Suzi Quatro has plenty of fame as a pioneering woman in rock n’ roll. And she thinks it’s high time for the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame to honor that.
The bass-slinging singer and songwriter made her first mark with the Pleasure Seekers and Cradle during the ’60s in her native Detroit, but she really connected after moving to England during the early ’70s, putting on leather and working with producers Mickie Most, Nicky Chinn and Mike Chapman on records acknowledged as an influence for a slew of others — most notably the Runaways. That Joan Jett was inducted into the Rock Hall in 2015 rankles Quatro — though, she’s quick to note, not at Jett’s expense.
“(Jett) deserves to be in — she’s an excellent artist — but it’s disgusting that I’m not,” Quatro, who’s preparing for the March 29 release of her new album, No Control, tells Billboard. “I’m a real stickler for the truth, and I’m pissed off that history is being rewritten. I was first, right? I was there before anybody else had a twinkle in their eye — that’s a fact of life. I’m happy that I opened a door because that door needed to be opened. I’m so proud of that, and I get thanked by everybody — all the girls, they all say ‘Thank you, thank you, thank you…’ I said in in very early interviews there would be loads of (women) after me and there were. I’m happy about that, absolutely.
“I just don’t like being ignored because that’s not correct. It’s a big fault. I hear from a lot of people — they say, ‘What? You’re not in it?!’ No — and my biggest fan is, and that’s not right. You can’t rewrite history just to suit your organization.”
Quatro, who currently resides in England, had her greatest success in the U.S. with 1978’s If You Knew Suzi, which peaked at No. 37 on the Billboard 200 and netted a top 5 duet with Chris Norman, “Stumblin’ In” — concurrent with her recurring late ’70s run as Leather Tuscadero on TV’s Happy Days. She’s also had No. 1 singles in the U.K. and Australia with “Can the Can,” “Devil Gate Drive” and “48 Crash,” and Quatro acted in Annie Get Your Gun in London during the mid-80s.
“So my feelings are hurt,” Quatro says of the Rock Hall exclusion. “I’ve been very polite about it for many years, and now I don’t want to be polite anymore. It doesn’t make sense. The truth is the truth, history is history, the timeline is the timeline. I need to be in that Rock and Roll Hall of Fame.”
In the meantime Quatro plans to keep making her case on record and on the road, with Red Hot Summer Tour dates in Australia during February and March and more planned for the rest of the year. Her story will also be told in a new documentary by Liam Firmager that’s expected out this year.
“It’s been a little bit of a long process, but it’s the real story,” Quatro says. “(Firmager) said, ‘You don’t want me to whitewash’ and I said, ‘No, I don’t want you to whitewash,’ ’cause I’m a truth merchant. My life hasn’t all been wonderful, and I’m not an angel, but I’m insisting that whatever is in that documentary is the truth. That’s what we stuck to — nothing but the truth. So people will get the real story when it comes out.”