AN IN-DEPTH INTERVIEW WITH ROCK AND ROLL MAMMA AND A REAL MAMMA, A MUSICIAN, AN ARTIST, AN ACTRESS, ENTERTAINER, POET, WRITER AND A TRUE ICON
Suzi Quatro has achieved possibly everything a musician could dream about and far beyond. She was the first woman who achieved a major international success as a frontwoman, singing and playing an instrument at the same time and writing songs. Back then she shocked with playing bass while singing and being dressed in her leather jumpsuit, the combination that became as iconic as her haircut, altogether underlined by the complexity of her unique personality. Suzi created her own style in every sense of the word. Since the beginning of her career, Suzi showed the world she is damn good at what she is doing. There were no compromises in her case. She performed with an appropriate dose of healthy self-confidence, sovereignty and audacity, boogie Detroit rock’n’roll would not be authentic without. Throughout her history, counting nearly six decades on the music scene and still going on, Suzi sold over 55 million albums, played sold out arenas worldwide and, having had several hits; “Can the Can”, ”48 Crash”, ”Devil Gate Drive”, ”If You Can’t Give Me Love”, “She’s in Love with You” and many more, occupying the top positions in the charts in various countries for several years. Unfortunately, her home market was not as ready as the rest of the world for her to innovate the music scene in the early 70s. The duet “Stumblin’ In” with Chris Norman was her only tune that made it to the top of American charts up until now.
She confirmed the diversity of her talents also in the US famous TV series from the 70s, called “Happy Days” where she shone as Leather Tuscadero, the appearance that created stardom status for her in America. Other interesting offers for movies and even main roles were following, but Suzi turned them down, understanding such agreement could mean the only commitment she would be fully devoted to. She decided to pursue her next goals and continued her musical career.
In the beginning of the 80s, she challenged herself with another interesting offer and starred in the musical “Annie Get Your Gun”. Suzi also co-wrote and acted the theatrical play about the actress Tallulah Bankhead. Apart from music and acting, she is also a poet and writer. Her original memoir “Unzipped” was released in 2008. Suzi Quatro’s first collection of her poetry “Through My Eyes” saw the light of day in 2016, followed by the second in the series called “Through My Words” (2020).
The fascinating life story of Suzi Quatro makes you think about various aspects of life. It feels like a fairytale filled with love and admiration from the outside, in which every single dream comes true and most of them certainly do come true. In reality, there are no highs without the lows. It is similarly true that there is no true and meaningful success that has been achieved without suffering, struggling, paying the dues for fame, sacrificing even the most important things in life, leaving every possible comfort zone, and making decisions that are often misunderstood, driving other people mad, creating envy, jealousy, and a sense of revenge. All of this and much more have been perfectly captured in the remarkable documentary “Suzi Q”, directed by Australian movie director, Liam Firmager. The true authentic story about a woman who plays an important part in the history of rock‘n’roll and undoubtfully influenced a whole generation of women worldwide, women many of whom later became icons themselves thanks to Suzi who paved the way and made it much easier for them.
She is keeping herself busy and is constantly working on something new, mainly on new songs. Suzi Quatro released her latest album on the 26th of March 2021, called “The Devil in Me” which is the second one resulting from the mutual collaboration between Suzi and her son Richard Tuckey. Suzi does not hide her enthusiasm for the new material and says publicly this one is the finest effort in her entire career. Considering how successful her albums were in the past, including her greatest hits, this statement is truly as powerful and as surprising as Suzi herself.
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“Suzi was raw. She came from a place so deep inside, so unmistakable. She did far more than show that women can play music. She showed us that we could be who we were if we believed enough in ourselves. “
(Cherie Currie, “Suzi Q” documentary)
I N T E R V I E W
There are currently no live shows being performed anywhere because of the Covid pandemic. This has to be hard for you as you have been on the road almost your whole life, but you have your new album out. How do you feel about it, and how have you been doing?
