The phone rings several times before Francis finally answers. This is my second attempt. When he does there’s a beat before he starts singing: “I’m sorry I’m late, I’m so sorry I’m late (chuckling)…No but really I am sorry I’m late.” I’m fairly certain these lyrics are entirely original.

Our interview was scheduled to begin just over ten minutes ago, which is nothing really - so I was rather touched to have British Rock royalty warbling an amusing apology into the mouthpiece in a seemingly sincere tone. And in the notoriously Devil may care world of rock ‘n’ roll I’d say the man has done well to even be up at all this early on a Thursday morning.

I’m chatting with bona fide Rock legend and Status Quo frontman, Francis Rossi because the 69-year-old from Forest Hill is gearing up for a 36-theatre UK road tour which will land in Watford this April, marking the release of a collaborative album with vocalist Hannah Rickard entitled We Talk Too Much and a new autobiography written with Mick Wall.

Rossi and Rickard met when Rickard worked with Status Quo on the hugely successful Aquostic project.

The I Talk Too Much spoken word tour in Watford promises to be a night of unprecedented intimacy as the paragon of British Rock shares the extraordinary secrets of his 50-year music career before fielding questions from his adoring fans in whatever shape or form they take.

When I asked Francis what people can expect, he said: “I have no idea…I am hoping something will happen on the night, a lot things went on back then.

“People will surely ask me about Rick; I may do If You Were the Only Girl (In the World) or the tune to Coronation Street - who knows. If these things die when I’m out there they won’t go in the next night. I’m happy to see what happens.”

The Quo founder did say audiences can expect laughter, revelations and hitherto unheard tales of some of the biggest names in Rock.

Francis bites into an egg sandwich which, by the sound of it, is steeped in a mayonnaise so thick you could use it to hang wallpaper. “Off you go,” he chomps.

Had you always wanted to be a musician - and could you ever have imagined you’d be the lead man in one of the most successful Rock bands in the world?

“I didn’t initially want to be a musician. It sounds like a lofty thing – musician. I just own a guitar. I saw the Everly Brothers and wanted to do that. I’m still practicing and trying to catch up.

“I just wanted to escape that post-World War Two bomb-scarred 50s shit. And I didn’t want to go into the family business of retail or selling ice cream.

“If I could go back, I would probably learn more. But I was a sickly child, I missed a lot of school and my dad was always encouraging me - he said, ‘If you can play an instrument, you’ll be welcome anywhere’. He died in 75, dropped dead at the stop of the stairs.

“I’m just the bloke who was in Status Quo who was very lucky. I have this X or Marmite factor – some days people are like, ‘he’s alright’, some days they say, ‘he’s great’.

“I’ve been listening to Jordan Peterson a lot recently and I watched him take on Cathy Newman when she said the top people in companies are all men and he took her to bits.

“He said ‘these people are cut throats, they’re dedicated’ - and that’s me.

“My wife and my children suffered for my talent. I am obsessed with Status Quo, always have been.”

Watford Observer:

Which Status Quo song do you most enjoy performing and why?

“To be honest the ones we do in the States set are great and in fact anything we do is enjoyable. But I love doing Don’t Waste My Time. I went off for it for while but I’ve recently gone back to it.

Beginning of the End I like, but I always enjoy going back to the old ones.”

Who were some of your musical influences - who do you admire?

“I really admired Jeff Lynne but mainly The Everly Brothers. Jeff was doing things we all wanted to do - choirs and opera singers etcetera. The Everly Brothers I admired for the tunes and the harmonies.

“Little Richard because, wow, if you look now it is still really steaming. Jerry Lee Lewis too, he was difficult to work with but look at him go.

“But nearly everything has been of some influence and some of those things were very positive - Stan Webb's Chicken Shack, Fleetwood Mac for instance.

“My Dad was an influence too because he also loved music and had very wide taste. I played something to him at 17 - told him he’d love it, and his body contorted with pleasure and that’s how I feel - that way. I can feel it, it hurts. I almost don’t intellectualise.”

Tell me about the tour?

“The reason I apologised when I got on this phone call is because I was yacking with this other journalist and I’ve realised I like talking - I talk a lot and that’s what this tour is.

“I’ve worked with Hannah Rickard of course. But it feels strange people are interested in what I have to say. It’s very much a suck it and see, this tour. There will be quotes from the book and during the Q&A people can find out about the various decades we lived through - the music, the drugs, my relationship with Rick.

“Am I looking forward to it? Yes and no. I’m a Gemini. The Geminis are twins. Each star sign has a left and right and Gems have four sides. With ‘looking forward’ to the gig I have to be careful because if my ego kicks in I’ll fall flat on my face.

“I was doing an acoustic set in Hanover last year which I thought was going well, I thought ‘it’s f**king happening, we’ve got it’. But I said to Hannah at the time, ‘I am so pleased with it, tomorrow we do this we do that’, and in the end I made so many f**k ups and I was a let down.

“It crops up occasionally. It’s perhaps attributable to my Gem personality.

“The insecurity of the show, the Gemini side and the Jack the Lad are at odds. It depends who turns up in the middle of the gig.”

Can people expect some Quo songs in there?

“I’m not doing songs per se, although I will be doing certain tunes to explain how we wrote Matchstick Men which was inspired by Jimi Hendrix, and other songs

“I’ll probably show the audience about the funny new guitar noise I’ve developed which might be interesting.

“I might do Marguerita Time if there are any hardcore songs lovers out there, or maybe If You Were the Only Girl (In the World). One thing you don’t do in show business is fall on your arse.

“I have no idea…I’m hoping something will happen on the night, a lot things went on back then. People will surely ask me about Rick, I may do If You Were the Only Girl (In the World) or the tune to Coronation Street - who knows. If these things die when I’m out there they won’t go in the next night. I’m happy to see what happens.”

What in your life are you most proud of?

“Again, I think that would lead me to stumble. Again, I am so proud of my children but they’re just my children. I’m proud of them in their way, they’re there, they were born. Should people like me be allowed to have a career and kids? I’m a dad.

“Some of the songs I like most of all I’m proud of. I’ve got the song I wrote called All We Really Wanna Do (Polly) or Marguerita Time I thought was going to do well but there you go.”

Lastly, how was that sandwich Francis?

“F**king beautiful.”

The I Talk Too Much tour will land at the Watford Colosseum on April 27. For tickets, go to

Francis will also be signing copies of his album, We Talk Too Much - due for release on March 15 - and his book written with Mick Wall after the show. His autobiography, I Talk Too Much, is due out on March 14.