Interview: SUZI Q, Rock Icons Suzi Quatro and Cherie Currie on 50+ Years of Blasting Industry Rules

Featured Contributor; New York City, New York (@TheDivaReview)
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Interview: SUZI Q, Rock Icons Suzi Quatro and Cherie Currie on 50+ Years of Blasting Industry Rules
All my life I wanted to be somebody - and here I am!
I know what I've got and there ain't nobody gonna take it away from me!” 
So goes the intro to “The Wild One,” a song that’s become the theme of a Rock icon.  Detroit’s original Riot Grrl, Suzi Quatro, celebrated her 70th year on a planet that wasn’t quite ready for her.  Screaming lyrics to make the nuns faint, thumping her oversized bass and dominating the stage in skintight leather catsuits, the petite singer and bandleader defied the world to put her in a corner.
The documentary, Suzi Q, is a celebration of the multifaceted innovator with over 50 years in the business.  Quatro chatted exclusively with The Lady Miz Diva about battling sexism, family pressures, press disparagement, and an industry only too happy to cast her aside, to swing her Fender Precision bass through the Rock ceiling and change the game for female musicians, everywhere.
As an added bonus, LMD also spoke exclusively with one of Quatro’s fellow icons, dear friend, and most vocal advocate, The Runaways' Cherie Currie.  Appearing in Suzi Q, Currie shared her personal experience on Quatro’s importance and influence. 
The Lady Miz Diva:  Ms. Quatro, I feel like I’ve been waiting for the SUZI Q documentary for a very long time.  I know that seeing that wee lady in the black leather jumpsuit and enormous bass, on HAPPY DAYS, who was cooler than The Fonz, helped make a bass player out of me.
Suzi Quatro:  Just cos you started off that way, I’m going to jump straight in there.  It’s so strange; the film has, for me, highlighted stuff that I never really thought about or realised.  Seeing your life on the big screen, the mouth hangs open.  You go, “What?” to the bad stuff and the good stuff.  Sometimes you want to crawl out, sometimes you sit and watch; but what I realised -- including you, you made me think of it -- I knew, obviously, that I was the first one out there, so I didn’t have the blueprint.  I had to make it up myself.  It was very much me sticking to my guns, letting nobody change me; being out there with the bass guitar and leather jumpsuit.  I didn’t know what I was doing, but I was doing it.
I was simply being stubborn and sticking to me, okay?  That’s all.  And then, later on, like six or seven years later, as other girls started to come through and I started to hear the compliments, then I started to think, ‘Oh, oh, I guess I did that?’  Now, though, now at the age of the 70 watching this movie; it’s really made me reevaluate it.
First of all, it’s humbling.  It makes me teary-eyed, because when you don’t set out to do that, and you do that, it’s just something.  But what I realised talking to all the girls, for instance, Cherie {Currie of The Runaways} -- she’s a good friend -- she gave me an award at She Rocks in January, and she went up to give this speech and she started to cry.  Then the other day, with Cherie and {The Go-Go’s bassist} Kathy Valentine, we three did an interview on Zoom, and Kathy Valentine starts to cry.  Then I had my friend over, I don’t know if you remember a band called The Baby Animals?  Their lead singer, Suze DeMarchi, she’s been a big fan all her life.  We made friends in Australia, we did lots of tours together, and she ended up coming here not that long ago.  I took her up into my “Ego Room,” because it’s one of the things that everybody likes to see, and she started crying.
So, what I’ve now assimilated in my little brain -- and then it makes me cry, it really does -- is that without meaning to, just by sticking religiously to who I am, and not compromising for anybody any fucking day of the week -- I do not compromise, okay?  You can walk away, go ahead, I am me.  Anyway, what I realised is, that by sticking to me, my path; my journey was supposed to be exactly what I did.  I was supposed to give women who didn’t know where they belonged, permission; that that’s okay, cos they belong here.  Because I didn’t fit anywhere; you see me in the film, ‘Where do I belong?’  And then by me going through the pain and everything I had to go through, I had opened the door, and then I said to other women, “It’s okay. You’re okay.”
This seems to be what’s happening with this documentary, and it’s running away like a train, and I can’t stop it.