I have been doing fine. As far as anybody can be doing in these tough times. I have been lucky that I have been very creative. I’m quite happy to be doing what I am doing. We have made a fantastic album, and I am really happy about that. This is my second one with my son Richard. The previous album “No Control” was the first one. I say it publicly it is my finest work, and it is. It represents 57 years I have already been in the music business. My voice has never been better. We wrote some great songs together. He is bringing some of young energy into it. It is just excellent. I am so pleased with that. I have to say, the reaction has been wonderful. It is just ridiculous without the live shows. All the shows have been postponed. My tour was supposed to start in May 2020. Fingers crossed. Nobody knows the answer to that. You just have to go on, but I really miss doing it.
You have mentioned the quality of your voice which I wanted to point out as well. It feels like time has shaped it and made it even stronger…
I know, it is very strange because in reality, your voice is supposed to go downhill as you get older. My voice is going uphill. I’m touched by it every time I say that. I do not understand how that is possible, but it happened. Of course, I’m happy about it. I am singing better than I have ever sung.
It is no secret that you celebrated your 70th in 2020, but you are still so creative and full of energy. What have you been doing to keep your voice and body in such great shape?
Since I did theatre, I started to do a vocal warm up before every show. That is really good advice. I also do it every time before I record. I never put down the song without the vocal warm up. I make sure to get my sleep when I am on the road because that is good for your throat. I do not smoke. I always wear a little scarf when I travel because the air conditioning can play up with it. I just do everything that you should to do to keep fit. To keep your voice fit, to keep your body fit. It is a part of the game. I want to keep doing what I am doing for a long time, so I have to take care of myself.
Huge congratulations on your new album “The Devil in Me” which, as you say yourself, sounds really fantastic and strong from beginning to end. It offers a selection of the songs that continue the tradition of your 1973 debut, but there are also some truly unique surprises on the album…
There are not any failures on the album. Every song is very important. Obviously, the song “The Devil in Me” is all about my mother. I think it has a lot to say. I love “Motor City Riders” because it is dedicated to my hometown. I love, love and love “My Heart and Soul” so much. I also love “Love’s Gone Bad” which is talking about vibe. This song has something really special. They are all so good. “Isolation Blues”, my God, it really says how it is going. Lots of people like that one a lot because it is very honest. What a great line: “I’m G&T and getting so high, it is an alcoholic lullaby.” Everyone who hears that says, oh yeah, that’s what we all were going through. It’s really hard to choose one which would be my favorite, but I would definitely also pick up “Dark in Me” as one of them too.
My personal favorite is “Isolation Blues”. The atmosphere of the song is so touching and different, and you also sound completely different on it…
You are not the only one who says this song is your favorite. Yes, it is different. I was able to put in the lyrics exactly what I was feeling. Everybody who heard that song, including you, is feeling the same way about what you have just said. It really says it, doesn’t it? I just sat, and I thought how am I feeling? My husband was in Hamburg. We did not see each other for two and a half months. We could not go anywhere. Everything was closed, so I wrote the “Isolation Blues”. It really came out honest and right from the heart. The whole album was written and recorded during the lockdown, but that particular song is about the lockdown. It was all influencing everything, but that song is about what we have been going through.
In my eyes, this song is not just the regular song. The way you sing it is a piece of art. I mean, what an incredible performance…
Thank you. Like I said, I never sang better than what I am singing right now. I do actually do a good ballad, and I do a good blues, so I am testing those things on it. It’s great fun. I like singing that because I like the lyrics. I can bring it all from the heart and sing it, you know, and I really mean it.
I would also like to mention the song “I Sold My Soul Today” which is very unusual for you with alternative influences and the voice distortions….
Yes, this is a very unusual song. “I Sold My Soul Today” is the second single from the album. We have done the video of it with the same video maker who did the video for “The Devil in Me” song. He is really good. He had asked me before to explain the song. It’s always hard to do. There is a woman with a very strong moral code. She knows who she is. She knows how to say it when you cannot pretend. She is very upright. She’s got a boyfriend who is not like her and not a very nice guy. The wrong thing to do is when she says she sold her soul. It is because she should really believe. She doesn’t change herself for him, but she stays with him, and that is the bad thing. If somebody is trying to get you to be somebody you are not, you should walk out the door.
