‘Make sure the cab comes on time to pick me up, or I’ll have a diva fit,’ smiles Suzi Quatro , sweetly, but with an air of seriousness. On the one hand, Suzi, when she isn’t in her leather catsuit in front of the camera, is calm, kind (she brought us all presents), caring and sweet. The second she gets into her rock ’n’ roll Quatro get-up, she turns into a no-nonsense, bad-ass tough cookie. Weirdly, both personalities suit her.
Suzi was the original rock chick and humbly agrees she coined the phrase, the look and the attitude for generations of girls since. In the 70s, following her smash hit Can The Can, she was a cooler-than-cool mega rock star, touring the world to screaming crowds.
But she’s lived two parallel lives. During all that adulation, she married the guitarist in her band at the age of 22, had two children who travelled on the road with her (‘I wouldn’t give up my life to join theirs, so we were all doing it together’), got divorced, then married current husband of 25 years Rainer Haas, and with two long-term marriages, has been single for just one year of her adult life. She assures us it was a fun year.
Back on tour aged 68, we learn a lot about the mind of a rock legend. Firm but fair (her 35-year-old son accompanies her on our shoot and she grounds him for answering back), a few things are clear. She doesn’t care if you don’t like her, she doesn’t care if you don’t like her music, but if you don’t know who she is… she might just care a little bit.
Disco king Nile Rodgers to turn his life story into a musical
Did you know just how iconic the leather catsuit would become?
Never. It was the promo for my first record and I said I wanted to wear leather. The record label kept saying no, but I got my way in the end. I thought I could jump around in it and everything would stay in, but the second I saw myself in it I thought, ‘Oh boy…’
It made you a rock ’n’ roll pin-up…
I never identified as being sexy and I certainly didn’t try to be. I can accept a compliment about my stage show and I’d say thanks and take it. If you talk about looks, I feel uneasy and embarrassed.
Because you don’t believe it?
Not really. I grew up in a family of five siblings and nobody told me I was pretty, so I always thought my personality was best. Then I got famous and everybody tells me I’m good-looking. I’m glad I grew up seeing my character over my looks. It’s healthy to not be looks-identified. Look how carried away I could have got. I was a poster girl, for Christ’s sake. I wouldn’t have been normal.
Do you still get a lot of male attention from fans now?
All the time. Guys 10 years younger than me say, ‘I had your poster on my wall.’ I tell them stop there. They want to give you the details. I say, ‘It’s OK, I get it.’ Puberty, I don’t need to know. I get shy.