The origins of Status Quo were in the rock and roll freakbeat band "The Spectres" formed in 1962. Francis Rossi and Alan Lancaster met at Sedgehill Comprehensive School, Catford, and were members of the same orchestra. They started a band called The Scorpions, later changing the name to "The Spectres". Rossi and Lancaster played their first gig at the Samuel Jones Sports Club in Dulwich, London. In 1963 they added drummer John Coghlan. They began writing their own material and after a year met Rick Parfitt who was playing with a cabaret band called The Highlights. By the end of 1965 Rossi and Parfitt, who had become close friends, made a commitment to continue working together. On July 18, 1966 The Spectres signed a five-year deal with Piccadilly Records, releasing two singles that year, 'I (Who Have Nothing)' and 'Hurdy Gurdy Man' (written by Alan Lancaster), and one the next year called '(We Ain't Got) Nothin' Yet' (a song originally recorded by New York psychedelic band The Blues Magoos) - All three singles failed to make an impact on the charts. By 1967, the group had discovered psychedelia and changed their name to Traffic (later amended to Traffic Jam, to avoid confusion with Steve Winwood's Traffic). At this time the line-up also included organist Roy Lynes. They released another single "Almost But Not Quite There" which was also a flop. In late 1967 the band became The Status Quo, and in January 1968 they released the psychedelic-flavoured "Pictures of Matchstick Men". Rick Parfitt was invited to join the band just as the song hit the UK Singles Chart, reaching Number 7. "Matchstick Men" also became their only Top 40 hit single in the United States. Though the follow up was the unsuccessful single, "Black Veils Of Melancholy", they had a hit again the same year with the poppy, Marty Wilde penned "Ice in the Sun", which climbed to Number 8. Although the group's albums have been released in the United States throughout their career they have never achieved the same level of success and fame there that they have enjoyed in their home country. After the breakthrough, the band management hired Bob Young as a "roadie" and tour manager. Over the years Young became one of the most important songwriting partners for Status Quo. After their second album Spare Parts failed to impact commercially, the band, disillusioned with their musical direction, abandoned Rock psychedelia and Carnaby Street fashions in favour of a hard rock/boogie sound, faded denims and T-shirts, an image which was to become their trademark throughout the 1970s. Lynes left the band in 1971, to be replaced (in the studio) by guests including keyboard player Jimmy Horowitz and Tom Parker. By 1976, ex-The Herd and Judas Jump member Andy Bown was brought in to cover keyboards - although as he was contracted as a solo artist with EMI he was not credited as a full-time member until 1982. After two well-received but relatively poor selling albums in 1970 and 1971 their major breakthrough came when they signed with the well-respected heavy rock and progressive label Vertigo. Their first album for Vertigo, Piledriver was released in 1972 and heralded an even heavier, self-produced sound. This album was essentially the stylistic template for each album they released up until Blue for You in 1976. During this period, and throughout the rest of the 70s, they became one of the UK's leading rock bands, gaining a faithful following due to their relentless touring and energetic live gigs. Quo's more popular songs from this era include "Paper Plane" (1972), "Caroline" (1973), "Down Down" (1975), "Rockin' All Over the World" (1977) and "Whatever You Want" (1979). "Down Down" topped the UK singles chart in January 1975 becoming their only British number one single to date. Quo have now sold in excess of 118 million records worldwide. From 1977 onwards the band's sound became more polished as they began to employ outside producers. These included Pip Williams, Roger Glover, who was the first outside producer to work with Quo since Pye's John Schroeder in the early 1970s and produced 'Wild Side of Life' and its B-side "All Through The Night" in 1976; and John Eden. Sales remained high in the UK throughout the 1980s, but tensions within the band saw founding member John Coghlan leaving the band late in 1981. His replacement was Pete Kircher from the 1960s pop band Honeybus. This line-up played its last full-length gig in 1984 at the Milton Keynes Bowl, although the band were contracted to record more albums. Status Quo's final appearance with the Kircher line-up was to open the Live Aid charity event at Wembley in July 1985. Francis Rossi. That year, Rossi recorded and released two solo singles with long-time writing partner Bernie Frost. Parfitt was also working on a solo album, Recorded Delivery, with bass player John "Rhino" Edwards and drummer Jeff Rich. The album remains unreleased, although some tracks were reworked and released