Category Archives: Status Quo

RIP Rick Parfitt (12/10/1948-24/12/2016)

This blog typically relates to my professional life as a specialist in software testing, so I hope you will indulge me with a much more personal blog post than usual here today.

It’s not exactly a secret that I’m a massive fan of the UK rock band, Status Quo. I’ve been seeing them live for just over thirty years and collecting their records and memorabilia for even longer. The band in its various forms over the years has given me some of the most memorable times of my life and I’ve made the most incredible friendships as a result of following them.

My passion – sometimes referred to as an “obsession” – has brought me great joy, but on Christmas Eve 2016 it has now also brought me great sadness. With incredible timing, just the day after the “Last Night of the Electrics” tour concluded in Liverpool (UK), I received the news that Rick Parfitt had passed away. Being in the UK at the time, it was big news – and quite surreal watching the news stories talking about the rock hero we all thought was indestructible. I was unsure whether to blog immediately to capture my raw emotions but Christmas didn’t feel like the right time. Two weeks after the event, it feels like an appropriate time to take a moment for me to put virtual pen to virtual paper in some kind of tribute to Rick.

I appreciate that many of you reading this may not have heard of Rick, so a few words by way of historical record are in order.

It was a chance meeting at Butlin’s holiday camp in Minehead in 1965 that brought a young Rick Parfitt (then performing in a trio called The Highlights) together with a young Francis Rossi (then performing in a rock combo called The Spectres) with Rick officially joining the band that would become Status Quo in 1967. It was a partnership that lasted almost fifty years, quite incredible. Quo’s longevity is well documented and they remain the band with the most Top 40 hits in the UK (with an untoppable 57).

This early colour TV appearance shows a very young Rick in full flow, his face barely visible thanks to the long blonde hair:


The rock and roll excesses of the 70s and 80s certainly didn’t pass Rick by and Quo’s conformance to the sex, drugs and rock & roll mantra is also well documented.

Rick played hard on stage and lived life to the full off it. After decades of mistreatment, his body showed the first signs of cracking, with his first major health scare coming in 1997 when he underwent a quadruple heart bypass – but he was still back on stage a few weeks later. In 2005, he had a throat cancer scare and then it was more heart trouble in 2011 with surgery required after another heart attack and then another heart attack in 2014. His most recent heart attack came shortly after a very hot gig in Turkey in June 2016 and this ultimately led to him retiring from touring duties with the band.

He will perhaps be best remembered for his legendary rock star blonde locks (which stayed with him even in his sixties) and his incessant rhythm guitar skills on his faithful white Fender Telecaster. There are few rock rhythm players around who could go head to head with Rick and the following relatively recent clip (well, in Quo terms anyway, it’s from the 2009 Glastonbury festival) shows his power, opening just one of many thousands of Quo gigs with the iconic “Caroline”. Rick with his back to the “wall of death” of amps thrashing out the opening chords of this song is surely one of rock’s most recognizable images.

Rick was also a significant part of the songwriting ammunition for Quo, penning (and co-writing) a number of their best known songs, including “Whatever You Want”, “Rain”, “Again and Again”, “4500 Times”, “Backwater”, “Little Lady” and “Mystery Song”.

I’ve been lucky enough to see Quo live over 250 times and also very fortunate to have met the band, including Rick, on many occasions. He was always friendly and ready to crack a joke, always the rock star but also always just one of the lads.

Some of my most memorable meetings with Rick occurred on Australian shores over the last 20 years or so, where it’s easier for the band to mingle with the public than in Europe where they are much better known. Rick once said that his favourite place on Earth was in Australia – a place called Magnetic Island off the coast of Queensland – and he always seemed relaxed and happy being downunder. It is such a shame we will not get to welcome him to our shores again. The following photo comes from a meet & greet at the gig in Wollongong in 2006, happy memories indeed. I will miss seeing him up their doing what he did best – but the vast recorded legacy will always mean he is but a CD spin away.


Before leaving the UK to head back to Australia, I visited the tribute to Rick outside the Hammersmith Apollo (formerly Odeon). Each day I visited, more flowers and trinkets had been added to the tribute and different fans were there to pay their respects. Some took the chance to embrace fellow fans and let their emotions out, while others chose more solitary personal reflection at the site. This was an important thing for many of us, just somewhere to go to share our sadness with others who “get it”.


RIP Rick, keep on rocking, you will never be forgotten.

“Playing loud, playing clear
The song will never change
The memory will always be so near” (A Year, 1972)

(For an excellent collection of tributes to Rick, see the brilliant site.)

Living up to my handle: rocking and testing in Belfast

I was lucky enough to find myself in Northern Ireland recently, with a trip based around attending one of Status Quo‘s final ‘electric’ shows in Belfast. This was my first trip to Northern Ireland and it was a very enjoyable few days. Visiting the stunning North coast around the Giant’s Causeway was a highlight, as was exploring the varied districts of the city of Belfast itself, from the colourful (both literally and figuratively) walls of the Falls/Shanklin area to the stunning City Hall.

