Suzi Quatro, Rock and Roll Superstar-Episode #224

Nov 15, 2022 | 6 comments

“If there’s 10 people or 10,000 at the gig, what you have to remember is every single one of them put their hand in their pocket, got out money and paid to see you, and you owe them. It went into me like it was the Bible. I think it was the best bit of advice I ever had, and this is how I treat it. This is my job. I take it serious, and it’s my job to make you happy, not your job to make me happy. My job to make you happy.”
~Suzi Quatro

The legendary, highly influential Rock ‘n Roll superstar, Suzi Quatro made her stage debut playing bongos in her father’s jazz band, the Art Quatro Trio. At 14, she co-founded the all-girl band, The Pleasure Seekers, with her elder sister, Patti, playing a bass guitar that was as tall as she was. Suzi quickly became the band’s lead singer and front person.

They successfully toured for 7 years before changing their name to Cradle. The group was then seen by the successful music producer, Mickie Most. He offered Suzi a solo contract, which eventually led her to working with the hit-making songwriters Nicky Chinn and Mike Chapman, resulting in her first huge hit, Can the Can, which went to number one in Great Britain, Europe, Japan and Australia, and sold 2.5 million copies worldwide.

Suzi has sold over 55 million records. Among her numerous worldwide hits are: 48 Crash, Devil Gate Drive, The Wild One, She’s In Love With You, If You Can’t Give Me Love, and Stumblin In, a duet with Chris Norman.

From 1977-79 Suzi played Leather Tuscadero opposite Henry Winkler and Ron Howard in the hit TV Series, Happy Days.  Other TV appearances include: Minder, Dempsey and Makepeace, Absolutely Fabulous, and Midsomer Murders.

Among Suzi’s many other creative endeavors: she made her critically acclaimed West End debut in 1986 playing Annie Oakley in Annie Get Your Gun. She wrote music and lyrics with Shirlie Roden for the Tallulah Bankhead musical, Talullah Who?, in which Suzi starred. She’s even had her own radio shows on BBC Radio 2 since 1999.

Her bestselling autobiography, Unzipped, released in 2007, was turned into Suzi’s one woman show which premiered at London’s Hippodrome.

In 2016, Suzi released a book of poetry called Through My Eyes. In 2022, she released a second volume of poetry entitled, Through My Heart, Steve highly recommends. Through My Heart is powerfully personal, moving, intense, and quite deep. Suzi writes with passion and conviction, very much from her heart.

“Through My Heart is powerfully personal, moving, intense, and quite deep. Suzi writes with passion and conviction, very much from her heart.”
~Steve Cuden

Her first novel, The Hurricane, was released in 2017, and she’s already at work on the sequel.

Suzi continues to tour and release new albums, including 2019’s No Control, a collaboration with her son, Richard Tuckey, who co-wrote most of the tracks and played guitar. On her latest album, Uncovered, released on Sun Records, Suzi covers 6 classic soul, rock, and pop songs. The excellent documentary, Suzi Q, was released in 2019. Because of the attention it’s received, she’s now signed to do a movie of her life.

Suzi remains a major creative force to be reckoned with. Her famous quote says it all, “I will retire when I go on stage, shake my ass, and there is silence.”

“I will retire when I go on stage, shake my ass, and there is silence.”
~Suzi Quatro

In 2016, Suzi received an Honorary Doctor of Music Degree from Cambridge University, making her officially Dr. Quatro.




Read the Podcast Transcript

Steve Cuden: On today’s StoryBeat…

Suzi Quatro: If there’s 10 people or 10,000 at the gig, what you have to remember is every single one of them put their hand in their pocket, got out money and paid to see you, and you owe them. It went into me like it was the Bible. I think it was the best bit of advice I ever had, and this is how I treat it. This is my job. I take it serious, and it’s my job to make you happy, not your job to make me happy. My job to make you happy.

Narrator: This is StoryBeat with Steve Cuden, a podcast for the creative mind. StoryBeat explores how masters of creativity develop and produce brilliant works that people everywhere love and admire. So join us as we discover how talented creators find success in the worlds of imagination and entertainment. Here now is your host, Steve Cuden.

Steve Cuden: Thanks for joining us on StoryBeat. We’re coming to you from the Steel City, Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania. Well, I am beyond thrilled to welcome my guest today, the legendary, highly influential rock and roll superstar, Suzi Quatro. Suzi made her stage debut playing bongos in her father’s jazz band, the Art Quatro Trio. At 14, she co-founded the all-girl band, the Pleasure Seekers with her elder sister Patty, playing a bass guitar that was as tall as she was. Suzi quickly became the band’s lead singer and front person.

They successfully toured for seven years before changing their name to Cradle. The group was then seen by the successful music producer, Mickie Most. He offered Suzi a solo contract, which eventually led her to working with the hit making songwriters, Nicky Chinn and Mike Chapman resulting in her first huge hit, Can the Can, which went to number one in Great Britain, Europe, Japan, and Australia, and sold two and a half million copies worldwide. Suzi’s sold over 55 million records. Among her numerous worldwide hits are 48 Crash, Devil Gate Drive, the Wild One, She’s in Love with You, If You Can’t Give Me Love, and Stumbling In, a duet with Chris Norman.

From 1977 to 79, Suzi played Leather Tuscadero opposite Henry Winkler and Ron Howard in the hit TV series Happy Days. Other TV appearances include Minder, Dempsey and Makepeace, Absolutely Fabulous, and Midsummer Murders. Among Suzi’s many other creative endeavors, she made her critically acclaimed West End debut in 1986 playing Annie Oakley in Annie Get Your Gun. She wrote music and lyrics with Shirlie Roden for the Tallulah Bankhead musical Tallulah Who, in which Suzi starred. She’s even had her own radio shows on BBC Radio Two since 1999. Her bestselling autobiography Unzipped, released in 2007, was turned into Suzi’s one woman show, which premiered at London’s Hippodrome. In 2016, Suzi released a book of poetry called Through My Eyes.

