Status Quo: The best of british (official)

A new book lists Status Quo as having 61 hits, more than any UK act. But it's already out of date; hit number 62 entered the charts last night. Maxine Frith on a national treasure - of sorts
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The Independent Culture

According toGuinness World Records, they have had 61 chart hits since their first smash, "Pictures of Matchstick Men", was released in 1968.

Forty years after Francis Rossi first met Rick Parfitt at a Butlins holiday camp, the Quo are still rocking as their 62nd single entered the charts at No 11 and they made yet another appearance on Top of the Pops.

There may be three others in the band, but Parfitt and Rossi are the only surviving founder members, and their joint response (even they describe their relationship as "marriage without the sex") was entirely in character.

"We are delighted and honoured to receive this impressive accolade," their statement read. "Forty years have flown by and we intend to keep rockin' all over the world for many years to come." Bruce Jones, who plays Coronation Street's Les Battersby and is a Quo fan, presented Rossi and Parfitt with their Guinness award. The duo appear in the ITV1 soap this week, ending up in a fight with Les on the Weatherfield cobbles.

Since "Pictures of Matchstick Men", Status Quo have attracted adulation and derision in equal degree. Their brand of three-chord rock has been scorned by critics but they have sold more than 100 million records, spent 413 weeks in the singles charts and notched up 34 albums.

Fashionistas shudder at their unchanging wardrobe of blue denims and Francis Rossi's white shirts, but the Chanel designer Karl Lagerfeld has credited their 1980s hit "In the Army Now" with one of his couture collections.

Status Quo have been ridiculed in a well-known sketch by Mel Smith and Griff Rhys Jones, but on tomorrow's Mastermind quiz show, a retired headmaster will answer questions on the band as his specialist subject.

Bob Geldof refused to let them play Live8 and ITV has denied them a plaque in its Avenue of Stars, but what they may have lacked in innovation they have made up for in longevity. As Rossi remarked (way back in 1996): "I've always been an old fart. Punks were calling me an old fart at 27."

Rossi and Parfitt have a combined age of 112 and are happily settled in their rock-star mansions. The womanising, drinking and cocaine use of 20 years ago has given way to marriage, fitness regimes and juicing.

Parfitt said recently: "Every night was a piss-up back in those days [the 70s]. Every day we would wake up hung over, but if didn't matter because we were in our 20s. Nowadays we just drink too much tea." He added: "We used to think it was all about knocking people over and smashing up bars, but now we appear on stage, then have a chicken sandwich."

Their youthful and not-so-youthful antics are legendary. Such as the time on Top of the Pops in 1983, when Parfitt was so drunk he fell of the stage during "Marguerita Time" taking the drummer with him, as Rossi gamely played on. Or the finale rendition of "Feed the World" at Live Aid when Rossi was so high he fell off a table, taking David Bowie with him. Or the Brit Awards when they were presented with a special achievement award but were too busy taking cocaine in the backstage lavatories.

The 1980s, when they opened Live Aid, played huge stadiums and did drink and drugs to excess, may have been good to them, but the 1990s were less kind. The band tried to get a judicial review of BBC Radio 1's decision to blacklist them but lost after even a High Court judge accepted the station's defence that the Quo were "somewhat conservative and old hat".

Rossi's septum collapsed from the cocaine use and Parfitt underwent a quadruple heart bypass. He realised that he had a drink problem when he was unable to remember the words to their single "Rockin' All Over the World". Supporting band members have come and gone, along with their wives (they have both been married twice), but their partnership remains. This week, they release their 35th album, The Party Ain't Over Yet, also the name of their latest single. By any reckoning, that title seems apposite.

I like them, I la-la-la-la-like them...

Bob Harris, RADIO 2 DJ

"It's good-time music. You can't knock it. It's straight forward, good music. They may have found their winning formula and stuck with it, but it is only in this country that you may get people thinking that they are not to be taken seriously because they are not re-inventing themselves every other year. If you look at the greats like BB King, he is continuing to make great records, they both prove that age is no barrier to making good music. Noboby ever said it was compulsory to evolve. If Status Quo are comfortable with that, and are having a good time, then I don't know whether anyone is entitled to discourage that with the criticism that they are not valid.

Guy Garvey, LEAD SINGER, ELBOW

The fact that they have been going so long has got to be a good thing. You can't take yourself too seriously in the music business. My favourite Status Quo moment is a story from one of their tours. They were supposedly touring in Australia when the tour bus hit a kangaroo. The bus stopped and the guys got out. The kangaroo appeared dead, but was still in one piece. They put a Quo jacket on it and took a photo. But the kangaroo was only stunned, and after a while, got up and jumped off. They only then found out the drivers keys had been in the jacket and they were left stranded in the desert. It may well be an urban myth, but I love the fact that you can imagine that happening to them. I suppose that is their attraction - the one thing that has always been clear about them is that they are having a laugh. They certainly provided me with an education of sorts. I learnt what a marguerita was through the first single I ever bought, "Marguerita Time".