Is the song somehow influenced by your first marriage?
No. In fact, it is a bit of a combination of a lot of different guys that came into my life. I have always felt that they all are trying to control me somehow. Nobody can control me. I am uncontrollable, I just am. I’m saying that because I mean it. It makes me happy that I’m uncontrollable. (laughs)
You have said the song “The Devil in Me” is all about your mother, but who or what do you call the devil in you?
My mother said to me all the time when I was young: “You are an angel until your halo slips and it becomes a noose.” I was always mischievous. I was a shy girl, but mischievous. My husband calls me trouble. So, I have got the devil in me in the nicest possible way. I have always tried to bother people. I get fun out of it. (laughs)
One of the best songs on the album definitely is “Hey Queenie”. What is this one about?
There is a story to that song. On the very first album there is a song called “Glycerine Queen”. This song has been on my live shows since it has been written all those years ago. It was a true story about a transvestite that came into our dressing room. My ex-husband asked him if he would like some Glycerine. You put Glycerine on your body to make it look sweaty. The wrestlers or fighters use it. He said: “Yeah, I want some Glycerine,” so he put it in his drink. We called him the Glycerine Queen. My son wanted to duplicate the idea of that song now with the same transvestite, the same guy, but he is old now. That is how that song developed. We even include the sound of the piano which was very much a sound of the early band. A lot of people love that track. It has got one of my best ever bass lines in it and really difficult. I wrote it and I thought, what if you don’t do it yourself. It’s not an easy bass line. Especially not to play it and sing it which I don’t normally have a problem with, but that’s a difficult one.
Have you planned on doing another album together with your son or did it happen spontaneously during the lockdown?
He first came to me just before we started recording “No Control”. He had been wanting to write with me for quite some time. He has been in bands, loves music and his guitar. It never felt quite right until he finally came to me and said: “I need to write with you now!” I went: “Ok, now you are ready.” We started a few demos and that turned into “No Control”. I didn’t know it was so good. The critics loved the whole album. We were finding our way with each other. We had never worked together before. We had never written together before. It was an experimental thing. You get a wide range of songs on there because there were no boundaries. We were just trying it out. Then when the first album went down so well, we started working on this one. He was very focused, and he said: “I want this album to be as groundbreaking as your first album.” So, we had a benchmark. Here’s the level we want to get to. We discussed it, and we both agreed. He played lots of unusual riffs to me and came with lots of unusual ideas. What’s happened is the partnership that has developed, I never knew it was going to be so wonderful as what it is. I never saw this coming. He is bringing to the table his 36 years of age, his generation of music and how he has seen me since he was a little boy. I’m bringing to the table 57 years of experience, life experience and my knowledge. And together we fused it. He has made me able to see myself through his eyes. It feels kind of like being reborn. It’s really exciting. He has lit my fire again, and I did not know I needed to be lit. I was doing great, but all of a sudden, I am on fire, you know. That’s just great. That’s all down to Richard. I did not know he was so talented. He surprises me all the time. He really is a very creative boy.
Does Richard have his own band?
He is just forming his own group right now with three people. They are just in the studio every day, writing new songs. He should be in a band, he is good. I don’t want him to be in mine. Only if we toured with these two albums. He was not involved in the early stuff. If we went out on tour with “No Control” and “The Devil in Me”, for sure he would be in there because he did the albums with me. I want him to form his own little thing, find his own unit and get going that way, instead of playing his Momma’s old hits. Maybe I will take him to some of the gigs and let him play some of the new stuff. That would be really terrific.