So, firstly, the “rocker” part of the trip. The big SSE Arena would be home to Status Quo for one night on Friday 30th October. The Emerald Isle has always been good territory for the band and this gig would be no exception. Luckily, our hotel – the Premier Inn Titanic Quarter – was literally next door to the venue and our room had a view over the loading area at the back, so a perfect spot to keep an eye on proceedings during the day in the lead up to the gig. An early queue formed (as usual) and it was good to catch up with friends there and also make some new ones (one very generous bloke in the queue kindly gave my wife a free ticket so she could join me in attending the gig!). With doors opening a little later than usual (due to the Quo crew arriving late because of travel problems from the mainland to Ireland), the queue was very long by the time we were allowed in and it was a sprint down to the barrier, securing a spot centre stage.

Support came from Uriah Heep and they got a great reception, having not played live in this part of the world for over thirty years. While their brand of heavy rock (somewhat like Deep Purple to my ears) is not really to my taste, they did a good job of getting the 7-8000 strong audience involved and provided a good warm-up during their hour-long set.

At just after 9pm, it was finally time for Quo to take the stage and it was another top performance, with Rick Parfitt’s replacement, Richie Malone, getting a particularly warm welcome in his home territory. There were no setlist surprises (it is Status Quo after all!) but, as always with a live gig, there are subtle differences from night to night and the encouragable crowd made this a very enjoyable show.


Now, where does the “tester” fit into the trip? Well, luckily for me, the fairly new Belfast Tester meetup group had announced a meetup during one of the nights I was in Belfast (and thankfully not the same night as the Status Quo gig), so I decided to go along and see what this new testing community looks like.

It was the fourth meetup of the Belfast Testers Meetup group and it took place on the evening of Thursday 29th October, in the boardroom of Shopkeep. I was warmly welcomed as a “one off” attendee of the meetup, which drew a crowd of about 25 (many of whom were first-timers as you’d expect at such a new meetup). It’s always good to see a new community of testers being built and this one should do well, with strong leaders and a burgeoning IT industry in the city.

Meetup co-organizer Neill Boyd kicked off the meetup, after gathering up the crowd enjoying the hospitality and impressive surroundings of the Shopkeep office (all very “startuppy”) and funneling them into the boardroom. It was cosy, with 20+ of us in the room but it made for a good space for easy conversation and Q&A with the presenters.

His introduction was handy for newcomers, announced that the TestBash conference is adding Belfast to its growing list of city destinations in 2017, and outlined the agenda of two talks to fill the evening.

First up was Allan Hunter (Senior Tester at PwC Emerging Technologies team) with “User Focused Testing”. This short talk discussed how user research is a key ingredient in powering insightful testing. He talked on his experiences of user research and how this can be applied to more traditional testing activities. His basic message was that we as testers are well placed to test the problem and not just the solution. He packed a lot of cool content into ten minutes then held his own through a lengthy period of questioning.

Secondly, we had Ursula Wlodarczyk (a tester working in the startup, SaltDNA) with “Tester v s Designer: Why tester can make a great (UX) designer”. Ursula’s was a much longer talk and tried to cover a huge amount of ground, enough for at least a couple of good talks I’d say. She talked about exploring a tester’s skillset in the context of the User Experience field and, similarly to Allan, she recognizes that testers can provide great insights into design (not just at the user interface either) and organizations should be allowing testers the opportunities to engage in design meetings and provide their valuable insights and suggestions before the software is built. A very long talk for a meetup (it would actually make a decent conference talk), but some nice ideas and good resources.

The meetup kicks off  Allan Hunter presenting  Ursula Wlodarczyk presenting

So, thanks to Belfast and thanks to the two very different communities – Status Quo and testing – that continue to give me the chance to rock and test all over the world.

More of a rocker than a tester recently!

It’s been a while since my last blog post, as I’ve been in the UK for a few weeks. This latest overseas trip was, for once, not around a testing conference but instead was a holiday planned around attendance at the first international Status Quo fan club convention!

My Twitter and blog handle relates to two big passions of mine, rocking (to the tunes of Status Quo) and testing (as you already know). This post is inspired by the former rather than the latter, but there are a few testing references throughout and the closing remarks are all around testing if you just want to skip to the end.

The convention was a great success, held over a weekend at the same place that frontmen Francis Rossi and Rick Parfitt first met 50 years ago, the Butlin’s holiday camp in Minehead, Somerset. There were an array of Quo tribute bands, Q&A sessions, meet & greets, a quiz and an impressive exhibition of Quo memorabilia to keep us busy for the weekend.

Bringing together around 500 diehard fans in one place showed me once again what strength lies in a community of like-minded people. Whether it’s a testing conference or a Quo convention, meeting up with old friends and making new ones through a keenly shared interest is a truly amazing thing – I’m proud to be part of at least two passionate communities, the Quo fans and the worldwide software testing community. (For those of you interested in all things Status Quo, I run one of the largest Quo-related websites.)

While I was away, the TEAM group held their fourth meetup in Melbourne and it sounds like it all went very well again. The fifth meetup has just been announced, so take a look at the TEAM meetup page for more details.

There are lots of exciting side projects in planning from the TEAM group as well, so watch this space for further developments, all aimed at achieving our mission of Connecting Quo Fans, sorry I mean Connecting Testers!