Home > Chapters > 11a – Bill, Caroline, Johnny, Rick, Francis, John, Alan and Me.

11a – Bill, Caroline, Johnny, Rick, Francis, John, Alan and Me.

The end of the Seventies signified much more than just the end of a decade. For me it was a turning point, not only of my adulthood, for I turned 18 in 1980, but also of my musical bias and my humour threshold. And much of this, well the music and the humour at least, was down to one man, dear old Bill Johnson.

Bill was one of a kind. He was a soldier, with a family, and lived in somewhere Dülmen along side the rest of us. He was also one of a special group of people that gave up their spare time, for free, to help out with the various activities laid on by the Youth Club. Although with Bill, and I may be wrong but it’s just the impression I got, he went one step further with these particular occasions and actually organized everything.

February 6th 1979 is/was an auspicious date in my life. You, the avid reader, will have already learnt of my growing appreciation of all things Quoesque.. well this date would prove to be the zenith of my awakening, from which I would emerge as a full blown, head-banging, mind-numbing, foot-stomping, 12 bar boogie boy, no nonsense, denim-clad, Quo fan for life.It was just another of those occasions that you take for granted when you’re young. It didn’t matter who organized it, who the bus driver was, who had to give up spare time, what the actual cost was (apart from our tickets) and so forth,,, it just didn’t matter.. we were going to the Hälle Münsterland, to see the mighty Quo!

T-shirts, Doc Martens and denim were in abundance, as was long hair. There was a lot of English youth there that had traveled in from all over the area like we had, but I think there was probably more Germans there, but strangely enough, it was hard to tell the difference. At my first gig, the wonderful ELO at Wembley Arena the previous year, we had been guided towards row upon row of plastic seating, where audience participation had been limited to stand up or sit down. Hälle Münsterland was a whole new wonderful ballgame. And the whole idea of the game was to get as upfront and personal as you could because the closer you were to the front, the more pleasurable the experience would be. By the time the gig blasted off I was closer to a Fräulein than I would ever be. I never did get to see her face but she had the softest arse I’ve ever been crammed up against. Her boyfriend however had terrible BO, and I can’t say I was sorry when the natural swell of the crowd separated us forever. But I was still up near the front, hemmed in by a faceless denim mob, baying for their heroes

An easy cliché to use would be to say that I caught Status Quo at their peak but, over thirty years later, I don’t think they’ve yet reached it, although those halcyon years would be a close runner for the title. I was lucky enough to see the ‘original’ line up, long hair and all, of Rossi, Parfitt, Lancaster and Coghlan. A bit if research has shown that the gig kicked off with Caroline swiftly followed by Rollover Lay Down and then  Backwater. To say I was mesmerized would be an understatement.. this truly was what I was born to do. It wasn’t adulation, idolatry or even unctuous worship.. it was just goddam awesome and I lost myself to the noise of the atmosphere, the beat and the rhythm, the adrenalin of the applause, the proximity of heat and the gasp of cool air as you stretched your neck upwards, the luxury of a split second of space to move as the crowd surged, the cocktail of mingling odours and the fantastic visions of the light displays. And. The. Music.This was also about the time that Rick Parfitt possibly recognized me from a previous existence. As is the norm with rock gigs then, and these days, the band usually explode into action with a blistering entrance of noise and light and let rip for two or three songs. Then they catch their breath and say hello to the crowd and engage in a little banter etc. Francis Rossi of the Quo was a master of this and would usually start this session off with a loud ‘Ello!  This would result in numerous responses from the crowd to which he and the band would reply with various gestures or spoken words of greeting or recognition. This night was no exception. After the third or fourth song they had a breather and Francis did his thing and the crowd did theirs. Just as everything was settling back down in readiness for the next song that Francis was introducing, I leapt upwards as high as I could and shouted at the top of my voice Hello! just as Rick Parfitt happened to be looking in my general direction as he surveyed the crowd of expectant faces. He acknowledged my upward appearance and exclaimed ‘Ello! And I haven’t washed since.The thing about Quo, ‘though is their unerring commitment to touring and putting on shows for their fans, Admittedly their tours always seem to coincide with yet another album release, such is the way of the music hype market these days, but back in those days things weren’t much different. The show in Münster was but just one date on their European “If You Can’t Stand The Heat’ tour to promote the 1978 album of the same name. This was a pretty lackluster album, let down in the first instance by its unimaginative cover and then more so by the songs on it. Perhaps they felt this way about the album too, deep down, for they only played three songs from it at various points in the play list. Namely, Gonna Teach You To Love Me, Like a Good Girl, and Oh! What A Night. The rest of the list was comprised of the old skool favourites that still set the house alight today… Rain, Roadhouse Blues, Big Fat Mama, 4500 Times, Down Down and the inevitable ultimate encore farewell, Bye Bye Johnny. This was the Quo that I would love from that day forth

Needless to say, it was around this time that my record collection was swelled with the additions of such albums as Blue For You, Hello, Live!, Piledriver and Quo to name a few, although I could not, and still can’t bring myself to buy every album in their extensive back catalogue, but give me a ticket and I’ll go to see them Again and Again, ‘cos The Party Ain’t Over Yet.

Categories: Chapters
  1. June 22, 2011 at 18:00

    Just caught up on your last few pieces. I dreaded that “War Of the Worlds” album every time someone trotted it out, too. Bleh. Very cool to read your KISS history finally!

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