In 2022, she released a second volume of poetry entitled Through My Heart, which I recently read and can highly recommend to you. Through My Heart is powerfully personal, moving, intense, and quite deep. Suzi writes with passion and conviction very much from her heart. Her first novel, the Hurricane was released in 2017 and she’s already at work on the sequel. Suzi continues to tour and release new albums, including 2019’s No Control, a collaboration with her son Richard Tuckey, who co-wrote most of the tracks and played guitar. On her latest album Uncovered, released on Sun Records, Suzi covers six classic soul, rock and pop songs. The excellent documentary Suzi Q was released in 2019 and because of the attention it’s received, she’s now signed to do a movie of her life.

Suzi remains a major creative force to be reckoned with. Her famous quote says it all. I will retire when I go on stage, shake my ass, and there is silence. In 2016, Suzi received an honorary Doctor of Music degree from Cambridge University, making her officially Dr. Quatro. So for all those reasons and many more, I am deeply honored to have the extraordinarily multi-talented rock icon, Suzi Quatro, join me today. Dr. Quatro, welcome to StoryBeat.

Suzi Quatro: Nice to be here. Did you make an appointment?

Steve Cuden: I feel good as if we go through this show and I start to feel ill, I know who to talk to. All right. So you essentially turned pro at 14. You left school and started to tour with the Pleasure Seekers. That’s an astonishing young age for anybody to do that sort of thing. For many, music is thought of as a calling. Is it so for you?

Suzi Quatro: Yeah, it is. I say it too. I say it all the time. It is a job because my father taught me that way, that it’s a profession. But he put that in my head. But it’s something that you can’t not do if I can put it that way.

Steve Cuden: You’re compelled.

Suzi Quatro: Yeah. I’m an artist. I’m an artist, let’s put it that way. Music seemed to be calling the loudest, but I’m an artist. I have to create, entertain, and communicate. I have to do that since a little girl.

Steve Cuden: Clearly you found lots of outlets for that. I’ve seen a bit of footage on you and you previously stated that you knew you’d be successful. I’m sure that you felt that deep in your bones even before you were successful. Did you foresee any of the challenges to come at that same time? Did you know how difficult the road would be for you?

Suzi Quatro: I knew from the age of a child when we did our family shows, five kids and my dad played and my mother sang. So it was one of those kinds of families where everybody would go up and do a piece. Either you played or you did a sketch or whatever you did. I noticed from the age of seven, as far as my memory goes, that whenever I got up to do whatever I was going to do, the room would stop. So in my little child brain, not that I could articulate it, but I remember thinking even that young, oh, I can do this. I did lots of different stuff. I would do a poem, I would do a dance sketch, I would do Hit the Road Jack, I would play something on the bongo. So I knew I had the talent to hold an audience, but I couldn’t have explained it. So yes, I knew very young that that was where my talent lay.

Steve Cuden: You weren’t shy about it either. Many kids are shy about getting in front of a group of people. You weren’t shy at all.

Suzi Quatro: The first gig that I did when I was 14, my first gig in the Rock and Roll Band, and we knew three songs. Sang three chords. Really adventurous. Anyway, the club owner did us a favor and put us on our first gig. I remember distinctly standing up on that stage with the bass guitar and looking down ready to go into my first song. What flew through my head was, I’m home.

Steve Cuden: The stage was for you.

Suzi Quatro: Yeah. I can’t explain it better than that. It feels natural to me, like this is what I was put on this earth to do is to entertain people.

Steve Cuden: Do you ever get nervous before a show?

Suzi Quatro: I get anxious. The biggest mistake a pro can make ever in this world is to go up there and think, well, I’m going to kill them tonight. Danger, red flag. I stand down there before and you can hear them shouting and screaming and clapping. My attitude is, I hope they like me tonight. Then you cross the footlights and the whole game changes.

Steve Cuden: Well, I think that’s really important because as a performer, you’ve got to have the little bit of that edge or else you’ve given up, basically.

Suzi Quatro: Absolutely. You can’t ever do a perfect show. You can do a pretty good show, but you should never rest on your laurels. Every audience is a new group of people. It’s a new animal and you have to tame them and send them home happy.

Steve Cuden: I know that you do. Aside from the honorary doctorate, you had no actual formal education in music, did you?

Suzi Quatro: Oh yes, I did. I did have formal education. I can read, write, and play classical piano. I’ve got a very nice touch on piano, and I could read, write, and play percussion. Those are my two studied instruments. Then at 14 when we started the band, I was very slow to speak up, so I was given the bass guitar and I’m self-taught. But I always say it was a no brainer. I was going to be a really good bass player because my father gave me a 1957 Fender precision. That was my first bass. Are you kidding me?

Steve Cuden: It’s gigantic.

Suzi Quatro: Yeah. It’s like giving a new driver a Rolls-Royce. I mean. I had the best, though I didn’t know it was the best. I’m not going to pretend I did. I honestly didn’t know that there was a choice of sizes or this. All I said was, dad, do you have a base? Yes, I do. Here you go. Okay. So that’s what I had to learn to play.

Steve Cuden: You are not a really tall person, and this is a physically imposing instrument. It’s a heavy, big instrument. Yes?

Suzi Quatro: I know. Everybody says she plays this huge bass. I don’t play a huge bass. It’s a normal bass and I’m a little bass player.

Steve Cuden: I am curious about this. Has that ever caused you any kind of physical issues over the years? The fact that it’s as big as you are, basically?

Suzi Quatro: I never thought about it because I’m the kind of person, my mindset is, here’s the base, Suzi. Okay, dad, thanks, and off I go. I don’t question it. The only problem was years, years later, it’s kind of a stupid story, but you asked. So I was ready to give birth to my second child and it was my second cesarean because the rule is when you’ve had one, you’re going to have another one, right. That’s how it is. I was too small, so you’re not going to be any bigger the next time around and he was a big baby. So this time I stayed awake. The first time I was an emergency. This time I stayed awake because I wanted to see one of my children being born.

