Susan Kay Quatro
3 June 1950 (age 71) (
Detroit, Michigan, U.S.
Glam rockhard rockcock Rock
Singer-songwritermulti-instrumentalistrecord produceractressradio presenter
Singer-songwriter · suziquatro.com
If You Knew Suzi..., Aggro-Phobia, Unreleased Emotion
Rainer Haas (m. 1993), Len Tuckey (m. 1976–1992)
Chris Norman, Len Tuckey, Roz Kelly
Suzi quatro shes in love with you 1979
Susan Kay "Suzi" Quatro (born June 3, 1950) is an American-born rock singer-songwriter, multi-instrumentalist and actress. She was the first female bass player to become a major rock star, breaking a barrier to women's participation in rock music.
- Suzi quatro shes in love with you 1979
- Early life and family
- Early career and the Art Quatro Trio
- The Pleasure Seekers and Cradle
- Work with Mickie Most
- Mike Chapman and Dreamland records
- Acting and radio hosting
- Personal life
- Awards and honors
- Views of journalists and reviewers
- Views of scholars
- People and bands influenced by Quatro
- Musical style
- Live albums
- Compilation albums
- Bravo Otto
- Queens of British Pop
In the 1970s, Quatro scored a string of hit singles that found greater success in Europe and Australia than in her homeland. She reached no. 1 in the UK and other European countries and Australia with her singles "Can the Can" (1973) and "Devil Gate Drive" (1974). Following a recurring role as bass player Leather Tuscadero on the popular American sitcom Happy Days, her duet "Stumblin' In" with Smokie's lead singer Chris Norman reached No. 4 in the US.
Quatro released her eponymous debut album in 1973. Since then, she has released fifteen studio albums, ten compilation albums, and one live album. Her solo hits include "Can the Can", "48 Crash", "Daytona Demon", "Devil Gate Drive" and "Your Mamma Won't Like Me".
Between 1973 and 1980, Quatro was awarded six Bravo Ottos. In 2010, she was voted into the Michigan rock and roll Legends online Hall of Fame. Quatro has sold over 50 million albums and continues to perform live, worldwide. Her most recent studio album was released in 2011 and she also continues to present new radio programmes.
Early life and family
Quatro was born and raised in Detroit. Her paternal grandfather was an Italian immigrant to the US. His family name of "Quattrocchi" was shortened by the immigration authorities because they found it too difficult to pronounce. Quatro's Catholic family were living in Detroit when she was born. She has three sisters and a brother, and her parents fostered several other children while she was growing up. Her father, Art, was a semi-professional musician and worked at General Motors. Her mother, Helen, was Hungarian. In this environment, Quatro grew to be "extrovert but solitary", according to Norman, and she only became close to her mother after leaving the US for Britain.
Her sister Arlene is the mother of actress Sherilyn Fenn. Her sister Patti joined Fanny, one of the earliest all-female rock bands to gain national attention. Quatro has a brother, Michael Quatro, who is also a musician.
She was influenced at the age of six by seeing Elvis Presley perform on television. She has said that she had no direct female role models in music but was inspired by Billie Holiday and liked the dress sense of Mary Weiss of the Shangri-Las "because she wore tight trousers and a waistcoat on top – she looked hot".
Quatro received formal training in playing classical piano and percussion. She taught herself how to play the bass and guitar. Her father gave her a 1957 Fender Precision bass guitar in 1964, which she still possessed in 2007.
Early career and the Art Quatro Trio
Quatro played drums or percussion from an early age as part of her father's jazz band, the Art Quatro Trio. Sources vary regarding whether her playing in the band began at the age of seven or eight, and whether the instrument she played was a drum kit or percussion (bongo or congas). Subsequently, she appeared on local television as a go-go dancer in a pop music series.
