Francis Rossi

Last updated

Francis Rossi
OBE
Status Quo - 2017215182037 2017-08-03 Wacken - Sven - 1D X MK II - 0687 - AK8I8353 (cropped).jpg
Performing with Status Quo at Wacken Open Air festival, 2017
Background information
Birth nameFrancis Dominic Nicholas Michael Rossi [1]
Also known asMike Rossi, Frame
Born (1949-05-29) 29 May 1949 (age 72)
Forest Hill, London, England
Genres
Occupation(s)Musician, songwriter
InstrumentsGuitar, vocals
Years active1962–present
Associated acts Status Quo, Band Aid, Graham Bonnet, John Du Cann
Website www.francisrossi.com

Francis Dominic Nicholas Michael Rossi, OBE (born 29 May 1949) is an English singer, songwriter and musician. He is best known as the co-founder, lead singer, lead guitarist and the sole continuous member of the rock band Status Quo.

Contents

Early life

Rossi [1] was born on 29 May 1949 in Forest Hill, London. His father's side of the family were Italian ice cream merchants responsible for the Rossi's Ice Cream parlours, and his mother was a Northern Irish Roman Catholic from Liverpool. [2] [ failed verification ] [3] Rossi grew up in a household with his parents, grandmother, and "lots of aunts and uncles" and was given a Roman Catholic upbringing, having been named after Saint Francis of Assisi. [4] He spent his summer holidays as a child with an aunt in Waterloo Merseyside. He attended Our Lady and St Philip Neri Roman Catholic Primary School in Sydenham, and then Sedgehill Comprehensive School, from which he was expelled on his last day. [5] Rossi's desire to become a musician began after seeing The Everly Brothers live on television at a young age, after which he asked his parents to buy him a guitar for Christmas. [4]

Career

Early career

In 1962, while attending Sedgehill Comprehensive School, Rossi became close friends with future Status Quo bassist Alan Lancaster while playing trumpet in the school orchestra. [6] [7] The two, along with other classmates Alan Key (drums) and Jess Jaworski (keyboards), formed a band called the Scorpions, who played their first gig at the Samuel Jones Sports Club in Dulwich. Key was later replaced by Air Cadets drummer [6] and future Quo member John Coghlan, and the band was renamed the Spectres. The Spectres wrote their own material and played live shows; the line-up soon included Redhill-based keyboard player Roy Lynes, whom they had seen performing with a band called the Echoes who were also based in Redhill.[ citation needed ] In 1965, the Spectres played at a Butlins holiday camp in Minehead. There Rossi met his future long-time Status Quo partner Rick Parfitt, who was playing as part of another band, the Highlights. The two became close friends and agreed to continue working together. In 1966, the Spectres signed a five-year deal with Piccadilly Records, releasing three singles that failed to chart. The group again changed their name, this time to Traffic Jam, after embracing psychedelia. [7] [8] [9]

Status Quo

Rossi (far left), with Status Quo in 1978 Status Quo1978.jpg
Rossi (far left), with Status Quo in 1978

In 1967, Traffic Jam changed its name to The Status Quo, but eventually dropped the definite article. Shortly afterward Parfitt joined the band, completing the original line-up, and beginning an almost 50-year partnership with Rossi until Parfitt's death in 2016. Rossi had written a song called "Pictures of Matchstick Men", which hit the charts in both the UK and the US in 1968, launching their hit-making career. After some years of minor success, the band came to fame in 1972 with their album Piledriver on Vertigo Records with "Paper Plane", a song penned by Rossi and Bob Young, released as a single. With the band's fame, Rossi became famous as their charismatic frontman. [8] "Quo" continued to enjoy major success in the UK, Europe, Japan, Australia and New Zealand through the 1970s and 1980s. [6] They were the opening act of 1985's Live Aid, and Rossi wrote and co-wrote some of their most famous songs, including "Caroline" and "Down Down".