I missed the first one, out cold. They were going to put the epidural in me. 45 minutes later she still could not get the needle in the lumbar region of my spine because of playing this base like this since the age of 14 it had fused over. She finally got it in but she said, good god. I said, yeah, that’s the bass play with you when it’s in. I said, yay.

Steve Cuden: Wow.

Suzi Quatro: I’m one of these, even when I sit in the sun I have to be up. If I drive, I have to. So what it’s done, it’s given me wonderful posture in actual fact.

Steve Cuden: The base forced you to muscularly lean back a little bit.

Suzi Quatro: Oh, my arms are ridiculous. Look at that muscle there. You got your calluses and I’m very strong in the back region and the spine.

Steve Cuden: I would think you would have to be to carry that thing around. Because when you watch you play, it’s a huge thing on you. It’s not like you say it’s a normal base, but you are a smaller person.

Suzi Quatro: I don’t think of it. I tell you what, one time I came off stage and my husband was standing there watching. He’s a big guy. I had to do something. So I went, hold that a second. He went, whoa. He went down. You sissy.

Steve Cuden: So when I watch you and listen to you play, it is clear as a bell that you love what you do and that there’s a lot of passion behind it. How important is passion for being an artist?

Suzi Quatro: I don’t think you have any right to be an artist unless you have passion. Because being an artist is passion, passion for what you do. I keep quoting this because it’s important. I was 16 and I’d been in the band for two years. By that time there were three Quatro sisters in the band. My oldest sister Arlene on keyboards, Patty on guitar, me on bass, and my little sister hadn’t joined yet. My dad pulled me aside at the family home and he said I want to talk to you Suzi. Because he’s been a musician all his life, only at night. But he worked for General Motors. And he said it looks to me, tell me if I’m wrong, that you’re going to do this for the rest of your life. I said, no, you got it dead. I’m in the business.

He said, okay, then I have two bits of advice for you. He didn’t tell anybody else this. He pulled me aside. Strange. I said, okay. He said, first of all, this is a profession. This is your job. I said, got that. He said, second of all, if there’s 10 people or 10,000 at the gig, what you have to remember is every single one of them put their hand in their pocket, got out money and paid to see you and you owe them. It went into me like it was the Bible. I think it was the best bit of advice I ever had, and this is how I treat it. This is my job. I take it seriously and it’s my job to make you happy. Not your job to make me happy. It’s my job to make you happy and I give it everything.

Steve Cuden: That’s plain to see. When you observe, you perform, you are all there 110%. You, really, it’s all out. I’m going to ask you a question I asked lots of guests, which I find the answers fascinating too. What for you makes a good piece of music good? Why is something appealing to you that this is good?

Suzi Quatro: I think for me it’s got to just plain and simple touch me. I can go see the best act in the world and if they don’t touch me, I don’t want to see it. Piece of music’s got to touch me. Movie, you got to touch me. It’s got to be believable. That’s the word I’m looking for.

Steve Cuden: It’s a gut feeling, not an intellectual feel.

Suzi Quatro: No. In fact, I got to insert a little story there because this goes along with what you just said. On my current album, the Devil In Me, which got the best critics of my entire career, my second album with my son illustrates this. We were locked down. So he was supposed to be on the road. I was supposed to be on the road. Lockdown, nothing. So I said, okay, instead of us getting depressed, the company has taken up the option for the next album after No Control. That’s right. The album I built, luckily in 2019, a little studio in the gardens. So we had someplace to work. So he went in there with the machines. I’m not a machine girl. I sat on the patio with my little iPad and my little acoustic guitar and my lyric book. That’s how I learned to work a long time ago.

So I’m sitting there. He’s in the studio quite a way away, down in the garden. I’m working and he’s working. The door was left open and out came this track. He had a basic drum part, basic bass part, and a guitar part. It’s just wafting out. Before I could even get mad that it was interrupting my thoughts, I went, boing, an arrow in my heart. I went, what? Oh my God. I think it woke up the Detroit in me. Anyway, I kind of went stunned and in my brain, I thought, do not think. Do not think. So I pushed every thought away, kept it in my heart like a zombie out to the studio.

Steve Cuden: Really? Right.

Suzi Quatro: Oh, don’t think, don’t think, don’t think. Richard was surprised. I walked in and he went, what are you doing? I said, what’s that? He said, it’s just something I’m fooling around with. I said, do me a favor quick. Put me on the microphone, gimme the headphones and play that. I still didn’t engage my brain. He put it on and the first four lines of the song, without thinking, came out with the lyrics in a voice I’d never used before.

Steve Cuden: What kind of voice are you talking about?

Suzi Quatro: I guess it was kind of a Motown voice. Soulful. The track is called My Heart and Soul (I Need You Home for Christmas). I did the four lines and we both stopped. I went, what? How did that happen? It’s because I didn’t think, I just felt.

Steve Cuden: So it was pure nature taking over.

Suzi Quatro: Just the punchline to that story. We went in and we did the proper tracks, and we finally got to the place where the whole track was done. Strings, VVs, everything, property, and I’m putting my proper vocal on the finish track ready to go to the record company. So that was a demo I’m talking about. So I’m in there and the studio’s full and you get a little bit… Every artist, I don’t care how confident you are, you’re kind of naked when you’re doing something in the studio because just right before you step over the footlights, you’re hoping it’s good enough.

So I’m thinking it’s going good. My son’s in there producing and he pushed the button down. He said, mom, you’re not doing it. I said, what? Not doing what? Of course you get defensive. You’re not doing it. I said, what aren’t I doing? What do you mean? What aren’t you getting it? I’m getting embarrassed and angry. He said, wait a minute, mom, wait, wait, wait, wait, wait. Do me a favor. Listen. He put the demo on, and I got it immediately. I went, ah. So what it was, was I was singing Suzi Quatro was putting down the vocal to the song.

