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Suzi Quatro

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Born Susan Kay Quatrocchio on June 3, 1950 in Detroit, Michigan, Suzi Quatro progressed from patting bongos at the age of seven in her father’s jazz band to go-go dancing in a pop series on local television. With an older sister, Patti (later of Fanny) she formed the all-female Suzi Soul and The Pleasure Seekers in 1964 for engagements that included a tour of army bases in Vietnam.

In 1971, her comeliness and skills as bass guitarist, singer and chief show-off in Cradle were noted by Mickie Most, who persuaded her to record Chinn and Chapman songs for his Rak Records label in England. Backed initially by Britons Alastair McKenzie (keyboards), Dave Neal (drums) and her future husband, ex-Nashville Teens member Len Tuckey (guitar), a second Rak single, 1973’s “Can The Can”, topped hit parades throughout the world at the zenith of the glam rock craze - of which rowdy Suzi, androgynous in her glistening biker leathers, became an icon. Her sound hinged mostly on a hard rock chug beneath lyrics in which scansion overruled meaning (“the 48 crash/is a silken sash bash”). The team’s winning streak with the likes of “48 Crash”, “Daytona Demon” and “Devil Gate Drive” - a second UK Number One - faltered when “Your Mama Won’t Like Me” stuck outside the Top 30, signaling two virtually hitless years before a more mellow policy brought a return to the Top Ten with “If You Can’t Give Me Love”.

Quatro’s chart fortunes in Britain lurched from “She’s in Love With You” at Number Eleven to 1982’s “Heart of Stone” at a lowly 68. “Stumblin’ In”, a 1978 duet with Smokie’s Chris Norman, was her biggest US Hot 100 strike (Number Eight) but barely touched the UK Top 40. By the late ‘80s, her output had been reduced to potshots, including teaming up with Reg Presley of the Troggs for a disco revival of “Wild Thing”. More satisfying than tilting for hit records, however, was her development as a singing actress, albeit in character as Leather Tuscadero in seven episodes of “Happy Days” during 1977. Cameos in UK television shows “Minder” and “Dempsey and Makepeace” followed, before Quatro landed the role of the quick-drawing heroine in the 1986 London production of Irving Berlin’s Annie Get Your Gun. Quatro went on to write and star in Tallulah Who?, a stage musical about the actress Tallulah Bankhead.

By the late ‘90s Quatro was concentrating on touring and recording once more and carving a career in the UK as a broadcaster on BBC radio. Back to The Drive, her first album of new material in over ten years, was released at the start of 2006.

In the Spotlight, the 2011 album from the veteran rocker features eleven tracks, including four new Mike Chapman compositions, two self-penned tunes plus great covers of the likes of Goldfrapp’s “Strict Machine” and Rhianna’s “Breaking Dishes”. It al features the bonus track “inging With Angels” Produced by Sweet’s Andy Scott, this Suzi-penned tribute to Elvis Presley features the Kings’ original guitarist James Burton and his legendary backing vocalists The Jordanaires and is a “must have” for all Elvis collectors as well as Suzi’s legion of fans.


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