Rick Parfitt: 1948-2016

IN A WORLD FULL of affectation, Rick Parfitt was a musician who enjoyed his status as a rock star, wearing it with good grace and a broad grin. The partnership he formed with fellow Telecaster-wielding guitarist and frontman Francis Rossi powered Status Quo from an aspiring and at times underrated psychedelic outfit to one of the biggest and most popular rock acts of the ‘70s. If the band’s crunchy sound was based on the twin-guitar axis of Parfitt and Rossi, their appeal also derived from the duo’s down-to-earth attitude.

Parfitt himself was born in Woking, Surrey on October 12, 1948, and he began playing guitar at the age of 11. Later, he fell into the cabaret circuit before meeting Rossi when the pair performed at a Butlins holiday camp. Status Quo would come together in 1967 and score their first UK Top 10 hit, Pictures Of Matchstick Men, the following year.

Follow-ups proved elusive, and it took until 1972 for the band to score their second Top 10 hit with Paper Plane. The Quo, however, were off and running, their newly boogie-fied sound turning on a generation of teenagers on to a new kind of very English rock’n’roll. While Rossi was more prolific as a songwriter, Parfitt’s deft touch is evident on hits like Rain, Mystery Song (both 1976) and Living On An Island (1979).

The band’s trajectory would continue upwards into the ‘80s, The End Of The Road Tour in ’84 proving a premature farewell. Indeed, the following year they would be one of the acts – alongside Queen, U2 and others – who left an indelible mark on Live Aid’s global audience estimated at 1.9 billion.

Parfitt never hid his enjoyment of the high life, although it appeared to catch up with him on occasion (most notably in 1997 when he had a quadruple heart bypass). Despite this he continued to record and play with Quo until June of this year when he suffered a heart attack. At that point, Quo announced that he would cease to tour.

On Saturday, December 24, 2016, Parfitt’s death was announced via a detail statement from Quo’s longstanding manager, Simon Porter. It reads as follows:

“We are truly devastated to have to announce that Status Quo guitarist Rick Parfitt has passed away at lunchtime today.

“He died in hospital in Marbella, Spain as a result of a severe infection, having been admitted to hospital on Thursday evening following complications to a shoulder injury incurred by a previous fall.

“Status Quo left an indelible mark on Live Aid’s global audience.”

“This tragic news comes at a time when Rick was hugely looking forward to launching a solo career with an album and autobiography planned for 2017 following his departure from Status Quo’s touring activities on medical advice.

“He will be sorely missed by his family, friends, fellow band members, management, crew and his dedicated legion of fans from throughout the world, gained through 50 years of monumental success with Status Quo.

“Rick is survived by his wife Lyndsay, their twins Tommy and Lily and Rick’s adult children Rick Jnr and Harry.

“No further comment will be made at this time and Rick's family, and the band, ask for their privacy to be respected at this difficult time.”

MOJO would like to extend our condolences to Rick’s family, friends, bandmates and associates.

Picture by: Håkan Henriksson (Creative Commons)