Steve Cuden: Right.

Suzi Quatro: So I went, give me a minute. Fantastic. Give me a minute. I walked around the studio, let Suzi Quatro go away, put myself back in that same frame of mind, walked back in and the song went, boom. How clever of him to know?

Steve Cuden: Exactly. Well, he could hear it and he’s known you a long time.

Suzi Quatro: Then I heard it myself. I went, oh my God, I’m not doing that. He said, no, you’re not.

Steve Cuden: I want to explore this for half a second. Suzi Quatro, is she a character? Is she someone different than you?

Suzi Quatro: No, she is me. She’s the performing side of me. The public persona of everything I am inside of that makes sense. The older I get in my business, it’s 58 years now. If you read my autobiography, it’s written in two people, little Suzi from Detroit, and Suzi Quatro. So they’re both in me. But the more I do what I do, the more the two come together. I don’t know how they emerge. They do. But to keep sane, I separate little Suzi from Detroit and Suzi Quatro and I have an ego room at home.

Steve Cuden: An ego room.

Suzi Quatro: An ego room. When I want to go up there and be Suzi Qutro, I am. Other than that, I’m little Suzi from Detroit. There’s a sign on the door says Ego Room, mind your head.

Steve Cuden: Well, that’s a great double pun, isn’t it? Explore for a moment you’re playing the base. Your base lines, as you well know, are killer. You play incredible base lines. Is there anything that you’ve learned about playing the bass over the years that you wish you had known from the very beginning?

Suzi Quatro: I was lucky enough to kind of have a good feeling. Don’t forget, I played piano and percussion. Percussion is a percussion instrument and piano is also a percussive instrument. Sure. So that’s where my brain lies winged on Motown. So I had the best. I mean, Jameson was the best. Within all that, when we used to do family trips, we couldn’t fly because it’s too many kids. So we did a lot of driving. Five kids in the car, my mom and dad in the front, big station wagon. Down we went from Detroit to Florida, whatever. Always we had to sing songs. We all went into our natural harmonies. My dad would always go into this boom do-do do-do do-do. I always sing to myself you got the best part. So I’m a natural bass player.

I’m not a failed guitar player. You’ve got to make that difference. Failed guitar players played different. I never played with a pick in my life. It is skin on string and it’s the organic feeling of that. I can only say what two or three different musicians have said to me that have been in my band if you want to explain. One of them was a drummer and he said, we were talking about how we all play our instruments. He said, Suzi, the best compliment I can give you on bass is whatever you play is always correct. Okay, good. That means it feels right. Then you can give nobody a better compliment.

Steve Cuden: That’s very interesting. That whatever you play is correct.

Suzi Quatro: I can back that up now because of Steve Cropper, who’s on my Uncovered album. He plays on Midnight Hour and Dock of the Bay. I gave him an award a few years ago, and it was the first time I met him. We got talking and big fan. I said to him, Steve, I have to share something with you. He said, what’s that? I said, there are two or three albums I jam with when I’m practicing. I jam. One of them is Otis Reddings and the other one is Santana. Every time I’ve ever jammed with Otis Redding’s album, I play exactly the same bass lines as Donna Duck Dunn, and I don’t know why. He said the same thing. He said, Suzi, you play them because they’re correct.

So that’s what everybody says. So apparently there’s correct. If it feels good, it must be right. There’s another story with James Jameson. I was 17 and I was hanging around the Motown studio and we got in and we’re just hanging there. I ran down into the pit and Jameson’s bass was there. Like the showoff that I am, guilty, I picked it up and I started to play, and I was showing off and playing away, doing my best riffs. The button on the studio thing went down and it was Jameson. He said, hey, you’re not bad for a white chick. I said, thank you very much. He said but let me tell you something. It’s not what you play, it’s what you don’t play that counts. From that day forward, I started to listen carefully to Jameson’s bass lines.

He plays probably about a third of what you think you’re hearing. It’s a real trick to it and I do the same. Those spaces are so important. I really learned from that, and I did incorporate that. My style is between Jazz Boogie and Jameson.

Steve Cuden: You write about your poem between the beat, which is what you’re referring to, I think. You write “everything and I mean, everything interesting happens between the beat. So pay attention.” You wrote that, right? Is that what you’re talking about?

Suzi Quatro: That’s exactly what I’m talking about. Pay attention.

Steve Cuden: So what happens between the beat? Explain.

Suzi Quatro: The beat is there and then everything goes on. Everything goes on. You’re not really thinking, you’re not really feeling, you’re not paying attention, you’re not doing anything, but just being in that moment. The beat boom. Then you have that space to live and then boom. When that final beat comes down, you’re finished.

Steve Cuden: It’s sort of the equivalent to in a picture, the difference between the dark and the light. You have the positive and negative spaces. You’ve got a positive and negative musical space as well.

Suzi Quatro: You do. That’s exactly what it is. You got to have both. You need the beginning, and you need the end, but you also need that navigation in between. You don’t even have control of it.

Steve Cuden: I want to explore performance for a moment and how important it is, obviously. Especially today, performance is more important than ever because nobody’s really making any money off of selling records anymore. They’re making it in performance. So when you perform, it is, again, abundantly clear that you own the stage. You have this ball of confidence within you. Where does that confidence come from? You’ve always had it since you were a kid. Where does it come from?

Suzi Quatro: I don’t know. I guess it’s just knowing I can do what I do. I mean, I remember watching Elvis Presley. I was five and a half. It’s cemented in my brain. We were watching the Ed Sullivan show and Ed Sullivan, it was Sunday night family entertainment. Everybody sits down at eight o’clock, there it is. At the end, he brings out somebody for the youngsters and he brought out Elvis Presley. He was doing, Don’t Be Cool. I was five and a half. My eldest sister by nine years, 14 and a half, she was screaming. I’m young, and I looked at her and I’m thinking, what’s the matter with you? What’s the matter with you? Then I went into the TV, and I went in like a hypnotist. In my head came the thought, clear as a bell, I am going to do that.