The Pleasure Seekers and Cradle
In 1964, after seeing a television performance by the Beatles, Quatro's older sister, Patti, had formed an all-female garage rock band called the Pleasure Seekers with two friends. Quatro joined too and assumed the stage name of Suzi Soul; Patti Quatro was known as Patti Pleasure. Suzi would sing and play bass in the band. The band also later featured another sister, Arlene. Many of their performances were in cabaret, where attention was (initially) focused more on their physical looks than their actual music. They sometimes had to wear miniskirts and hair wigs, which Quatro later considered to be necessary evils in the pursuit of success. However, they would become well-known fixtures in the burgeoning and exploding Detroit music community.
the Pleasure Seekers recorded three singles and released two of these: "Never Thought You'd Leave Me" / "What a Way to Die" (1966) and "Light of Love" / "Good Kind of Hurt" (1968). The second of these was released by Mercury Records, with whom they briefly had a contract before breaking away due to differences of opinion regarding their future direction. They changed their name to Cradle in late 1969, not long after another Quatro sister, Nancy, had joined the band and Arlene had left following the birth of her child.
Work with Mickie Most
Quatro moved to England in 1971, after being spotted by the record producer Mickie Most, who had by that time founded his own label, Rak Records. Most had been persuaded to see Cradle by Michael, the brother of the Quatro sisters who had assumed a managerial role for the band. In common with many in the record industry at the time, Most was seeking a female rock singer who could fill the void that the death of Janis Joplin had created. According to the Encyclopedia of Popular Music, his attention to Quatro was drawn by "her comeliness and skills as bass guitarist, singer and chief show-off in Cradle." She had also been attracting attention from Elektra Records and subsequently explained that "According to the Elektra president, I could become the new Janis Joplin. Mickie Most offered to take me to England and make me the first Suzi Quatro – I didn't want to be the new anybody." Most had no interest in the other band members and he had no idea at that time of how he might market Quatro. She spent a year living in a hotel while being nurtured by Most, developing her skills and maturing. Most later said that the outcome was a reflection of her own personality.
Quatro's first single, "Rolling Stone", was successful only in Portugal, where it reached No. 1 on the charts. This was a solo effort, although aided by people such as Duncan Browne, Peter Frampton and Alan White. Subsequently, with the approval of Most, she auditioned for a band to accompany her. It was also after this record that Most introduced her to the songwriting and production team of Nicky Chinn and Mike Chapman, who wrote songs specifically to accord with her image. She agreed with Most's assessment of her image, saying that his influence, at which some of his artists – such as Jeff Beck and Rod Stewart – balked, did not extend to manufacture and that "If he tried to build me into a Lulu, I wouldn't have it. I'd say 'go to hell' and walk out." This was the height of the glam rock period of the 1970s and Quatro, who wore leather clothes, portrayed a wild, androgynous image while playing music that "hinged mostly on a hard rock chug beneath lyrics in which scansion overruled meaning."
In 1972, Quatro embarked as a support act on a UK tour with Thin Lizzy and headliners Slade. Rak arranged for her to use Thin Lizzy's newly acquired PA system during this, incurring a charge of £300 per week that enabled the Irish band to effectively purchase it at no cost to themselves. In May 1973, her second single "Can the Can" (1973) – which Philip Auslander describes as having "seemingly nonsensical and virtually unintelligible lyrics" – was a No. 1 hit in parts of Europe and in Australia.
"Can the Can" was followed by three further hits: "48 Crash" (1973), "Daytona Demon" (1973) and "Devil Gate Drive" (1974). "Can the Can", "48 Crash" and "Devil Gate Drive" each sold over one million copies and were awarded gold discs, although they met with little success in her native United States, where she had toured as a support act for Alice Cooper. Rak artists had generally not succeeded in the US and her first album, Suzi Quatro, was criticised by Alan Betrock for its lack of variety, for its Quatro-written "second-rate fillers" and for her voice, described as "often too high and shrill, lacking punch or distinctive phrasing." Writing for Rolling Stone, Greg Shaw was also downbeat, saying that the album "may be a necessary beginning".
Musicians who acted as her backing band around this period included Alastair McKenzie, Dave Neal and Len Tuckey, with Robbie Blunt also being listed by some sources. Tuckey's brother, Bill, acted as tour manager.
