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Francis Rossi: ‘Poor Rick, always trying to be the rock star’

In this week’s Big Issue, the Status Quo icon reveals how his former bandmate’s ego drove a wedge between them early on in the band’s career

Francis Rossi has penned a brutally honest Letter To My Younger Self in this week’s Big Issue, revealing his thoughts about former bandmate Rick Parfitt becoming a “caricature” of himself.

Reminiscing on when his band, Status Quo, first rose to fame, he said: “When I look back at how I behaved when we were first successful… oh dear. I suppose it’s helped me become more regimented as I get older, trying hard to do the right thing.

He had this archetypal hard-rock look that people loved. But he wasn’t that person inside.

“I watched Rick, somebody I loved dearly, who was such a great friend, become a caricature of himself. He had this archetypal hard-rock look that people loved. But he wasn’t that person inside. Poor Rick, always trying to be the rock star his fans thought he was. The poor shit was in such a mess.”

The London-born singer and guitarist also told The Big Issue that he was lucky to be able to give up a life of drugs and drink so easily, unlike other rockstars who continue to the grave.

“When you’re in a band, there’s so much pressure to behave a certain way. I was never naturally a big drinker but all around you it’s ‘Come on, have another drink’. It’s hard to give my younger self advice about drugs,” he said.

I was lucky. I was able to just give up. I had so many late nights and mornings feeling shit,

“It’s one of the lies we tell people, that drugs are horrible and bad. It’s like telling the little lad who’s tweeking his knob, ‘Don’t do that, it’s dirty.’ And he’s thinking, you’re wrong, it’s f**king lovely. It’s the same with drugs, at first. But then there’s a payback, whether it’s drink, amphetamines, coke or downers. And it’s horrible. I was lucky. I was able to just give up. I had so many late nights and mornings feeling shit, I just woke up one day and said, I don’t think I’ll do that again.”

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He concluded: “If I could go back in time I’d like to be there more for Rick when his daughter died. [Heidi drowned in the family swimming pool aged two in 1980]. He beat himself up about that, and probably justifiably so, because it needn’t have happened. But I’d like to have helped him. And he was my friend to the end. Right up until he was dying.

“The medical profession do some terrible things to us to keep us alive. When I got to his hospital room in Turkey I saw they’d crossed his feet like Christ on the cross. So the first thing I did was uncross his feet. After that I didn’t get to talk to him again because he wasn’t really there, the guy I knew. But we’d been such great friends when we were young, we’d had such great times together. It had been us and them, us against the rest of the world.”

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