Gotta keep this one short, unfortunately — Suzi Quatro deserves more attention but with Tanzi off at Gallifrey One in Los Angeles and me trying to get everything sorted on the paperback edition of my novel, Squirrel Eyes, it’s a madhouse around Cheese Magnet Central.
It’s probably safe to say that Suzi is best known in the United States for playing Leather Tuscadero on Happy Days, but she was a pioneering female rocker who not only dished out some kick-ass records (and huge hits around the world), but served as inspiration to numerous girls with dreams of becoming rock stars (witness the well-deserved props Suzi gets in The Runaways — Joan Jett was massively influenced by Suzi, right down to the signature scream/growl).
Born in Detroit, Michigan in 1950, Suzi’s family was heavily into music. At fourteen, she was playing bass for the all-girl group The Pleasure Seekers — a band that included her sisters Patti, Nancy and Arlene. After being “discovered” by producer Mickie Most, Suzi moved to the UK in 1971. Most teamed Suzi with hitmakers Nicky Chinn and Mike Chapman, who wrote a bunch of hits for Sweet. Don’t think Suzi was some kind of puppet on a string, though — she wrote a lot of her own material along the way. Here’s her second single, “Can the Can,” which was a number one hit in Europe and Australia:
I’m not quite sure what that song is about but it’s a monster.
Several more hits followed but Stateside success eluded Suzi, until “Stumblin’ In,” her duet with Chris Norman (of the band Smokie) was released and went to #4 in the US. It’s a great little love song written by Chinn and Chapman that still gives me goosebumps:
Now, if you’re a regular reader of Cheese Magnet, you know I’m a nut for Nick Gilder, and Suzi did a cover of the Gilder/Sweeney Todd hit “Roxy Roller” that’s worth including here, too:
Love that powder blue jumpsuit, man.
Suzi is 60 years old and still rockin’ (and here’s a bit of trivia for you: Suzi’s niece is Twin Peaks actress Sherilyn Fenn). I’ll leave you with a friggin’ screamer, the title track from Suzi’s 1980 album, Rock Hard (it was also on the soundtrack of Allan Moyle’s terrific movie Times Square) — and by all rights, this thing should’ve been a mega-hit.