INTERVIEW: We Talk Tours and Being a Tom Boy with Suzi Quatro
When I was a child my hero was Suzi Quatro. She was strong, hot and cool all at the same time. She rocked out and played guitar and made me believe that anything was possible for girls to achieve.
Since she burst onto the scene in 1973 she has featured in the British charts for no less than 101 weeks and has sold over 55 million records to date and that figure continues to rise. Her first number one ‘Can the Can’ sold two and a half million copies worldwide. She has appeared in TV shows such as ‘Happy Days’ as well as musical theatre and a radio two show that she still hosts.
So when I heard that she was going to be on the road with a Legends Live Tour, alongside Hot Chocolate, David Essex and The Osmonds, and there was an opportunity to interview her I jumped at the chance.
CY – How did you become involved with the Legends Tour?
SQ – So they called me and offered me to headline this tour that they were putting together and my first question was who else is doing it ‘cus I only want to do tours with people who are good and who I like, you don’t want to be stuck on tour with a bunch of crap. They told me the names and I said absolutely.
CY – So you already knew David Essex and Hot Chocolate?
SQ – Yeah Hot Chocolate are stable mates of mine and I’ve known David Essex for a long time so I was happy to say yes to this, absolutely. Usually I tour on my own and I’m always working so I needed to know that they people I was working with would make it enjoyable.
CY – You were the first female bass player to become a major rock star, breaking a barrier to women’s participation into rock music. Was it hard to break that barrier down?
SQ – I wasn’t the first female musician, there have always been musicians around and it had to happen sooner or later that a female like me had success, but when I look back on it now at the grand old age of 67, that the reason it fell to me was because I don’t do gender and I never have. Sure I’m feminine but I’ve always been a little bit of a tom boy. It never did occur to me, even when I was a youngster that I couldn’t do exactly what I wanted to do. I just don’t think of it in those terms. Even when I saw Elvis when I was 7 on television I had an epiphany and thought that is really what I want to do, I honestly didn’t think oh well he’s a guy. I’ve always been a me-ist, somebody who sticks to themselves, I always wanted to be exactly who I am, it doesn’t matter male or female, I just want to be me. If I have a mantra then that’s it.
CY – You were my childhood hero because you demonstrated that anything was possible for girls and that nothing should hold us back. Was that a conscious choice?
SQ – This is what I hoped, that people like yourself would say ‘hey we can do this’. I hope that I gave people the courage to just be themselves.
CY – When you released your first album in 1973 what were your hopes?
SQ – Well I felt that can the can was going to be a hit. You know you can just feel these things in the studio, you know it’s just hairs on the back of your neck, and everyone that’s had a hit will tell you that they can feel it. So I knew that something was going to happen, my idea was always to just sell as many records, so as many people could know me and I could please a lot of people. I wanted everyone to hear me and listen to me and get pleasure from me. I was a born entertainer and it’s what I have always been my whole life. I love going onto stage and seeing people leave with a big grin.
CY – It’s really great that you still feel like that and that it’s not a chore or about the money.
SQ – I haven’t needed the money for years now, I’ve looked after myself very well, I’ve been sensible, but every show is like the first for me. I never take it for granted and I go out and prove myself every time and never rest on my laurels. 53 years later I still love it as much as when I first started.
CY – In October 1973 you featured as a centrefold for Penthouse Magazine fully clothed – was that your idea?
SQ – ‘laughs’ I find that very funny. They asked me to do the centrefold and I said yes no problem, but with my clothes on and they said ok ‘laughs’. It’s just so funny, how cheeky can you be?
CY – How did you get into acting & what was it like working on Happy Days?
SQ – I loved working on Happy Days and I was honoured to be a part of that show. I’m still in contact with Henry and Ronnie Howard and we were talking about this and it’s a strange thing and I don’t know why but it was never like I was a new artist on that show. It was like I was always on it and none of us can work out why, but I guess it just was so natural. I just fitted in right.
CY – In 2016 you received an honorary doctorate in music, congratulations. How did that feel?
SQ – Yeah last October, I’m officially Doctor Quatro. I got my award in a cap & gown at Cambridge and I’m delighted with it as I didn’t even get a high school diploma.
CY – So what’s up next for you?
SQ – I released my poetry book earlier in the year called ‘Through my Eyes’, that’s out now, and my first novel came out May 27th called ‘The Hurricane’.
There is a new super group too, which is myself, Andy Scott from The Sweet and Don Powell from Slade. We have an album and we released it for my Australian tour in January and February. We were my support group which is funny and the album is called QSP. It got to number 23 in the Australian charts and it comes out here in September.
I’ve also got my radio show on BBC radio two that I have done since 1999, Quatrophonic which I love. I write as you know and I am an artiste and just love communicating.
I’m on the road all of the time and have another tour in Australia next January and February, I’ve got this big legends live tour in October and then I go to Denmark, Finland, Germany, I’m always working.
CY – is it hard work being on the road all of the time?
SQ – well some of it is, you know the travelling is always tiring but it’s all ok.
CY – Do you get much down time to spend with your family?
SQ – yes sure, I have my kids over all of the time. Last week when it was nice we had dinner in the garden which was great and I’ve got my granddaughter now who I adore and she comes over lots.
Fri 13 GLASGOW – SSE Hydro www.thessehydro.com
Sat 14 BIRMINGHAM – Genting Arena www.gentingarena.co.uk
Sun 15 LEEDS – First Direct Arena www.firstdirectarena.com
Wed 18 LIVERPOOL – Echo Arena www.echoarena.com
Thurs 19 MANCHESTER – Arena www.manchester-arena.com
Fri 20 LONDON – SSE Arena Wembley www.ssearena.co.uk
Sat 21 BRIGHTON – Centre www.brightoncentre.co.uk
Sun 22 CARDIFF – Motorpoint Arena www.motorpointarenacardiff.co.uk