“She was integral to me figuring out who I was, finding my own style and becoming my own person, but certainly getting strength from her to do that. “
(Joan Jett, “Suzi Q” documentary)
The fabulous documentary “Suzi Q” about your life came out shortly before the lockdown started and was directed by Australian director Liam Firmager. Did you know each other before or how did the collaboration start? Who came up with the idea of doing it?
No, we did not know each other before. He called me and told me who he was. He said he was interested in doing the documentary about me. It was so funny because he said: “I got to tell you I am not a fan. Don’t get me wrong, I like your music, but I am not a fan.” I asked him why he wanted to do this documentary then. He said: “Because I saw you talking on a TV show, and I found you fascinating.” I thought this is the right guy. He won’t be sycophantic. He will fight for what he wants. Before we came to an agreement, I said: “If you want to make a documentary with just people giving me compliments then I am not interested. I want the whole story. I want to put the record straight. I want the truth to be told. And even if it is uncomfortable, I do not care.” I had editing scissors obviously because it is my life. I stuck to this and I said: “Even if I am uncomfortable, if it’s the truth, and if it is important to the story, and it is what somebody thinks, it stays in the film.” The uncomfortable moments are the best parts in the film. Thank God that I felt that way. All the critics have said that the reason why they love the film is because it is honest, vulnerable and wonderful. It shows the real me. It shows the struggle, it is never easy. Why pretend it is? Tell the story as it was, you know; it wasn’t easy. It tells the truth. If you want to see a real documentary, that is the one to see.
I can only confirm your words. I have seen the documentary already a couple of times and I cried. There were moments I even had to stop it for a while and think it over…
I cry at the same moments every time I see it. That one question: “What would you just say to your young self?” Oh boy! It nearly finished me, didn’t it? It’s a very touching documentary. It shows my vulnerability. It should because it is who I am.
This is the part of authenticity. You cannot hide who you really are…
Everything I feel or think is always in my face. My mother told me when I was very young: “Don’t even bother to lie because your face shows everything!” I have grown up telling the truth.
Had you decided who you want to appear in the documentary or were some of the guests also the director’s choice?
The obvious people had to be in it, and he also said who he wanted to be in it. My ex-husband who is a part of the whole thing. My sisters and my brother had to be in it. He asked me for the people who I would know, and I told him certain names of people that I was friends with through the years. He came up with a few. We worked together, but it was his creation. He directed it.
There were so many personalities honoring you. Most of the statements were really soulful and powerful. I especially loved the things Cherie Currie said. She just said everything in the right way…
Cherie has become a good friend of mine. She has been very supportive. She is a lovely girl. But all the people who were in there. Debbie Harry who I really love. Joan Jett was very sweet and also Kathy Valentine. It is really humbling. I am in tears while I watch it. I sometimes watch it, and I think. Did I really do all of that? Wow, this is just amazing.
When was the first time you understood the impact you have had on women worldwide?
When I watched the documentary.
That is so surprising to hear. Really, only then?
Yes. I know it is funny and crazy. I did not stop to think about it ever since. I talked to Cherie on the phone after my first premiere in London. I had to go on stage and answer all the questions. I watched the film with an audience for the first time. I hid in the corner, so they did not see me there. I called Cherie the next day, and I said to her I got something to say, and she asked me what it was. I said: “I just realized that me doing what I did gave women all over the world permission to be different.” She asked me if I just realized that, and I answered that yes, I did because I did not think about it. I guess if I stopped and thought about it, it would not have been the same. It’s good because I was just doing what I was doing, and it had that effect. But no, I honestly did not realize that. I am just doing what I do and sticking to me, being strong and being who I am. Now I do. Now I am humbled by it and I will quite happily take that to my grave. That was not until I saw all of that.
“Whether you know it or not, you are a true genius in every sense of the word.“
(written by Debbie Harry to Suzi Quatro)
Many female rock stars paid huge respect to you in the documentary. If you were asked to choose one to pay respect to in return, who would it be and why?
