An Interview with Suzi Quatro
by Roger Crow
In an age when there were no female rockers in the charts, Detroit-born musician Suzi Quatro scored a string of smashes including ‘Can the Can’ and ‘Devil Gate Drive’.
Ahead of her appearance with other beloved acts in the ‘Legends Live’ tour, which comes to Leeds’ First Direct Arena on October 15, she talks about being the first lady of rock and roll, inspiring other female musicians, working in Happy Days, and her string of new projects…
I’m looking forward to the Legends Live tour.
I can’t remember any female rock stars before you in the 1970s. Did you feel like a pioneer at the time?
Well there wasn’t anybody before me, so that’s why (laughs). I wasn’t the first ’girl’ musician. Of course I wasn’t the first one, but I was the first one to have success, so there were none in the charts. I got in the charts being a rock and roll musician, so yes. That was the first time that had been done. And that goes down in history as belonging to me, and I’m very proud of it.
Did you have a feeling about classics like ‘Can the Can’ and ‘Devil Gate Drive’ when you were recording them?
Yes. ‘Can the Can’ sounded like a number one in the studio I have to say. You got little hairs on the back of your neck standing up.
Did you get people like Chrissie Hynde asking for your advice when they were starting out?
Yeah, sure. I mean Joan Jett was my biggest fan of all time. She was literally in the lobby of the hotel every time I came back from the show, which is so sweet. And she had piles of things to sign and had my haircut, and a leather jacket on. It was cute, you know?
You really paved the way.
Oh yeah, sure. Somebody had to do it.
What is it about Detroit that turns out so many great musicians?
Maybe because it’s a city of extremes. You do have your black and white; your rich and poor, and that creates a very special energy. It’s just a great music city. I’m very proud to have come from there.
Do you still get nervous before a gig?
I don’t suffer from nerves as such. I get anxious to get on stage.
I was a big fan of Happy Days.
Great show. I’m proud to have been a part of it.
How was it working with Henry Winkler?
He’s lovely. I’m still in touch with Henry, and Ron (Howard), and in fact both of them gave me quotes for my autobiography, and Henry gave me a quote for my poetry book. So yes, we’re in contact.
Where and when were you happiest career-wise?
I don’t know if I could pinpoint a happiest time. I’m really on a roll right now creatively. I’m just so involved. We’ve got the new supergroup, Quatro, Scott and Powell, which is myself, Andy Scott from Sweet and Don Powell from Slade. We made an album called QSP, and we released it for my last Australian tour, only in that area for the tour, because we were my support group, and it got to number 23 in the charts. It’s coming out here in September, so I’m very excited about that.
And you have a new book out?
Yes, my first novel The Hurricane has just come out in May; my poetry book was released worldwide, Through My Eyes, and my BBC Radio 2 show ‘Quatrophonic’ is ongoing, and I’m busy as hell.
I love the Radio 2 show.
It’s a fun series. It’s a favourite thing I’ve done on the radio because it’s my own invention. I’m really enjoying it.
That’s been going a few years now.
Yeah, I’ve been on Radio 2 since 1999.
Good luck with the gigs and thanks for your time.
Suzi Quatro is part of the ‘Legends Live’ UK Tour, also featuring David Essex, The Osmonds and Hot Chocolate. The show visits Leeds First Direct Arena on October 15, 2017