IT WAS the pinnacle of the swinging 60s when Status Quo released Pictures of Matchstick Men which went on to be the first of many hit records for the denim-clad rockers.
Little did they know back then that they would still be belting out hits more than 40 years later, having sold in excess of 118million records and recorded more than 60 hit singles.
Founder member Francis Rossi, who turns 60 next May, told the Press and Journal the band has no intentions of hanging up their guitars just yet.
In fact, determined to show they can still give fans whatever they want, they’ve just released their first ever Christmas single, It’s Christmas Time, hot on the heels of their latest album Pictures – 40 Years of Hits, a compilation spanning their incredible chart career.
Francis says it’s hard to tell how the song will go down with The Quo’s legions of fans, but after a lifetime in the music business he accepts it is impossible to please all of the people all of the time.
He said: “One thing I have learned over the years is that you do something new and one person will think it’s the best thing we’ve ever done and the person standing right next to them will think it’s the worst.
“But we decided if we were going to do a Christmas song, it would have to have every cliche in the book in there.”
As for the new album, the band’s 29th, it has already proved a massive success, becoming the band’s first top 10 album since Don’t Stop in 1996.
Francis said: “Every now and again we put out another compilation album. I always thought the idea would wear out with the fans but it doesn’t seem to. So we always try to hang something new on it. Our fans know everything we’ve done so we try to give them value for money and come up with something different.”
During their long career, Status Quo have racked up more chart hits than any other band and thousands of north-east fans are expected to turn out to see them on Tuesday.
Francis said touring and playing live was what he, and bandmates Rick Parfitt, John “Rhino” Edwards, Andy Bown and Matt Letley, did best.
He added: “We are definitely insecure show-offs. Anyone who gets up on stage for a living is the same. That’s what keeps us going. I get up there and I love it. I also like the money, of course.
“A lot of people think it’s because I love music, and I always have loved music, but I can’t pretend it’s all about the music.
“When you walk into a gig and the whole place lights up and everyone stands up and starts cheering, that’s what it’s about.”
Over the years, the band have got used to being slated by the music critics, who’ve made jokes about them having a three-chord repertoire, but Francis admits he’s learned not to take any of it to heart.
He said: “We don’t give a monkeys what anyone says about us anymore. We used to really sweat and worry about what people thought but not now. The important thing is that the fans keep enjoying it, and that we keep enjoying it. Who cares what anyone else thinks?”
He added: “We’re in showbusiness first and foremost. If we were in music, we would probably still be sitting at home studying and getting very bored.”
He said the band were also looking forward to getting back to Scotland, where they have a huge fan base.
Francis said: “I love Aberdeen. Scotland is one of the best places in the world to perform. We’re really looking forward to it.”
As for the future, the veteran rocker says the band have no immediate plans to stop now, and why should they having made it through some tough times in the past decade, including lead singer and guitarist Rick Parfitt’s quadruple heart bypass in 1997 and throat cancer scare several years ago?
He said: “People are always asking us when we’re going to retire but we keep on going because we love it.
“I went to a garden centre a while back and I was looking around and this woman came up and said ‘Are you . . .’ and I waited until she said my name because for years people have been coming up to me and I’ve said yes only to find they thought I was Phil Collins, and she said ‘are you still about?’ and I told her we’d just played to 15,000 people the night before and she couldn’t believe it.
“People are always saying ‘you’re not still together are you?’ but as long as we enjoy what we do I don’t see why we should stop. We want to make it to about 90 and still be going strong.”
Status Quo will be at AECC on Tuesday with support from Manfred Mann’s Earth Band. Tickets are still available online at www.aecc.co.uk or by calling 08444 77 9000.