With the exception of Australia, her chart success faltered thereafter, as proven with her 1975 hit "Your Mamma Won't Like Me", which proved to be a moderate success in the UK. Further singles "I Bit off More I Could Chew" and "I May Be Too Young", both failed to reach the UK Top 50. Quatro recorded an album in 1976 and released a new single in 1977 called "Tear Me Apart" which reached the UK Top 30, her first hit to have done so in three years. It would take another year for another big hit, this time with a change to a more mellow style giving Quatro a 1978 single "If You Can't Give Me Love" that became a hit there and in the United Kingdom. Later that year, "Stumblin' In", a duet with Chris Norman of the band Smokie, reached No. 4 in the US Both tracks were featured on the If You Knew Suzi... album. A year later, Quatro released Suzi ... and Other Four Letter Words, but none of her other work had much US success. This featured the hits "She's in Love with You", which made No. 11 in Britain, "Mama's Boy" (number 34), and "I've Never Been in Love" (number 56).
Mike Chapman and Dreamland records
In 1980, after Quatro's contract with Mickie Most had expired, she signed up with Chapman's Dreamland Records.
In that same year, she released the album Rock Hard; both the album and title single went platinum in Australia. "Rock Hard" was also used in the cult film Times Square and appeared on the soundtrack album. The single reached No. 11 in Australia, but only 68 in the U.K. due to distribution problems; it was clear at this point that the hit single career was beginning to wane. However, there was a second single from the Rock Hard album released in February 1981 titled Lipstick but radio refused to play it as they claimed it sounded too much like Gloria by Van Morrison. Back in 1980, Suzi Quatro's Greatest Hits was released which peaked at No. 4 in the U.K. charts, becoming her highest-charting album there.
After Chapman's Dreamland Records folded, Quatro was left without a record label.
Her last UK hit for some time was "Heart of Stone" in late 1982. In 1983 another single "Main Attraction" was released. It failed to chart but did become a moderate airplay hit. She commented in an article for Kerrang! in 1983, after playing a successful show at Reading Festival on August 27, that she did not care about being in the charts, but was more interested releasing what she wanted to; commenting that she started in 1964, and did not become famous for nine years "I would never accept having my career moulded by other people ... I've kept working consistently even though I've not been in the charts." Around this time Quatro recorded a new album that was shelved until 1997, when it was released under Unreleased Emotion Quatro briefly returned to recording for two more singles "I Go Wild" in 1984 and in 1985, her "Tonight I Could Fall in Love"/"Good Girl (Looking for a Bad Time)" single reached No. 140 in the UK charts. Quatro also collaborated with Bronski Beat and members of the Kinks, Eddie and the Hot Rods and Dr. Feelgood on the Mark Cunningham-produced cover version of David Bowie's "Heroes", released the following year as the 1986 BBC Children in Need single. Quatro also released a cover version of "Wild Thing" in the November 1986. "Can the Can"/"Devil Gate Drive" were re-released in 1987 as a single and reached number 87 in the UK charts. She was also part of the Ferry Aid charity single "Let It Be", which was a UK No. 1, 13 years and 26 days after Quatro's last UK No. 1. In 1989 Quatro released a prerecorded backing track single "Baby You're a Star", and was released in the UK though it failed to chart. By the late 80's it was clear that Quatro's hit making days were over, though still recorded persistently despite lack of chart success. During the 1990s, Quatro released four new albums though Unreleased Emotion had been recorded several years previously. What Goes Around – Greatest & Latest was released in 1995 and consisted of mainly older hits rerecorded, this proved a success in Denmark. Except for 1999's Free the Butterfly self-help album it would take a further 11 years for Quatro to release a new album. Back to the Drive in 2006 showed a return to Quatro's harder rock roots rather than the smoother sounds of her previous albums. Back to the Drive also returned Quatro to the worldwide charts her first album to do so since 1980's Rock Hard. Back to the Drive also produced a download only single "I'll Walk Through the Fire with You". Quatro most recently released In the Spotlight in 2011 with the lead single, "Whatever Love Is". Quatro marked her 50th anniversary in the music industry with an anthology, Girl from Detroit, in 2014 with two new tracks.
In December 2005, a documentary chronicling Quatro's life, Naked Under Leather, named after a 1975 bootleg album recorded in Japan, directed by a former member of the Runaways, Victory Tischler-Blue, appeared. In February 2006, Quatro released Back to the Drive, produced by Sweet guitarist Andy Scott. The album's title track was written by her former collaborator, Chapman. In March 2007, Quatro released a cover version of the Eagles song "Desperado", followed by the publication of her autobiography, Unzipped. By this time, Quatro had sold 50 million records.
