Life, Fame, The Universe & Other Places
By, Sergio Burns
We wait. Told we are allotted a space for the interview at 12.30, and will have 25 minutes. I phone several times, the number is engaged. I call his PR, he assures me he will get him off the phone and asks me to ring in 30 seconds.
The wait and anxiety, is worth it. Francis Rossi is a rock legend – he would hate ‘national treasure’ and might even baulk at ‘legend’, but that’s what I am settling on.
He founded the band with Alan Lancaster in 1962 when both attended Sedgehill Comprehensive School, Catford, London. Originally known as the Scorpions, and in other incarnations The Spectres, Traffic Jam and ‘The’ Status Quo, before dropping the definite article.
Rossi is a revelation, pleasantly articulate and surprisingly grounded for a man of his cut. An intellectual, he is happy to tackle some of the wonderful mysteries of our existential trajectory, and unafraid to launch a few expletives where appropriate.
“I am very much aware,” he began to ponder on life, the universe and other places, but soon fell into silence, and I can hear him search around his cloudless rock zone for words.
“Just a quick story,” he starts up again. “Quite often at Christmas, my brother and I go out Boxing Day or the day after. We go round the old haunts where we grew up. This year, as we were going past the house that he was born in, that I moved to when I was two…this woman was coming out the door. We were both just staring at her. I said ‘Sorry ma’am, excuse us, but we used to live here when we were kids.’ And, she said ‘Are you the Rossi brothers?’ She let us… in the house it was just… fantastic. One minute either way and we would have gone past and missed her. I am very much aware..a split second the other way and this would have happened or that would have happened.”
In his own ‘sliding doors’ way, he was ( somewhat metaphorically) explaining how the spoken word tour ‘I Talk Too Much’ (which arrives in Kilmarnock on March 22), his new album with Hannah Rickard ‘We Talk Too Much’ (out on March 15), and book ‘I Talk Too Much’ (with Mick Wall) published on March 14, 2019, all came about.
Over 50 years on, Francis Rossi is still packing a great deal into his life and is still happily telling how it all began.
“I woke up,” He said recalling what it was like to have that first hit record (the self-penned Pictures of Matchstick Men). “We had been on Top of the Pops it was probably about number….