Newmarket Racecourse bound Rick Parfitt can’t imagine life without Status Quo

Status Quo return to Newmarket Racecourses this Friday. Photo: David Tickle

Status Quo return to Newmarket Racecourses this Friday. Photo: David Tickle - Credit: Archant

There will be some familiar faces cheering Status Quo’s Rick Parfitt on at Newmarket Racecourses this Friday.

Rick Parfitt says Quo's fans have been so supportive over the years. Photo: Alex Fairfull.

Rick Parfitt says Quo's fans have been so supportive over the years. Photo: Alex Fairfull.

“We have quite a lot of family down there, the Parfitts,” said the guitarist and singer, whose father was born in the town and worked there as a stable boy. “I dare say some of them will be coming along. I spent some of my early years down in Harlow as well.”

Alongside Francis Rossi, Parfitt has sold more than 118million records during their 48-year partnership which has seen them play to more than 25m people. Friday’s gig is their first return to Newmarket since the release of Aquostic, their 43rd album to hit the British chart - more than any other band apart from The Rolling Stones.

“I don’t know how many they’ve put out, it’s not a competition; it’s just built up over the last almost 50 years now,” added Parfitt, who met Rossi in 1965 when they both worked at Butlin’s in Minehead.

“It’s been the most amazing partnership. If anybody had told me back then the amount of success this venture would have, how successful it would be I would never have believed it in my wildest dreams. The stats that come in from time to time are mindblowing. People come up and say oh ‘this is this is the millionth or album you’ve sold’...

Status Quo's Rick Parfitt and Francis Rossi open Live Aid

Status Quo's Rick Parfitt and Francis Rossi open Live Aid - Credit: Archant

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“I always remember the first time years ago when we were in a dressing room, somewhere in Sweden I think, and these people from the record company walked in with armfuls of gold albums and you look over your shoulder and think ‘who are they for’? Of course they’re for you... It’s amazing these little waypoints you remember.”

Parfitt and co are very appreciative of the fans and everybody who has stood by them over the years.

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“We’re still picking up new fans. Down the front now at any given gig you can see 16 and 17 year olds headbanging and they know all the words. I guess they’ve been brought up (on the music) with their families. It’s a wonderful crowd to play to all over the years, consequently we always go out to give it 100% and Newmarket will be no exception.”

Quo were one of the first artists to successfully combine rock and racing when they first played Newmarket in 2003. Parfitt remembers thinking it was a novel idea destined to take off.

“In terms of money some people are happier than others. Generally I think everybody has a glass of champagne a good day at the races, then it’s almost the perfect setting for us to come on and hit them with a bit of rock and roll and give everybody a good time at the end of the day.”

Parfitt’s never been for one backing the horses, but intends to have a flutter on the day.

“I’ve got no idea, I’m one of these people who throws a dart at a bit of paper or if I like the colours of whatever the jockey’s wearing I’m there. My dad was a big betting man, used to study the form and everything. Fortunately I didn’t take after him because I know he never made any money at it, he would come out losing most of the time.”

One thing you can bet on is Quo won’t be calling it a day any time soon. As much as he enjoys breaks from gigging, he likes to have the “mothership” hovering nearby, ready to whisk him back on the road if he wants.

“Actually quitting Status Quo? We learned that (lesson) in 1984. We thought we’d had enough and that was a big big mistake. It doesn’t get any easier as you get older. On a good night when you get up on that stage and the energy is there... I don’t know where it comes from but there’s nothing like it. It’s an incredible feeling to be up there, giving all these people a good time and I would hate for the day to come along when we can no longer do this for whatever reason.

“I know the fans are there, they’ve always been there and always will be there bless their hearts. We’ll just have to see what happens. There is talk of slowing things down at the end of 2016, but we’ll see. There’s no real talk of actually stopping, I don’t think you can almost cut your arm off and say that’s it, I’m finished tomorrow, thank you, goodbye.”

It’s the answer you’d expect from somebody who was that kid at school who’d gaze out the window not listening to a word being said. Parfitt knew from the age of 10 what he wanted to do, playing the working men’s clubs when he was or 12.

“And boy oh boy I’ve been lucky enough to do it because I never really paid any attention at school and if I hadn’t have done this God knows what I would have been now but it’s turned out rather well and all my dreams have come true.”

He admits it was a helluva chance to take, wishing he’d stuck it out at school a little longer instead of sprinting out the gate when he was 15 like a lightning bolt. Although he still thinks the best way to learn about the way the world works is by getting out and jumping in at the deep end. As he says, it’s done him no harm.

“If you’re not doing that well at school and are interested in something, get out and give it a try - but you have to be hellbent on doing it, you’ve got to be dedicated. There are lots of ups and downs like in all walks of life.

“Sometimes I get on stage and think ‘oh God what am I doing here’. The sound is terrible and I’m not feeling it, we’re doing an outdoor festival and it’s raining. In the early days the record company say ‘you’re going to be millionaires, you’re going to sell millions of records’, the next the ‘record isn’t doing so well and we’re not sure about you’ and you find yourself out.

“It’s not all beer and skittles which a lot of people think our business is. It’s hard graft, you’re away from your family an awful lot, there’s a lot of travelling... I don’t care what anybody says, it’s not an easy ride at all so be prepared for it.”

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