If there’s ever been a female star I’ve had a thing for, apart from Linda Ronstadt, it has to be Suzi Quatro, who had two UK #1 hit singles back in the early 70s; this is the 1974 hit, Devil Gate Drive.
suzi quarto fax
- Born in the USA, based in the UK, Susan Kay Quatro was the first female bass player to become a major rock star. Suzi is often credited with breaking the barriers to women’s participation in rock music.
- Suzi began playing bass in her sister’s band, The Pleasure Seekers, back in 1964 – she was just 14.
- In 1971, she moved to England after being seen by record producer Mickie Most – he had no interest in the other members of the band.
- Mickie was looking for a female rock singer who could fill the gap left following the death of Janis Joplin. Suzi explains:
According to the Elektra president, I could become the new Janis Joplin. Mickie Most offered to take me to England and make me the first Suzi Quatro — I didn’t want to be the new anybody.
- Once in the UK, Suzi spent a year living in a hotel while being coached in the ways of rock ‘n’ roll by Mickie.
- In 1972, Suzi’s first single was released. It bombed, but her second, Can The Can, went to #1 in the UK and Australia. There followed four more hit singles and a string of hit albums.
- None of her early success was in the US, however. That came in the late 70s after she had appeared in the American sitcom Happy Days. Her subsequent duet “Stumblin’ In” with Chris Norman reached #4 in the USA in 1979. Ironically, it barely dented the UK chart.
- In all, Suzi has sold over 50 million albums. The most recent was released in 2011. She continues to perform live and continues to present radio programmes.
In a 2012 interview, Suzi was asked what she thought she had achieved for female rockers in general. She replied:
Before I did what I did, we didn’t have a place in rock ‘n’ roll. Not really. You had your Grace Slicks and all that, but that’s not what I did. I was the first to be taken seriously as a female rock ‘n’ roll musician and singer. That hadn’t been done before. I played the boys at their own game. For everybody that came afterward, it was a little bit easier, which is good. I’m proud of that. If I have a legacy, that’s what it is. It’s nothing I take lightly. It was gonna happen sooner or later. In 2014, I will have done my job 50 years. It was gonna be done by somebody, and I think it fell to me to do because I don’t look at gender. I never have. It doesn’t occur to me if a 6-foot-tall guy has pissed me off not to square up to him. That’s just the way I am. If I wanted to play a bass solo, it never occurred to me that I couldn’t. When I saw Elvis for the first time when I was 5, I decided I wanted to be him, and it didn’t occur to me that he was a guy. That’s why it had to fall to somebody like me.]
In a 1973 interview, Suzi sympathised with many of the opinions voiced by the women’s liberation movement whilst distancing herself from it because she considered that the participants were;
…completely hypocritical. Their leaders stand up there and say, ‘We’re individuals blab blab blab,’ and yet they’re all in a group following like sheep. For me, I cannot put the two together … I’m talking about the masses that follow [the movement’s leaders who get press attention] and who have nothing at all to say. It gives it all a very phoney light. I hope they can find a way to apply it to their own lives, because grouping together takes away the whole idea of Women’s Lib.
Rock critic Philip Auslander says:
Although there were many women in rock by the late 1960s, most performed only as singers, a traditionally feminine position in popular music. Though some women (like Quatro herself) played instruments in American all-female garage rock bands, none of these bands achieved more than regional success. So they did not provide viable templates for women’s on-going participation in rock. When Quatro emerged in 1973, no other prominent female musician worked in rock simultaneously as a singer, instrumentalist, songwriter, and bandleader. Indds that in 2000 Quatro saw herself as kicking down the male door in rock and roll and proving that a female musician … and this is a point I am extremely concerned about … could play as well if not better than the boys.
devil gate drive fax
- Devil Gate Drive is the second of Suzi Quatro’s two #1 UK singles – it spent two weeks at the top of the chart in February 1974. (She did hit #1 once again – 13 years and 26 days later (as part of the Ferry Aid band in a charity version of the Lennon–McCartney song, Let It Be).
- Devil Gate Drive was written and produced by hit writing duo, Nicky Chinn and Mike Chapman – it was the second number one in a row for the ChinniChap writing and production team, following the success of Mud’s Tiger Feet.
- Devil Gate Drive featured on the show Happy Days, during season 5, on the episode “Fonzie and Leather Tuscadero, Part II”. Quatro played Leather Tuscadero on the show.
- Devil Gate Drive lyrics.
devil gate drive – suzi quarto – 1974 – video
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