On June 11, 2010, she headlined the 'Girls Night Out' at the Isle of Wight Festival. Quatro was also inducted into the Michigan Rock and Roll Legends online Hall of Fame in 2010, following an on-line vote.
In August 2011, Quatro released her fifteenth studio album, In the Spotlight (and its single, "Spotlight"). This album is a mixture of new songs written by Mike Chapman and by herself, along with some cover versions. A second single from the album, "Whatever Love Is", was subsequently released. On November 16, 2011, a music video (by Tischler-Blue) for the track "Strict Machine" was released onto the Suzi Quatro Official YouTube channel. The track is a cover of Goldfrapp's "Strict Machine", but Quatro's version contains two lines from "Can the Can", referencing the similarity of the tunes for the two songs.
In April 2013, she performed in America for the first time in over 30 years, at the Detroit Music Awards where she received the Distinguished Lifetime Achievement Award, presented to her by her sister, Patti.
Acting and radio hosting
Quatro is possibly best known in the United States for her role as the bass player Leather Tuscadero on the television show Happy Days. The show's producer, Garry Marshall, had offered her the role without having an audition after seeing a photograph of her on his daughter's bedroom wall. Leather was the younger sister of Fonzie's girlfriend, hot-rod driver Pinky Tuscadero. Leather fronted a rock band joined by principal character Joanie Cunningham. The character returned in other cameo roles, including once for a date to a fraternity formal with Ralph Malph. Marshall offered Quatro a Leather Tuscadero spin-off, but she declined the offer, saying she did not want to be typecast.
Other acting roles include a 1982 episode of the British comedy-drama series Minder (called "Dead Men Do Tell Tales") as Nancy, the singer girlfriend of Terry (Dennis Waterman). In 1985, she starred as a mentally disturbed ex-MI5 operative in Dempsey and Makepeace – "Love you to Death". In 1994, she made a cameo appearance as a nurse in the "Hospital" episode of the comedy Absolutely Fabulous. She also was filmed in the 1990 Clive Barker horror film Nightbreed, but the studio cut out her character. In 2006, Quatro performed the voice of Rio in the Bob the Builder film Built to Be Wild, and appeared in an episode of the second season of Rock School, in Lowestoft. She has also appeared in the episode "The Axeman Cometh" of Midsomer Murders in the role of Mimi Clifton.
Quatro has also performed in theatre. In 1986, she appeared as Annie Oakley in a London production of Annie Get Your Gun and in 1991 she performed the title role in a musical about the life of actress Tallulah Bankhead. Titled Tallulah Who?, this musical was co-written by her and Shirlie Roden, adapted from a book by Willie Rushton. It ran from February 14 to March 9 at Hornchurch, England, where it was billed as "You'll be amazed how Tallulah did it, and to whom – and how often!" The show received favourable reviews from the majority of critics.
In more recent times, Quatro has hosted weekly rock and roll programmes on BBC Radio 2. The first one was titled Rockin' with Suzi Q, while her second programme was given the title Wake Up Little Suzi.
She started writing songs alone, then collaborated with other songwriters (such as Len Tuckey and Shirley Roden), and now once again mainly writes songs alone.
Quatro's early recorded songwriting was deliberately limited to album tracks and the B-sides of singles. She said in late 1973, that "... [the] album tracks are a very different story from [the] singles. The two-minute lo-and-behold commercial single will not come out of my brain, but ain't I gonna worry about it."
She describes creating a new song: "From sitting at my piano in my front room, writing down a title (always first), picking up my bass, figuring out the groove, going back to the piano ... working on the lyrics, playing electric guitar ... and finally I type out the lyrics. Only then is it officially a song. Next it goes down on my tiny 8-track, [with] me playing everything ... this is the version all muso's use to get into the tune ... then into the studio and we go from there."
Quatro married her long-time guitarist, Len Tuckey, in 1976. They had two children together (Laura in 1982 and Richard Leonard in 1984) and divorced in 1992. Before 1993, Quatro lived with her two children in a manor house in Essex that she and Tuckey bought in 1980.
She married German concert promoter Rainer Haas in 1993. In 2006, her daughter and grandchild moved into the manor house again. Towards the end of 2008, Quatro's children moved out of the house and she temporarily put it up for sale, stating that she had empty nest syndrome. Quatro continues to live in Essex.
