For 30 years it had been nothing more than a fan fantasy. After decades of court battles, legal wrangling and lawsuits, it seemed the original line-up of Status Quo would never be seen together again.
But after coming together to collect an award at the end of last year, the ‘frantic four‘ have put their differences aside and reformed for a short reunion tour.
“I think it‘s surprised a lot of people, they really thought it wouldn‘t happen,“ says drummer John Coghlan, who split from the then increasingly fraught foursome in 1981. “It‘s not awkward. Really all that‘s passed and gone. It‘s like it never really happened. No one talks about it, nothing‘s mentioned.
“It‘s been great fun, the four of us back together. The fooling around and the humour‘s still there, it‘s just like the old days!“
After two weeks of solid rehearsals with Francis Rossi, Rick Parfitt and original bassist Alan Lancaster, John and the band headed out to play nine sold-out dates up and down the country.
“It‘s been extremely good, warts and all,“ says John, 66, speaking from his Glasgow hotel room. “There‘s been a few mistakes here and there, but y‘know it‘s rock and roll and the audience have been fabulous. They‘ve been so so good to us, totally on board.
“I‘m sure if we could play for four hours the fans still wouldn‘t go home before we finished.“
This year marks the 50th anniversary of the band‘s formation, after starting out as The Spectres and playing their first gig at a south London sports club.
“I joined the air cadets through a friend of mine at school and we put a little group together in the squadron just for fun,“ explains John. “I thought it was a great idea to play the drums because you’re guaranteed a seat at every gig. So these two guys kept coming over and eventually we joined them.
“In those days, it was great to be in a band, it was all new to everybody. It was great to be a musician and playing to people and just having a good time.“
Success soon followed with the psychedelic track Pictures of Matchstick Men, the first of more than 60 UK chart hits for the group.
“We were knocked out to be on Top of the Pops, that was awesome,“ says John. “You knew all your friends would be watching, you knew your mum and dad would be watching. It was just great to be doing it and to be accepted for what we were doing. Everything had paid off.“
Things are still paying off. Tickets for the first set of shows announced sold out within an hour. Only a few tickets remain for their added dates, which culminate at Wembley Arena. The reformed Quo will be playing a set based on their 1977 Live! album, featuring tracks like Junior‘s Wailing, Forty-Five Hundred Times, and Rain among many more.
“The gigs have been hot. People get the wrong impression, they think it’s easy. It‘s exciting, it‘s fun, but by the same token it‘s hard work.
“The only thing that‘s different is the lads don‘t run around on stage quite as much as they used to. We‘ve all got much older since then!“
Status Quo: The Frantic Four Ride Again is at Wembley Arena on March 17. Details: www.statusquo.co.uk