Originally started under the name The Spectres by school buddies Alan Lancaster (bass/vocals), Mike Francis Rossi (vocals/guitar) and Jess Jaworski (organ/vocals; who was soon after replaced by Roy Lynes), who subsequently added John Coghlan (drums) to replace original member Barry Smith. In 1966 they signed to the Picadilly' label and released a set of 45's, all of which flopped. In March 1967 they changed their name to Traffic Jam but discovered after one more failed 45 that the higher profile Traffic was making the charts so they changed their name yet again, this time to The Status Quo. Mike Rossi started using his proper name, Francis, with the band and they added second guitarist Rick Parfitt at this time. Shortly later, they released a new single under the new name on Pye Records' titled Pictures Of Matchstick Men. The disc made 12 in the U.S. and 7 in the U.K. The song, intended to cash in on the popular psychedelic scene, ended off being one of their most enduring. The accompanying album Picturesque: Matchstickable Messages From The Status Quo (Messages From The Status Quo in the U.S.; 1968) failed to match its success. Ice In The Sun was a follow-up single that fared almost as well but the album for which, Spare Parts (1969), followed the same path as the previous album as did the follow-up album Ma Kelly's Greasy Spoon (1970).
After their 1970 release, they dropped their psychedelic ways in favor of a more bluesy-boogie Hard Rock feel, and after two more top 30 hits they joined Vertigo' to release their debut album under their newly adopted name Status Quo (dropping the The), titled Dog Of Two Head (1971). The album was widely seen as disappointing over-all and failed to chart significantly except for one track, Mean Girl, which managed to become a hit two years later.
In 1973 Status Quo was high in the charts with the spin off Paper Plane taken from their Piledriver (1973) album. The album made 5 in the U.K, the track-made-single making 8 on the same charts. The album also featured a cover of the Doors' Roadhouse Blues. 9 Months later, Status Quo said Hello! and was greeted with a warm #1 U.K. welcome, with the single taken from it, Caroline, making top 5. They then followed-up this coup with the chart topping Quo (1974), with the hit single spin-off Break The Rules making 8 U.K.
Up to this point Status Quo had barely changed their formula, but to their credit the formula served them well, for their next album On The Level (1975) made an even 1 on the U.K. charts. Blue For You (1976) was another massive hit, making 1 on the U.S. charts and yielding yet more hit singles. Their live album, Live! (1977), came and went with a 3 U.K. position but Rockin' All Over The World released later that same year with the title track of the same name (originally a John Fogerty song) got everyone from pop fans to Metalheads strumming to their air guitars; it was the quintessential Quo song and flew in the face of the Punk upstarts that were trying to push their kind aside.
If You Can't Stand The Heat (1978) and Whatever You Want (1979) each received a 3 U.K. for their effort but it would be the end of the glory days for them for a while. Status Quo had become a reliable stock on the market. No matter what they released one knew their chart position, but the formula was growing old and only their diehard fans were holding up the act, the rest of the world moving on the bigger and better. Their best of compilation, 12 Gold Bars (1980), made 3 U.K., and the follow-up studio album Just Supposin' made a 4 a few months later. But the act was slowly drifting into an R&B Pop direction; a direction that didn't suit them, and the fan reaction would soon take its toll.
Pete Kirchner (ex-Original Mirrors/ex-Honeybus) took over from the departing Coughlan. 1+9+8+2 (1982) added up to 1 in the U.K., mostly on the strength of their reputation. The boxed best of set From The Makers Of (1982), featuring a lot of their past classic works made 4 U.K., but the next studio work Back To Back (1983) made only a 9, with 12 Gold Bars (vol. 2), the follow-up to their previous best of of the same title, made only a 12; a serious down-fall from the first effort and their worst showing in many years.
The bad news saw several members jumping ship and prompted a membership change. The list of names changed to: Andy Brown (ex-Herd; keyboards; formerly part time but now permanent), Jeff Rich (ex-Climax Blues Band; drums) and Rhino Edwards (Real Name: John Edwards; ex-Climax Blues Band; bass). The resulting In The Army Now (1986) was a surprising success making 7 U.K. on the strength of the title track which made 2 when spun off as a single, but the follow-up Ain't Complaining (1988) was back to their new standard of 12 U.K., with 1989's Perfect Remedy falling to a record low of 49.
Where they failed in the studio, their best of compilations still managed to succeed with Rockin' All Over The Years (1990) making a 2. Rock Til You Drop (1991) made 10, but their next live effort Live Alive Quo (1992) barely made top 40. As prolific as ever, Quo continued making albums that floated below the top 20 but failed to grab the coveted 1 spot, including Thirsty Work (1994), Don't Stop (1996), Under The Influence (1999) and the aptly titled Famous In The Last Century (2000).
Status Quo, in their early days were a highly influential act. With only two singles ever charting in the U.S. they maintained a healthy existence in the U.K. Still, by the 1980s they had become a parody of themselves and although maintained respectable charting positions in their homeland their influential days were long since over. Nevertheless, Quo were a very prolific act and by the 1990s they had secretly managed to sell over 100 million albums with 45 British hit singles, more than any other band - and the record still stands.