Suzi Quatro facts for kids
Quick facts for kidsSuzi Quatro
Quatro performing in 2017
|Birth name||Susan Kay Quatro|
|Born||Detroit, Michigan, U.S.|
Susan Kay Quatro is an American singer-songwriter, musician, and actress. In the 1970s she scored a string of hit singles that found greater success in Europe and Australia than in her homeland, reaching No. 1 in the UK, other European countries and Australia with her singles "Can the Can" (1973) and "Devil Gate Drive" (1974).
Quatro released her self-titled debut album in 1973. Since then, she has released fifteen studio albums, ten compilation albums, and one live album. Her other solo hits include "48 Crash", "Daytona Demon", "The Wild One", and "Your Mama Won't Like Me". 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.
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. She is reported to have sold over 50 million records worldwide, and continues to perform live. Quatro's most recent studio album was released in 2021; she also remains active in radio broadcasting.
- Early life and family
- Personal life
- Awards and honours
- Musical style
Early life and family
Quatro was born and raised in Detroit. Her paternal grandfather was an Italian immigrant to the U.S.. Her family name of "Quattrocchi" ("four eyes", meaning "bespectacled") was shortened to Quatro. Quatro's family were living in Detroit when she was born. She has three sisters, a brother, and one older half-sister. 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 Philip Norman of The Sunday Times, and she only became close to her mother after leaving the U.S. 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.
In 1976, Quatro married Len Tuckey. They had two children together (Laura in 1982 and Richard Leonard in 1984) and divorced in 1992.
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 Records 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 Records' 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".
In 1973, Quatro played on the Cozy Powell hit "Dance With the Devil", a track written by Mickie Most while Cozy Powell was part of the Rak Records roster.
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 Than I Could Chew" and "I May Be Too Young", both failed to reach the UK Top 50. Quatro recorded the album Aggro-Phobia 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 with Chapman's Dreamland Records.
In the 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 was included on the soundtrack album. The single reached No. 11 in Australia, but only 68 in the UK due to distribution problems. It was clear at this point that the hit single career was beginning to wane. A second single from the Rock Hard album, titled "Lipstick", was released in February 1981, but radio refused to play it as they claimed it sounded too much like Gloria by Them. Suzi Quatro's Greatest Hits, which was released in 1980, peaked at No. 4 in the UK charts, becoming her highest-charting album there.
After Chapman's Dreamland Records folded in 1981, 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 in 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 issued as 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 November 1986, as a duet with The Troggs singer Reg Presley. "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", which was released in the UK, though it failed to chart. By the late 80's, it was clear that Quatro's hitmaking days were over, though she 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 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.
Around 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, was made, but this has never been released. 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. Toby Mamis, who was acting as her U.S. representative at that time, helped broker the deal and generate enormous media attention to it, elevating Quatro's profile in her home country. Leather was the younger sister of Fonzie's former girlfriend, hot-rod driver Pinky Tuscadero. Leather fronted a rock band joined by principal character Joanie Cunningham. The character returned in other guest 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, Rhiannon Wolfe 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, England 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 and Hamburg, and sometimes in Detroit.
Since 2011, she has published music videos on YouTube. On March 31, 2012, Quatro broke her right knee and left wrist while boarding an aircraft in Kyiv, 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 in over 30 years. Quatro also had to reschedule other concert dates, while some were cancelled altogether.
Awards and honours
In 2020, Quatro was awarded the Icon Award by the Women's International Music Network.
In 2011, Quatro was inducted to the Michigan Rock and Roll Legends Hall of Fame.
In October 2016, Quatro received an honorary doctorate in music from Anglia Ruskin University, Cambridge, UK along with Dr. Feelgood's Wilko Johnson.
On August 15, 2019, an Australian-made film on the life of Quatro premiered in Melbourne, Victoria. "Suzi Q" is noted as the first official documentary to ever be released about her. It was described by Quatro as a "warts and all" look into her career, focusing on both her successes and challenges faced along the way, particularly as she left her sisters in Detroit to pursue a solo career in London. Quatro stated that she was drawn to having Melbourne-based director Liam Firmager make the film, "Because although he liked my music, he wasn't particularly "A Fan", which meant he was objective, and wouldn't spend all his time telling me how great I am... I like that, he was the right guy for the job".
Bravo is the largest magazine for teenagers in German-speaking Europe. Each year, the readers of this magazine select the Bravo Otto award winners.
Quatro has won the following Bravo Otto awards:
- 1973 Gold for female singer
- 1974 Gold for female singer
- 1975 Bronze for female singer
- 1978 Bronze for female singer
- 1979 Bronze for female singer
- 1980 Silver for female singer
Queens of British Pop
In April 2009, BBC TV selected Quatro as one of twelve Queens of British Pop.
Quatro's music covers several genres. Her primary genres are hard rock and glam rock. Academic Philip Auslander wrote 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."
- Suzi Quatro (1973)
- Quatro (1974)
- Your Mamma Won't Like Me (1975)
- Aggro-Phobia (1976)
- If You Knew Suzi... (1978)
- Suzi ... and Other Four Letter Words (1979)
- Rock Hard (1980)
- Main Attraction (1982)
- Annie Get Your Gun – 1986 London Cast (1986)
- Oh, Suzi Q. (1990)
- What Goes Around – Greatest & Latest (1995)
- Unreleased Emotion (1998)
- Free the Butterfly (1999)
- Back to the Drive (2006)
- In the Spotlight (2011)
- Quatro, Scott & Powell (2017)
- No Control (2019)
- The Devil in Me (2021)
- Happy Days (seven episodes, 1977–1979)
- Minder (one episode,[series 3 episode 1] 1982)
- Dempsey and Makepeace (one episode, 1985)
- Absolutely Fabulous (one episode, 1994)
- Midsomer Murders (one episode, 2007)
- Guest appearances
- Countdown (six episodes, 1997)
- Never Mind the Buzzcocks (4 episodes, 1999 – 2006)
- This Is Your Life (subject 1999)
- Rock School (one episode on series two, 2006)
- Trust Me – I'm a Beauty Therapist (in October 2006)
- Australian Idol (one episode as guest judge, 2009)
- RocKwiz (one episode as performer and quiz contestant, 2011)
- Spicks and Specks (one episode as quiz contestant, 2014)
- Bob the Builder – Built to Be Wild (voice of Rio Rogers, 2002)
- Suzi Q (Herself) 2019 Palstar Entertainment (Dir. Liam Firmager)
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