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Interview: Suzi Quatro

5 min read

Suzi Quatro’s career began in a time when female musicians were a minority, a challenge that the musician did not allow to discourage her from building a musical legacy. After performing with a series of bands throughout the 60’s and 70’s, Suzi launched a solo career and became the first female bass player to become a major rock star, churning out a string of hits that made the leather donning rocker a household name throughout the world and her signature hit, 1973’s Can The Can, is still regarded today as one of the most symbolic singles of the 70’s rock movement.

Busy working on a box set, set for release next year, Suzi is about to perform a series of shows in London called Unzipped and we were lucky enough to grab some time with the musician to talk about the upcoming gigs and her career over the past 50 years. Here is what Suzi had to tell us:

Brendon Veevers: Hi Suzi, where does our interview find you today?

Suzi Quatro: Hi, I am at our holiday home in Majorca with my granddaughter, Amy.

BV: You have confirmed a string of shows at London’s Play Misty Club in Hackney beginning on September 6th. What can the audience expect from these Unzipped shows?

SQ: This is a one woman show with live music, clips and pictures – it takes you through my life in the (music) business.

BV: Are the shows a warm up to a larger tour in the works or are these the only dates on the calendar at the moment?

SQ: This is not a concert tour, it’s a one woman show and I am working concerts all the time – 60 shows a year. I am also headlining various festivals throughout Europe including Europe and Vienna.

SuziQuatro2BV: You are famous for your leather outfits. With you calling the shows Unzipped, can we safely assume that the leather outfits will make an appearance?

SQ: Yes definitely – my jumpsuit does make an appearance with me in it.

BV: Who do you think out there on the music scene these days pulls off leather as well as Suzi Quatro?

SQ: Leather is not new, it’s been around forever. I was inspired by Elvis since the age of 6. I do feel though that leather is ‘me’ and I think that most people would agree. It doesn’t matter who else wears it – I put it on the map in the form of a jumpsuit in 1973.

BV: When you look back on your career, amongst all of your accomplishments, what are your proudest moments?

SQ: There are so, so many – My first #1, my first big solo concert, first acting role, first musical, my autobiography (‘Unzipped’) and now a dream come true – my one woman show. Believe it or not, it’s been in the works for 35 years

BV: Can The Can is your signature hit and it is widely regarded as a symbolic song for 70’s British Rock’n’Roll. There are so many artists out there who are not proud, for whatever reason, of their early hits. What are your thoughts on Can The Can today and when you hear the song, say – in the supermarket – do you smile fondly or cringe?

SQ: I love my first hit. I’m very proud of it. I gave women a real place in the world of Rock’n’Roll. Shame on those artists who aren’t proud of their achievements.

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BV: Over the years you have appeared in numerous television shows including, our favourite, Absolutely Fabulous where you stole the episode (‘Hospital’) playing a Rock’n’Roll nurse in one of Eddie’s dreams. Are there any plans to return to the silver screen at all?

SQ: I do love acting. It’s my second love and I would love to do more.

BV: Is there a new album or single on the horizon?

SQ: Absolutely! I continue to record. My current album is In The Spotlight which is produced by Mike Chapman and to celebrate my 50th year in the business next year there will be a 4CD box set being released – an Anthology and I am working on the tracklisting as we speak. Mike (chapman) and I will also be doing 2 up to date tracks in September.

BV: There are many musicians out there today who cite you as an influence, crediting your musicianship and journey as an inspiration behind them becoming musicians themselves. Who can you say the same about – who inspired Suzi Quatro?

SQ: There were no female inspirations but I loved Elvis and Otis Redding.

BV: who is on you radar right now in terms of inspiring female musicians that have staying power?

SQ: Orianthi. She is excellent. Also, there are good musicians popping up in big acts. The hardest instruments for women to play though are bass and drums. Drums because of the physicality needed and bass just because its heavy and it’s not an easy instrument to play.

BV: When you rose to prominence in the 70’s, female musicians were not universally accepted in the way they are today. Can you talk to us a little about the difficulties you came up against in your career?

SQ: I was raised in a musical family – 5 girls and 1 boy – so all of us girls don’t do gender. We were all made to believe that we could do anything we wanted and so we did. One of my early bands was with my sisters. I didn’t really come across a lot of problems because I just didn’t see it. I took myself seriously and so everyone else did too – this is my mantra.

BV: Would you say that the 70’s attitude toward female musicians is still around today?

SQ: It’s about how you feel about yourself. I wasn’t trying to prove anything – I was a bass player and the fact that I was a female was secondary. But then again, I am not normal this way – it’s hard to explain really. The industry itself has changed though. I was covered up and females these days are uncovered – it’s a different ball game.

BV: Thanks for your time Suzi

SQ: Thanks Brendon

See Suzu Quatro’s Unzipped at London’s Play Misty Club in Hackney on 6th, 7th, 8th, 12th, 13th and 14th September.