sporadically as Status Quo B-sides until 1987. In the summer of 1985, Rossi, Parfitt and Bown, along with Edwards and Rich started work on a new Status Quo album. Lancaster, who by this time had more or less settled in Australia, took out a legal injunction to stop the band from using the Status Quo name on any records, citing his increasing musical differences with the group, notably during the sessions for the 1983 album Back to Back. The specific dispute concerned two tracks which became hit singles for the group around that time. Lancaster had written the track "Ol' Rag Blues", but was angered when the producers chose to release a version with Rossi singing the lead vocal in preference to the one sung by himself. He also objected to the track "Marguerita Time", which he thought unduly corny and too pop-oriented for the band. This was underlined by his non-appearance on either the performance of the song on 'Top Of The Pops' or its promotional video. The injunction also prevented the release of a single, "Naughty Girl", for which a catalogue number was issued by Vertigo. An out-of-court settlement was made in January 1986, enabling the new Status Quo to continue recording the "In The Army Now" album, of which "Naughty Girl" was reworked as "Dreamin'". Lancaster remained in Australia, and in 1986 joined a band called 'Party Boys', who achieved little success in Britain. He left the band in 1987. Rick Parfitt The commercially successful In the Army Now album was released in 1986, the single of the same name becoming one of the band's biggest selling UK singles, reaching number 2. The following album, Ain't Complaining, released in 1988, was less successful but did produce the hit single "Burning Bridges" which got to number 5. This was later re-recorded (with new lyrics) in April 1994 with Manchester United F.C. as "Come on You Reds" technically giving the band their second UK Number 1, although the single was released as 'by Manchester United'. The early-to-mid-1990s saw falling album sales for the band. Don't Stop (1996), and Famous in the Last Century (2000) consisted almost entirely of cover versions, (with the only exception being the title track to the latter). The former brought some chart success for Quo with covers of Fleetwood Mac's "Don't Stop" and The Beach Boys' "Fun, Fun, Fun". The band became involved in an acrimonious dispute with Radio 1 after the station refused to include the "Fun Fun Fun" single on the radio station's playlist. Parfitt underwent quadruple by-pass surgery in 1997 but was able to make a full recovery and returned with a performance at the Norwich Football Club ground three months later. Rich left in 2000 and was replaced by Matt Letley. Andrew Bown also took a year off at the same time following the death of his wife, and was temporarily replaced on stage by Paul Hirsh, formerly of Voyager. Francis Rossi in Örebro, Sweden on July 18, 2007. In recent years Status Quo have retained their loyal fan base in the United Kingdom, as well as their big followings in Scandinavia and mainland Europe, most notably in the Netherlands. In November 2000, the band played a gig at Grandchester in Outback Australia performing on a carriage of Australa's Orient Express, the Great South Pacific Express. In September 2005, a contestant on the long-running BBC television quiz programme Mastermind chose Status Quo as his specialist subject. That same year Rossi and Parfitt made cameo appearances in the long-running ITV soap opera Coronation Street in a storyline which involved them being sued by the notorious layabout Les Battersby, and performing live at his wedding as compensation. In December 2005 it was announced that Parfitt had been taken ill and was undergoing tests for throat cancer. All subsequent dates of the UK tour were cancelled as a result. However, the growths in Parfitt's throat were later found to be benign and were successfully removed. In May 2006 a fully recovered Parfitt and the band returned to the NEC Birmingham to play the show that they had postponed in December. This was their 40th show at the venue, and was recorded for a DVD, entiltled "Just Doin' It". On the 1 July 2007, they performed in front of 63,000 people at the newly built Wembley Stadium as part of the Concert for Diana, and they also appeared on Tiswas Reunited, in which the band got the usual greeting of custard pies whilst playing the song Gerdundula. Their latest studio album, In Search of the Fourth Chord, was released on the band's own Fourth Chord label in September 2007 in the UK and on Edel Records in the rest of Europe. Produced by veteran producer Pip Williams, who had worked with Quo in the studio since 1977, the album was critically acclaimed as a continued return to form but was only moderately successful. In December 2008, they released their 75th single and first ever Christmas single, entitled "It's Christmas Time", which peaked at No.40 in the UK Singles Charts.