Detroit rocker on some valuable lessons…
Suzi Quatro

Detroit rocker Suzi Quatro has half a century of performing under her leather belt. Here are the foundations that have kept her standing.

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Suzi Quatro, ‘Can The Can’ (UK number one, June 1973)

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Keep mum and dad onside…
“Having musical parents gave me a whole different attitude. A lot of young people have to fight their parents to be in a rock ‘n’ roll band. I was trained, along with my siblings, to play various instruments, but when it came to wanting to start a band, my dad was very, very supportive. He helped us buy our equipment, he helped us buy the van; he was behind us all the way.”

Chase the dream…
“I don’t regret not finishing school because I’m bright, and I educated myself. I found my path at 14. I didn’t want to waste another day in school – I wanted to go and do what I knew I was going to do. I believed in myself. I knew that I had whatever that is that makes people watch you in an audience – I knew that from seven-years-old when I used to do family shows and all that.”

Take your shot, at all costs…
“I was in a band with my sisters, but went solo. I had to take my shot. We’ve all talked about it since: why didn’t everybody go? Well, two record companies offered me a deal at the same time, and the condition was just me. So, tell me: you gotta take it serious, don’t you? I wasn’t gonna not take it and then just be in the girl band. I think I needed to break away to forge my road. I needed to be my own boss completely, not answer to anybody else, and just stand up and be counted.”

Determination is key…
“I moved to London and made a vow with myself that I would not ever go back home without a hit record. And I didn’t, which is great. It was a combination of being absolutely determined to do what you do, and at the same time being shit-scared because really I had no money, I had no friends, I had no success – all I had was the contract and my dreams. Failure was not an option, and giving up was not an option either, and I just stuck to it.”

Believe in yourself…
“There were times when I wondered if maybe I should be a little bit more female this way, or maybe look like this one or that one, and then, always at the end of those nighttime conversations with myself, I would say to myself: ‘No, Suzi. You’ve come this far. You’re on your own, you’re being your own person here, you’re doing exactly as it feels natural to you.’ I used to say to myself that if I can’t make it just like I am, then I don’t want to make it at all.”

Know your strengths…
“You have to be brutally honest: what am I capable of as a performer? Am I a front person? Am I a good front person? How good is my voice? Am I a Streisand or am I a Bob Dylan? How good is my song writing? How good of a player am I? You have to have a real good gauge on what you have and what you haven’t got, and what you have got, build on that. Find your niche, whatever it may be; there’s always gonna be something for every artist that just feels right.”

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Interview: Simon Harper

Suzi’s four-disc box-set ‘The Girl From Detroit City’ is available now on Cherry Red Records. Find her online here

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