I mean Cherie is one of my favorite people. But the one who just pops to my mind is Debbie. She said such wonderful things. I actually have an email from her that I printed out and have it on my bulletin board. I sent her my poetry book and she emailed me back, and she said: “Whether you know it or not, you are a true genius in every sense of the word.” Wow, what a thing to say! Cherie was so supportive, but I chose Debbie just because of that. What a sweetheart she is.
Your longtime friend Alice Cooper also appeared in the documentary and he considers you as one of the biggest rock stars. If he asked you to appear in his documentary, what would you say about him?
I have known him very well for a long time. He is a lovely man, he is funny, he is sexy, and he is smart. He is one of the good ones. We have a lot of affection for each other. We could have actually been boyfriend and girlfriend, but we decided we were better friends. It was the decision we made. We had one big kiss. We both laugh about it. We are better friends than anything else.
You have also done a beautiful cover version of one of his songs “I Never Cry”, but it was not officially released on some of your albums. There is just a video available on YouTube. Did you do that song for some special occasion?
I was doing a charity show in Detroit for the Save The Children Fund. I called Alice and told him that I wanted to do one of his songs. Alice said to me there was no other choice and that I had to do “I Never Cry”. I did it, and I did such a good job on it. His producer wrote me a long email wowing what I did with that song. I did make it my own way. I love that one. I was supposed to be on his “Detroit Stories” album with him because he did “Your Mamma Won’t Like Me”. I wanted them to send it to me for approval after I put my bass and my vocal down, but his producer would not do it. He said it was too much trouble. I said that was crazy, what did he mean by too much trouble. I’m an artist, and I wanted to hear what you have done. Then he said to me there was not a guarantee that it was going to be an equal duet. Then I decided to pass on this because if you asked somebody to do a duet, it is a duet. But we are all good friends, it is all fine. They understood where I was coming from. Maybe we will do the duet one day. I’ve loved the man for many years. He is a good guy.
I have to say, the weirdest moment in your documentary is when your sister Nancy appeared and said she would never be your fan because she is your sister. I felt it was not honest and it felt more as kind of revenge from the past because you made it and achieved a huge success…
Yes, I know, this is hard. It sounded like that, and it felt like that. That was one of those difficult moments that I insisted stays in there. It has to stay in there the way she feels. It was not nice, but she said that. This was my younger sister. I have to say, we have since talked it through on the phone, and we talk all the time now. She says there was a lot of stuff before that she was saying and a lot of stuff afterwards. I have said that I understand that, but what she said, it does not matter what preceded it or went after it, it was harsh. We talked it through, and we are fine. The older sister, she would just always be resentful, and she will carry that till the day she dies. And there is nothing I can do about it. She wanted to make it, and she did not, and so it is hard for her to let that go. I did not take anything from her, I was just doing what I did, you know. Nobody stopped her from being successful. I never said, she cannot do that, or she won’t be a star. I just did what I did, but yes, there are sibling problems in every family. Especially, when you were in a band together and you get picked out. That’s always going to be difficult which I do understand. Like I said, they did the interviews, and they said what they wanted to say, and I left it in. Then they were really mad at me. They did not call me for a year. I kept asking, how can you be mad at me for what you said? Now it is ok. I think we’ve mended it now and I have let it go.
What are the memories you treasure the most from your childhood and those years in Detroit?
These are the most important years of your life. This is what forms you. I come from a family of five. We were a big family. We grew up in a beautiful suburb of Detroit. Our parents were strict. My mother was a very strict Catholic lady. My Dad worked at car factory and played music at night. He worked very hard. We grew up in a great neighborhood. We knew everybody, every family. No doors were locked. We went for a visit to each house. There was a girl who lived one house away from me. She is still my friend. We have known each other since she was 3 and I was 4. Lifelong friendships were created on that street. It was quite an idyllic childhood. I have to say, I was very lucky. Still, whenever I go to Detroit, I go back to that first house, and I go inside. When my Dad was moving into that house, my Mom was in the hospital having me. My Dad always said it was my house because I came home from the hospital with my mother as a baby into the new house. It is my house, that is how I feel about it. My heart is in Detroit, always has been.
