Suzi Quatro moved to the UK in 1971 and never left. That actually says a lot about this place. Suzi says there was a set of circumstances that made her want to stay here. “I don’t think you ever really plan, but you follow your map,” she says. “Mickey Most brought me over here and signed me up as a solo act, singer, songwriter, musician. It didn’t happen for a year.”
Suzi Quatro – Part Two
Interview: Mark Rotherham
Suzi then formed a band. “I automatically put down some ties with the English band. Then I fell in love with my guitar player, so another tie. Then we had success, so all of a sudden we’re going everywhere, based from England. I went back to America with the English band in ’74. I was based here, though. Then I had my kids here, so my kids are English.
“Everything just contrived to make me not go back. Even when I did Happy Days, I rented a house in the US for two or three years, but I always lived here. It just happened that way. I put down certain roots here, even though I will always be the girl from Detroit City. And I like England. I like England a lot. So nothing planned, it kind of just happened.”
Suzi is firm about the differences between the UK and Detroit. “Well, the worst thing is you don’t do fast food properly,” she says. “It makes me laugh. It’s typically English. You’re very stubborn. You’re on a bus tour, you’re going somewhere, and you stop, and you say, I’m gonna have a Big Mac. They say, well, we have to cook it. So, England doesn’t get fast food.”
As for the best? “The best thing, I would say, is your uniqueness,” she says. “English people are very unique. You’re a law unto yourselves. You say what you mean, and you mean what you say. But democracy is a big word for me. I don’t do politics at all, but I do say I believe in democracy. And I would say that the English people in your nature are the most democratic people I know. You’re very fair. That’s the biggest compliment I can give you.”
The rumour is that Suzi is doing a duet with KT Tunstall. “‘That is an album that we’ve been preparing for quite a while now,” Suzi says. “It was coming out this year, but now it’s coming out next year, for various reasons. We’ve been working together for about four or five years, playing around with stuff. We just got together as friends, and we were going to guest on each other’s albums and things.
“Then it became apparent that what we were doing, we were creating something quite special, and somehow we found a meeting point between her style and my style. We wrote everything, and without it being planned, it happened.
“My son is producing the album right now. It’s real quality, the blend of voices is something, as my husband said when I played it for him, he’s German and Mister Critic, that’s his nature. And I was expecting him to say that it didn’t work out, but he didn’t. The first thing he said was, ‘the blend of the voices, wow.’ He was looking for the right word, ‘quality,’ he said. And I don’t know how it happened, but it just did, as all good things do that you don’t expect. We surprised ourselves with what we came up with. It was like a meeting point between the two styles.'”
The pairing of Suzi and KT on stage is certainly an appetising prospect. “Well, the record company wants us to do something, but let’s just wait and see what happens,” Suzi says. “At the moment, we’ve pretty much finished the album, we have to follow it and see where it’s going, but it’s pretty special, I have to say. It was unexpected how well it matched up. She went a little bit towards me, and I went a little bit towards her, and we created something between us.”
In a recent interview, Suzi said she remained in touch with some of the Happy Days cast. She says none are musicians, so we will not see an on-stage reunion in that form. “I might work acting-wise with Ron Howard or Henry Winkler,” she says. “I love them both dearly. They’re good people. I asked Ron Howard about my Happy Days role, and I asked him if it ever felt like I was a new actress or that I was new to the show, and he said, ‘no, it felt like you had always been there.’
“He actually said to me one time, ‘Suzi, don’t ever take acting classes.’ I asked him why not, and he said, ‘because what you do is organic and natural, and acting classes would ruin you.’ So that’s actually a big compliment. And Henry’s just a sweetheart, the bit that he says at the end of the Suzi Q documentary it’s one of the best bits of the whole thing. So I made good friends on Happy Days, it was a good thing to do, a good decision, and I valued my time there.”
The rumour that Suzi turned down a chance to record with Elvis is true. “I’d just gone back to America with my English band back in ’74. All Shook Up was in the lower end of the charts, my version from the first album. And I was in a hotel room in Memphis, and the phone rang. It was Elvis’ people, and they said we have Elvis on the phone for you. And of course, I nearly died. And what he said was, ‘I’ve heard your version of All Shook Up, and I think it’s the best since my own. And I’d like to invite you to Graceland while you’re in town.’
“I said, ‘I’m very busy.’ Which nobody can believe. And the reason was because I was nervous because I wasn’t quite ready to meet him yet. Easy as that. He’s been around since I was five and a half years old. He’s the reason I do what I do. At five and a half, I had the epiphany, I watched him on TV, and I said, ‘I’m gonna do that.'”
Not too long ago, Suzi was awarded an honorary Doctorate from Anglia Ruskin University, though she is yet to try teaching or lecturing. “‘I would love to do some,” she says. “They keep asking me. It’s a matter of getting the dates tied in. I was made an honorary Doctor of Music. I collected my award at Cambridge, which was just amazing because I didn’t even graduate from High School, which makes me laugh. I love teaching. I would like to do some tutorials. I would like to do some master classes. I do love teaching, so yes, you can look forward to me doing that in the future. It’s official. I really am Doctor Quatro. I can put it on my passport.”
With such a fantastic career, you wonder if there are any ambitions left, any more worlds to conquer? “I try not to ever set goals,” Suzi says, “because I am an artiste, in my defence. And if you’re an artiste, it’s never finished. I’m just about to publish my second poetry book, called Through My Heart. Every time I thought I was done with the poetry books, another one came. So, I always have something to say. I don’t know why, it’s just my nature. I’ve always got another song to write, I’ve always got another gig to do, and I’ve always got another poem to write. And I won’t be silenced until I’m six feet under, and even then, that’s no guarantee.”
Suzi Quatro interview Part One.
Read MetalTalk’s review of the Suzi Quatro Royal Albert Hall show