Suzi Quatro: I haven’t seen many people walk my path, even after all these years
The only Penthouse centrefold ever to be allowed to keep her clothes on, Suzi Quatro was “a pin-up for the guys and a hero to the women”
It’s one of the defining images of the glam era: Suzi Quatro resplendent in a black leather catsuit, as provocative as it’s androgynous, locked into a pounding, groin-located groove, manhandling a vintage Fender bass of almost identical height; out front, sassy, assertive, with a burly Detroit street gang at her back.
Before Suzi, rock’n’roll women were expected to be submissive, subordinate, subservient. After Suzi, all the girls wanted to be her and all the boys wanted her to be their boss. A succession of perfect Chinnichap hoodlum hit singles – Can The Can, 48 Crash, Daytona Demon, Devil Gate Drive – sealed the Quatro legend, while her feral snarl and uncompromising stance saw a succession of future legends (Jett, Hynde et al) first relate, then emulate. Still gigging, still inspiring, and recently delivering a stunning album alongside The Sweet’s Andy Scott and Slade’s Don Powell as QSP, no one defines rock’n’roll quite like Suzi Q.
Legend has it that you discovered and became captivated by Elvis when you were just seven. It seems you identified your calling at an early age and never wavered.
It’s completely true. I remember it happening. And it’s crazy for that to happen to somebody at the age of six, going into my seventh birthday. The whole family were watching The Ed Sullivan Show, and Elvis came out and he started to do Don’t Be Cruel. Now, my one elder sister was nine years older than me, so she was just the right age and she started to scream. And I looked at her like: “What are you doing?” Because I’m only six. Why are you screaming? Then I looked at the TV and I went into the set, really into it, connected with him, and in my brain it said: “I’m going to do that.” Just, bang! It never occurred to me that he was a guy and I was a girl.
You were at an age where gender wasn’t an issue.
Yeah, probably. But because that happened so young, I never did gender at all. I was more of a tomboy.