Leader comment: 2016 - the year that keeps on taking
His forceful presence on stage sometimes tended to mask his skills as a rock guitarist with a compelling musical style. But for Status Quo and Rick Parfitt in particular the appearance and the amplification were inseparable: look and attitude went with his style of music. That is why legions of fans took up the denim wear and came to be maestros of the air guitar in the privacy of their homes – and often privacy ran a poor second. Even novelist Ian Rankin tweeted that he would be “playing air guitar” in his memory.
Rick Parfitt’s partnership with Francis Rossi spanned five decades, making Status Quo one of British rock’s most enduring acts.
In 2015, the band passed a milestone achieved by only a handful of musicians, spending a total of 500 weeks in the UK album charts. And despite a succession of health problems in recent years, the guitarist had been due to launch a solo career with an album and autobiography planned for 2017.
His death has brought tributes from across the rock world. But it is across the wider world of millions who for years had hummed along to Status Quo’s many hits that his loss will be widely noted. Queen guitarist Brian May tweeted that Parfitt had “truly joyfully rocked our world”. That, given a talented musical career spanning more than 30 years, is surely no exaggeration.