song in front of 1.2 BILLION people! The song was written by John Fogerty of CCR fame, but SQ made it famous all over the world on that day. BTW, it was the first time had played together in over a year. The British media agreed that Queen and Status Quo stole the show that day.
The following night, I saw Quo again and again I was BLOWN away by their power, tightness and a stage presence I had never seen before ... and I have seen all the classic bands - The Stones (not even close to SQ live), Queen, The Doors, The Who, The Beach Boys, The Moody Blues, Jethro Tull, Led Zeppelin, Chicago, Rod Stewart, Black Sabbath, Deep Purple, and dozens more. I went to see Status Quo 18 straight years from 1993 to 2010. I lost my job in 2010, so I took a break, but also went in 2013 and 2016. I went with a friend, Nick Frankart, who recently wrote a review of his Stones' show in LA for Forgotten Hits. Nick came with me in 2008, 2010, 2013 and 2016. I have flown over 175 hours and 225,000 miles to see SQ. Nick has flown 12 hours from LA himself four times and spent plenty of $$$, too! I am famous in the UK as the “SQ Yankee fan,” and I have been interviewed by the BBC in Brighton at a show in 2009 … I have put that video clip on my FaceBook page many times.
Fans come from over twenty countries at the UK shows. Nick once went around at a pre “Quo gig” at a pub called The Greyhound near Wembley and counted twenty people from all over the globe coming to these shows including Germany, Austria, Holland, Sweden, Norway, Finland, Belgium, Greece, Australia, France, and many more. You would never see this in the States ... you’re lucky if they come from the next county, let alone another country!!! There are post gig parties, too ... the fan club has over 10,000 members and I know people who have seen Status Quo 250 to 500 times. Even though they will play the same set in their current tour, fans go and see them ten or twenty times during the tour!
Some have said Quo’s music is a cross between the melodies of The Beach Boys and the hardness of Bad Company. Another review said they were a cross between Chuck Berry and ZZ Top. Status Quo’s music is simple, not complicated. BUT if you don’t find yourself tapping your feet and swaying back and forth to their infectious music, it’s time for an MRI.