Still rockin' all over the world
At 60 and after more than 40 years with Status Quo, guitarist francis rossi still gets a kick out of playing the band's oldies. He tells chris wasser why he'll never adopt madonna's attitude
The grand old man of rockn'roll Francis Rossi certainly doesn't beat around the bush. He's a music fan; a good old-fashioned appreciator of all sounds, genres and whatever else you're having.
In fact, listening to his favourite records generally provokes a little more than just a shake of the hips. It actually gets him off. "It's almost like someone's touched my bits," says the 60-year-old guitar hero. "You know what that's like. And when I say that to people, they seem to understand what you mean. I don't get how people don't get that with music." Neither do I, Francis. Neither do I.
Of course, the colourful wordplay doesn't end there. Having fronted everybody's favourite boogie rock group Status Quo for more than four decades, Francis certainly isn't afraid to share his stories and opinions. Endlessly witty -- and with a sharp tongue to boot -- the London-born singer and guitarist has done it all, seen it all and worn the ponytail.
What's more, after 60-plus hit singles, 118 million album sales and thousands of late nights on the road, it's good to know that Francis is still as keen as ever to chat about rockin' all over the world. First of all, though, I think some congratulations are in order. After all, he and band mate Rick Parfitt were both awarded OBEs this year.
"Well, it's very nice, but it's not worthy," he says. "It's more something that should be given to some paramedic from Newcastle or whatever . . . we're a couple of guys [who] have been very, very lucky."
So what did the Queen have to say, then? "She said, 'Franni, how's it hanging?'" he laughs.
"You know, you start out in a band being totally 'anti-establishment' and end up at 50 or 60 being 'establishment'. You think you don't want to but that's the logical progression. I know people pretend they're angry young men, but they're bullsh**ting.
"I'm 60. I've got eight children, I've gone through a whole domestic life, and for me to pretend that I'm this wacky person still is bulls**t. But showbusiness is 95pc bull."
To some, he's a living legend. I wonder if Francis is comfortable with such a hefty -- excuse the pun -- status.
"No, no, from what I can tell, legends are dead usually, and they're not true!" he chuckles. "Why we all call various people 'legends', I don't know. I'm sure that it's meant with the best, but to me, it's . . . again, you know. . . I don't know. Can we change the subject? See I've got embarrassed! Sitting in my own home and you got me embarrassed!"
He's joking, of course, but something he most definitely is serious about is touring.
"The older I get, the more important it gets," he says. "People have said to us: 'You've had 60-something hits.' Yeah. 'Well isn't that enough?'"
Francis says that Status Quo is more than just a band -- it's a way of life that he's almost always made his number-one priority.
"I've no real education," he says. "I don't know what else I would do and it's just always been like this since I can remember. People ask me: 'Do you think you've been a good father?' I don't think I've been a good father because I was always focused on this -- it was always about the sacred name of the band. My wife understands; my first wife, second wife -- it's always come before all those things. I remember the day my father died. I went 'ohhh, really. . . I'll be home in a few days'.
"It kind of makes it sound callous or whatever but I was taught that this career is all, because it finances everything. My thing in Status Quo has paid for everything -- my children's education and so on, so to be blase about it, no, it's very, very important."
These days, he's as busy as ever, having just released his second solo album, One Step at a Time, earlier this month. The Quo are back on the road, too, offering up the hits (Caroline, Rockin' All Over the World, Down Down, etc) to their fans across the globe. Better still, Francis insists that he's yet to grow tired of singing them.
"I was talking to my daughter this morning, she asked me if I knew Bowie, and I said I was talking to him, blah, blah, blah, and that, at one point, he said he wasn't going to do his old hits anymore.
"If you're not the person that I bought all these records from as I was growing up, what's the f**king point in coming to see you? And we're all like that -- we're desperate to be liked . . . whether it's Madonna, whether it's us.
"Madonna would have [done anything] to get in -- now we mustn't look at her as she comes in the room -- oh p**s off. People want to hear Rockin' All Over the World. I can't help that and we're lucky they do," he smiles, "otherwise we wouldn't be working."
Status Quo are live at the Curragh Racecourse on June 4, and at the INEC Killarney on June 5