Rossi and Parfitt were the only remaining original members in the band until Rick Parfitt's death in 2016. In 2013 and 2014, Rossi and Parfitt reunited with original Quo bandmates Lancaster and Coghlan for a series of reunion concerts on what were called the "Frantic Four" tour. To this date, Status Quo have sold over 128 million albums worldwide. [6]

Other projects

In 1984, the year before Quo opened Live Aid, Rossi and Parfitt appeared on the Band Aid charity single, "Do They Know It's Christmas?" Rossi has also enjoyed minor success with brief projects outside Status Quo. In 1985 when the band was on hold, he recorded two singles and a (so far unreleased) album – which was provisionally titled Flying Debris – with his longtime writing partner Bernie Frost. The single releases were "Modern Romance (I Want to Fall in Love Again)" (UK No. 54 [10] ), and "Jealousy". In 1996 he issued a solo album, King of the Doghouse , which was not a commercial success, although it produced a UK No. 42 single, "Give Myself to Love". [10] Some years earlier, in 1976, he had appeared on the soundtrack album and film All This and World War II comprising cover versions of songs by the Beatles. Although the album sleeve credits the performance of "Getting Better" to Status Quo, the track featured Rossi's vocals and the London Symphony Orchestra. In 1977, he produced and played guitar on John Du Cann's solo album The World's Not Big Enough . 3 May 2010 saw the release of his second solo album, One Step at a Time, including a re-recording of Quo's 1973 classic "Caroline".

In 2013, Rossi starred as himself alongside Quo bandmate Parfitt in the adventure comedy film Bula Quo! , which followed the duo on an adventure in Fiji, getting involved in local Mafia operations on the island.

In 2019, Rossi released a joint album with UK singer and violinist Hannah Rickard, entitled We Talk Too Much on the earMusic label. The same year, he released his similarly titled autobiography I Talk Too Much (published by Little, Brown), as well as embarking on a spoken word tour of the UK of the same name, which will continue into 2020. [11]

Musical equipment

Rossi's guitar of choice is the Fender Telecaster, and he has used several over the years including his trademark green 1957 model with a maple fretboard, which he purchased in 1968. [12] It was originally sunburst, but was painted green in 1970. Through the years several parts had been replaced with G&L parts, and a third pickup had been installed in a configuration much like a Stratocaster. He also owns two other green Fender Telecasters that are both brighter in colour and feature rosewood fretboards. One is used for the song "Down Down" and the other for "Whatever You Want". Like his main guitar they are both in a three-pickup configuration.

In December 2014, Rossi was said to be "heartbroken" when his green 1957 Telecaster, after 46 years of use, finally became worn beyond use - the wood having become too soft to be able to properly tune the instrument. [13]

For amplification Rossi uses Marshall JCM800 or JCM900 Lead series amplifiers with 4x12 cabinets and a Roland GP8 to boost his signal. The sound from his Marshall rig is blended with Vox AC30 amplifiers that are kept behind his Marshall setup. He also uses software like Amplitube in the studio. [14]

Style

Rossi, along with the rest of Status Quo, has often been accused of being "uncool", even by Rossi himself; in March 2013, he called the Status Quo of c. 1974 "the most uncool band in the world". [15] Since the early days of the band, he has worn an earring in his left ear. On stage, Rossi normally sported a black waistcoat, blue jeans and a pair of white trainers. In a December 2000 review of a Status Quo concert at Wembley Arena, Andrew Gilchrist writing for The Guardian called the white trainers "the only "visual" [the band] really have", referencing their simplistic stage show. [16]

Interviewed by Simon Hattenstone for The Guardian in 2007, Rossi explained that he had idolised Little Richard, saying: "I think that's where we got the energy. To me it's synonymous with doing rock'n'roll. If you don't commit physically, rock'n'roll doesn't really work." Asked about his food preferences Rossi said, "My favourite is pasta e fagioli, pasta with beans, soupie thing, gorgeous. The older I get, the more I'm into food. ... When you grow up with Italians, food is important. I've always been like that with food. Apart from when I was doing cocaine - there was no food whatsoever then." [17]

Personal life

Name

Early Status Quo albums, up to 1971's Dog of Two Head , credited him as Mike Rossi. [18] Interviewed in 1996, he explained that his own name was deemed "too poncey" by the band's original manager, "so I had to change it to Mike, a real man's name, apparently". [19] Within the band, he is known as "Frame" or "The Gomorr" (The Grand Old Man of Rock and Roll). [20] [21]

History with drugs and alcohol

Rossi is now teetotal and stays away from drugs, but in the past had an archetypical "rock and roll lifestyle" of alcohol and drug habits, which made him and Parfitt notorious at the height of the band's fame. Rossi has claimed to have spent £1.7 million on cocaine in the 1980s. [22] This heavy cocaine use resulted in a piece of his nasal septum falling out, leaving a hole inside his nose which he once "pushed a cotton bud through during a TV interview" in order to demonstrate the dangers of drug addiction to young people. [23] In October 2014, Rossi told BBC's HARDtalk that alcohol was the gateway that led to his cocaine habit. [24]

Despite his teetotalism, in 2010 Rossi became chairman of the Glen Rossie brand of whisky, which the band used to drink whilst on tour. [25]

Recent life

Rossi (right) and long-time Status Quo partner Rick Parfitt in 2013, at the premiere of Bula Quo! Rick Parfitt and Francis Rossi, Bula Quo, London, 2013 (crop).jpg
Rossi (right) and long-time Status Quo partner Rick Parfitt in 2013, at the premiere of Bula Quo!