What were your musical beginnings like?
I come from a very musical family. I play classical piano and percussion. I played bongo drums with my father’s band from the age of 7. I was always involved in music and singing. In 1964, at the age of 14, I started an all-girl band with one of my sisters and a couple of friends. We were called THE PLEASURE SEEKERS. We played with this band for many years all over America. Then we changed the band name to CRADLE, but we were still an all-girl band. At that point, we started to play our own songs, and Mickie Most, who was a famous producer from England, came over to Detroit. He saw our band, but he did not like the band, he liked me. He offered to me a solo contract.
How was your relationship with your parents after you moved to Britain and started your own career without your sisters?
That was really hard. They even did not tell me that Mickie only wanted me. Nobody told me. I found that out by accident, you know. It was hard for me to go emotionally. I knew I was going to miss everybody, but there was no way I was not going. Because this was my chance. It was never going to be easy when you get picked out, and you have huge success. Everybody gets how they see themselves left behind. You have your family, and you love each other. It was not easy, but I guess I enjoyed my relationship with my parents while they were alive. Certainly, I do enjoy my relationship with my sister as well. It is what it is.
Your first two studio albums “Suzi Quatro” (1973) and “Quatro” (1974) were very successful. How do you remember the times you were working on them?
I came off to England at that point when I was 21 years old. We made lots of recordings that did not get released. Finally, I got a band together again, a group of English guys. At that point we started to write songs again. Mickie asked Mike Chapman and Nicky Chinn if they would write me a single after hearing us playing live, so they could hear what kind of music we did. They wrote “Can the Can”. As soon as I was in the charts, we went to the studio to make the album. It was done and completed in two weeks. The first album was called “Suzi Quatro”. Most of the songs on the album were written by myself and my guitar player, Lenny Tuckey. Lenny was my guitar player who I later married. It was very much a Suzi Quatro Project, produced by Mike Chapman. It was a very successful album. There was a picture of me with my leather jacket on the front cover with my guitar player drinking a beer with his hand on his trousers. I still think it is one of my finest albums because it was mainly my own songs, and it was very much about the group. We were a boogie-boogie stroke rock‘n’roll band. We tried to stick to a lot of the same formula of the success of the first one. My guitar player and me, we were writing a lot of different things at that time that was not really Suzi Quatro. They were really unusual, they were more like QUEEN in a way, like ”Bohemian Rhapsody”. Some of these tracks did not make it onto the second album. Mickie Most was worried that the fans would not like us to be so different. It was pretty much the same as with some of the tracks that weren’t on the first album. These tracks didn’t see the light of day until they were released on the album called “A’s, B’s and Rarities”, released in 2004.
The two albums were released in a short period of time and were musically in the same direction. Were there any obvious differences in recording between the first and second albums?
The first album was our first and we were a new band. The original drummer left three weeks before the single “Can the Can” came out which was really crazy. We got a new drummer and we had to get to know each other. It was a very instinctive album. We just went into the studio, setup the equipment and played, so it was very natural. Whatever that first album was, it was very Suzi and the boys. Second album, of course, we had some hits by then, and we had a little bit of a formula more worked out. We kind of knew a little bit more what was expected of us.
You said Mickie Most was worried the fans would not like you to be so different, but your third album “Your Mamma Won’t Like Me” was very different and experimental compared to the first two releases. Did you feel it was the right time for a change with your third effort?
Yes, “Your Mamma Won’t Like Me” was kind of an experiment. Mike Chapman had gone to America to get some inspiration. He heard bands and artists like Stevie Wonder. Anyone who could turn that kind of slightly and more funky sound into me. It was very nice to change that way a little bit. We had horns on the album for the first time, and we have other people on the album for the first time. We had a couple of backing singers. One of my sisters sang on “I Bit Off More Than I Could Chew” and “Your Mamma Won’t Like Me”. It was just a very funky and totally different album. When we heard “Your Mamma Won’t Like Me”, the track which Mike had written as the title track for the album, my guitar player and I started to write the songs in that way, more like kind of funky and soulful. It was time for a change. If you do two albums of the same kind of thing then with the third one, you need to do it a little bit differently. There is a great song on the third album called “Michael” which is one of my very favorites. We did that one live on stage. It is a ballad. It’s a really nice one.
