Suzi Quatro: The BadAss With A Bass

suzi quatro

Suzi Quatro burst onto the scene in all her leather-clad, bass-toting glory, inspiring generations of women after her to pick up instruments and play rock and roll music. “Suzi Quatro was the first girl to get up there and do it,” Joan Jett told The Los Angeles Times. “She’s the one who made me think, wow, if she can do it, so can I.” What better way to prepare for this momentous anniversary than with a box set full of Quatro’s earliest and most influential work?

Now available from Chrysalis Records, The Rock Box 1973-1979: The Complete Recordings is an eight-disc set featuring the six studio albums, including B-sides and unreleased tracks, and one live album that Quatro recorded during the prolific six-year span. The albums included are Suzi Quatro (1973), Quatro (1974), Your Mamma Won’t Like Me (1975), Aggro-Phobia (1977), Live and Kickin’ (1977), If You Knew Suzi (1978), and Suzi…and Other Four Letter Words (1979).

Also featured in the box set is a DVD of promotional clips, Top of the Pops performances, and a 1975 concert in Japan, plus a 56-page booklet with track notes written by the rocker and her guitarist and former husband, Len Tuckey. A biography of Quatro penned by Dave Simpson of The Guardian, with Quatro’s own personal anecdotes, is included as well.

From her musical upbringing to her decades-long career, she surely has many fascinating stories to share. Originally from Detroit, Quatro was formally trained in classical piano and percussion as a child. She fell in love with music after watching Elvis Presley perform on TV (and would later receive a call from The King inviting her to visit Graceland because he enjoyed her cover of “All Shook Up” so much, but she would ultimately turn down the offer due to not feeling worthy).

In 1964, she began playing bass for The Pleasure Seekers, a band she formed with her sisters, and the group would gig around town at the same local clubs as Bob Seger. Five years later, they went in a different direction musically and rebranded as “Cradle,” which was the group Quatro was a member of when producer Mickie Most discovered her and signed her to RAK Records as a solo act.

As the box set indicates, things took off for her not long after. She achieved UK chart success, logging 11 top 40 hit singles, including two number ones with “Can the Can” in 1973 and “Devil Gate Drive” the following year. Her recurring role as Leather Tuscadero on the hit sitcom Happy Days, which producer Gary Marshall offered her after seeing her picture on his daughter’s wall, gained her notoriety in the U.S. Quatro’s only top 40 hit in America came in 1978, the middle of her Happy Days fame, with “Stumblin’ In,” a duet with Chris Norman of the English rock band Smokie. It reached No. 4 on the charts.

In 2011, Quatro was inducted to the Michigan Rock and Roll Legends Hall of Fame and three years ago, the first official documentary about her, Suzi Q, was released. While the world is busy celebrating her legacy, Quatro is still very active on the music scene. She released her album The Devil in Me last year and recently toured Europe.

-Brooke Luna

Photo: Suzi Quatro (Getty Images)

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