LMD:  It’s cathartic if you are female bass player or rock musician.  It’s cathartic if you’ve ever been the odd one out.  It’s cathartic if you’ve never been a girl who’s “girly,” or followed the accepted “girls rules.”  And all of that is encapsulated in one petite powerhouse from Detroit.
I have to know where that tunnel vision comes from?  That clear laser beam focus that allowed you to know exactly what you were supposed to do and run toward it like a freight train?
SQ:  And it still is!  Nothing’s stopping me.  I will not let anybody stop me.  This is my advice for people -- not just women -- people -- if you have a vision, go there!  Go!
So, what gave this to me was probably, I guess, growing up in a big family.  It was a loving family, don’t get me wrong; I love everybody very, very much.  Everybody has said they can see through the film, that family is hugely important to me.  Huge!  But unfortunately, I’ve always felt like -- whether I was or not is incidental -- because this is how I felt, and it’s always your perception that counts.  I felt like a square peg in a round hole.  I wasn’t a makeup girl.  I played with the boys.  I played soldiers.  I just wasn’t like everybody else.  And I needed to find my voice, and I knew what my voice was real young.
I knew I was an entertainer.  I knew I was Elvis from age 6.  That’s who I had my lightbulb moment with; I looked at him on TV and watched him with all my sisters screaming, and I’m a little girl, and I’m going “Why are you screaming?”  And then I looked into the TV -- every time I tell the story it amazes me that it happened to me at that age -- but I don’t bullshit, I’m not a bullshitter -- it was during “Don’t Be Cruel,” I went into the screen, just drawn in, and a lightbulb went “bing!” and I went, “I’m going to do that.”  And other people have had that with me.  And you know, even not to think about the fact that he was a guy and I was a girl; it didn’t even compute.
So, I don’t do gender, I don’t do it very easily, as I think Donita Sparks {L7} uttered in the film.  I don’t do gender.  In fact, the only time I will pull my female card -- and I will -- I keep it in my back pocket, you know, like a penalty card?  When one of the guys or somebody steps just a bit over the line of my sensibilities.  There are words, there are a few words I will not hear.  You probably know what some of them are; one of them starts with a C.
LMD:  I have a feeling I know what you’re talking about, but you live in England, where that word is pretty much a greeting.
SQ:  A lot of people use it, but if it’s said in my vicinity, out comes the female card.  They won’t say it in front of me.  And if they do, they only do it one time.  Because I pull the card out, and I say, “Excuse me,” and they stop.  I call time, off the field, give me your balls. {Laughs} I’ve got all the balls, anyway.
LMD:  Oftentimes, artists’ documentaries show us art born out of tragedy, or some sort of struggle or dysfunction.  As we just said, you come from a very loving, “normal” upbringing.
So, was it that Elvis “lightbulb” moment, or the fact that your father was a musician that brought you up to love music, that made it possible for you to have that forward vision doing what you knew you were meant to do, without losing your mind?
SQ:  I didn’t lose my mind, ever.  No I didn’t.  I have unassailable instincts that I trust.  I’m like one of those cavemen, you know?  That somebody walks in the cave and I know if it’s bad or good.  I keep that instinct in me, and I trust it so much, I don’t even need words.  I just know what I want.  That’s a good question.
It was a loving family.  I knew my path very early on, as I said.  I knew that I had entertained very early on.  When I went to do my bit in the family shows, everything got quiet and everybody watched, and in my little heart I went, ‘I can do this.’ So, it’s always been this magic thing for me that I can make people feel good, and I’ve always believed this is why God put me on this earth.
I come alive when I’m on that stage, I just go up there and I’m in my natural habitat.  It’s just natural.  Everybody, we’re all in one thing, and I don’t stop until every single person is in my hands.
And I didn’t care about an all-girl band, I didn’t, I wanted to be in a band: I didn’t care for it was guys or girls; it didn’t bother me.  Even when I formed my band in England, I put out the call for musicians and no girls showed up, but I would’ve hired one if I liked one.