Why did you change the producer for the next studio album “Aggro-phobia”? Why was it not produced by Mike Chapman again?
Mike Chapman and Nicky Chinn were arguing constantly. Mike Chapman decided he wanted to move to America and just be on his own, to have nothing to do with anybody, not with any artist. He just went into hiding. We had the album due out according to the contract. Mickie Most in Mike’s absence had to take over the producing chair. It was a mobile unit in the south of France where Mickie took us, and we recorded another album “Aggro-phobia”. It was again an unusual album because Mickie was not our normal producer, and he was not absolutely sure what to do with us in the studio. That’s why he handed the job over to Mike Chapman on the first place. It’s an interesting album. It is labelled as a Mickie Most production. There were some unusual songs on it. Two of the last tracks Mike Chapman had produced. We have the version of “Tear Me Apart” Mike Chapman produced and the other version, the single version, was Mickie Most’s version. It was kind of what I call an “in between” album.
“The way she moved and played the bass like a real bass player. She just reached down and plucked those strings like there was no tomorrow, singing at the same time which is really hard to do.“
(Lita Ford, “Suzi Q” documentary)
You have officially released the only live album so far in 1977 which is called “Live and Kickin’”. Where did you record it?
We were in Japan at the time. I think we did around 16 tours there back then. The gigs were really great for us there. A company decided that we should do a live album. I was insistent on making it completely live, no editing, from the beginning of the show to the end of the show. That’s how I wanted to do the live album to the whole show. And that’s how we did it. It was really, really great. Mickie Most should have come over to produce it, but he did not want to take the flight. It ended up with Lenny and me producing it, which was fine. The funny story I have about that one is that they were recording over three different days. On the first day of recording which was in Tokyo, I got a very bad flu, and I lost my voice. You know, in the airplane you can often get sick because you are trapped all those hours in everybody else’s germs, so I did. We couldn’t use our first recording, and I felt very bad about the fact that I got sick. They had all the equipment. Luckily, by the time of the second recording date, everything was fine. It was a good live album, and it was very much what I sounded like at the time.
How was one of your greatest hits “If You Can’t Give Me Love” born?
I was again in Japan and I got a call from my publicist in America. He asked me to come over and audition for a big television show called “Happy Days”. They gave me the part and at the same time me and Lenny, we decided to see Mike Chapman, who lived in California. We went to his house and he was really excited that I had this acting role in this big series. He was very pleased about it. We asked him how would he like to take over the production again. He agreed and we had our producer aback. That night, after we spoke and decided to work together again, he went to a party for the opening of “Saturday Night Fever”. He gave me an idea for “If You Can’t Give Me Love”. He wrote that brilliant song. We knew it was a hit immediately. I think it is one of the best songs that Nicky Chinn and Mike Chapman ever wrote. It was great and everything happened the way it should happen. Part of the album “If You Knew Suzi” (1978) was made in Germany, and part of the album was made in California. We were back up to speed and that guy really knew how to produce me.
Was it difficult to keep the track of a huge success with the next studio album “Suzi… and Other Four Letter Words” (1979)?
That album cover is my favorite picture of me because I look like how I think I look. It’s exactly how I see myself. Writing-wise, Mike Chapman always said it was my best collection of songs that I ever wrote. I was really in a good writing phase. I was just full of ideas and inspiration. I was on a writing high which was fueled by the fact that “If You Can’t Give Me Love” was such a huge hit. I was feeling really good, and I wrote some wonderful songs. I’m very proud of that album. There is not a bad track on that one.
