'I prostituted myself to keep it going'

Francis Rossi is the lead singer and guitarist of Status Quo, the British band that has had more hit singles than any other rock band in UK chart history.

What did you want to be as a child?

From the age of seven, I wanted to be a rock star because I wanted to strum and yell.

What did you realistically think you'd end up doing?

I was deadly serious. That's what I wanted to be and from 10 that was what I was going to do. There was no alternative.

No alternative at all?

I grew up with Italians who were in ice-cream and retail. I passed the test for my ice-cream van licence in 1968, that was when our first hit, " Pictures of Matchstick Men", came out and reached No 7, so I got out of becoming an ice-cream man.

You left school at 15 – any regrets?

Yeah, but it's dual-edged, because if I hadn't left, then things would be different now and I'm content with what I've got. But I would have loved to learn languages. Also, in the school system, there's someone in front of you, and when you ask them a question, they will answer you. In the recording industry, if you ask someone how to do something, they realise you don't know, and they don't tell you.

Do you consider yourself successful?

Yes, within the parameters in which I work. But only a few million people like us.

When did you first realise that you were successful?

In 1968, but then I woke up the following morning and everything was just the same. My greatest fear was to be a one-hit wonder. I had no education, what would I do? It's frightening me now.

How did you make it as a rock star?

Fear of failure. I'm very insecure. I prostituted myself to keep it going, and I kept my head down. Our new album, In Search of the Fourth Chord, has just come out and I hope it's a hit, even though the money doesn't mean anything any more.

What motivates you?

I don't pretend that I don't love money; I do love money. I'm 58 – will I still be bringing in enough when I'm 80? What I have now – will it last? But I'm also motivated by performing, I have a need to go up on stage and say, "Watch me, I'm great!"

What advice would you give to a budding rock star?

Forget it. What kept me going when I was young was people saying that I had no chance of making it. So if there's a 15-year-old out there who wants to be a rock star and some old fart like me says forget it, that will give them the tenacity to burn through.

Who are your heroes?

It sounds clichéd, but Martin Luther King and Malcolm X.

What's the best perk of your job?

Being able to stay home for months on end.