It never left me. I even used to go around at school seven or eight and stick with the recess teacher, Mrs. Denmark, link my arms with her and sing for her the whole time. So it’s always been what I do. I’m either telling a joke or doing a sketch, or writing a poem, or painting a picture, or singing a song, or playing something on the piano, or it’s just how I live. I got to communicate with you somehow and whatever you want from me, be it a poem or a risqué joke or deep conversation, mystical or this, I will give that to you. I will share that with you. I’m kind of like the woman for all seasons, if you like.

Steve Cuden: You are the phrase would be a jack of all trades, but you’re a master of many of them.

Suzi Quatro: I’m an artist.

Steve Cuden: Sure, of course you are. You’re an artist on top of it. But I’m saying that you have the ability to move in many different directions within the art forms, plural, many different art forms that sometimes relate and sometimes don’t. So poetry is related in a way to lyric writing. Lyric writing is related in a way to poetry. But they frequently are not the same. They’re not. Lyrics and poems are not the same. It’s difficult to translate sometimes a poem into a song, but sometimes you can.

Suzi Quatro: Sometimes you can’t, and I found that to be very true. I have a poem book. I’m on my second one and I have a lyric book. Very often there’s examples in both of them. It goes one way or the other. You look at a poem and you think, boy, that could make a good song. Victim of circumstance from the former become it was owed to circumstance as a poem, and it became victim of circumstance. I put both in the poetry book That’s not in this one. What I have in this book. I didn’t have the two in here. I did that on the first one. I have two or three pieces that should have been songs. As I went to write the song, it didn’t end up in a song. It just didn’t go in there like between the beat, there’s a few of them.

I ended up damaged, damaged goods. There’s a few of them. I thought, okay, this is not a song, this is a poem. But sometimes in poems, if I’m looking for inspiration, sometimes I look through my poetry book and I go, yes. Then I’ll put that here and then start to change it wherever it needs to be changed to the meter of a song. It does change form.

Steve Cuden: Yes. When you see it and you say yes, is it because of the title or the hook? Or is it something else?

Suzi Quatro: I go by titles very often. I either get that or a one-liner that keeps repeating itself. But I do go by titles. Even for poems. If it’s a song, the title suggests what instrument you should write it on, what the tempo should be, what the feel should be. If it’s a poem, the title suggests what you are feeling and why you want to write a song about that particular title. So it’s kind of the same instinct, but slightly different shades.

Steve Cuden: When you get an idea for a new song, where do you typically start? I know it’s the title, but once you have that hook and you go, okay, I now have an idea for a song. Where do you start? Do you start to develop some character in your head? Do you develop some kind of a story? Where do you go typically?

Suzi Quatro: Yeah. Most of the time when I’m writing by myself, I just think of a title, and I think of the title for a reason. I’ll write it down and I’ll look at that title and it suggests an entire storyline to me. I make up the story in my head, or I’ve already lived the story. A lot of times I go to the piano because it’s my orchestra and it’s full open. If it’s more a basic rock song, I’ll go to guitar because I’m not a very good guitar player. I’m not a failed guitar player, like I said. It will come out basic, which is maybe what that title requires.

Also, I’ll go to the bass, and I’ll find a bass line. So like I said, the title suggests what you should do with it. It does. But when I’m writing to my son, it’s come across many different ways. Lots of times he gives me a riff, and then he’ll just say to me, I’ve only got… Oh, he gave me the one on the Devil in Me. He gave me a riff. Basic demo. He said, this is called dance. I said, okay. I took it, I listened, listened, listened, and I defined what I need to survive about, and it became, do you dance? It became very sort of little bit rude.

A little bit near the knuckle because that’s how I could write it. Do you know how you get suggestive on the dance floor. You’re allowed to do that. You don’t even have to deliver. You can just do it. It’s just called flirting on the dance floor. So that’s where I took it. But yeah, every song is different. Some of them they just fly. You don’t even know where it came from. Sometimes you’ll sit down, and you just go, what? Whose is this? You’re taking down dictation. That happens.

Steve Cuden: I’ve studied a lot of creative people and I’ve spoken to a huge number of creative people, and many of my friends are in the same field. So the question for me, which is excellent that you brought it up, do you feel like you are a conduit for this artistry? That you’re a vessel for it, as opposed to you are the originator of it. Many people do feel like it’s coming from the universe, from God, wherever they think it’s coming from. Do you feel the same?

Suzi Quatro: A lot of times when I look at, say I’ve written a poem and it’s a lot of times at midnight as you would’ve read, and I read it back and I think, who the hell wrote this poem? You’re writing it. But in my opinion, you give over to a force and your channels are open and you just let it all in. It works through you. Yes, I’m doing it. It knocks on the door, and I let it in. You open your channels. That’s what I think most artists are talking about. You can’t explain it completely, but you know it’s coming through you, and you’ve been chosen to be used for this artistic stuff to come through. So you just say, hello.

Steve Cuden: Well, that’s the infamous phrase, it came like a bolt out of the blue. There’s the idea came just fully formed and there it is. You don’t know where it came from. Somewhere it’s channeling through you.

Suzi Quatro: I don’t know some of the language. I just think, God. It’s not even ego. You read it back and you go, boy, that’s really good and I don’t talk that way. Even when I’m doing my novel. I’m doing my second novel now, but I was working on that. If I leave it for like a week or something, I go back, then I have to go back and reread maybe the last 10 pages and I’m actually going, what happens next? So I’ve forgotten where I went and I’m reading like the audience. I’m going, Ooh, I wonder what happens next. So that’s great that I can disassociate.

Steve Cuden: It feels like somebody else is working with you almost.

Suzi Quatro: Yeah. It’s great. It’s a wonderful feeling. I recognized it a long time ago and I just trust it and I let it through. I let it shine through.

Steve Cuden: Do you have a regular routine about your writing? Do you write at a certain time of the day, every day? Do you write in a certain place or is it just catch-as-catch-can?

