Happy Birthday to Alan Charles Lancaster – born February 7, 1949

Alan Charles Lancaster is an English bassist, best known as a founding member of the English rock band Status Quo. As well as contributing to songwriting, he was also one of the lead vocalists on albums and live concerts taking the lead on tracks such as “Backwater”, “Bye Bye Johnny”, “High Flyer” and “Roadhouse Blues”, etc.

Alan Lancaster formed the group in 1962 with his then schoolmate Francis Rossi. His final performance as a full-time member of Status Quo was at Wembley Stadium on July 13, 1985 for the opening of Live Aid. In March 2013 he collaborated with his old band-mates for a series of “Frantic Four” concerts in the UK.

Early life

Born in Peckham in 1949, in the 2012 Status Quo documentary Hello Quo, Lancaster stated that he had a great upbringing. He attended Sedgehill Comprehensive School, where he met future “Quo” front man Francis Rossi in the school orchestra. Rossi and Lancaster became close friends and, along with other schoolmates John Key and Jess Jaworski, formed the band “The Scorpions” – an early Quo forerunner.

Career

Early career

While Lancaster was attending Sedgehill Comprehensive School in 1962, he became close friends with future Status Quo singer and guitarist Francis Rossi while playing in the school orchestra. The two, along with other classmates Alan Key (drums) and Jess Jaworski (keyboards), formed a band called “The Scorpions”, who played their first gig at the Samuel Jones Sports Club in Dulwich. At another gig at the sports club, manager Pat Barlow approached the band, and Lancaster’s mother agreed to let him manage the band. Key was later replaced by Air Cadets drummer and future “Quo” member John Coghlan, and the band was renamed “The Spectres”. The Spectres wrote their own material and played live shows, and in 1965 they played at a Butlins holiday camp in Minehead. It was here that the band met future “Quo” guitarist Rick Parfitt, who was playing as part of a cabaret act called “The Highlights”. The band became close friends with Parfitt, and they agreed to continue working together. In 1966, The Spectres signed a five-year deal with Piccadilly Records, releasing three singles that failed to chart. The group again changed their name, this time to “Traffic Jam”, after embracing psychedelia.

Status Quo (1967-85)

Departure

Following “Live Aid”, Lancaster’s relationship with Francis Rossi became increasingly strained, when Rossi and Rick Parfitt covertly began recording a new album under the name of “Status Quo”. Unbeknownst to Lancaster — by now living in Australia – and the group’s then recording company, Rossi had utilised the assistance of the group’s then manager, to draw down on the group’s contracted recording advances, provided by Phonogram Limited. Lancaster was substituted with session musician John ‘Rhino’ Edwards, who had been recording on a solo project of Rick’s – “Recorded Delivery” – which was eventually scrapped. Edwards remains Quo’s bassist to this day.

Later career “The Bombers” (1985-present)

Lancaster continues to live in Sydney, Australia. He joined a new line up of Australian band The Party Boys in 1987 and then co-produced a hit album, achieving platinum sales. Also achieving ‘gold’ and reaching the number one spot with hit single “He’s Gonna Step On You Again”. In 1988, he formed The Bombers, which signed to A&M Records in the USA. It was paid the largest advance ever paid to an Australian-based band, but unfortunately, after the band had completed a five-star reviewed album, A&M was sold to Phonogram; leaving the band high and dry. The Bombers’ original drummer was Lancaster’s ex-Status Quo band mate John Coghlan. Ironically, Lancaster had been complicit in Coghlan’s departure from Status Quo in 1981. The Bombers supported Cheap Trick (1988), Alice Cooper (1990) and Skid Row (1990) on their tours of Australia. When the Bombers disbanded, Lancaster continued with his then partner John Brewster (“The Angels”) with “The Lancaster Brewster Band”, in which Angry Anderson performed as a guest artist for some time. Lancaster then formed his own band: Alan Lancaster’s Bombers which released an E.P. and toured Scandinavia before disbanding in 1995. As well as writing the theme song for the film “Indecent Obsession”, he also produced an album for classical pianist Roger Woodward, which achieved platinum sales in Australia.

Amends with Quo and “Frantic Four” tour (2013-14)

In March 2010 Lancaster and Rossi met in Sydney leading to speculation of the original line-up reuniting. This was later denied by current bassist, Rhino, who, speaking of him with the greatest respect, explained in an interview that Lancaster was in poor health and unable to participate in any such reunion. However his health improved and it was announced that the classic “Frantic Four” line-up of Francis Rossi, Rick Parfitt, Alan Lancaster and John Coghlan would perform a series of concerts together in March 2013.

In 2014, Lancaster again participated in the original four piece Quo lineup and went on another successful tour. Although he appeared to be somewhat physically fragile on stage, his powerful booming blues vocals were more than well received by the crowds. Lancaster’s final appearance with Status Quo on the 2014 tour took place on 12 April at The O2 in Dublin.

He appeared in the 2012 documentary on Status Quo, titled Hello Quo.

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