STATUS QUO FAN CLUBS – A HISTORY
(this article first appeared in FTMO… Vol 5 No 4 in September 2000,
thanks Dave for allowing us to reprint this)
‘As you have all no doubt realised, From The Makers Of… celebrated it’s seventh birthday in May this year and to mark this occasion I thought I’d take a look back over the past thirty two years since the first Status Quo fan club was officially created.
Once the band made its chart debut in early 1968 with ‘Pictures Of Matchstick Men’, thanks to various TV appearances and pictures across the pages of teen magazines, it soon became obvious to their (then) managers that some sort of fan club would need to be thought about. Without further ado Jo Bunce (the imaginatively named daughter of co-manger Joe Bunce), was enlisted to reply to the increasing volume of mail that was by then being received. Fans were invited to write to Jo via a contact address that was included on the sleeve of the group’s first album ‘Picturesque Matchstickable Messages From The Status Quo’ in September ’68. Ms Bunce continued to run things for a good few months, but as time went by and the group’s popularity began to wane midway through 1969, the fan club ultimately disappeared.
Between ’69 and ’71 the group concentrated on their metamorphosis from a pop group to a blues-based rock band and there was little need for a fanbase as the word-of-mouth grapevine kept everyone informed of forthcoming gigs and, as time went on, new record releases (predominately ‘Down the Dustpipe’ and ‘In My Chair’). Thanks to continued success as a live band, couple with the albums ‘Ma Kelly’s Greasy Spoon’ and ‘Dog Of Two Head’, Quo began to build a new breed of very loyal and devoted fans. Anyone who did want to find out more generally contacted Pye Records in London, where the staff there would do their best to reply whenever they could.
When they finally split with Pye to join Vertigo and made their breakthrough with ‘Paper Plane’ and the hugely successful ‘Piledriver’ album, their popularity and army of fans began to grow at a phenomenal rate. All correspondence received by Vertigo was forward to the band’s managers at Gaff Management and the task of resurrecting an initial contact point for the fans was taken on (in addition to her many other duties), by Sandy (Sandra) Brown. Sandy replied to fans as often as she could but again the band’s increasing popularity soon rendered this an impossible task. It was at this point (around mid-1973) that the mantle of responsibility was passed from Sandy to her younger sister (and huge Quo fan) Diane, who once again set up her operational nerve centre at the Brown family home.
Diane Brown worked hard to offer fans an informative and friendly link with the band even, on occasion, obtaining a set of autographs backstage for one or two lucky people. Although not officially billed as the ‘Status Quo fan club’, Diane continued to regularly correspond with fans, for almost three years. In all this time however, in fact since 1968, none of the various incarnations of the fan club had produced anything approaching an official newsletter – let alone a magazine!
A further period of inactivity as far as the fan club was concerned followed between 1976 and 1977, as the need for such an outlet was over-shadowed by a (then) healthy music media coverage that followed the band as a result of their ever-increasing success and popularity. Melody Maker, Sounds and New Musical Express etc. all regularly featured the band on their front covers and would constantly include major articles, interviews, photographs, posters and concert reviews at almost every opportunity.
The first fully fledged fan club was set up towards the latter months of 1978 with the introduction of the Status Quo Official Supporters Club. Under this banner fans were (for the first time) able to actually join a fan club in the true sense of the word. In return for a nominal membership fee there were promises of a regular quarterly magazine, membership card and a one-off membership pack (basically a poster and club badge – depicting the ‘fabulous’ logo). The club secretary was Jeff Thackeray and he was responsible for putting together the magazine and keeping fans abreast of the band’s activities. The first issue (called ‘Fabulous Vol. 1) appeared around March 1979 and contained little more than a few black & white photographs, some news items and a general introduction to the club. By the time issue two arrived in July the format had been changed to become a poster-mag. This allowed a poster to be printed on one side of an A2 sheet, with news and information included on the other. This was then folded down to become an A5 size magazine. The idea behind this was that it would keep everyone up to date and allow fans to adorn their bedroom walls with posters. The two issues that followed were also poster-mags and the fan club continued to swell its membership numbers.
Meanwhile, towards the end of 1980, Jeff Thackeray announced his resignation and was succeeded by Derek Oliver (the man who later join Kerrang!, went on to write music books and is now a contributor to Classic Rock Magazine). Oliver instigated several changes, not least to the format of the magazine which henceforth appeared as an A5 colour and B&W 16-page affair, now entitled ‘Official Supporters Club – International Edition No 1’. The grand plan at this juncture was to have only one official magazine printed for all the Quo fan clubs that now existed throughout the world – translated wherever necessary.
