Belfast Telegraph

Muse’s Chris Wolstenholme in his own words: a personal essay about Rick Parfitt

The bassist helped finish Parfitt’s debut solo album, which is being released posthumously.

Rick Parfitt on stage (Heiko Roth)
Rick Parfitt on stage (Heiko Roth)

The death of Status Quo’s rhythm guitarist Rick Parfitt on Christmas Eve 2016 was greeted with an outpouring of rock and roll memories, sorrow and tributes.

He died aged 68 after half a century of Rockin’ All Over The World as Status Quo became a staple act on the British rock scene.

Their influence on music was broad and the sounds of Blue For You and Quo inspired a four-year-old Chris Wolstenholme into music.

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The bassist, of course, would go on to form Muse with Matt Bellamy and Dominic Howard.

Here, in his own words, Wolstenholme reflects on the power of Parfitt after helping to finish the late rocker’s debut solo album, which had been left uncompleted when he died.

Pretending to be Rick

Rick Parfitt (Heiko Roth)

I was really young when I was introduced to Rick Parfitt’s music. Aged four, my family had moved to a new house where we found an old record player that had been abandoned by the previous owners. My dad fixed it up and my mum gave me a stack of her old records. Amongst them were Blue For You and Quo. Though the albums were already 10 years old, I fell in love with the band and played them to death.

I was really young when I was introduced to Parfitt’s music... I fell in love with the band and played them to death Chris Wolstenholme

My first guitar lessons took place when I was around 11, of course I wanted to play along with my Quo records, and right from the start I found myself playing along with Rick’s parts. I would get in from school, plug in and pretend to be him for the evening! I was always struck by the precision within Rick’s playing. Most great players have a loose, expressive style but he was like a machine. It is unusual for a rhythm guitarist to be such a driving force; but we all know Rick was a one-off.

Soundchecking with Quo

In 1997, my chance to meet Rick came along. As a friend of Andy Bown’s son, I’d been invited along to see Quo soundcheck at a show in Plymouth, where I was at university. However, on the day Rick was unwell and couldn’t do the soundcheck. Whilst I was disappointed, something incredible then happened, I was asked to fill in for him and took to the stage to play his parts, on his guitar!

I was asked to fill in for him and took to the stage to play his parts, on his guitar! Chris Wolstenholme

Quo and I ran through Don’t Waste My Time, though I knew the material so well I could have played the whole set! I’d joined Muse by that stage, but we were still unsigned, and at the age of 17 it was the most incredible musical experience of my life. As soon as we’d finished, I ran off and called my mum!

Finally meeting Rick

Rick Parfitt (Heiko Roth)

As time went by, and Muse became successful, I always thought our paths would cross. Though Rick and I were aware of each other, and I’d been told that he liked my band, it kept not happening. Often Muse would arrive in a city that Quo had just left.

There never was anyone quite like Rick Chris Wolstenholme

Finally, I met him at 2014 at a Frantics gig. It felt like I’d known him for years, but by then he had been a part of my life for a long time! We stayed in touch, met a couple more times, and the last time I saw him was at an Aquostic show.

Working on Over And Out – Rick’s debut solo album

I had heard that Rick planned a solo album, and of course said that I would consider it a massive honour for me to contribute. There was talk of us writing and recording together, but the last conversation I had with anybody about it was on December 17 2016 before the tragic news broke on 24th.

Muse bassist Chris Wolstenholme (Joel Ryan/PA)

When it became obvious later that Rick had in fact nearly completed the album, I went into the studio to do a bass part for the track Long Distance Love. The producer then asked if I could double-track one of Rick’s guitar lines – basically replicate it for him. Take it from me, it was harder than anyone would imagine.

Remembering Rick

Rick’s strength as a player was his immediately recognisable style; very staccato, like his left hand was constantly bouncing off the strings. It’s very hard to do, and I’ve never seen anyone else do it quite like him. But then, there never was anyone quite like Rick.

– Rick Parfitt’s Over and Out is released on March 23. Long Distance Love is out now.

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