Suzi Quatro: It depends where I am. If I’m at home or on the road, I have a space in my house. I live in a 15th century Lizabeth and Manor house. So it’s got a lot of energies in it. There’s one room that I created. When you go in there, you’re in a different time zone. The world does not exist. I love to be in there. If I’m on the road, I often write in the hotel room. I get a lot of ideas on the road because you’re just in that space, aren’t you? It’s nothing as real when you’re on the road. It’s an altered existence. Altered existence. I like that.

Steve Cuden: That’s a good title for something, isn’t it?

Suzi Quatro: I think it is. I don’t know if it’s a poem or a song Altered existence. I like that it’s really wide open because that could be anything. That could be anything. Even your relationship could be an altered existence. Sorry. I always get things like this.

Steve Cuden: I’m pleased to know that during the middle of StoryBeat Suzi’s getting song and lyric and poetry ideas. That’s fantastic. I’ll look forward to it on your next album.

Suzi Quatro: Don’t remember the conversation.

Steve Cuden: So there’s nothing in particular that you do that’s special or particular to go find an idea? It’s just you’re just absorbing the atmosphere around you and letting it flow through?

Suzi Quatro: Yeah, pretty much. I write about what’s happened to me. You have to always be awake to what’s going on. I have a lot of conversations with people and I kind of soak up. I get a lot of people coming to me with what’s gone wrong in their life, and we end up talking the going the distance. I soak that up. I’m a good person to bounce off of. I’m the word. I don’t take my own advice. I should. But I’m a people person and that’s where I get my inspiration from. As my friend, a fan of the book points, there’s always a little well of loneliness, which I think comes from being one of five children and maybe needing a bit more than what I got. Because I admitted that I needed a bit more. Then leaving home and going to London by myself and there’s always a little ball of loneliness there that probably will never get filled. Also I will always be vulnerable like sort of my favorite poems, Toughen Up, that my father said to me. You got to toughen up and I can’t. If I did toughen up, I would not be the artist I am.

Steve Cuden: So when you’re standing on a stage in front of 10,000 people, it’s still you and your world at the same time. They don’t suddenly make you less lonely, do they?

Suzi Quatro: For the moment.

Steve Cuden: But not in general.

Suzi Quatro: No. But when you walk off that stage, you step into the black pit, come from this, and it’s silent and cold. I don’t ever take any substances when I go on stage. I don’t take substances anyway, but I never have a drink. I’m a stickler on that. I go up there with all my edge and all my need. When I come down off that stage, I want my glass of champagne and I want it nailed. Because instead of crashing to the ground, you come down in stages.

Steve Cuden: Right.

Suzi Quatro: The loneliest feeling in the world is coming off stage.

Steve Cuden: That’s the loneliest feeling in the world is coming off stage because you went from this massive humanity that was with you, and now you’re back on your own again.

Suzi Quatro: Yeah. It’s really a strange feeling.

Steve Cuden: It took me a long time to understand that when someone wins a huge award, like an Oscar or a Tony, something like that, that the next day they just go back to… That thing that they go through with the award ceremony and the accolades and the adulation and so on, they still have to then put their pants on the next morning, and they’ve got to take the trash out and all the rest of it.

Suzi Quatro: Sure. There’s that spotlight on you and they’re screaming, they’re applauding and you’re doing your big exit and then that’s it. Done.

Steve Cuden: You must have people come visit you backstage.

Suzi Quatro: Yeah. Actually, I’m pretty much, except for certain gigs like the Opera House or the Royal Albert Hall, something like that where you have to have a little bit of a do afterwards. I go quiet, I change my clothes, I have my glass of champagne, and I go back to the hotel room and I don’t want any noise. Not even a TV on. Total silence. The silence then is golden to me. I guess I’m processing everything. I’m coming back down because fame can distort reality. It can. So I’m coming back down to reality. It’s down to reality. Reality’s not up, reality’s down. That’s the fantasy. I’m living the dream doing what I do.

Steve Cuden: This that you’re talking about, which is fascinating to me because there’s so few of us really in the history of the planet. Of the billions of people that live on the planet, very few people have had the experiences that you’ve had where you go perform every night in front of lots of people. That then is evident Through My Heart in the poems that you write so deeply about your actual experiences, and it comes out. You’re not writing about stuff, about the things that you see. No. You’re talking about the things that you feel and you’re experiencing. So when you go to your hotel room at night, and you are alone and you’re starting to think about what you’re going to write in a poem. What you just performed, how does that reflect through? Or how does your day to day reflect through? How do you channel it through? Is it again, coming from the universe or is it just this well of stuff coming up out of you?

Suzi Quatro: I think I am just one of these people that lives through their heart. I do, and I can’t help it. I don’t know how not to have my heart on my sleeve. I don’t know how not to do that. It’s just the way I’ve always been. But like I always say, the strength is, and people call me tough. That’s such a dichotomy. Yes, I’m a survivor. Yes, I’m a strong girl, a tough cookie, blah, blah, blah. But that’s because I am not afraid to go into the pain. Life is full of pain for everybody. Let’s not pretend it’s not. Sure, we have broken relationships, broken families, and it’s painful. So life is hard, but I don’t shy away from the pain. I will just go right into it like it’s a fire. There’s the fire there, it’s going to burn me. Okay. Off I go. I walk through it, burn, burn, burn, burn, burn, come through the other side, brush myself off and keep walking.

Steve Cuden: Do you think of pain as an artistic tool of a kind?

Suzi Quatro: Yes. In fact, I have it written in my lyric book and probably it’s going to be the next one I write because it keeps coming up. Pain is the best architect.

Steve Cuden: More ideas flow. Pain is the best architect. Wow.

Suzi Quatro: Nobody better nick it. That’s a good one.

