In 1984 Status Quo announced that they were going to split up after 22 years together. The final show of their ‘End of the Road’ tour was to be at the Milton Keynes Bowl on 21st July 1984.
I can’t claim to have ever been a huge fan of Quo but I didn’t dislike them either. They’ were just one of those bands that had always been there while I was growing up and I’d bought their ”From the Makers of…’ collection (in a limited edition blue tin box), released to celebrate their 20th anniversary in 1982 . They also had long hair (thinning a bit in Francis Rossi’s case), wore denim and they played loud music which ticked all the right boxes for me and my mates who were fresh out of school and rapidly becoming part of the local rock and metal ‘tribe’.
We’d been to a few rock gigs by now but were chomping at the bit to get to an outdoor ‘festival’ – even if festivals were mostly one day events with no camping back then – so we picked up some tickets from the original Way Ahead Records in Hurts Yard, Nottingham. Way Ahead was a tiny independent record shop with just enough room for about 10 ‘grebos’ (rockers) and a Space Invader machine (I can still smell the patchouli oil in there now!) This great little shop doubled up as a ticket office and they ran their own coach trips to gigs around the country. We used them quite a bit in the 80s. In fact Way Ahead eventually became the well-known and much larger ‘See Tickets’ agency that we know and love today (see some slightly inaccurate details on the Wiki page here).
The summer of ’84 was to become a bit of a landmark year for us as we got tickets for the ‘final’ Quo show in July and we went to our first Monsters of Rock Festival at Castle Donington a month later. By the end of the year we’d also become regulars at the Nottingham Palais ‘Rock Nights’ with DJ Metal Mickey! (More on that and our Donington days in later blog posts).
The line-up at Milton Keynes in July ’84 was a real mixed bag. Supporting Quo were:
- Nazareth – a Scottish rock band who I’d been aware of from their Top of the Pops appearances in the 70s (my dad also bought me their single ‘This Flight Tonight’). I don’t recall much about their set.
- Marillion – a relatively new prog rock band in the mould of early Peter Gabriel era Genesis. I’d already got their first two albums and was a huge fan, actually more excited to see them than Status Quo! They didn’t let me down. I spent their entire set reciting every tongue-twisting lyric with the rest of their huge fan base that had gathered down the front, while singer Fish commanded his stage like a Shakespearian actor in heavy makeup. Loved every minute…
- Jason and the Scorchers – American country-rock band, got bombarded with piss-filled beer bottles throughout their set, probably unfairly but it did make us laugh
- Gary Glitter – one of my childhood heroes. Little did we know at the time that many kids of my age had been is ‘adulthood’ heroes! Probably the less said about that the better but I do remember feeling nostalgic during his set as he blasted out all the hits I’d loved as a child – dancing around the house in my tin foil outfit (story here!).
As you would expect Status Quo’s ‘last ever gig’ was over 2 hours long and filled with their greatest hits, many of them at the same tempo and using the same 3 chords! But we loved it and, along with the rest of the ‘Quo Army’ of around 40,000 punters, we bounced along, banged our heads and even did that funny little dance with our thumbs tucked in our waste bands before heading off into the night to find our coach and the Way Ahead back to Nottingham!
My blurred memory seems to think that the Quo boys were back on telly a couple of weeks later announcing their next album and tour but I might have imagined that?
Sadly 2016 was the ‘end of the road’ for legendary guitarist and original member Rick Parfitt who died on Christmas Eve that year. Status Quo continue to perform and record albums to this day…
Memories of that historic day have been preserved forever in this video:
Here’s a cutting from the Sounds mag I purchased in the week after the gig (and kept in the attic, obviously!)
There’s also a write up and some great pictures here.
And here’s a flyer from Way Ahead that I kept promoting ‘Rock Trips’ to this and our first Monsters of Rock at Donington a month later!