Remembered in the U.S. for their late '60s hit "Pictures of Matchstick Men," the Status Quo enjoyed a three-decade career in their native England. The group formed in '62 around bassist Alan Lancaster. Calling themselves the Spectres, the group went through several iterations before landing guitarist Francis "Mike" Rossi, keyboardist Roy Lynes and drummer John Coghlan. The '65 addition of guitarist/vocalist Rick Parfitt set the line-up. Thinking of calling themselves Traffic Jam, they abandoned the idea when they heard that Steve Winwood's new group was called Traffic. Becoming the Status Quo, their first three singles, including a cover of Donovan's "Hurdy Gurdy Man," went nowhere. The group found steady employment as Madeline Bell's backing band. But the psychedelic influenced "Pictures of Matchstick Men" turned out to be an international hit getting to #12 in the U.S. and #7 on the U.K. charts. Subsequent singles did well in the U.K. but barely registered in the U.S. as the group adopted a straight-ahead boogie sound.
Lynes left in '70 with Andrew Bown stepping in. Coghlan departed in '82. Pete Kircher initially replaced him (for two years) before yielding the sticks to Jeff Rich. Lancaster called it quits in '84 with John "Rhino" Edwards taking over. That left Rossi and Parfitt as the only original members. In '96, the BBC's Radio - 1FM refused to play the Status Quo's new single, a cover of the Beach Boys' classic "Fun, Fun, Fun," because the group was "too old." The song reached #24 becoming their 50th U.K. chart single.
"Pictures Of Matchstick Men" with its descending, distorted guitar riff and breathy, reverb drenched vocals is something of an oddity in Status Quo's catalog. Their lengthy career (at least in the U.K., Northern Europe and Asia) is due to the group's mastery of Blues boogie Rock. Down and dirty riffs and a basic attack. "Whatever You Want: The Very Best of the Status Quo" is a 45 track overview that doesn't disappoint. The '77 release "Live!" shows the band cranked and Rockin'. It's an excellent set that includes a cover of the Doors' "Roadhouse Blues."