But I think the attitude -- first of all, knowing, and there’s no other way to say it, I knew I had the X factor from a very young age, and I’m sorry, it’s not ego.  It’s just I felt it in me, and it’s what spurred me on.  Because I had that and I knew it, and I believed in myself.  Self-belief.
Then what really spurred me on, besides all the being in the bands and learning your craft: When I got discovered, and I got taken to England, and I was always waiting for it, because I knew would happen.  Don’t forget, the band that {producer} Mickie Most saw me in, I was in the background.  My sisters had pushed me in the back.  Nancy was the lead singer, they had pushed me in the back.  I went up, I do two songs, and bang, I had my solo offer.
One of the pivotal moments in my life, and I couldn’t have done the documentary, and indeed the movie, you know I’m doing a movie of my life, now, too?  The script will be done in July, because this documentary’s gone ballistic…
LMD:  As someone who’s been a professional performer since age 14, what was it like for you to be seen through this very different lens, under the microscope of a documentary?
SQ:  Luckily, I am very real, and I am very open and I am very feet on the ground.  Liam {Firmager}, the director said to me, when we got near the end of the film, “Suzi, I just want to tell you something.  I’ve done lots of different things with lots of different people; different documentaries with lots of famous people.  Nobody that I’ve ever talked to has given me what you’ve given me.”  I guess he meant a piece of myself.  I did open up totally.  I was naked in that film, and it really does it to you.
At my first premiere in London, I was nervous because I hadn’t seen it on the big screen, and I hadn’t seen it with an audience; and that’s when you really gauge the effect.  You feel what they’re feeling.  You hear the noises, the gasps, the applause, and I’m going, “Oh, Jesus Christ.”  I was nervous.  So, I snuck in right at the end, crouched down.  I’m hearing the gasps; they came right when I thought they would.  I’m hearing the sobs that came right when I thought they would.  I’m watching the screen the whole time in tears, because it’s touching.  I was humbled by what people said.  I was surprised by what some people said.  I kept thinking, ‘My God, I did all that?’
LMD:  While it’s clear to see you are very real and down-to-earth, I wondered whether there was actually a balance between your public image and your private self?  Toward the end of the film, you say to your husband, “Maybe I was a pin-up, but the pin-up was Suzi Quatro.”  What did that mean?
SQ:  It means, quite easily, that my autobiography was written in two people; and both people are me.  Don’t kid yourself; both people are me.  There is little Susie from Detroit, and Suzi Quatro -- and both people have their say all the way through the book.
So, I do separate Suzi Quatro, that’s that side, and little Susie is here watching everything.  I keep myself sane that way.  I’m not schizophrenic, and both people are me.  Right now, you’re getting both of me; you get little Susie, and you getting Suzi Quatro, but I have that “Ego Room” in my house, which is kinda how I live my life, it’s very important.
It’s this old 15th-century house, and there’s an “Ego Room” and the top floor, you have to go up this flight of stairs.  It’s hard to get to the “Ego Room,” if you get my analogy: You could bang your head on the ceiling, you could bang yourself on the wall.  You come to a huge wooden door, and I had a little plaque made, and it says, “Ego Room, mind your head.”  And you go in, and the first thing you see is the red book, “This Is Your Life,” from the show they did.  Clothes I’ve worn, bass guitars, posters everywhere, stage passes, videos, CDs, scrapbooks, pictures on every surface, you could look at everything, and it’s the quietest room in the house.  My “Ego Room” is the quietest room in the house {Laughs}.  You go in there if you want to do something, you sit there and you meditate, or whatever.  The important thing is when you come out, you shut the fucking door.  And that’s how I live my life.
So, if I had taken the pinup.  I don’t play the looks card, as you know; you’ve seen it in the film, it’s not what I do.  It’s only now at 70, that I can look at some of the little pictures and think, ‘Hey, I didn’t look too bad,’ but I don’t play that card.  And thank God, because if I had been looks identified, and I became a pinup, what a pain in the ass I would be.  So, as it is, you don’t take it too hard.  You say thank you, but it doesn’t go in where I live.  It’s just a complement and thank you, fine.
LMD:  There’s a moment in the film that I almost threw a shoe at the screen…
SQ:  {Laughs} That’s so funny.  That’s the first time that I’ve heard that.
