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Rick Parfitt lived rock and roll dream

Press Association logoPress Association 24/12/2016

Rick Parfitt, the guitarist in British rock band Status Quo, was the embodiment of an artist living the rock and roll lifestyle while being a genuine entertainer across five decades.

He died in a Spanish hospital on Saturday, after suffering from a severe infection at the age of 68.

His talent as both a musician and songwriter earned him fans across the world, but most notably of course in his home nation, where he was awarded an OBE for services to music along with his Status Quo cohort Francis Rossi.

The band is known for its boogie rock sound, with Parfitt a master on the guitar.

He was also accredited with co-writing a number of Status Quo tracks including Whatever You Want, Again And Again and Break The Rules.

Parfitt joined the band in 1967 after it was formed by Rossi with Alan Lancaster and, after a handful of name changes, they settled on the moniker that would see them rise through the rock music ranks from their first hit in 1968, Pictures Of Matchstick Men, to now.

But over the years, the veteran musician - a self-confessed former drug addict who at one time drank a bottle of wine and smoked 30 cigarettes a day - suffered a litany of health complaints.

Another admission of his in recent years is that he, in the peak of his drug-taking years, would spend STG1,000 ($A1700) a week on cocaine and an additional STG500 a week on vodka.

"I enjoyed every moment but I'm pleased I've come out of the other side," he told The Telegraph in 2014.

Earlier this year he is said to have "died" for several minutes after a heart attack.

Richard John Parfitt was born in Woking, Surrey on October 12 1948, and by the age of 11 was learning to play the guitar.

At the age of 15 he was earning a small weekly wage while performing at a holiday camp on Hayling Island, although he later spoke of how most of his money would be given to his father, an "insurance man who was a drinker and a gambler".

In 1965 he met Rossi and surprised his father with the amount of success they had early on.

In 2013, Parfitt told The Guardian: "He'd say, 'You're not going to get anywhere. Why don't you go back to your cabaret or go and get yourself a job?' But then I came back from a gig in Cromer in 1965 with my pockets stuffed full of five-pound notes.

"It was about four in the morning and I woke them up and said, 'Oi, look at this,' then threw the money up in the air. They were like, 'Wow, 400 quid!'"

Status Quo went on to achieve great success in the early 1970s with their album Piledriver, the band's first with heavy rock and progressive label Vertigo.

Line-up changes threatened to impact the group in the 1970s but their distinctive unchanging sound kept the fans happy.

In 1985, following a final tour the previous year, Status Quo opened the historic Live Aid charity event at Wembley, giving them a new lease of life.

The band celebrated their 40th UK top 40 album after their latest release, Aquostic II - That's A Fact!, went in at number seven in the charts in October this year.

Parfitt's personal life was tumultuous. He married his first wife Marietta Boeker in 1973 and they had two children, but their marriage broke down when their two-year-old daughter Heidi drowned in a pool.

He later married his childhood sweetheart Patty Beedon with whom he had a son but that union ended when he had an affair with his first wife.

Parfitt married Lyndsey Whitburn in 2006 and they welcomed their twins in 2008, making him a new father at the age of 60.

All of his successes and personal life trials and tribulations ran alongside the rocker's catalogue of health issues.

In 1997 he underwent a quadruple heart bypass, in 2005 he had a throat cancer scare and he had a heart attack in 2011.

Earlier this year, Parfitt suffered another heart attack which later saw him announce he would not return to perform with Status Quo.

He pulled out of the band's tour after he was taken ill after a show in Turkey on June 14 and the heart attack and associated complications saw him ordered by heath professionals to rest for the remainder of the year.

In October, he told Classic Rock of the band's decision to only play acoustic performances going forward: "I don't think I really want to, in my heart I'm a rocker.

"If I'm going to make music it's got to rock.''

Freddie Edwards, the son of the band's bass player John ''Rhino'' Edwards stepped in for Parfitt during the band's concerts during the summer.

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