Christmas Eve afternoon and news comes across that Rick Parfitt, the veteran rocker from the legendary Status Quo had been saved from death following a heart attack by a kebab. Within half an hour, that news came that he had died.
Rick, who I once had the pleasure of meeting in 1980 when they came to the BBC when their then-current hit What You’re Proposing was in the chart, was such a normal, lovely down-to-earth guy. He was born in Woking, Surrey in 1948 and learned to play guitar when he was 11. In the mid-sixties, he was playing in a pub on London’s Goodge Street when a representative from a holiday camp on Hayling Island approached Rick’s father saying he was impressed and wanted to offer him a summer job at the camp. Rick accepted and joined with two people performing under the name The Harrison Twins and became a trio calling themselves the Highlights. They were then asked to perform at Butlins in Minehead and there is where he met Alan Lancaster, John Coghlan and Francis Rossi who were performing under the name the Spectres. The band’s manager decided that they needed another singer and Rick was invited to join and they changed their name to Traffic Jam.
In 1967, another change of name took place and the called themselves The Status Quo for their first five singles including the hits Pictures Of Matchstick Men and the Marty Wilde-penned Ice In The Sun, but then they dropped ‘The’ and forever known as Status Quo.
Over the next 42 years, the line-up changed several times, but Rossi and Parfitt were the mainstays throughout and in that time they amassed 67 UK hit singles and 45 hit albums, which, for a group, is a record for singles and only beaten by the Rolling Stones for the albums.
Their only UK number one was the 1975’s Down Down but arguably their most famous song is Rockin’ All Over The World, a John Fogerty-penned song which they those to open the Live Aid Concert with in 1985 after Bob Geldof suggested they should open the show. It even got Prince Charles clapping along.
Rick has had his share of health problems, in 1997 he underwent a quadruple heart bypass operation after doctors strongly advised him to change his lifestyle of drink and drugs. In 2005 he had a throat cancer scare, December 2011 another heart attack and again in August 2014 which is the one that finally made him give up the bad habits. He said in an interview with the Daily Mail, “That last heart attack has made me quit smoking and drinking after 50 years, I’ve been drinking a bottle of wine and smoking 30 cigarettes a day.”
In 2010 both Parfitt and Rossi were awarded an OBE for services to music and in 2015 he and his wife Lyndsay set up a real estate company called Status Homes which was based in Marbella, Spain. In June 2016, whilst on tour in Turkey, he suffered yet another heart attack. He pulled out of the tour, although the band carried on, and flown back to the UK. He then went to Marbella to recover. He was admitted to hospital on Thursday evening (22nd Dec) and died two days later following complications to a shoulder injury incurred by a previous fall.