LMD:  …It’s when TV host Russell Harty turns you around and smacks your backside.  I’m guessing that wasn’t the first objectification or assault you endured.  How did you cope with those moments?
SQ:  That pissed off a lot of people.  I don’t know if you know, but I had just won “Rear of the Year.”  It’s a big contest and they do it every year.  I have always had a nice ass, to be fair; I try to back into a room when I can.  That had just happened, so I was on the show, and of course he said, “Oh Susan, let’s have a look at this famous rear.”  And he was gay, and he didn’t do it nasty.  He did it kinda cute, but that was a moment that I’ve had to explain at my Q&As.
I am a professional.  That’s the main word with me; I am professional.  This was a live television show, okay?  He picked his moment: He didn’t do it backstage, he did it on camera.  And in my head, really like lightning; my instinct was to put my knee in his balls.  That’s my instinct, but real quick, my brain went, ‘Let it go, this is live television.’
Had he done that backstage, he would’ve been singing soprano for the rest of his life.  But he must’ve known my reputation; he must’ve known I was a professional.  So, he was clever and picked his moment and I did let it go, because then I would’ve been defined by that; and maybe some people would’ve applauded me, some people would’ve said, ‘You gotta be kidding, he didn’t mean it.’  So, you’re playing with all that, so I made a snap decision, I think it was the right one.  He’s dead now.  But things like this do happen.  That wouldn’t happen now.
LMD:  Was that sort of behaviour just part and parcel of what it was like for you at that time?
SQ:  Not me!  I have kneed many men in the balls, and I’ve hit many men.  The only reason he got away with that, was because it was on camera and we were live.  You ask my husband, I have whacked many people, because for some reason, because of I am a little girl, you always get some asshole who thinks he can touch you, and I don’t allow it!  I don’t allow it.  I’ve done it many times.  I actually hit a guy over the head with my bass one time.
LMD:  That enormous Fender?
SQ:  Yep.  He made a rude gesture at me on stage, so I danced close and I went, ‘Whack!’ and he was on the ground.  So this guy, this TV guy, he doesn’t know how lucky he was.  So, no, I didn’t like it.
LMD:  We’re talking on the occasion of another very famous bass player’s birthday, Sir Paul McCartney...
SQ:  I’m on the air at 9 to wish him a happy birthday.
LMD:  Excellent!  He’s my favourite musician of all.  Speaking of bass players, who are your favourites?
SQ:  {James} Jamerson is number one.  The Motown Funk Brothers; he is beyond.  I am a friend of Paul’s.  He is a very good bassist, but he’s more a guitar player playing bass. That’s how he plays bass.  Cos he started on guitar, and then they put him on bass, you see?  I never started on guitar, I went to bass.  There’s a different attitude.  Just a slightly different attitude, but he plays very nice melodic lines, he does.  He’s very good.  I love the bass player from Canned Heat {Larry Taylor}.  And I love Flea from the Red Hot Chili Peppers, he’s one the best.
LMD:  Now that you’ve hit Platinum (birthday) at age 70, what are words you’d like to leave us with as you head into the next septuagennial?
SQ:  I would say I’m going to kick ass until I don’t have an ass to kick. {Laughs}
The Lady Miz Diva:  Ms. Currie, I’m so happy to see you supporting Suzi Quatro’s SUZI Q documentary.
Cherie Currie:  She’s great.  She’s truly a very dear, cherished friend.
LMD:  That is exactly what she said about you during my interview with her.  The friendship that you have is very evident in the film.  At the end credits, you’re on stage singing a song that you wrote about Ms. Quatro called “Rock N Roll Rosie” which is a musical chronicle of her life, and one can sense the lyrics just pouring out of you.
CC:  Oh, it really did.  Liam {Firmager}, the director, had come and shot me here, because I was obviously passionate about her.  I mean, there are things that it just comes out how much someone has changed your life, and how important it is that she is recognised.  Because I was there.  I lived it.  I know absolutely how profound she was.
