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Julie Cruickshank pays tribute to Status Quo's original bassist and co-founder Alan Lancaster who died in September.
Alan Lancaster, who has passed away at the age of 72, was the bass player in the UK band Status Quo during the early and peak years of their fame. He formed the band that would become Quo in 1962 along with lead guitarist Francis Rossi, and the later addition of Rick Parfitt on rhythm guitar and John Coghlan on drums saw the band invade the charts with a string of enormous hits including ‘Pictures of Matchstick Men’, ‘Caroline’ and their UK number one, ‘Down Down’.
I credit ‘Down Down’ with being the song that made me realise I would forever love blues-based rock. When I first heard it on the radio it was as though a light had come on, and I bought it after only hearing it once on the radio. I loved Quo’s driving, bass-heavy sound, which Alan Lancaster nailed down and kept down (down). I credit him with keeping the band on the same path which brought them success. Any variation in style, such as the hit ‘Living on an Island’, he hated, and eventually these differences, and his move to Australia, led to his break from Status Quo.
The no-nonsense character of Australians would have suited Alan, since he was down-to-earth and said exactly what he thought. But the move to the other side of the world brought obvious logistical problems with touring and recording. In the promotional video for the song ‘Rockin’ All Over the World’, Alan’s absence was hilariously filled by a puppet; but it was clear that his tenure was coming to an end. He performed in various bands in Australia including The Party Boys and The Bombers, and in 2013 the original four members of Status Quo reunited for a series of concerts billed as ‘The Frantic Four’. But by this time Alan had developed the MS which was to bring his life to a close.
Quo’s original drummer John Coghlan, heartbroken by his friend’s death, wrote: “Alan was a great bass player and vocalist songwriter and a great friend. I’m crying now goodbye my friend”.
Alan Lancaster’s bass playing was the solid foundation of the most successful Quo songs. Powerful, persistent and precise, he was truly the Piledriver. Thanks for all the great songs, dear Alan, and rest in peace.
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