I’m the bloke who spills the beans... but talk­ing about Rick is dif­fi­cult

Sta­tus Quo’s Fran­cis Rossi hopes to hit the road next year for in­ti­mate acous­tic gigs – in­clud­ing three in North and mid-Wales. ALEX GREEN speaks to the vet­eran rocker about fame, fam­ily life and the death of his mu­si­cal part­ner

Bangor Mail - - Your Guide - Fran­cis Rossi’s I Talk Too Much tour will now be­gin on Fe­bru­ary 18 next year. Go to fran­cis­rossi. com for de­tails. Dates in­clude Wrex­ham’s Wil­liam As­ton Hall on March 13, Theatr Col­wyn, Col­wyn Bay on March 14 and Univer­sity Con­cert Hall, Aberys­t­wyth, on A

‘I’VE be­come known as the bloke that spills the beans,” whis­pers Fran­cis Rossi be­fore emit­ting a sharp cackle. Sta­tus Quo’s gui­tarist and song­writer is ex­plain­ing the premise be­hind his lat­est ven­ture – a tell-all tour aptly ti­tled I Talk Too Much.

He is, of course, best known as the man be­hind the sta­dium-sized riffs of In The Army Now and Pic­tures Of Match­stick Men. Yet in re­cent years, the South Lon­don-born mu­si­cian of Ital­ian-North­ern Ir­ish de­scent, has also earned a rep­u­ta­tion for hon­esty.

His 2019 au­to­bi­og­ra­phy, ti­tled I Talk Too Much, gave an un­guarded, some­times un­com­fort­ably in­ti­mate, in­sight into the highs and lows of his 50-year ca­reer.

It ex­plored the suc­cess of Sta­tus Quo, who have re­leased 33 al­bums and more than 100 sin­gles, the depths of his al­co­holism and co­caine ad­dic­tion, and the re­cent loss of Rick Parfitt, his band­mate and part­ner in crime.

Now the gui­tarist is plan­ning to em­bark on an in­ti­mate tour next year com­bin­ing acous­tic songs and sto­ry­telling, from the Isle of Wight to Dundee. He wants to ex­plore the myth of show busi­ness in close quar­ters.

“You know those hos­pi­tal gowns you see?” he en­quires. “You are all cov­ered up at the front but it’s all un­done at the back with your a** hang­ing out. That’s show­biz to me.”

He reached his 70th birth­day last May and had planned to tour this year, but had to post­pone fol­low­ing the coro­n­avirus out­break.

Now he is look­ing at tak­ing to the road in 2021 with a mam­moth 60-date tour start­ing on Fe­bru­ary 18 and con­tin­u­ing through in May. Pre­par­ing for it en­tailed a great deal of soul-search­ing for the vet­eran rocker.

“One has to be care­ful,” he an­swers.

“Don’t tap into my ego. I have enough trou­ble with that as it is.

“What am I proud of? The other day I was think­ing that I was proud to be Bri­tish, but isn’t there a say­ing about pride be­fore a fall? It’s prob­a­bly just last­ing. Still be­ing here,” he says af­ter a pause. “And as a cap­i­tal­ist, I was proud that the band was that suc­cess­ful.

“As a song­writer, I was proud that I had some hit songs, al­beit not par­tic­u­larly com­pli­cated songs.

“I am proud that I have got eight chil­dren and I didn’t f*** them up too much.”

And his re­grets? “Drink­ing,” he says with­out a pause. “Al­co­hol led me to co­caine. Peo­ple telling me ‘Oh, have a drink. What kind of man are you?’ All that stuff I re­mem­ber from when I was younger.”

He is a rock star who em­braces his band’s rep­u­ta­tion for be­ing “un­cool”, an un­err­ingly po­lite man who turns the air blue with his words, a celebrity hon­est about the shal­low­ness of fame.

Writ­ing an au­to­bi­og­ra­phy also meant con­fronting old mem­o­ries of Rick Parfitt, who died from sep­sis on Christ­mas Eve 2016. He had suf­fered a heart at­tack and throat can­cer scare, al­though when he passed away, aged 68, he had not used co­caine for more than a decade.

“That bit is dif­fi­cult to talk about,” Fran­cis ad­mits with char­ac­ter­is­tic hon­esty.

“It was dif­fi­cult when I talked about it be­fore. I don’t want to sound dra­matic, but you re­ally live it again.” The Sta­tus Quo star’s most colour­ful lan­guage is re­served for his ru­mi­na­tions on age.

“Roger Dal­trey was wrong,” he chuck­les be­fore quot­ing My Gen­er­a­tion, The Who’s an­them for doomed youth. “I hope I die be­fore I get old... No I don’t. I’m try­ing to hang on now. I’m ex­tremely fit. I look af­ter my­self. Any­thing to stay alive.”

His tee­to­tal daily rou­tine fea­tures swim­ming, healthy eat­ing and work­outs be­fore re­hearsal and he says life is worth stick­ing around for be­cause of the kids. He has eight chil­dren from two mar­riages, some who play mu­sic pro­fes­sion­ally, and they have prompted him to think about how his gen­er­a­tion has treated the world.

Talk turns to the planet and Greta

Thun­berg. “Re­mem­ber in the late Seven­ties, they said: ‘Pre­pare for an ice age.’ Well, now they are telling us it is the other way round.

“Then that young girl... If she re­ally thinks my gen­er­a­tion and the gen­er­a­tion that are now 40 got on this planet and said ‘Let’s f*** it up ev­ery­one’ we didn’t.

“We thought we were do­ing well. We thought we were go­ing to do the right things.

“We thought we were go­ing to make it bet­ter and if she thinks her gen­er­a­tion are go­ing to get to 50 and 60 and go ‘We didn’t make any mis­takes’, she is mis­taken. “That’s how it goes.”

I am proud that I have got eight chil­dren and I didn’t f*** them up too much.

Above: Fran­cis Rossi and, right, his Sta­tus Quo band­mate Rick Parfitt

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