The Status Quo frontman had the ultimate sex, drugs and rock ’n’ roll career, spanning six decades.
And most astonishing of all, he lives to tell the tale — which he does in new autobiography I Talk Too Much.
Speaking to The Sun from inside the music studio in the garden of his mansion in Purley, South London, the 69-year-old father of eight says he does not regret a thing — but insists his number of conquests is not at “Rod Stewart levels”.
When I ask if he can put a number on his romantic encounters, he responds: “Not even in the thousands. Now you’re disappointed.
“Do you know how long it would take to sleep with 1,000 women? Even two minutes at a time . . . ”
Francis does not scream veteran rock star, the silver ring in his left ear perhaps the only giveaway.
There are no supercars in his driveway and no swimming pool with the Status Quo logo at the bottom.
He has lost his trademark ponytail, opting for a civilised brushed-back trim, and wears a tight, black North Face jacket over the top of his white shirt and thin black tie.
He is bubbly, funny and honest, admitting the sole incentive behind his new book was the cold, hard cash he was offered to tell his story.
Part of that tale covers the death of Quo bandmate and close pal Rick Parfitt from sepsis on Christmas Eve in 2016. Together, the pair made the most of their fame with the opposite sex during the Sixties — yet it was not always an enjoyable experience.
Revealing one particular night with Rick and a female fan that still haunts him, Francis says: “We went to sleep and all of a sudden she says, “I’m going for a p***’ and then she said, ‘I feel like knifing some c***’.
“So when she got physically aroused, she’d get violent. So the pair of us didn’t f***ing sleep all night ’til she went.”
Both men also dabbled with their fair share of hard drugs.
Francis reckons he spent £1.7million on cocaine during the Eighties and took so much that his septum fell out of his nose in the shower.
He recalls: “I sniffed coke every day for four years. But it’s not like the massive amounts you see in the movies.
“We did what was called a ‘tuke’, a quick sniff just to keep things going until the dip would come in. It would be quite good if I could knock two before midday.”
Francis, who was awarded an OBE in 2010, eventually managed to go clean, unlike Rick whose levels of excess were even higher. In fact, Francis still finds it hard to believe that his bandmate’s death was unrelated to a lifetime of drink and drugs.
He says: “It was amazing he lived until 68. He was an extremely tough man. He had three heart attacks. But sepsis is getting a bit too frequent for everybody these days.”
The pair enjoyed a love/hate relationship. At first, Francis was jealous of Rick’s blond-haired good looks. But he was not that impressed with him musically — and the rest of the band initially did not want him to join back in 1967.
Francis also got frustrated with Rick’s desperate bid to act like a rock star.
He explains: “I loved him when we were younger.
“The first night he played with us he hadn’t learned anything. He just pulled the plug out and stood there miming. But he looked the part.
“He looked the archetypal rock star, but in reality he wasn’t.
“That’s the other thing that frustrated me. He had a fantastic voice and he started acting the rock thing. I was like, ‘Ricky, what are you doing?’ So he was soiling the guy I loved.”
Francis believes Rick struggled to deal with the fact that for all the fans who loved the band, there were many who hated them.
He says: “Rick hated the thought of people hating us, which I do too, but I would have to be in a position where I say, ‘It’s just how it is, it’ll be alright’.”
“But we are Marmite. People say, ‘I love them two, have you seen them?’. And for others it was, ‘I can’t stand those c***s’.”
Francis says Rick was also a terrible drunk, which is a major reason why he hates alcohol.
He adds: “Rick used to think he looked cool when he was drunk. But he never looked cool when he was drunk. He wasn’t very nice when he was drunk, but in his defence lots of people aren’t very nice when they’re drunk.”
Rick’s levels of excess grew following the death of his two-year-old daughter Heidi, who drowned in his pool in 1980.And according to Francis, he was never the same after an encounter with a female fan in a San Francisco nightclub.
Francis, who speculates she may have “laced his drink with LSD”, says: “Whatever she did to him it really, really f***ed him over. He never told me what happened.”
Rick and Francis enjoyed decades of success with the Quo, thanks to hits including Rockin’ All Over The World and Whatever You Want, selling 120million records.
After a row with their US label, they lost interest in cracking the States. Francis says: “I think if we’d made it in America I’d have probably died. We’d have both got killed because they’ll give you more drugs. Not just indulge you, but it’ll be like ‘Yeah, yeah, give it to them,. F*** it, give it to them’.”
By the mid-Eighties, relationships in the band hit an all-time low and Francis wanted out.
They played a farewell tour in July 1984 but Sir Bob Geldof reunited them to record charity hit Do They Know It’s Christmas?
They opened the resulting Live Aid concert at Wembley Stadium the following year.
During the recording of the record, Francis and Rick bonded with younger stars including Boy George, Simon Le Bon and George Michael over their drug use.
Francis says: “That whole generation of people was doing all sorts. Mainly coke I would think.
“We were called The Doctors on that day because we had all the joints and stuff. “Ricky got really rat-arsed again.”
And Francis refutes Bob Geldof’s view that no drugs were taken during the record.
“Silly arse,” he rants. “Why would you want to lie? It don’t make sense. One minute sex and drugs and rock ’n’ roll are synonymous then Bob’s trying to say they all got together one day and didn’t take any.”
Nowadays, Francis lives a more quiet life with second wife Eileen, who he has been married to for 29 years. They live with his kids from both of his marriages.
Daughter Bernadette, 36, from his relationship with rock publicist Liz Gernon, is also a regular visitor.
He will shortly be releasing his first country album, with singer Hannah Rickard, called I Talk Too Much, and is continuing with the Quo, with guitarist Richie Malone filling Rick’s shoes.
On the band’s new look, he says: “It’s a joy — it’s just a pity that I’m so f***ing old.”
- Francis’s autobiography, I Talk Too Much (published by Constable, £20) is out on Thursday.
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