After being estranged from Rossi for seventeen years after his relationship with rock publicist Elizabeth Gernon broke up, daughter Bernadette and her father were reunited in 2007, and Bernadette and The North supported Status Quo on that year's tour. [26] In a 2011 interview with The Guardian , Rossi described himself nowadays as a "lapsed Catholic", and "generally anti-religion". When not touring, he enjoys spending time at home with his family. [4]

Rossi was appointed Officer of the Order of the British Empire (OBE) in the 2010 New Year Honours for services to music and charity, along with Parfitt. [1] [27] Rossi said "It's one thing going out to play in front of 50,000 people but talking to the Queen - well that's quite another. We were both so humbled by the experience. I mean, this is the Queen after all. She is England, isn't she? We have grown up with her as our figurehead since we were tiny children and she's still going strong at 83. Not a very rock and roll thing to say I know, but she is simply amazing." [28]

Rossi married his second wife Eileen in 1989 [29] and has eight children from his two marriages. Interviewed in 2011, he said that all of his children played music professionally. [4] [19]

In 2019 his autobiography, I Talk Too Much, was published by the Little, Brown Book Group. [30]

Discography

Related Research Articles

Status Quo (band) English rock band

Status Quo are an English rock band that formed in 1962. The group originated as The Spectres and was founded by Francis Rossi and Alan Lancaster while they were still schoolboys. After a number of lineup changes, which included the introduction of Rick Parfitt in 1967, the band became The Status Quo in 1967 and Status Quo in 1969.

Rick Parfitt English musician

Richard John Parfitt, was an English musician, best known as a singer, songwriter and rhythm guitarist with rock band Status Quo.

<i>Quo</i> (Status Quo album) 1974 studio album by Status Quo

Quo is the seventh studio album by the English rock band Status Quo. Issued in May 1974, it features Francis Rossi, Rick Parfitt, Alan Lancaster and John Coghlan, and reached #2 in the UK. Like its predecessor Hello!, it consisted entirely of songs written or cowritten by the group. The only guest musicians were Bob Young and Tom Parker, who played harmonica and piano respectively on "Break the Rules".

<i>Rockin All Over the World</i> (album) 1977 album by Status Quo

Rockin' All Over the World is the tenth studio album by British band Status Quo. It is their first to be produced by Pip Williams and the first to feature Andy Bown as a regular contributor to the band; he would later join the band officially in 1982. Released in November 1977, it reached #5 in the UK.

Alan Lancaster

Alan Charles Lancaster is an English bassist, best known as a founding member of the English rock band Status Quo from 1967 to 1985, with brief reunions in 2013 & 2014. As well as contributing to songwriting, he was also one of the lead vocalists on albums and live concerts taking the lead on tracks such as "Backwater", "Is There a Better Way", "Bye Bye Johnny", "High Flyer" and "Roadhouse Blues".

John Coghlan (drummer) English drummer

John Robert Coghlan is an English musician, best known as the original drummer of the rock band Status Quo.

<i>Piledriver</i> (album) 1972 album by Status Quo

Piledriver is the fifth studio album by the English rock band Status Quo, released in 1972. It was the first to be produced by the group themselves, and their first on the Vertigo label. It peaked at number five in the UK and included several favourites that would be frequently featured in live concerts.

<i>Just Supposin</i> 1980 studio album by Status Quo

Just Supposin' is the thirteenth album by Status Quo. Co-produced by the group and John Eden, it was recorded at Windmill Lane Studios, Dublin. Released on 17 October 1980, it entered the UK albums chart at number 4.

<i>Back to Back</i> (Status Quo album) 1983 studio album by Status Quo

Back to Back is the sixteenth studio album by English rock band Status Quo and released in November 1983. For the first time in the group's history, it featured four singles, "Ol' Rag Blues", "A Mess of Blues", originally a hit for Elvis Presley, "Marguerita Time", and "Going Down Town Tonight" The album entered the UK chart at its highest position of No. 9.

