• Rob Butterfield


A chance rendezvous with an unknown band.

Status Quo in Peckham, London, circa 1972. L-R: Francis Rossi, John Coghlan, Alan Lancaster and Rick Parfitt. (Photo by Terry O'Neill/Iconic Images/Getty Images).

It was Whitsun week school holidays 1972. The family were off on another jaunt to Bournemouth. A few days away in flaming June (I think it rained for a lot of that week!) to enjoy the best of what the south coast of Britain had to offer… well almost.

On the recommendation of my aunt we were to be checking in to a little place called the Touring Hotel, somewhere near the East Overcliff Drive on the open top bus route if my memory serves me correctly.

Ok, a little bit of context here: My Mum has ‘standards’, likes things to be done properly, kept (and still keeps) a fastidiously clean house and is always well turned out. She’s the kind of lady that would clean a house before the cleaner arrived and always had a tin of salmon or ham in the cupboard just in case the Queen popped round for afternoon tea. She’s been likened to Mrs Bouquet from Keeping Up Appearances in the past… nothing wrong with that, I wouldn’t want her any other way and I love her to bits.

On arrival it has to be said that the hotel looked a little 'tired' - things weren't looking good from Mum's perspective. As we entered the reception we were greeted by four, what my Mum would later describe as, ‘long haired layabouts’ relaxing on the available sofas and chairs. My Mum’s face was a picture – what was this place we were checking in to?

Anyway, Dad being Dad, politely strikes up conversation with the assembled long-haired types in their ripped jeans and t-shirts. Turns out they were in a band called Status Quo touring round the UK doing various pubs and other assorted venues and they were actually all thoroughly decent chaps. They were just waiting for their tour bus (splitter van!) to turn up and pick them up.

Of course, we’d never heard of them. Despite having already released four albums on the Pye label between 1968 and 1971 none of them had charted and they weren’t, yet, a permanent fixture of the popular music chart. But something stuck, or the name at least, in my brother’s mind (he would have been around 14 at the time) and it wouldn’t be long before they would, now signed to Vertigo, be making the headlines in the music press.

I can remember my brother announcing later that year after reading an article in the NME (New Musical Express) that “that band we saw in Bournemouth had an album and a single coming out.” The album would be Piledriver and the single Paper Plane. The rest of course is history…

Status Quo of course went on to be one of the biggest bands in the world. They found their niche and stuck to it (ok, we’ll forget and forgive ‘In the Army now’). For me that original line up was the best and is how I’d like to remember them. Although they don’t feature heavily in my record collection that chance meeting all those years ago means they’ll always have a place in my heart.

Oh, the hotel by the way wasn't all that bad. Not quite up to Mum's standards but perfectly sufficient for a family seaside holiday.

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