... and talking of third-agers: Quo get short shrift

Rebecca Fowler
Monday 01 July 1996 23:02

It was a disappointing day for the ageing men of rock. The members of the band Status Quo were refused a hearing by a High Court Judge yesterday of their claims that Radio One ignores their music because they are too old.

The band, which this year celebrates its thirtieth anniversary, had hoped to set a precedent in its case against the radio station, which snubbed their latest hit single, Fun Fun Fun, allegedly on the basis the group was too old and boring.

Mr Justice Collins, 53, a relatively youthful judge from the same generation as the players, said that Radio One "regards Status Quo as somewhat conservative and old hat".

But he ruled that in spite of the band's belief that their hit records had been deliberately excluded from Radio One's playlist, the BBC was under no obligation to play their songs, new or old, however commercially successful they are.

Mr Justice Collins told the group's barrister, Kenneth Parker, QC: "Maybe they don't like your client's music. They don't have to like it."

He added: "They are not given to promoting this type of music, and it is not the type of music they are encouraging people to listen to."

Among other casualties of the alleged purge on senior rockers at Radio One are Sir Cliff Richard, Michael Barrymore, Barry Manilow, Mr Blobby and Rod Stewart, believed to have been dropped as the station tried to woo a younger audience.

But Francis Rossi, 46, and Rick Parfitt, 47, the leaders of Status Quo, which has had more than 50 hits, are adamant that Radio One listeners should be allowed to listen to their music. The pair, who were not in court, say they are only demanding equal treatment from the BBC.

According to Mr Parker, Status Quo are "one of the most successful pop/rock bands in history", but they were the subject of a "capricious" ban.

He claimed there was "no consistency at all" to the music chosen by Radio One, and pointed out that other bands from the same generation are given airtime.

The oldies to whom Radio One will give radio time, according to Status Quo, include David Bowie, 49, Meatloaf, 47 and Tina Turner, 57.

The Rolling Stones - dubbed "the Strolling Bones" as a reference to the longevity of their careers - Queen and Van Morrison are also played.

However, Mr Justice Collins, an Old Etonian who, according to insiders, does not listen to the music of Status Quo, suggested that they "pressure enough people to tell Radio One they won't listen any more if they don't play Status Quo".

He also said the band, which has issued a writ against the BBC for pounds 250,000, should pursue private action for breach of contract. He refused them leave for a judicial review. The BBC was awarded legal costs estimated to be in excess of pounds 50,000.

Matthew Bannister, 37, the station's controller, denied that the band has been treated unfairly. He insisted the station, which broadcasts 1,400 songs a week to around 13m listeners, was committed to playing works by new artists.

"We are delighted that the judge has recognised that Radio One has changed," he said.

"We are the UK's leading contemporary music station, and we consider all records for inclusion against that brief and on musical merit."

Leading article, page 3

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