Pictures of Matchstick Men

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"Pictures of Matchstick Men"
POMM cover.jpg
Cover of the 1968 UK single
Single by The Status Quo
from the album Picturesque Matchstickable Messages from the Status Quo
B-side "Gentleman Joe's Sidewalk Café"
Released 5 January 1968 (1968-01-05)
Format 7"
Recorded 1968
Length 3:09
Label Pye (UK)
Cadet Concept (North America)
Songwriter(s) Francis Rossi
Producer(s) John Schroeder
The Status Quo singles chronology
"Pictures of Matchstick Men"
"Black Veils of Melancholy"
"Pictures of Matchstick Men"
"Black Veils of Melancholy"
"Pictures of Matchstick Men"
Pictures of Matchstick Men CVB.jpg
Single by Camper Van Beethoven
from the album Key Lime Pie
Released 1989
Format CD
Genre Psychedelic rock
Label Virgin
Songwriter(s) Francis Rossi

"Pictures of Matchstick Men" is the first hit single by Status Quo, released in January 1968.

It reached number seven in the British charts, number eight in Canada, and number twelve on the Billboard Hot 100, becoming their only hit single in the United States.[1][2][3] Francis Rossi confirmed on DVD2 of the Pictures set that it was originally intended to be a B-side to "Gentleman Joe's Sidewalk Cafe", but it was decided to swap the B-side and the A-side of the single.

There are two versions of the song, a stereo and mono version, with significant differences: the mono version, which was the original single, has the trademark wah-wah guitar in the breaks between lyrics, but the stereo version omits it.

The song opens with a single guitar repeatedly playing a simple four-note riff before the bass, rhythm guitar, drums and lyrics begin. "Pictures of Matchstick Men" is one of a number of songs from the late sixties which feature the phasing audio effect. The band's next single release, "Black Veils of Melancholy", was similar but flopped, which caused a change of musical direction.[4]

Rossi (living in a prefab in Camberwell at the time)[5] later said of the song:

I wrote it on the bog. I'd gone there, not for the usual reasons...but to get away from the wife and mother-in-law. I used to go into this narrow frizzing toilet and sit there for hours, until they finally went out. I got three quarters of the song finished in that khazi. The rest I finished in the lounge.[6]

The "matchstick men" of the song refers to the paintings of Salford artist L. S. Lowry.[6]

The song was reprised, in 2014, for the band's thirty-first studio album Aquostic (Stripped Bare). It was featured in the ninety-minute launch performance of the album at London's Roundhouse on 22 October, the concert being recorded and broadcast live by BBC Radio 2 as part of their In Concert series.[7][8]


  • 1968: Pictures of Matchstick Men / Gentleman Joe's Sidewalk Cafe [Promo] 45 rpm Vinyl 7"; Pye / 7N 17449
  • 1969: Retrato de hombre con bastón / El café del caballero Joe 33 rpm, Mono Vinyl 7"; Music Hall / MH 31.101 Argentina
  • 1973: Pictures of Matchstick Man / Ice in the Sun 45 rpm Vinyl 7"; Pye / 12 746 AT

Cover versions[edit]

See also[edit]


  1. ^ "BBC - Music / Profiles - Status Quo". BBC. British Broadcasting Corporation. 2006. Archived from the original on October 10, 2006. Retrieved August 17, 2012. 
  2. ^ "The enduring appeal of Status Quo". BBC News. British Broadcasting Corporation. 9 December 2005. Retrieved August 17, 2012. 
  3. ^ staff (November 12, 2008). "Cue The Quo". Aberdeen Press and Journal. Aberdeen, Scotland: Aberdeen Journals. OCLC 29379669. Retrieved August 17, 2012. 
  4. ^ Rawlings, Terry (November 1, 2002). Then, Now and Rare British Beat 1960-1969 (illustrated ed.). London, England: Omnibus Press. ISBN 9780711990944. OCLC 50272043. Retrieved August 17, 2012. 
  5. ^ "Prefabs - Camberwell Borough Council". Retrieved 21 January 2017. 
  6. ^ a b Headon, Tanya (December 17, 2002). "Songs About Laurence Stephen Lowry". FreakyTrigger. Tom Ewing. Retrieved August 17, 2012. 
  7. ^ "Status Quo Concert Setlist at Roundhouse, London on October 22, 2014 -". Retrieved 25 February 2015. 
  8. ^ "Status Quo - Acoustic". Radio 2 In Concert. Retrieved 25 February 2015. 
  9. ^ "Type O Negative Current Bio - 9.00". Type O Negative. Team Ronin. 2003. Archived from the original on 2003-07-05. 
  10. ^ Masuo, Sandy (February 22, 1997). "Various artists, "Private Parts" soundtrack, *** Warner Bros.". Los Angeles Times. Los Angeles, California, USA: Eddy Hartenstein. ISSN 0458-3035. OCLC 3638237. Retrieved August 17, 2012. 

External links[edit]