It’s been almost 30 years since founding band member and drummer, John Coghlan left the legendary Status Quo, but his commitment and instrumental role in the band’s success has garnered a fan base which has followed him in all of his musical pursuits since.
This month sees the launch of Status Quo's Live at the BBC CD & DVD box set. A must-have and collectable for all Quo fans, it features live footage of the band recorded by the BBC dating back to their early days as The Spectres, Traffic Jam and finally the Status Quo we have come to know.
Music-News’ Victoria Dillingham catches up with the 64-year-old Oxford based drummer to talk about his 20 years spent with the band, the real reason for him leaving and his latest musical ventures.

Music News: How did the relationship form between you and the other founding members, where did you meet?

John Coghlan: It was actually in 1962, I was at Kingsdale Comprehensive and used to be in a band called The Cadets and we rehearsed at the local RAF barracks. Francis Rossi (singer) and Alan Lancaster (bass) were in a band called The Spectres around about the same time and also used to practise in a TA block next to ours. Francis and Alan would often hear us and started to come along and watch us when they finished their session. One night they asked if I’d join them and we started working together as a band through various line-ups culminating in Status Quo.

MN: What was your ultimate aim and ambition when you first set out together as a band?

John: We loved playing live, it’s what we were all about and ultimately we wanted to be successful. Being in a band in the 60’s and 70’s was the thing to do and every young man’s dream. I loved being in the band and we just wanted to take it as far as we possibly could. Our first ever gig together was at Samuel Jones Sportsclub in Dulwich, I’ll never forget it.

MN: Status Quo has clocked more than 40 years in the music industry during which time they have had more than 60 chart hits and garnered a committed and die-hard following, how do you explain such longevity?

John: Status Quo’s music has always been party music and it’s about having a good time. The fans play a huge part in that and it’s the way they react to our music. We were known and Status Quo still are renowned for producing upbeat memorable tracks which people just can’t help but get up and dance to.

MN: Do you think there are stereotypical Status Quo fans and if so how would you describe them?

John: Oh yes, without a doubt. When I was in the band it wasn’t uncommon for fans to take 2 week’s off work to follow us around. You’d see the same cars turning up at gigs and recognise people in the crowd. It was fantastic and that kind of thing doesn’t seem to happen anymore. You do tend to find that our fan’s children became Status Quo fans and so on, which was great. Status Quo fans really are the best fans in the world and their support has not gone unrecognised throughout the band’s career.

MN: What is your favourite Status Quo single and album?

John: Mystery Song is my favourite single and I think Piledriver is my best
album. it’s funny because I think if you ask any musician or band what their favourite track or record is, it’s always the most recent they’ve made as they feel it’s their greatest and they can’t better it, but a Quo fan will often see if differently, it’s interesting.

MN: You left the band in 1981 John with ‘tensions’ and ‘musical differences’ cited as the key reasons. Why did you leave Status Quo?

John: Colin Johnson, our manager at the time said he thought I was on the verge of a nervous breakdown. We were performing back to back and constantly on the road and I think it’s fair to say, after 20 years the rock and roll lifestyle was beginning to take it’s toll. He suggested it was time I left the band and that was that.

MN: What did you do with yourself post Status Quo?

John: I went back to the Isle of Man and didn’t touch my drum kit for a year. Then I hit a point where boredom set in. I’d played the drums for most of my life, it was all I knew and all I’d ever done so I got back on it and started practicing and performing again with other musicians.

MN: You seem to be on very good terms with the band and still keep in touch and watch them play, is that hard for you?

John: It has been. I think the hardest point was seeing them perform on Live Aid. There had been rumours that they weren’t getting on and that Sir Bob Geldof actually persuaded them to perform together with ‘Rocking All Over the World’.
That was hard because at that point I would have loved to have performed with them again, it was such a huge show and an amazing event. I think if I/we had just been given the break we needed at the point at which I left, I’d have been fine to have continued. If they had called me to perform with them for Live Aid, I’d have been there but I never got that call. I’m guessing they just didn’t think I’d do it.

Music News: What is your greatest memory of being in the band?

John: There are so many, but touring America was amazing it was all so fresh and so new. Likewise I’ll never forget playing the Albert Hall and Wembley Football Stadium before the towers were pulled down with Sir Elton John was incredible. Good times I’ll never forget.

MN: Tell us about what you are up to and the bands you now perform with?

John: I now perform live, which is what I love doing best as John Coghlan’s Quo which comprises of me and members of a fantastic band from Reading called Predatur, who are not a Quo tribute band but are known for having a very similar sound to Quo and we do play a number of my singles and Quo hits. I also perform as King Earl Boogie Band which features original members of Mungo Jerry and the award-winning blues guitarist, Dave Peabody. It’s a different sound to the other band I play in and I love it. I recently took part in a small tour with a 3-piece band fronted by a B.B. King style singer called Clas Yngström which took place on a boat.

MN: Do people still associate you with Status Quo?

John: Oh yes, and it’s great that they do! It was a such a big part of my musical career. Two weeks ago we played at the Rock Temple in Holland and a member of the crowd came up to me at the end of the show and asked me to sign his shoulder. He was a Status Quo fan who remembered me and had come to see us perform. He told me he would be heading to the tattoo shop first thing to have the outline of my autograph on his shoulder permanently tattooed. It’s hard to believe the level of support. Like I said, Status Quo fans really are the best fans in the world.

MN: Where are people most likely to catch you performing now?

John: I still tour with the bands, in fact we have some coming up in various cities in Europe, but I also play locally. I live in Oxford with my wife, we have a good life and I perform at least twice a year at my local pub the Rose & Crown in Shilton. Everyone takes lots of extra furniture, we get a great crowd and it’s good fun!

MN: How do you think live performance and being in a band has differed to when you first started out John?

John: Being in a band isn’t the same as it was in the 60’s and 70’s and I’m really glad I was a part of it then. Venues seem to struggle to fill seats due to rising ticket prices and you hear about some bands having to cancel gigs due to this, which I think is really sad and was virtually unheard of back then.

MN: I understand you’ve had a sneak preview of Status Quo’s forthcoming Live at the BBC CD & DVD Box set which is being released later this month (October 25th) what are your thoughts?

John: I think it’s great, and I also fully support what they are doing at the moment for the British Forces Foundation and the Help for Heroes charities. They’re a different sounding Status Quo to the one I left, but there are some classics in the new box set. It’s a great listen and I’m sure it’ll make a fabulous present for fans and music lovers this Christmas. They’ve worked very hard and I genuinely wish them all the very best with it.