This new publication was a considerable improvement on its predecessor, now providing fans with more in-depth news and covering such subjects as official and unofficial (bootleg) record releases, combined with good quality colour photographs. However, by issue two the colour photographs were now black & white, but the saving grace was an exclusive interview with the band, by Derek Oliver and sidekick Cheryl Welchman at Nomis studio in London. By the end of 1981 and with the arrival of issue three, the fans were introduced to a new club secretary – stand up Ms Cheryl Welchman!
Aside from the appearance of issue four containing a farewell to John Coghlan and heralding the arrival of Pete Kircher, the reminder of 1982 produced nothing else and – without warning – to all intents and purposes the fan club eased to exist! It took almost another year before club members were contacted by the all new ‘Status Quo Information Service’, who explained in their pre-launch notice that both the band and their management had got together to directly control this new incarnation of the fan club.
More or less as promised, in February 1983 everyone was sent a copy of ‘Status Quo – Fan Club Magazine No 1’ – a glossy A5 affair containing a good deal of information and B&W photographs. Sadly all the promises and good intentions failed to live up to expectations and it took a further eight months before issue two arrived, offering the excuse of delays with completion of the band’s ‘Back To Back’ album as the reason for the protracted delay. Issue three appeared in March 1984 to much consternation, advising as it did the band’s decision to retire from live performance work. One further brief magazine was published to round up the ‘End Of The Road’ tour, prior to the subsequent demise of that Quo line-up. With the band retired from touring and all the subsequent problems and acrimony that eventually manifested itself, between the end of 1984 and 1987 no fan club really existed.
With a new line-up, Quo’s comeback was fully established by the end of 1986 and during the early months of ’87 another new official club emerged, appropriately called the ‘Quo Army’. The secretary for this venture was someone know simply as Patsy and she was responsible for producing the new glossy magazine. Three issues in, and having given away a gold disc in the process, by issue four the magazine had expanded from 12 to 24 pages. However, during a period of reorganisation between January and March 1988 out went Patsy and in came Geoff Parkyn to pick up the baton. The magazine was subsequently re-titled ‘Quotations’ and issue one was sent to fans a few weeks later in April.
‘Quotations’ magazine, for all its faults, continued in a similar vein until midway through 1990 when Geoff Parkyn stepped aside and was replaced by long standing fan and Quo authority Garry Fielding. Garry was able to step in for issue six of ‘Quotation’, restructuring the magazine to included more varied and interesting features and articles with more of a focus on Quo collecting and the extra-curricular activities of the individual band members.
After a run of virtually two years, the ‘Quo Army’ officially ceases sometime after the publication of ‘Quotations’ issue 12 in August 1992, to be followed by a period of apparent inactivity (as far as the fans were concerned), which paved the way for the introduction of yet another all-new fan club that would take its name from the long-standing Quo legend ‘From the Makers of…’.
May 1993 saw the launch of FTMO and, for the first time in its history, the Quo fan club had been placed in commercial hands. At the helm was Mike Hrano, whose company Finally Fan-Fair Limited has successfully run (and continues to run today), various fan clubs for some of the most popular acts over the past two decades including: Pet shop Boys, Bros, Boyzone, Seal, Belinda Carlisle, Chris De Burgh, Westlife and Five. For his own part Mike had been a Quo fan for many years and still proudly possesses several vinyl albums including a 1968 original ‘Picturesque Matchstickable Messages…’ . Mike had first seen Quo live at Wembley Arena in 1982, when sent to review the concert by the local newspaper he was at the time employed by as a reporter.
Since its inception, FTMO has (to date) published 20 issues (including the one you are now holding), which have over the years provided fans with exclusive interviews, behind the scenes information, interesting and informative stories and articles, endless exclusive photographs and in-depth features on new albums and the stories behind the tracks. All this coupled with members’ offers ranging from priority advice and availability of concert tickets (including the two fan club gigs at Brixton Academy and Shepherds Bush Empire), T-shirts, sweatshirts etc., through to exclusive jewellery and CDs have seen the most productive and longest-surviving period in the history of Status Quo fan clubs. Nothing in this world can ever be perfect, ably supported by his team at Fan-Fair, it looks as though Mike Hrano and FTMO will continue for a good few years yet… (Editor’s note: Only for as long as Quo does, folks.)
2013 – to present
By 2013 Mike Hrano decided enough was enough, he handed the reigns over to Paul and Yvonne Hanvey, long-standing Quo fans. Since taking over FTMO… they have continued with Mike’s successful template for the magazine. FTMO… still offers exclusive interviews with the band, track-by-track interviews on new albums – both band and solo efforts and interviews with past members and other people connected with the band. Jason Hodgson and Paul Bruns where brought in to write a regular column, ‘From The Collectors Of…’.
The fan club has organised a few Fan Club trips – one to see Quo in Zurich – and they have also organised two very successful conventions at Butlin’s in Minehead.
A new website was launched in March 2018.
May 2018 sees the 25th anniversary of FTMO…