Definitely in the running for The Fleetwood Mac Award For Band Re-Invention, these gentlemen started out as cute purveyors of twee psychedelic pop and ended up as one of the most enduring balls-out blues 'n' boogie board stompers in the history of all things rockin'. The British band was founded by guitarist Francis Rossi and bassist Alan Lancaster, two students at The Sedgehill Comprehensive School
in Catford in 1962. The band's name at the time was The Spectres. In 1963 drummer John Coghlin joined and a year later guitarist Rick Parfitt was recruited. The Spectres signed a deal with Picadilly Records and released three singles, "I Who Have Nothing", Hurdy Gurdy Man" (written by Lancaster) and a cover of the Blues Magoos' song "We Ain't Got Nothin' Yet". All three failed to make the charts. By 1967 the band's style took a psychedelic turn wth the addition of Roy Lynes on keyboards. The band changed their name to Traffic and later to Traffic Jam to avoid being confused with Stevie Winwood's band. Another single, "Almost But Not Quite There" was released and also flopped. In late 1967 the band took the name The Status Quo and in 1968 finally hit the mark with the release of "Pictures Of Machstick Men" which hit #7 on the U.K. singles chart and was the band's only U.S. top 40 hit.
The band had a second U.K. hit with "Ice In The Sun", which climbed to #8. Though the band consistently released albums in the U.S. for their entire career, they never came close in the U.S. to the success they enjoyed in the U.K. The second album Spare Parts was released with disappointing sales.
At this point the band became disillusioned with their musical direction, discarded the Carnaby Street clothing and psychedelic pop and replaced the lot with faded denim, t-shirts and a guitar-oriented hard rock/boogie sound that has served them well ever since. In 1971 Roy Lynes left the band and from then used keyboard players such as Andy Bown, Jimmy Horowitz and Tom Parker only for studio and stage support. The core line-up became two guitars, bass and drums. The finishing touch was to drop the "The" in front of their name and become simply Status Quo.
After releasing two more well-received but poor selling albums, Status Quo's breakthrough came when they signed with Vertigo Records. The first album for the label, 1972's Piledriver, with its heavier,self-produced sound became the blueprint for all future albums from the band. Throughout the 1970s they became one the U.K.'s leading rock bands, due in no small part to their relentless touring and high-energy live shows.
Status Quo has had several line-up changes through the years. Ultimately, the band to date is composed of Rossi, Parfitt, keyboardist Andy Bown, bassist John Edwards and drummer Matt Letley. All told, they have released twenty-nine albums and sold 128 million records worldwide. Needless to say,you don't have to conquer the U.S. to make it big.