On March 31, 2012, Quatro broke her right knee and left wrist while boarding an aircraft in Kiev, Ukraine, where she had performed the night before. She had to cancel her appearance at the Detroit Music Awards, where she was to be inducted into the Detroit Hall of Fame along with her sisters, scheduled for April 27. This would have been her first performance in America for over 30 years. Quatro also had to reschedule other concert dates, while some were cancelled altogether.
In a 2012 interview, Quatro was asked what she thought she had achieved for female rockers in general. She replied:
Before I did what I did, we didn't have a place in rock 'n' roll. Not really. You had your Grace Slicks and all that, but that's not what I did. I was the first to be taken seriously as a female rock 'n' roll musician and singer. That hadn't been done before. I played the boys at their own game. For everybody that came afterward, it was a little bit easier, which is good. I'm proud of that. If I have a legacy, that's what it is. It's nothing I take lightly. It was gonna happen sooner or later. In 2014, I will have done my job 50 years. It was gonna be done by somebody, and I think it fell to me to do because I don't look at gender. I never have. It doesn't occur to me if a 6-foot-tall guy has pissed me off not to square up to him. That's just the way I am. If I wanted to play a bass solo, it never occurred to me that I couldn't. When I saw Elvis for the first time when I was 5, I decided I wanted to be him, and it didn't occur to me that he was a guy. That's why it had to fall to somebody like me.
In a 1973 interview, Quatro sympathised with many of the opinions voiced by the women's liberation movement whilst distancing herself from it because she considered that the participants were
... completely hypocritical. Their leaders stand up there and say, 'We're individuals blab blab blab,' and yet they're all in a group following like sheep. For me, I cannot put the two together ... I'm talking about the masses that follow [the movement's leaders who get press attention] and who have nothing at all to say. It gives it all a very phoney light. I hope they can find a way to apply it to their own lives, because grouping together takes away the whole idea of Women's Lib.
The interviewer, Charles Shaar Murray, considered her viewpoint to be "... somewhat anomalous, because unless the woman in question happens to be well known, she has no way of letting people hear her unless she unites with other women and then elects a spokesman." He also noted the apparent contradiction that Quatro seemed proud that girls were writing to her saying that they were emulating her look and her attitude. In 1974, Quatro believed that, unlike men, women were burdened with emotional responses and that it was more difficult for Them to succeed in the music industry because they are more prone to jealousy and thus female audiences tend not to buy the recordings of female artists. Her unusually free use of swear words in conversation was often picked upon by interviewers in the 1970s, as have been her diminutive stature and boy-ish nature. In 1974, Philip Norman said that
Of all female rock singers, she appears the most emancipated: a small girl leading an all-man group in which she herself plays bass guitar. The image is of a tomboy, lank-haired, tight-bottomed and (twice) tattooed; a rocker, a brooder, a loner, a knife-carrier; a hell-cat, a wild cat, a storm child, refugee from the frightened city of Detroit.
By October 1973, she had featured as a centerfold for Penthouse. Unusually for that role, she was fully clothed, although the feature did include risqué anecdotal captions. Frith noted that while any publicity was a bonus, "Tit-talent spotters don't buy many singles and record buyers aren't yet that frustrated."
Awards and honors
On October 20, 2016, it was announced through Cambridge online news, that Quatro received an honorary doctorate in music, along with Dr. Feelgood's Wilko Johnson. Anglia Ruskin University presented the honorary music doctorates to Quatro and Johnson, In 2011, Quatro was inducted to the Michigan Rock and Roll Legends Hall of Fame.
Views of journalists and reviewers
In August 1974, Simon Frith spotted a problem with the formula that was working outside the US, saying that
Suzi's facing a bit of a [commercial] crisis: Chinn and Chapman, having proved their point, are losing interest in her. She's never had their best material (they don't play many games with her) and each of her singles has been less gripping than the one before. Unless they suddenly imagine a new joke, she's in danger of petering out and she lacks the resources to fight back. None of her own musical talents has been needed and so they've been ignored (except on the throwaway B-sides) and while Sweet and Mud have their histories and themselves to draw on for support, Suzi's present has nothing to do with her past and her group was formed only to play Chinnichap music. Mud may become a top cabaret act and Sweet a respected rock group, but Suzi will only be a memory. Mickie Most's skill in the '60s was to make pop music out of British blues and R&B and folk; Chinn and Chapman's skill in the '70s has been to make pop music out of an audience. As this audience ages and changes, so will its music and Suzi Quatro will have been just an affectionate part of growing up.