Steve Cuden: That’s a really good one. So most of your poetry, if not every bit of your poetry reads as if you are actually emotionally purging your soul. That’s what it reads like. That is the very definition of catharsis. The emotional purging is catharsis. I’m just wondering, does it give you catharsis? Do you feel relief after you’ve written a poem you feel emotionally relieved?

Suzi Quatro: Yes. Oh God yes. Then I can read it again and again and I go, thank God it’s out. I’m very much like that. If I need to scream at somebody, I’m going to scream and then I’m done. I don’t hold onto it. If I’m mad at you, I’m going to scream at you. Then I’ll say, let’s go for a drink. If I’m going to cry, I’m going to cry. I’m not going to hold in it. I cry, then I’m done. If I need to write a poem, I’m going to write it, then I’m done. Get it out. It’s poison to stay in you. Any of this stuff is poison and you mustn’t do it. Poison is a drink you should never drink alone.

Steve Cuden: Oh, there’s another line.

Suzi Quatro: I told you. This happens to me.

Steve Cuden: Well, it’s my delight to have it happen while I’m talking to you. Do you ever use a rhyming dictionary or is it all out of your head?

Suzi Quatro: Not a writing dictionary. Yeah, a rhyming dictionary. Every now and again. Sure every writer does. If there’s a particular line that is a stinker of a rhyming word to rhyme with, and I don’t want to change the line, but here’s what happens to me. I’ll look for a rhyme and then I won’t use that. But another word will come to me from reading the different thing that I go, oh, boom. Oh God, why didn’t I think of that before? So it leads you in a certain direction. But I don’t think there’s a writer that exists that doesn’t use a little help sometimes, like I said, when you want to hold onto a line.

Steve Cuden: Well, even Stephen Sondheim used his rhyming dictionary every day.

Suzi Quatro: Sure. You got to. You got to sometimes if you’re hooked on a line, that’s it.

Steve Cuden: How long does it typically take you to write a poem? Do they just come out or does that sometimes take you days?

Suzi Quatro: Well, they’re really painful ones you’ll write in a flurry and then you’ll go back, and you’ll look at it again. You might edit a little bit. You might think, wait a minute, that’s a bit awkward there. Then sometimes you’ll look at it, want to edit and think, no, that awkwardness is wonderful because it’s raw. Yeah. Sometimes I do tweak. I do tweak. But the really good ones just fly out. They do. It’s like throwing up. I don’t know how else to say it. You don’t know where it comes from, but then there it is. Can’t change it.

Steve Cuden: Same with songwriting. Yes?

Suzi Quatro: Yeah.

Steve Cuden: But it was fascinating in the documentary to listen to Mike Chapman talk about you meet him, he says, I’ve got an idea. He goes off in a few hours later, there’s a song. Right?

Suzi Quatro: Yeah.

Steve Cuden: It’s like literally a couple of hours later, there’s the song.

Suzi Quatro: This is how it happens.

Steve Cuden: It’s a huge hit. It turns into a huge hit.

Suzi Quatro: Yeah. This is how it happens. You get inspired and you kind of know it. The good stuff you know when you’re doing it. I know when it’s a good poem. I know when it’s a so-so poem. I know when it’s a good song. You feel it from the first second you sit down.

Steve Cuden: I think that that’s an accurate way to describe it. You feel it more than you think it. We’re definitely in the passion business, the guts business, not in the intellectual business. I do want to speak for a moment about your stage work. I was completely and utterly blown away when I saw clips of you doing Annie Oakley and clips from Tallulah Who because your stage voice is exquisite and totally different from your rock voice. It’s still you, but it was unexpected. I didn’t expect to hear what came out of you. I’m wondering, have you ever thought about doing an album of nothing but standard Broadway songs?

Suzi Quatro: That would be interesting.

Steve Cuden: Yes, it would.

Suzi Quatro: It was very natural to me. I mean, Annie Shoot Your Gun was fantastic. Yeah. Whatever I’m doing, I’m kind of like musical actress or actress. I kind of don’t act, I kind of become which is my role. Ron Howard said to me about season three. It must have been. We were talking. We were in Arnold’s, and we had a break in filming. He said to me, Suzi, he said, whatever you do, don’t take acting lessons. I went, oh. I said, why are you saying that? He said, because you’re natural and it would ruin it. I take that as a big compliment.

Steve Cuden: It is a big compliment. Even doubly so when you realize what he went on to do, making as many movies as he’s made.

Suzi Quatro: I also asked him because we email all the time. We’re in good contact. I said, I’m just going to pick your brain. I’m curious. That was my first ever acting job. So I said, sure. I was already a star and stuff, but my first ever acting. So green. I said, did it ever feel, first of all, that I was new to the show? He said, no. It’s like you were always there. I said, did I feel like a new actress? He said, no, just you were there. You felt like you belonged. So that’s again, a big compliment. Yeah.

Steve Cuden: Everything you’ve done, you’ve been a natural at.

Suzi Quatro: I try to do what I know I can do, and I don’t want to do what I don’t think I can do.

Steve Cuden: My point is, is that there are very few people who can do what you do and that you’re a natural at it which is a gift. I mean, you’ve had this gift your whole life. It is a gift.

Suzi Quatro: Yeah. I’ve talked with other performers about this. There’re a million good singers. There’re a million great actresses. One person makes it, another doesn’t. There’re all these pieces of the jigsaw puzzle that have to come together. There’s a talent thing, which a lot of people have. There’s a charisma factor that’s important. There’s the X factor, there’s coming along at the right time. There’s also hearing opportunity knock and opening the door. Many different things come into it, and the self-belief.

Steve Cuden: I’m going to ask you the two famous questions I ask everybody. So in all of your experiences in the business of show, can you share with us any of your experiences that are weird, quirky, offbeat, strange, or just plain funny?