So, after that interview for the film, he said, “You know, you should write a song,” and I hadn’t written a song in so long, but I actually said, ‘Wait a minute. Holy crap, there’s so much I’d like to say.’  Honestly, I went, “You know what?  I’m gonna do that.”  I immediately reached out to Alex Michael, who I was working with at the time because I was getting ready to go out there to the UK, and I asked him if he had any really cool rock, because we had to do it quick.  And he did, and I just wrote her life story as I knew it, and incorporated as many songs as I could, and I think it turned out great.  And the fact that she liked it enough to get up on stage and do the singing with me was just super cool.  Then she closes the film with it.  I mean, it’s a dream come true!
LMD: Your first appearance in the film is telling the audience how she was the first; that “She broke the ice and kicked the door for us gals.”  For those who might ask, ‘Well, there were other girl bands and talented female musicians.  What was different about Suzi Quatro?’  Why does she stand out?
CC:  {Laughs heartily} There was no one!  First of all.  There was no chick kicking ass like her.  There was no voice like hers.  She was first.  She was an absolute first.
Where there -- of course, there was Fanny -- but there was never anyone like Suzi Quatro.  I mean, she was a force.  Everyone wanted to be Suzi.  And of course, Joan {Jett}…  I just saw a picture of her bedroom -- Brad Alterman did shots of all of our bedrooms -- and it’s so funny because the shot just shows Suzi Quatro posters all over every little space she could fit.  Mine had Suzi Quatro, but it had a lot of David Bowie.  Joan had one or two David Bowie, but it was all Suzi.  I mean, Joan even cut her hair like Suzi.  She pretended to be Suzi.  Look, I pretended to be Bowie.  Suzi was taken, and Joan had the voice of Suzi.
I mean, Joan took every drop of Suzi Quatro and used that until she could find out who she was, because we were too young to know yet.  We hadn’t really been on stage in front of anybody.  How do you take a 16-year-old girl -- 15, 16 -- and expect us to walk out there and just know who we are?  I mean we didn’t.  You know, I think Lita was Richie Blackmore.  Sandy was just Sandy; Sandy West was just a team player all the way around.  For me, it was David Bowie.  For Joan, it was Suzi Quatro.  And that’s the way we got through that first and second US tour, our UK tour.  Then we started evolving and becoming more who we became, as more professional performers.
LMD:  Being such a close friend, did reflecting on of Ms. Quatro’s life, and then seeing the completed documentary show you something about her life, or a view from her perspective that you didn’t know?
CC:  Sadly, the resistance from her family was extraordinarily hard.  I cried a lot watching that.  Still to this day, my heart breaks, because it’s still very obvious that even though they were kids themselves at the time, when you don’t grow out of that, really…  It’s heartbreaking to me that in just the way the audience would view it, they haven’t evolved past the fact that Suzi actually did something so profound and unique.
Unfortunately, though they had dreams of doing that, it wasn’t in the cards.  Just like for me, as well, there are things that just wasn’t in the cards for me, and its acceptance is the key to all our problems today.  A lot of people don’t do that and that’s unfortunate, I think.  It’s heartbreaking and unfortunate, because there’s so much unresolved business, and it’s a very lonely place, especially when it’s family.  It’s a very, very lonely, uncomfortable place.  But sadly, what you do?
LMD:  In our conversation, Ms. Quatro asked me what I thought of the Thanksgiving tape?  It choked me up to realise that all these years later, she is still so affected by what her father did, and it’s still at the forefront of her mind.
CC:  You know, I mean that’s because the pain has been 50 years long.  It’s a long time.  That’s a long time.
LMD:  You presented Ms. Quatro with the Icon Award at She Rocks 2020.  I’ve seen the clip and you started crying, and she started crying.  She mentioned that moment to me, and said it was something that is happening these days; besides you, the same happened with Kathy Valentine of The Go-Go’s, and Suze DeMarchi of The Baby Animals.
I wonder if there’s some sort of emotional chord that’s going through creative women, females who love and play rock, and artists around Suzi Quatro, that is hitting close to the bone at this particular moment, and why that might be?
CC:  Well, simply because Kathy and I were there.  I mean, when you see what she did.  You know, I see her as just this tiny little thing.  That bass seemed as big as her when I saw her opening for Alice Cooper back in 75, and this tiny little thing, a powerhouse!  And I want her in the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame, godammit!
