Status Quo's Francis Rossi: "I’d rather have a buttered bread roll with mild cheddar and tomato than cocaine and groupies"

Francis Rossi
(Image credit: Gus Stewart/Redferns)

Francis Rossi has no time for rock 'n' roll behaviour. 

"What’s been sold as rock ’n’ roll behaviour is usually just arsehole behaviour," says Status Quo's frontman. "I don’t believe in the rock ’n’ roll lifestyle. All this business of insulting people, pissing on their feet, chucking up in the streets, driving home drunk then telling the coppers to fuck off… if anyone else did that they’d be out of a job in a heartbeat. But we’re indulged. It’s boring. I’d rather have a buttered bread roll with mild cheddar and tomato than cocaine and groupies."

"Rock ’n’ roll to me is the music, the rest is nonsense."

Here are seven other things that Francis Rossi has learned over the course of lifetime in the music business...

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Fame is a dangerous illusion

"If you think you’re someone special, you’re really not. But if you’re in the public eye you’re a figure for other people to project their own thoughts on to. Whether they’ll view you as complete fucking arsehole or Christ himself you can never gauge. My old partner Rick [Parfitt] took too fame too well, but it was never quite what he thought it was going to be, and it ruined him as a man, as it does a lot of people. What we’re selling is an image, it’s not fucking real. The more I tell people this, the more disappointed they are in me, but I’m 70, I’ve no desire to bullshit anymore."

Family can’t always come first

"I can’t claim to have been the best father because I’ve been away from home half my life. That’s part of the job I’m afraid. I’ve eight kids and I was there at most of the births, all but two I think, but I never changed a shitty nappy – maybe a couple of pissy ones – I very rarely read any of them a bedtime story and I missed so many birthdays and parents’ evenings and whatever. I love all my kids and I’m proud of them: I’ve not really been a good father, but I’m the only one they’ve had."

Nostalgia isn’t what it used to be

"We’re constantly being sold nostalgia, but we should be careful what we wish for. So many people of my generation want us to go back to the 1950s. Why? I remember the ’50s, the air was full of smoke, there was no money, food was tasteless, cars were shit… great. Other people want to go back to the ’70s. What, three day weeks, rubbish in the streets, bombs in London, strikes? ‘Oh yeah, I forgot about that stuff.’ I know this upsets people, but we’re living now, so deal with it."

Faith is a selfish pursuit

"I was brought up a Catholic, but I get a bit funny with religion, because we’re taught so much shit. The idea that you’ll go to hell for playing with your knob at the wrong time is ridiculous. I’m quite prepared to believe that there’s one all-knowing, all-loving, all-powerful God, but the Catholics think there’s only one God and it’s theirs, the Muslims thinks it’s theirs, and so on, everyone wants to own their God and gets a hissy fit when asked to share." 

Respect is over-rated

"People always ask me if I think I’ve been given enough respect as a songwriter, which leads me to believe that no-one actually thinks I have. But why should I deserve respect? We’ve sold records, sure, but ice cream salesmen sell ice cream, and do they deserve respect for that? I love one or two of my songs, if someone else does too… wonderful. I’m always look to write my best song ever, that’s the carrot dangling just out of reach that keeps me going."

Death is inevitable, but life goes on

"There’s been so much silly talk about whether we could make another album in the wake of Rick’s death. Of course I can make an album without him, don’t be ridiculous. Rick was a member of a band, no more, no less, but in death he’s become this sacred figure. The record company was encouraging us to make a new album, but is that because they love me, because I’m a really good songwriter, or because I turn money over? Which one do you think is true?" 

Success is in the eye of the beholder

"I’m a strange boy, I’m a Gemini, so half of me is an insecure little shit, and the other half is a cocky waste of space. So evaluating success has always been difficult for me. If you come to me in two years and say, ‘Wow, that last record sold 40 million records in America!’ I’d be thinking, Yeah, but that means there’s 260 million people who didn’t like it or don’t give a shit."

This interview was originally published in 2019.

Paul Brannigan
Contributing Editor, Louder

A music writer since 1993, formerly Editor of Kerrang! and Planet Rock magazine (RIP), Paul Brannigan is a Contributing Editor to Louder. Having previously written books on Lemmy, Dave Grohl (the Sunday Times best-seller This Is A Call) and Metallica (Birth School Metallica Death, co-authored with Ian Winwood), his Eddie Van Halen biography (Eruption in the UK, Unchained in the US) emerged in 2021. He has written for Rolling Stone, Mojo and Q, hung out with Fugazi at Dischord House, flown on Ozzy Osbourne's private jet, played Angus Young's Gibson SG, and interviewed everyone from Aerosmith and Beastie Boys to Young Gods and ZZ Top. Born in the North of Ireland, Brannigan lives in North London and supports The Arsenal.