Suzi Quatro Has Words for a 'Macho Man' In New Song: Lyric Video Premiere
Suzi Quatro is well-regarded as a pioneering woman in rock n' roll, from her '60s tenures in the bands the Pleasure Seekers and Cradle in her native Detroit and as a solo artist with hits such as "Can the Can" and "Devil Gate Drive." She's also well-known as Leather Tuscadero, the Fonz's girlfriend, in TV's Happy Days during the late '70s and has hosted radio programs for the BBC in London, where she now resides.
Most importantly, Quatro is still at it; Last year she launched a new band with Sweet's Andy Scott and Slade's Don Powell, and on March 29 she returns with No Control, her first new album since In the Spotlight back in 2011. Today, Billboard is premiering the album's chugging "Macho Man" below.
"I grew up in a four girls/one boy family, so I personally never thought about (rock as) a boys' club,” Quatro said by phone. "I have never been concerned with gender past, present or future -- which I guess in hindsight is why I was able to do what I finally did and have success around the world...and get taken seriously.
"There was no guarantee this crazy girl with the leather jacket and bass guitar was going to be able to make it doing what I did, but I did. And after that it was definitely easier for girls, which I am happy about."
Music was in Quatro's DNA; Her father Art, a General Motors worker, was a semi-professional musician who had her play drums and percussion as part of his trio when she was a youngster. He also gave Quatro her first bass guitar, a 1957 Fender Precision, that she still owns. And like so many musicians, the Beatles' first appearance on The Ed Sullivan Show during 1964 had a profound influence on the Quatro household, leading Suzi and her older sister Patti to form the Pleasure Seekers, which would eventually include another sister, Arlene -- the mother of actress Sherilyn Fenn.
Enjoying regional success with the Pleasure Seekers and Cradle, Quatro moved to England during 1971 and was discovered by record producer Mickie Most, who had worked the Animals, Herman's Hermits and Jeff Beck, among others. Most helmed Quatro's early singles and albums, while Quatro switched to Mike Chapman in 1980.
"There were times when I would be very lonely -- away from home, in London, living in a little room," recalled Quatro, who won several Bravo Otto magazine awards in Germany during the '70s and was named one of 12 Queens of British Pop by BBC TV during April of 2009. "Sometimes I got kind of low, and scared, and I used to think, 'Maybe I should be a little bit more like that girl who's successful, or that other girl who's successful.'
"And at the end of the conversation I would think to myself, 'No, Suzi, if you can't make it exactly how you are, there's no point in making it at all.' And that's how I kept to me."
Quatro soldiered on, of course, and has built a career that's included worldwide reverence as well as a memoir, Unzipped, in 2007. Joan Jett and the rest of the Runaways, Girlschool, Talking Heads' Tina Weymouth, Pretenders' Chrissie Hynde and KT Tunstall are just a few of the subsequent female rock performers who have cited Quatro as an inspiration. And while she's never stopped making music, Quatro maintained that the new No Control is "something of an accident," inspired by Richard Tuckey, the youngest of her two children from her 16-year marriage to original Suzi Quatro Band guitarist Len Tuckey.
"My son came to me about eight months ago and said, 'I want to try and do some songs,' because he's a guitar player, and we've never done it before," Quatro remembered. "I said, 'OK, show me what you got' and he showed me a riff that he’d been working on and I said, 'I like that very much,' and it just kind of flew away and went in the studio and put this one track down, and then we started to write some more and then some more and it was like a runaway train -- I can't explain it any better than that.
"He was steering me toward a certain path, which kind of circles back to my original path. My whole life has been leading up to this -- that's what it feels like to me. I was just able to fly on this album, and I loved every second. Everything happened organically and it's from the heart and it's very Suzi -- but it's Suzi today. Everything I've done up to this day, here it is, on one album."
No Control is filled with riffy rock and blues that have been Quatro's stock-in-trade for most of her career, along with some feminist social commentary in tracks such as "Macho Man," Don't Do Me Wrong" and "Love Isn't Fair."
Making an album with her son was, of course, special for Quatro. And the sense of occasion wasn't lost on the 34-year-old Tuckey, either.
"I think he maybe took a while to get his confidence level up to where he could approach me, you know?" Quatro said. "At one point when we were sitting in the studio putting that first track down, he goes 'Oh my God!' I say, 'What's the matter?' He says, 'All of a sudden, I'm in the studio with Suzi Quatro...'
"And what he meant was I wasn't his mom anymore. And that really made sense to me; I got where he was coming from. All of a sudden I was a different person, because we were working together. That was really a special moment."
Quatro plans plenty of touring to support No Control, while filmmaker Liam Firmager is wrapping up a documentary he and Quatro hope to release later this year.