Wednesday, March 03, 2010

Whatever Happened To...?

So yesterday while I was looking for a usable video for a particular song to use in tomorrow's Theme Thursday post, I noticed that there was actually a video of these guys here to the left, playing their most recognizable hit song on BBC's Top of the Pops back in 1968, and I got right into Mr. Peabody's Wayback Machine and took a little time trip. Psychedelia ruled the day, and this song was one of the mainstays of the whole psychedelic scene. That introductory guitar riff just set off all kinds of memories!

So who are these guys? Believe it or not, the British band Status Quo, and the song was their big hit "Pictures of Matchstick Men". I kid you not! That guitar riff was actually the first thing I ever played on electric guitar; I'd already worked it out on acoustic guitar, and when I went electric I thought it was the perfect thing to play. [Okay, in the interests of accuracy and to beat George Kepler - who was there for that "debut" - to the punch, it was actually a mandolin that I'd fitted with a pickup.] And it's always stuck in my head, so when I saw "Pictures of Matchstick Men" in the related videos list of the song I was looking for, I just had to follow it up. So here's Status Quo on Top of the Pops in 1968:

Believe it or not, these guys are still together. While they may have been something of a one-hit wonder in the US, in the UK they're still fairly popular (Tony? Alan? Any feedback?). Not for psychedelic stuff, though; that style was only a brief flirtation for the band. Mostly what they're known for is good old, straight-ahead Rock & Roll, like their #1 hit in 1975, "Down Down":

And 1976's "Mystery Song":

And believe it or not, they're still around. They have an official website and an active touring schedule; they look to be covering Australia this month.And they still have the old Rock & Roll fire, as you can see and hear in this live version of "Paper Plane" from 2007:

That's all for Status Quo, but don't go away; I'm not done with this yet. As is usual when I'm cruising YouTube watching vintage Rock & Roll, my heart always tugs me here:

When these guys rocked, they rocked hard! Damn, I miss Freddie! Brian May, Roger Taylor, and John Deacon still do the occasional concert as Queen, but without Freddie Mercury it's just not the same. However... In keeping with the "Whatever happened to..." theme, I'd just like to point out that Dr. Brian May is still out there and rocking hard on a regular basis, and still doing it on the "Red Special", the guitar he and his father made back in 1963 (Burns Guitars makes a replica with design guidance from May himself, and he uses one from time to time to give "The Old Lady", as he calls her, a rest). Granted, Dr. May (he has a PhD in astrophysics) also has an active academic life, writing papers and books in his field and serving as Chancellor of Liverpool John Moores University. But he also still plays and writes music. Here he is with his 1992 hit "Back to the Light":

And finally, here's Brian playing his instrumental tribute to Freddie, "Last Horizon" (from the 1992 album Back to the Light), in Sheffield in 2005:

Okay, that's all.

Text © 2010 by A. Roy Hilbinger


  1. I remember Status Quo as a "one-hit wonder" in the USA when I was a kid, but was aware that they have quite a few hits overseas. And as far as Brian May goes, I have the "Back to the Light" CD, purchased around the time I saw May in Providence at the Strand. Lotta good stuff there. Nice batch of stuff you handed us this time, Roy!

  2. Nuggets, Brit style! SQ must have caused a psychotic reaction everywhere they went. Love the expressions on the keyboardist's face. Re the 70's stuff, they must have been in bed with Phil Lynott!

  3. Agreeing with Silver Fox here, but they've quite a few great songs ( goes off looking through the cassette pile )...

  4. Haha takes me back a bit. I saw Status Quothree times in the late 70's,mainly because I was the only driver and my brother's wanted to go so we all piled in the bug. One now lives in Australia on the Central coast, Alan Lancaster I think but he no longer plays with the band. Might explain why they visit Australia so frequently.

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