In 1983, journalist Tom Hibbert wrote that Quatro may have overstated her role as a leading light among female rock musicians. He said that
... it was in the wake of the 1977 punk revolution that the traditions of rock were turned upside down and female musicians truly came to the fore. But Suzi Quatro, with her tomboy sneers, her bass guitar and her stompingly persuasive teen-tunes, had at least laid down a challenge to the male-dominated rock orthodoxy. On stage in the Eighties, Quatro was still conveying energy and excitement – and she still lacked class."
Views of scholars
In his 2008 paper Suzi Quatro: A prototype in the archsheology [sic] of rock, Frank Oglesbee writes that "The rebellion of rock music was largely a male rebellion; the women—often, in the 1950s and '60s, girls in their teens—in rock usually sang songs as personæ utterly dependent on their macho boyfriends ...". He describes Quatro as "... a female rock pioneer, in some ways the female rock pioneer, ... a cornerstone in the archsheology of rock." He said she grew up to become "the first female lead singer and bassist, an electric ax-woman, who sang and played as freely as the males, inspiring other females."
Philip Auslander says that "Although there were many women in rock by the late 1960s, most performed only as singers, a traditionally feminine position in popular music". Though some women (like Quatro herself) played instruments in American all-female garage rock bands, none of these bands achieved more than regional success. So they "did not provide viable templates for women's on-going participation in rock". When Quatro emerged in 1973, "no other prominent female musician worked in rock simultaneously as a singer, instrumentalist, songwriter, and bandleader". Auslander adds that in 2000 Quatro saw herself as "kicking down the male door in rock and roll and proving that a female musician ... and this is a point I am extremely concerned about ... could play as well if not better than the boys".
People and bands influenced by Quatro
Quatro has influenced various female musicians. Musician Tina Weymouth, who played bass guitar in Talking Heads and Tom Tom Club, among other bands, first learned to play bass by listening to Quatro albums.
Mid-1990s American indie rock band Tuscadero was named after Quatro's Happy Days character Leather Tuscadero, and their song "Leather Idol", from their 1994 album The Pink Album, was an ode to both Quatro and her TV character.
On October 24, 2013, Quatro received the Woman of Valor Award from the organisation Musicians for Equal Opportunities for Women (MEOW) for her role inspiring and influencing generations of female musicians. The award was bestowed by Kathy Valentine (formerly of The Go-Go's) at a dinner in her honour in Austin, Texas, at the Austin Renaissance Hotel. Quatro performed five songs with a local band that included her sister Patti and Tony Scalzo of the band Fastball on "Stumblin In".
A Spanish rock band called Suzy & los Quattro released two studio albums on the label No Tomorrow in 2006 and 2008; in the tradition of Ramones and the Donnas, all of the band members except for Suzy Chain listed their last name as Quattro.
A Danish band called Suzi & Quadratrødderne released two albums: Glimrende (Excellent) and Absolut Nødvendigt..! (Absolutely Necessary ..!). Quatro was played by Ricky Rocket. Unlike Quatro and her band, Suzi & Quadratrødderne dressed in glam rock style.
Quatro's music covers several genres. Her primary genres are hard rock, glam rock and female cock rock. (Auslander analysed Quatro's live performances of "Can the Can" plus "Breakdown" and concluded that she performed as a cock-rocker. He writes that "she has appeared on occasion just as a bass player, not a singer, and [also] demonstrates her instrumental prowess with an extended bass guitar solo during her own concerts. By foregrounding her status as a rock player, not just a singer, Quatro declares ownership of the symbolic rock cock.")
Quatro has won the following Bravo Otto awards:
Queens of British Pop
In April 2009, BBC TV selected Quatro as one of twelve Queens of British Pop.
Awarded honorary doctorate at Anglia Ruskin University, Cambridge, UK on 19 October 2016.