It’s like you know what?  Every time they don’t do it, they ignore that her in that way; not only does it make me think that the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame is a joke, but it also is an insult to people like The Go-Go’s, and myself, and The Bangles, and all the people that knew that if it wasn’t for Suzi, we wouldn’t have had someone to allow us to believe that we could do it.
The music industry was so different back then.  It was such a male-orientated business, and guys were being little pussies about it, because they didn’t want girls.  I don’t know if covet’s the right word, but they just didn’t want us to have that little piece of the pie, I guess.  That’s the way it felt.  Of course, again, they were youngsters, too.  Nowadays, I see things from a 60-year-old’s perspective, but I still feel like that teenager that watched her do what she did, and how she made it okay for us.  Not only did she make it okay, she made girls interesting.  Where those record companies were saying…
Like even Alice Cooper, absolutely knew that women were going to be the big deal.  Alice Cooper was told that girls, a girl band is going to be the next big thing, and he believed it.  That’s why I’m so glad he’s in the movie; because I don’t think he would’ve said that if it wasn’t absolutely true, and that intrigued him, as well.
But it had to be a particular person.  I mean, Suzi was chosen because she was able to be strong enough -- far stronger than me, far stronger.  I couldn’t have done what she did; to leave her family, to be utterly alone in a foreign country, and believe in herself that much to stick with it.  But she was born to do it.  She was the chosen one.  It’s just the way it is.  It’s the way it is!  You know?  And she still pays the price for it, by not having the loving family situation that she should.  They might say it’s loving.  Listen, I’m acquaintances with both Patti and Nancy, and all that, but the truth is the truth, and I’d love to see that be different.  I really would.
LMD:  In the doc, the British press accused her of being a “Sexist tool of Male Chauvinism.”  That she was “totally dominated by her male producers” “borrowed a few male stage stances to appear like one of the boys – but in reality, she is a female singer; a woman’s subservient role in pop music.”
CC:  You know, that always comes from a place of fear.  When someone says that, it comes from a place of complete insecurity.  Because that’s about the dumbest-assed thing I’ve ever heard come out of a man’s mouth.  Embarrassing.  It’s really embarrassing.  But it also shows how small-minded men were, and how comfortable they felt they were at that time, because they were dead wrong.  Absolutely wrong.
And all those people that were flapping their jaws like that; they couldn’t have done what she did to save their lives.  So, it’s always funny to me, that these people even have a platform to be able to spew that kind of stuff, because they couldn’t do it.  They couldn’t have done what she did, no matter what.  That’s just a God-given fact.  I wish they wouldn’t embarrass themselves like that.  Why?  Why do they embarrass themselves like that?
LMD:  Being such a big part of the SUZI Q documentary, has looking at Ms. Quatro’s life and her journey given you a different perspective on your own legendary journey?
CC:  So funny, I don’t even consider us the same.  Not even.  I mean, Suzi and I have become really good friends, super good friends.  She and I are both very strong believers that everything is supposed to happen for reason, and I’m so glad to know her.  She’s really that important.  She’s truly that important.  And I’m glad to be a friend, because no matter how strong you are, no matter what a rocking, iconic, pioneer you are, sometimes you do need friends that really do appreciate you.
We come from strong families; sometimes that can not be always a great thing.  We both come from very, very talented families, so there’s always going to be a little bit of jealousy here and there; it’s just built into us, I think as a species, unfortunately.
I just want this film to be a success.  You know, this film the best one I’ve ever seen in my 60 years, so I wanted to be a huge success.  It deserves to be.  It really deserves to be, and I want her in the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame.  And when that happens, I will be absolutely thrilled.  My job will be done!  My job’s done!  I’m happy now, I can go build my cabin somewhere and make chainsaw art for the rest of my life.  I got the album I’ve always wanted to make, and I got to participate in a movie about a woman that deserves it more than anybody, and dammit, put her in the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame, so that I can breathe!  {Laughs}
Suzi Q is now available on VOD and DVD via
These interviews are cross-posted on my own site, The Diva Review.  Please enjoy my full conversations with Suzi Quatro and Cherie Currie, there.
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