Pictures of Matchstick Men – Status Quo

THIS DAY IN MUSIC…………………………………………on June 29th of 1969 The Status Quo achieve their only hit record in America when “Pictures Of Matchstick Men” enters the Billboard Top 40, where it will top out at #12. Guitarist Francis Rossi said he wrote most of the song while sitting in a toilet, trying to get away from his wife and mother-in-law. It was just the second song he had ever composed. Shortly after the song became a hit, the band dropped “The” from their name. This was Status Quo’s debut hit in the UK and their only hit in America. It was originally intended to be a B-side to “Gentleman Joe’s Sidewalk Cafe,” but at the last minute they decided to swap the B-side and the A-side of the single. Status Quo are best known in Britain for their no-nonsense, heads-down boogie rock which they have played since the 1970s, but this psychedelic effort is their best-known hit in America, where it is a staple of oldies radio. When the song hit the American charts, the group made the fateful decision to remain in Europe, focusing their efforts on the UK market. This paid off with wild success in their homeland, as Status Quo became one of the most popular bands in Britain, charting over 60 singles. They did tour the US in the mid-’70s, but never broke the American market. Their only other chart entry there was “Ice in the Sun,” released later in 1968. This song was inspired by the matchstick men paintings of L.S. Lowry (1887-1976). If you picked up traces of this song in Status Quo’s 1974 #1 UK hit “Down Down,” that’s because they used the intro to “Matchstick Men” as the basis for the verse melody. Francis Rossi explained that he realized after he wrote it that he had stolen from his own song. The song was a Top 10 hit in the UK peaking at #7.