On Saturday 13 July, 1985, Status Quo opened the biggest concert in history, Live Aid, with a cover version they had made their own almost a decade before. Standing on stage in front of 80,000 people packed into the old Wembley Stadium, the boogie-rock veterans kicked off with Rockin’ All Over The World – a song that seemed to sum up the grand reach of this unprecedented event.
“Nobody wanted to go on first, so we went: ‘Fuck it, we’ll do it – get the fuck on, get the fuck off,’” says Quo singer and guitarist Francis Rossi. “But when we started playing that song, there was a total sense of euphoria. Everything slotted in. The sense of love from the audience was something else.”
The fact that it prompted such an ecstatic response was ironic, given that most Quo die-hards saw the band’s 1977 cover of a blustering single by former Creedence Clearwater Revival frontman John Fogerty as the point where Quo jumped the shark, diluting the 100-per-cent-proof boogie with which they’d made their name.
It had caused ructions within the band, too, with original bassist Alan Lancaster making no secret of his loathing of it. Yet for all that, Rockin’ All Over The World has become Quo’s ultimate party anthem, a song they so completely and utterly made their own that it’s a stretch to imagine that someone else wrote it.
Quo guitarist Rick Parfitt came across Fogerty’s ’75 original on the radio during a drunken drive home after a night in the studio. He took it to his bandmates, who were sceptical.
“It sounded a bit piddly, to be honest,” says Rossi. “But me and Rick used to joke that we could Quo-up anything with a guitar on it. So that’s what we did.”
The band had begun working with a new producer, Pip Williams, for their tenth studio album, ultimately also called Rockin’ All Over The World. Williams added a slickness to Quo’s sound that hadn’t been there before.
“Our old fans hated it,” Rossi says of the album. “We had so much mail going: ‘What the fuck is this?’ But that song brought in loads more new fans.”
Released as a single in September 1977, Rockin’ All Over The World gave Status Quo another UK Top 10 hit. And despite the denim-clad faithful’s reticence, it swiftly became a live favourite – and, in subsequent years, a wedding-reception staple. “Fuck me, even my dental hygienist sent me something the other day to say they were all singing it at some wedding reception,” says Rossi.
Other bands and artists who have covered Rockin’ All Over The World include Bon Jovi, Bruce Springsteen and Coldplay, the latter giving a nice nod to Quo by singing part of it at 2005’s Live 8 concert. But it’s Quo’s version that remains the definitive one – at least to everyone apart from Francis Rossi.
“I don’t know why ours has become this classic ‘raawk’ song,” he says with a shrug. “We played Sweden Rock festival, and all these people dressed head to toe in black were in front of the stage going: ‘This is great!’ I’m looking at them going: ‘What the fuck are you thinking?’”