How much did the 80s change for you compared to the 70s from both personal and business aspects?
The main thing that changed to me in the 80s was that I had two children in the 80s. My daughter Lara was born in 1982, and my son Richard was born in 1984. I recorded the album “Main Attraction” while I was pregnant with my first child. On the album cover, I’m actually about 5.5 to 6 months pregnant. I love that because it shows me looking very peaceful, thinking about this baby that is going to be born. I did an album with my ex-husband Lenny way back in 1984. It did not get used for some reason, so we saved it. When a company asked if I had something unreleased, I said yes, there was an entire album. “Unreleased Emotion” (1998) is about pregnancy times. It very much displayed the Rock‘n’roll Mamma Suzi who was becoming a mother at the same time. It was an interesting album in that respect. There is one track called “Everything I Ever Wanted” which I wrote for my daughter. The business kind of went into this punk phase which I did not really like. I was doing a lot of television, acting and theatre. I was trying different things. I was on the road doing my gigs, with my kids and with the nanny. I was just mainly trying out different things. It was a kind of quiet period recording wise. We needed no inspiration, basically.
Many musicians were complaining about the 90s as grunge took over the main attention and many of them lost their record deals, and also the touring possibilities were limited, but for many bands as for example SCORPIONS, they were not affected by grunge at all. How was this decade for you?
Oh God, I would totally disagree with that. In the 90s, I started to work more than ever, doing all these big package shows and big festivals. For me, anyway, people were very interested. That is how I met my second husband Rainer, who I am married to now. He is a promoter. He did a lot of these big shows attracting 20,000 people at a time. I was always part of that. I would have to disagree with that. I am lucky because my image and my style of music was kind of timeless. The image of just crazy glam rocker who is just playing in her black leather suit. The music was pretty basic rock and roll. That’s something that doesn’t really go out of fashion. My music doesn’t sound silly 20 years later.
You were raised in the Catholic Church. How important is religion for your life?
I mean I’ve got wider vision now, but the Catholic tracks, they are good tracks to run on. They give you a good guideline. They give you a good sense of right or wrong. It is not a bad way to be raised at all. You don’t go far off the path when you are raised as a Catholic, and you cannot.
I have just recently discovered you are also interested in Astrology, and you have been studying it. How did you get into it?
I have been studying it for many years. I’m quite a people person, anyway. I’m a communicator. I read people. I go deep into it, I always have. I always wondered as I was growing up, why everybody else seemed to find the middle ground or were even close to it. They could just go along. I never could. I was either up or down and loud or quiet. I could never find the middle ground. My Dad bought me an astrology book when I was 9 or 10 years old, and I read Gemini. It was exactly me. It naturally got me interested in Astrology because it was so correct. Then I started to study it and learned a lot of about it. I can usually guess between one or two signs what star sign you are, you know. It’s not just about the day we were born, it’s going deep into it. I have my chart done which is really a whole life from the exact moment you were born and where you were born. Yes, I am really into it, and I enjoy it as a subject for conversation.
As a musician you have achieved almost everything a musician can possibly dream about. Is there anything else you still wish to fulfill in this respect?
I just want to keep going as long as I have something to say, I want to keep going. I am not done yet. I am a very creative person. I am working on my fifth book now which is based on my daily Instagram thoughts. I wrote my big poetry book which is called “Through My Eyes”. This is my poetry I have done since I was a child. During a lockdown, I did a lyric book which is called “Through My Words”. I’m now working on my third book in the series, “Through My Thoughts”. I also have a new novel on the run too. And I am already writing songs for the next album. I am busy, I just cannot stop writing songs. I am writing all the time.
I love your life motto you have said years ago, and you are going to keep it, right?
(laughs) I said that when I was 35 years old. They asked when I was going to retire. And I said: “When I turn my back on the audience, I shake my ass and there is silence.” Now when I turn, I am going like it is great; it has not happened yet. When that happens, I hang my hat up and I will go home.