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Status Quo's Francis Rossi: 'I watched Rick Parfitt become a caricature of himself'

Status Quo's Rick Parfitt and Francis Rossi in 2015 © Joby Sessions/Getty Images

Francis Rossi says his late Status Quo band mate Rick Parfitt became “a caricature of himself” who was “always trying to be the rock star his fans thought he was.”

Speaking very candidly in The Big Issue’s ongoing ‘A Letter To My Younger Self’ feature, Francis reflected upon Status Quo’s embyronic days when they first rose to prominence.

“When I look back at how I behaved when we were first successful... oh dear,” Francis said. “I suppose it’s helped me become more regimented as I get older, trying hard to do the right thing. I watched Rick, somebody I loved dearly, who was such a great friend, become a caricature of himself. He had this archetypal hard-rock look that people loved. But he wasn’t that person inside.

“Poor Rick, always trying to be the rock star his fans thought he was. The poor s*** was in such a mess.  To me he was soiling the very person I liked. I’d be thinking, don’t do that Rick. That’s where the problems between us came from. And he said to me once, ‘I’m fed up being number two.’ Well that was obviously going to put a wedge between us.”

Rick Parfitt and Francis Rossi perform in 1977 © Getty

Speaking more about Status Quo’s notorious debauchery and his eventually sobriety, Francis told The Big Issue: “When you’re in a band, there’s so much pressure to behave a certain way. I was never naturally a big drinker but all around you it’s ‘Come on, have another drink’.

It’s hard to give my younger self advice about drugs. It’s one of the lies we tell people, that drugs are horrible and bad. It’s like telling the little lad who’s tweaking his knob, ‘Don’t do that, it’s dirty.’ And he’s thinking, you’re wrong, it’s f**king lovely. It’s the same with drugs, at first.

“But then there’s a payback, whether it’s drink, amphetamines, coke or downers. And it’s horrible. I was lucky. I was able to just give up. I had so many late nights and mornings feeling s***, I just woke up one day and said, I don’t think I’ll do that again.”

Reflecting more upon his relationship with Rick, Francis added: “He was my friend to the end. Right up until he was dying… we’d been such great friends when we were young, we’d had such great times together. It had been us and them, us against the rest of the world.”

Rick Parfitt died Rick died from sepsis at a hospital in Marbella, Spain on Christmas Eve 2016. He had departed Status Quo touring duties earlier that year on medical advice after suffering a heart attack in Turkey.

Francis Rossi released his new autobiography ‘I Talk Too Much’ last Thursday (14th March) and his collaborative album with vocalist Hannah Rickard, ‘We Talk Too Much’, on Friday (15th March 2019).

He’s also embarking on an extensive spoken word tour throughout the spring and Status Quo are special guests to Lynyrd Skynyrd on their farewell UK arena tour in June 2019. 

The Big Issue, sold by vendors to lift themselves out of poverty, is available to buy from across the UK from 18th March for £2.50.

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