<i>Aint Complaining</i> 1988 studio album by Status Quo

Ain't Complaining is the eighteenth studio album by British rock band Status Quo. Initially released on the Vertigo label on 13 June 1988, it was the group's first album on that label to fall short of the UK Top 10, reaching no higher than its entry position of No. 12.

<i>Never Too Late</i> (Status Quo album) 1981 studio album by Status Quo

Never Too Late is the fourteenth studio album by English rock band Status Quo, coproduced by the group and John Eden. Released on 13 March 1981, it had been recorded at the same sessions – at Windmill Lane Studios, Dublin – as its predecessor Just Supposin'. It entered the UK chart at No.2.

Roy Alan Lynes was the keyboardist and occasional singer with Status Quo. He joined the band in 1964/1965, two years after its foundation.

<i>1+9+8+2</i> 1982 studio album by Status Quo

1+9+8+2, is the fifteenth studio album by the English rock band Status Quo, released on 16 April 1982. It was the first to include new drummer Pete Kircher, who had recently replaced John Coghlan, and also the first to credit keyboard player Andy Bown as a full member of the band; on the previous few releases he had merely been listed as a guest musician although he had long been an integral member in all but name.

<i>In Search of the Fourth Chord</i> 2007 studio album by Status Quo

In Search of the Fourth Chord is the twenty-eighth studio album by English rock band Status Quo, released on 17 September 2007. The title is a tongue-in-cheek reference to the rumour that the group always plays the same three chords, and a reference to the album In Search of the Lost Chord by British rock band the Moody Blues. The album's artwork is a parody of the Indiana Jones films.

<i>Quid Pro Quo</i> (album) 2011 studio album by Status Quo

Quid Pro Quo is the twenty-ninth studio album by English rock band Status Quo, released in May 2011. The album debuted at number 10 in the UK charts and features 14 new songs, as well as the 2010 version of their 1986 hit "In the Army Now" which was re-recorded in support of the Help for Heroes and British Forces Foundation charities. The accompanying Official Live Bootleg album features 12 older songs recorded by the band in concert in Amsterdam and Melbourne in 2010. In the UK the album was only available at branches of Tesco stores for its first week before being released conventionally on the band's Fourth Chord label on 6 June 2011.

<i>Aquostic (Stripped Bare)</i> 2014 studio album by Status Quo

Aquostic is the thirty-first studio album by English rock band Status Quo, first released on 17 October 2014. Produced by Mike Paxman, this is the band's first completely acoustic album and the first recorded with drummer Leon Cave. Its cover features a photograph by Canadian singer Bryan Adams. The album earned a Gold certification in January 2015.

Richie Malone Irish musician (born 1986)

Richie Malone is an Irish musician who plays rhythm guitar for English rock band Status Quo. Malone first played with the band in July 2016, when previous guitarist Rick Parfitt was no longer able to tour due to a heart attack. Parfitt died in December 2016, and Malone became his permanent replacement.

"Forty Five Hundred Times" is a song by British rock band Status Quo. It is the final track on their 1973 album Hello!, almost ten minutes long and regularly performed live. The group's frontmen, Francis Rossi and Rick Parfitt, have said it is one of their favourite songs by the band, with Parfitt using a special dropped tuning. While never released as a single, the song was #1 as voted by fans.

<i>Backbone</i> (Status Quo album) 2019 studio album by Status Quo

Backbone is the 33rd studio album by British rock band Status Quo. It was released worldwide on 6 September 2019 and debuted at no. 6 on the UK albums chart, making it the band's 25th UK top ten album and their highest-charting album of original material since 1982's eponymous 1+9+8+2. Backbone also entered the German and Swiss album charts at positions 6 and 2, respectively. The success of Backbone in Germany rendered its album chart position the band's highest ever in the country, despite a long history of enduring popularity.

References

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  22. "Francis Rossi: 'I spent £1.7m on cocaine in the Eighties'". The Telegraph. 17 June 2013. Retrieved 1 June 2015.
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  27. "Status Quo stars and Formula One champion honoured". BBC News. 31 December 2009. Retrieved 31 December 2009.
  28. "Knighthood: Status Quo stars Rick Parfitt and Francis Rossi recieve[sic] OBE". iranian.com. Retrieved 24 September 2016.
  29. "Francis Rossi spills the beans - Independent.ie" . Retrieved 21 January 2018.
  30. Rossi, Francis (2019). I Talk Too Much. Little, Brown Book Group. ISBN   978-1472130198. OCLC   1033573877.