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New Year Honours: Status Quo's Rossi and Parfitt lead music recipients

Status Quo

Story by Jack Foley

STAUS Quo duo Rick Parfitt and Francis Rossi have been appointed OBEs for services to music and charity in the New Year Honours list.

The rockers are joined by ex-Shadows bassist Jet Harris, who is appointed OBE, and film composer Craig Armstrong, 50, who is also appointed OBE.

Commenting on his honour, a humble Rossi, 60, said he wasn’t sure “we’re worthy”, while 61-year-old Parfitt added that he had “given up hoping” for such recognition.

In music terms, Status Quo have enjoyed a long and successful career that has spanned decades and spawned hits including their seminal track, Rockin’ All Over The World.

Their first hit came in 1968 with Pictures Of Matchstick Men and earlier this week they were named the hardest-working band in British music by PRS for Music, the body that collects royalties for songwriters.

Parfitt told the BBC that he felt both he and Rossi fully deserved their honours because of their hard work ethic and “what we have done for charity”.

The band have helped to raise funds for charities including the Prince’s Trust, the Heart Foundation and Nordoff-Robbins Music Therapy – and were a key part of the Live Aid fundraising gig organised by U2’s Bono and Bob Geldof.

Parfitt commented: “I thought there had been a chance that we may have got something but I had kind of given up hoping… Particularly with my wild past, if they’d reviewed some of my old newspaper cuttings!

“To be perfectly honest, with all the hard work we have put in over the years, I accept it graciously.”

Rossi added: “You start off rebellious, a teenager in a band, but you end up being part of the establishment… No matter how you feel about these things, it means that people have recognised what we’ve done.”

Status Quo’s impressive history has seen them enjoy more than 118 million worldwide record sales for their music, with further hits including Down Down, You’re In The Army Now and Whatever You Want.

Jet Harris

Ex-Shadows bassist Harris is appointed an OBE in the list for his services to music.

The 70-year-old veteran played on Shadows tracks such as Apache and during their days as Cliff Richard’s backing band before leaving The Shadows in April 1962.

He went on to score hits as part of a duo with the band’s former drummer Tony Meehan.

Born Terence, Harris earned his nickname thanks to his speed as a runner.

He left school at an early age to work as an apprentice welder making milk churns but always held a passion for music and, in particular, the guitar.

He became a proficient, self-taught electric bass player and played with a string of skiffle acts, but it was his friendship with Sir Cliff Richard that paved the way for his success.

Sir Cliff invited him to join his backing band, The Drifters, as he began to find success and they soon became known as The Shadows at Harris’s suggestion.

Upon leaving The Shadows in 1962, he enjoyed solo hits with Besame Mucho and The Man With The Golden Arm, before teaming up with Meehan a year later to enjoy a six-week spell at the top of the charts with Diamonds.

Harris left the music industry in the ’70s to become a professional photographer, but returned to the heritage circuit with a new band, and recently released a new album, The Journey.

Sadly, he was diagnosed with cancer last year and has been receiving chemotherapy for his illness.

Craig Armstrong

Composer Craig Armstrong OBE is best known for his work on the soundtracks to hit movies Moulin Rouge! and Ray.

The Glasgow-born musician has also worked with Madonna and Pavarotti during a diverse and successful career that capably mixes pop with classical recordings, film scores and opera.

He has released solo albums that feature collaborations with artists such as Bono and Lemonheads frontman Evan Dando and won a Golden Globe and Bafta for his work with Baz Luhrmann on Moulin Rouge!, with whom he’d previously collaborated on Romeo And Juliet.

Armstrong, who is also a talented jazz player, trained at the Royal Academy of Music and spent time with bands such as Texas and The Big Dish.

He has also worked with acts such as Massive Attack over the years and released albums including 2002’s As If To Nothing and 2004’s Piano Works.

These were followed, in 2008, by his first full classical release, Memory Takes My Hand.

A visiting professor at the Royal Academy of Music London, Armstrong remains one of the most in-demand composers of the moment, and most recently worked on the soundtrack for a big budget remake of Clash Of The Titans.

James Loughran

Joining Armstrong among the New Year Honourees is conductor James Loughran, who has led the Last Night of the Proms on five occasions. He has become a CBE.

A Scottish conductor, Loughran became principal conductor of The Hallé during its 1971-1972 season and has held the same title with the Bamberg Symphony Orchestra.

He was also chief conductor of the Aarhus Symfoniorkester (Denmark) from 1996 to 2003.

During a prolific career in which his own recordings include a complete cycle of the Johannes Brahms symphonies with the Hallé on the Classics for Pleasure label, Loughran has also conducted all the major UK orchestras.

New Year Honours: Stage l Music l Film