Andy Burrows, DRUMMER, RAZORLIGHT

They are one of those bands that when you actually stop and think about them, you realise that they are rock legends. But that said, I don't think I know anyone who really loves them or really hates them. They must be doing something right to still be having hit records, but they are not really current. We toured with U2 recently, and they are an example of a band that even though they have been going for 20 years or so, they are still doing new things - their music is being played on radio playlists. I don't think you can really say that about Status Quo. Their songs evoke a lot of memories of my childhood. The first song I performed on stage was "Rockin' all Over the Word", I was a Cub Scout, and much to my embarrassment, both then and now, instead of "Rocking", I was forced to sing "Scouting all Over the World". I was only eight, but that is no excuse. People often think of them as a light-hearted band, but they have made some quite dark songs.

Tony Christie, SINGER

I love them - they are a national treasure. The earliest memory I have of them was on a radio show in the 1960s when I think they performed "Pictures of Matchstick Men". They were great because they were so unpretentious. They have found a successful formula and stuck to it. Their audience have grown with them and stayed very loyal. I like their music and their persona - with Francis Rossi and Rick Parfitt as the mainstays through the decades, the band has remained successful by working hard and touring a lot. My favourite track has to be "Rockin' All Over the World" - it's a real anthem. A few people decided they weren't suitable for Radio 1 (they were taken off the playlist in 1996) but they have bounced back from that really well, proving that you don't have to be mainstream pop to do well. My favourite Status Quo moment was for Live Aid when they did a great warm up. To be able to warm up the Wembley crowd is some achievement.

Nick Mason, DRUMMER, PINK FLOYD

They're a great British tradition. They are like your favourite fish and chip shop - you don't want them to change the recipe because they probably wouldn't be good at it. You couldn't imagine Harry Ramsden doing nouvelle cuisine and you couldn't imagine Status Quo doing anything but 12-bar blues.

40 years, 61 hit records

January 1968 'Pictures of Matchstick Men'

August 1968 'Ice In The Sun'

May 1969 'Are You Growing Tired of My Love'

May 1970 'Down the Dustpipe'

November 1970 'In My Chair'

January 1973 'Paper Plane'

April 1973 'Mean Girl'

September 1973 'Caroline'

May 1974 'Break the Rules'

December 1974 'Down Down'

May 1975 'Live' (EP)

February 1976 'Rain'

July 1976 'Mystery Song'

December 1976 'Wild Side of Life'

October 1977 'Rocking All Over the World'

September 1978 'Again And Again'

November 1978 'Accident Prone'

September 1979 'Whatever You Want'

November 1979 'Living on an Island'

October 1980 'What You're Proposing'

December 1980 'Lies/Don't Drive My Car'

February 1981 'Something 'bout You Baby I Like'

November 1981 'Rock n' Roll'

March 1982 'Dear John'

June 1982 'She Don't Fool Me'

October 1982 'Caroline'

September 1983 'Ol' Rag Blues'

November 1983 'A Mess of Blues'

December 1983 'Marguerita Time'

May 1984 'Going Down Town Tonight'

October 1984 'The Wanderer'

May 1986 'Rollin' Home'

July 1986 'Red Sky'

October 1986 'In the Army Now'

December 1986 'Dreamin''

March 1988 'Ain't Complaining'

May 1988 'Who Gets the Love?'

August 1988 'Running All Over the World'

December 1988 'Burning Bridges'

October 1989 'Not At All'

September 1990 'The Anniversary Waltz - Part 1'

December 1990 'The Anniversary Waltz - Part 2'

September 1991 'Can't Give You More'

January 1992 'Rock Til You Drop'

October 1992 'Roadhouse Medley'

August 1994 'I Didn't Mean It'

October 1994 'Sherri Don't Fail Me Now'

December 1994 'Restless'

November 1995 'When You Walk In The Room'

March 1996 'Fun, Fun, Fun'

April 1996 'Don't Stop'

November 1996 'All Around My Hat'

March 1999 'The Way It Goes'

June 1999 'Little White Lies'

October 1999 'Twenty Wild Horses'

May 2000 'Mony Mony'

August 2002 'Jam Side Down'

November 2002 'All Stand Up (Never Say Never)'

September 2004 'You'll Come Around'

December 2004 'Thinking of You'

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