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'80s - Status Quo   (John 'Rhino' Edwards, 2011) '80s - Status Quo (John 'Rhino' Edwards, 2011)

'Ain't Complaining: The John 'Rhino' Edwards Story'

The origins of Status Quo lie in The Spectres, a London based beat group. Founder members Francis Rossi (guitar/vocals) and Alan Lancaster (bass) led the act from its inception in 1962 until 1967, by which time Roy Lynes (organ) and John Coughlan (drums) completed it's line-up.

After the arrival of Rick Parfitt in 1967 the group changed it's name to what it is today, Status Quo. In the following year their debut single, 'Pictures of Matchstick Men' reached number 7 in the charts. The rest, as they say, is history.

But following the release of 1980's Just Supposin', Coughlan left the band in 1981 with former Original Mirrors drummer Pete Kircher replacing him. Indeed, his first appearance with the group was 1982's Never Too Late. During the early '80s, tensions escalated between bassist Lancaster and guitarists Rossi and Parfitt, who were the group's main songwriters. Lancaster left the band after performing with them for a final time at Live Aid.

Soon thereafter Rossi and Parfitt assembled a new band, hiring bassist John Edwards, drummer Jeff Rich, and keyboardist Andy Bown, who officially became a member of the group. The new line-up continued Status Quo's remarkable success, as they racked up a number of new Top Ten singles and hit albums, as well as consistently selling out concerts across England and Europe.

John Edwards, otherwise known as 'Rhino,' and also as 'The Bludgeon' (why these are his nicknames is revealed in the interview below), is also an enthusiastic supporter of Brentford Football Club and a 'Do it Yourself' (demolition) expert!

Exclusive Magazine recently sat down with bass guitarist John 'Rhino' Edwards and asked him all about his past in Status Quo, their upcoming new album, his new solo CD, and, of course ... penguins!

Taking it from the top and you first joined Status Quo in mid-1985, after having worked on Rick Parfitt's solo album, Recorded Delivery. Subsequently, your first Quo album was In The Army Now, but knowing at the time about the whole Alan Lanchester legal injunction re: the bands name and certain tracks (all going on in the background), in hindsight, did that affect the overall finished product, perhaps? "I was amazed how little it seemed to phase them actually. I think they leant on each other for support. Their relationship, coupled with copious amounts of drugs and alcohol seemed to get them through! I remember them coming back to the studio from a really serious meeting with their legal team, talking about it for a couple of minutes then it was back to the record. In a way it probably was a positive, as they could forget about the Lancaster situation for a while."

So, for the record, and as you've been part of Quo for over 25 years, did you ever think that this band would become your steady paycheck?! "I donʼt know what you mean by 'paycheck'? That seems to suggest Iʼm a staffer or something! I joined the band in 1988, a fully fledged member. However, my answer to your question is a resounding NO! I first saw Quo on the TV performing 'Pictures of Matchstick Men' when I was at school. I quite liked it, but was much more interested when I saw them at my local rock club in 1971. They were very ʻeavy and there was lots of nodding going on! I saw them again a few months later and thought they were good, but it all looked pretty easy to me. Wrong!"

"There is only one way to play Status Quo, and it is totally specialised. It takes a long time to get into the right area, especially when you are not part of the original sound. Itʼs quite an addictive thing as well. I get a bit twitchy when weʼre not working for a while, which isnʼt too often luckily!"

Indeed, out of the years in Quo, what still stands out today as one of the true highlights of your Quo career? "When I pointed to a little kid of about 6 in the front row at an outdoor amphitheatre gig in Hamburg a few years ago to encourage him to clap. He thought I was inviting him on stage, so he just walked up and stood next to me. It was a section where I wasnʼt playing, so I put my bass on him, turned down the volume and he strummed along with the band for 8 bars - before giving me back my guitar and strolling off back to his dad; as if to say 'Iʼm bored with that now.' As our manager would say, you couldnʼt make it up."

"Actually Iʼll give you two. On the new record Rick couldnʼt make the session one day and we had a track to put down. So I played guitar with Francis and we jammed the back track. I mean really jammed it. That was quite a moment, he is an awesome presence with a Tele in his hand. Ironically it was a song Rick wrote, but no one need ever know! I could go on about memorable events, but youʼd think I was showing off!"

With all those Quo albums under your belt, which one would you most like to listen to (from start to finish) if given the chance to sit back, kick back and laze around out in the summer sun? "I did it today, to our new record. How old fashioned is that, record? That was probably the first and last time I shall listen to it. Once itʼs done itʼs done for me. Anyway, the best tracks of most of our albums will be the ones we play live. In answer to your question it would be 'In The Army Now,' purely to remind me of a special time."

John, I am speaking with Andy (Bown) this week ... now, think hard about this, but in all the time you've known him, all the situations you two have been caught up in, all the shows you've played, all the items you might have lost on tour together, what is the one question you would like to ask Andy, right here right now? "Does my bum look big in this?!"

It seems that Quo spend most all their time on tour, but in all its musical incarnations throughout the years - pop psychedelia, hard rock, boogie, progressive, commercial pop, etc. - which named tour in which year still stands as your favorite Quo tour to have been a part of musically - and why? "Without a doubt Heavy Traffic. I was just coming into my own as a songwriter in the band. We played songs Iʼd written for the first time, and we changed from the blue denim look to black. That was really cool for me as it really defined my era with the band image wise. We also played great on that tour, revamped the show big time and the fans really really loved it from the off."