Suzi Quatro: There’s a strange one that I like to talk about, because in all my years, this was weird. We were in Yekaterinburg in Russia, which is where they killed Nicholas and Alexandra and the family at a place called The Blood Palace. Okay. I was always fascinated with that story. We drove past it on the way to the venue and the interpreter told us, there’s the place. I went, wow. History happened here. So anyway, got to the venue, did the sound check, I’m in my room and I could see the Blood Palace from my window. It just put me in this strange frame of mind that this horrible tragedy happened there. Anyway, we went on stage, and we did about two songs. Somebody, at first, they were sitting. Somebody got up from the audience and just walked up straight up to the stage with this big book Half Flowers.

It wasn’t a thing like this, and they went like this to me. I had to stop the song, reach down, and get them, and I put them on the drum riser. Every five minutes or six minutes, somebody else would walk up. This happened all the way through my show. So the end of the show, the entire visor is full of flowers and I’m feeling this strange feeling. They were going crazy, but at the same time there was this unbelievable escapism that I think they were feeling. It was a great show. Anyway, I went home, I didn’t speak after the show. I said, take me to my room. I got back to my room by myself. I laid down on my bed and I cried my eyes out.

I’ve never done that before. I cried my eyes out and I found myself saying out loud, thank you God, for allowing me to make those people happy for an hour and a half. This is what it did to me. This is the strangest experience. It never happened since. Yeah. It was just the way they came up. Wow.

Steve Cuden: It almost feels like a bit of a religious experience is what it sounds like.

Suzi Quatro: It was really strange. Then I read the comments from the band the next day on the internet, and I hadn’t discussed it with them. They all said, what a spiritual show that was. So I was not the only one to have felt this. They all felt it. It went above and beyond a gig. Can’t explain it. It just happened.

Steve Cuden: It’s never happened again.

Suzi Quatro: Not that way. I’ve had the lifting up moments many times. I mean, there was a recent one I called my husband after the Belfast gig about three weeks ago. I said, I can’t believe it’s 72 years old. I did what I call the best gig of my career.

Steve Cuden: Wow.

Suzi Quatro: It’s not possible. But I had to say it because it was true. The reason it was so great was because for some reason there were a lot of 18-year-old people all the way up to 70. So big widespread. Halfway through the show, these younger elements just got up and they rushed onto the stage. A lot of them were female. They were screaming and I was looking behind me wondering who the hell came on stage. It was like, I was almost afraid. I thought, God, where do I go from here? They made it go so high, I had to try to control them. It was like being 23 and number one and I was 72. Fantastic.

Steve Cuden: That’s beyond awesome. That’s just fantastic to hear about. I wish I had seen it.

Suzi Quatro: It’s great.

Steve Cuden: Yeah. Alright, so last question for you today, Suzi. You’ve already given us an enormous amount of advice. But I’m wondering if you have a single solid piece of advice or a tip that you like to give people who are starting out in the business as to how they can make their careers grow, how they can improve themselves, et cetera. Or even someone who’s in a little bit and trying to get to that next level.

Suzi Quatro: Okay. Just, for me, this is only humbly speaking. It starts with the need. Number one, the need to be in this business. The need. You have to need it. The need. I need this. Then you have to find your little light, whatever that may be. If it’s singing, if it’s songwriting, if it’s guitar, if it’s performing, you have to find it. You have to locate it. That just means getting in touch with yourself. Find out what your talent is. Work out and you know it. You know it. Whether you have that X factor or not, you should know it. You should know it. If you have it, you know it. If you don’t, you wonder. Best bit of advice so far. If you’re winning so far, then you work out what your area’s going to be. You work out who you’re going to take inspiration from to hone your craft. If you’re going to be in a band, you do every single gig that God sent you. If you are in a dive playing in front of a drunken bar, and you can make them turn around and look at you, you did it. Stay focused, stay professional. Do not get stoned or drunk to go on stage and always remember you need them probably more than they need you.

Steve Cuden: You’ve just basically laid out the course for anyone who can do anything in the arts, and any part of the arts. Yet what you’re talking about is truly fundamental and so smart and learned the hard way. You learned it coming up in what they call the school of hard knocks. Yes?

Suzi Quatro: I did.

Steve Cuden: Well, Suzi Quatro, I cannot thank you enough for this fantastic hour on StoryBeat and I wish you so much continued success. I’ll be happy to read your next poetry book because this one was just fun to read and moved me. I mean, it was very moving to me.

Suzi Quatro: That’s the whole thing when somebody gets something out of it, then it’s the artistic cycle complete.

Steve Cuden: Thank you so much for being on StoryBeat today.

Suzi Quatro: Thank you so much Steve. Hope to see you again soon.

Steve Cuden: So we’ve come to the end of today’s StoryBeat. If you liked this episode, won’t you please take a moment to give us a comment, rating, or review on whatever app or platform you are listening to. Your support helps us bring more great StoryBeat episodes to you. StoryBeat is available on all major podcast apps and platforms, including Apple Podcasts, YouTube, Spotify, iHeartRadio, Stitcher, Tune In, and many others. Until next time, I’m Steve Cuden. May all your stories be unforgettable.

Executive Producer: Steve Cuden, Producer: Casey Georgi, Announcer: Javier Grajeda
Social Media: Mina Hoffman, Design & Marketing: Holly Reed, Reed Creative Group


  1. Nives Gussetti

    Possibly one of, if not “the” best interview given by Suzi Quatro (and I listened to hundreds of them in the past 49 years!).

    Thanks Suzi and thanks Mr Cuden for asking some very interesting questions..

    • Steve Cuden

      Thanks very much, Nives! That’s so very kind of you. And greatly appreciated!


    • Christine G,

      Absolutely agree this, Nives! All those years I am following Suzi. She is one of the musician I loved all of her her music.When I joined the FC Germany and read what Suzi has done through the time, I liked her more-Suzi is an through bread entertainer!And that is the reason I am a fan with all respect for her.Christine from Munich-greetimgs to you!

      • Steve Cuden

        Thanks for listening, Christine! Steve

  2. sue lewis

    great interview . loved it

    • Steve Cuden

      Thanks for listening, Sue. I agree! Steve


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