Quo played at Queen's Live at Wembley '86 concert, which I was at! What are your memories of that day, just a year into having joined the band - and did you get any face time with the great Freddie Mercury, perhaps? "Never heard a note they played on that tour although Iʼd seen them before. I hear that in the UK itʼs called 'Doing a Quo,' as we leave the gig as soon as we finish. I actually was in Dexysʼ Midnight Runners with Spike, their keyboard player. By the way, did I mention jamming with John Bonham and Steve Marriot on the same stage? Name dropper? Moi?"

As we're not called Exclusive Magazine for nothing, please tell us a secret - one each - about both Francis Rossi and Rick Parfitt! "No!"

Fair enough ... the last Quo album was released in 2007, In Search of the Fourth Chord, but word has it a new album is due out this year! So, is 2011 the year for the new Quo album, and will it still be named Quid Pro Quo? "Yes, a new album coming very soon. May in fact. 15 tracks of whack coming your way. It is called 'Quid Pro Quo.' It makes a change to have an album title in French, doncha know."

And, with that in mind, as there are other albums out there titled the very same - Kasim Sulton (2010), Breet Garsed and T.J. Helmerich (1992), etc. - does that ever come into play when an album is titled? "Is Kasim Sultan the guy from Utopia? That was a serious band, big Todd fan me. Re: album names, we, or sometimes our manager, come up with a title that sounds like it has a certain relevance to the band and generates a certain amount of publicity on its own. eg: 'In Search of The 4th Chord.' As airplay on contemporary music stations is hard to come by for acts like Status Quo. So, itʼs very important to come up with something media friendly as we need to get national press and TV on board. In this day and age for a band like us it isnʼt easy."

"Anyway, to answer the question, no problem if there is another album with the same title. However, if we called this one 'Thriller' or 'Sergeant Peppers' that could quite frankly be a bad move! I keep digressing, sorry."

Talking about new albums for 2011, and word has it (again) that you yourself will be releasing a solo album soon. Is this true and if so, please let us know what album titles are already floating around inside your head for it?! "I am at present trying to sort out a studio and a producer as I will hopefully start recording later in the year. Itʼll be based around my son Freddie, my nephew Billy and myself. One good thing about having family members in your band is that theyʼre cheap! Iʼm not called the tightest bass player in rock for nothing you know. Itʼs actually really weird when your son is your favourite guitarist! He just blows me away. He has the right touch, which so many players just do not possess. He is a truly gifted musician that one. Wish I was!"

"Re: titles, something staggeringly ground breaking like 'Rhinosʼ Revenge 2'! No ideas at present. I just want to get the bloody thing done! Something will come up, I have no doubt."

Fun Four:

a) If I offered you a plate of Sushi, would you still tell me that you thought it was some "ancient form of torture"?! "I have been to a Sushi bar in Japan and lived! I got so drunk I ate things that could have been from another planet; they certainly looked other worldly! Iʼm funny me. I can get completely blotto and remember everything, itʼs quite a curse sometimes. Especially if Iʼve dropped me trousers or something like that when ripped. Back to Sushi, If I had to Iʼd eat it, but itʼs a bit bland for me."

b) By your own admission you claim to be an enthusiastic supporter of Brentford FC - but why that team, and have you ever met any of the players during any given season? "I love the super Bees, God knows why but I do. They never win anything, you know if they get to a big game theyʼll bottle it, but actually thatʼs just fine with me. I have met a few players. In fact, I wrote a song about one of them. Itʼs called 'Owusu' and is on the Net somewhere. Check it out itʼs actually a really good song! I have played to 400,000 people and been as calm as anything, but when I meet a Brentford player Iʼm a complete tit! The Wafflometer turns on full. Straight away."

c) Your nicknames are 'Rhino' - which is the one most commonly associated with you - and 'The Bludgeon'! Please explain how both came to be though! "Iʼm called Rhino because I can make a noise with my bass that kind of sounds like a rhino. Check out 'I Wish' by Stevie Wonder. On the outro the bass starts making these very strange noises! I think itʼs played by Reggie MacBride; quality. The Bludgeon is because you will never meet a clumsier person than me! My wife must rue the day she met me. I can literally trip over nothing and break anything. Itʼs a constant source of amusement to the band."

d) Being a connoisseur of Art Galleries, what is your usual go-to item of antiquity that catches you eye most every time - and how many of these things do you have at home now?! "Iʼm not a connoisseur of art galleries, I just like to look at things when Iʼm out, and will go out of my way to find something interesting. Common sense, innit?. I collect '20s and '30s British transport posters, However my real collecting porn is electric American guitars, Fender Rickenbacker and Gibson mainly."

On stage you use Status basses! Aptly named, and yet no relation to the band, I'm assuming these basses were meant to be, so to speak. But do you yourself believe in karma? "I am indeed the Status of Quo and donʼt believe in Karma."

Do you have any tattoos and, if so which is your latest one and where is it located?! "No tattoos. I was going to get one recently then I read the Ozzy autobiography and in it he something like if you want to be original donʼt get a tattoo. Which was good enough for me. My Freddie has just got a tattoo all over his leg which looks wicked. Must be real rubbish if you get one and donʼt like it. Like you split up with a girl whose name you put all over your arm, or your favourite footballer gets transferred a week after you had their name emblazoned all over your back!"

Lastly, and throwing you a journalistic curve ball, Exclusive Magazine love penguins ... do you, perhaps? "I like Emperor penguins because our old drummer went to the Falkland Islands to do some teaching and had his photo taken with some of them. Iʼm not saying heʼs short, but they were face to face! And I like Penguin chocolate bars as well. Roger and out, Edwards."

Interviewed by Russell A. Trunk

www.statusquo.co.uk

www.rhinosrevenge.com