THERE can’t be too many acts that can claim to have toured Australia 33 times but the original “rock chick”, Suzi Quatro, is about to do just that.
The rock legend is back in the country headlining the Red Hot Summer national tour, which will also feature heavyweight Aussie acts such as The Angels, Baby Animals, Moving Pictures, The Screaming Jets and Chocolate Starfish.
Taking in seven states over 11 shows spread over a five-week period, it’s a tour that Suzi has been looking forward to, as it will give her some time to slow down and enjoy herself rather than racing off to the next gig.
Born in Detroit, Susan Kay Quatro has been playing live since the mid-1960s and has released 26 albums which have more than 50 million copies.
She bursts out laughing when I told her that as a five-year-old I remembered seeing her on Top of the Pops on a cold UK night in 1973.
The sight of that leather-clad woman singing Can The Can on TV is probably the reason I remain a raging heterosexual.
“Well, I have a very big gay following too, so I’m glad I could help you make your choice,” Suzi said.
Australia has a soft spot for Suzi. Along with ABBA and Kiss, it was Australia that delivered her more No.1 hits during the ’70s than any other country.
“I did have the same chart hits everywhere and as I gig all over the world, I think good music stands the test of time,” she says.
“I’m enjoying this tour. It’s not only fantastic to travel the whole country, but the fact that these gigs are on weekends means that we have an apartment in Melbourne.
“Normally its just gig, gig, gig, gig. It’s a real nice way to do it, I have some free time, which is not normal for me.
“We did it here back in 2014 and I enjoyed touring that way.”
Last year Suzi founded Quatro, Scott & Powell (QSP), a supergroup consisting of herself, Andy Scott from The Sweet and Don Powell from Slade, which sold very well in Australia.
It’s just another facet of the star who has been in the music business for more than half a century.
“When it comes to touring, it’s easier for me to say where I haven’t been,” Suzi says.
“I’ve been 53 years in this business now. Sometimes I get a map on a plane and I try to work out the places I haven’t been, and there’s really not many, although I don’t enjoy the travelling.
“It sucks, but I love my job.
“With so much travelling you have to just get it down to a fine art. You have to sleep, I play my games, I do my reading, it’s just about trying to relax, and if you don’t sleep you end up with no voice.”
Suzi’s autobiography Unzipped was released a decade ago and sold well.
She is still proud of the fact that now she is a musician, actor, DJ and published author.
“When I did my book, I just wrote the story,” she says.
“I was floundering until I started to write it as two people. Once I started writing it as little Suzi from Detroit and Suzi Quatro it got easier.
“I do have a public side and private side and I just told my story.
“I’ve also released a novel and a book of poems, so I’m now a published author! Plus I’ve been doing my radio show since 1999.”
Suzi appeared on the iconic TV show Happy Days in 1978 and 1979 and says it is hard for anyone today to understand what a big deal that was.
The show was one of the most watched programs not only in the US, but all over the world, and got her known in every corner of the globe in a time before websites and youtube.
“It was my first ever acting job, it was wonderful that my first gig could be on such an iconic show, I absolutely adored it,” she says.
“It made me into a household name, it was the number one show at the time.
“I auditioned, got the part and it turned into three years on the show. Today I’m still good friends with lots of the people on the show, I’m in email contact all the time with Henry Winkler (Fonzie) and Ron Howard (Richie Cunningham).”
Suzi admits it may have been her who paved the way for women in rock, either on purpose or by accident or on purpose.
“It’s written in history that here hadn’t been too many female successful rockers playing an instrument before me, so I do see myself that way as its just a fact.
“I don’t remember trying to be anything, I just stuck true to myself, kept writing and recording, and just kept on working.
“It wasn’t a case of to keep evolving, I never wanted to change who I was… maybe that’s the secret to longevity.
“You never saw me doing a disco or a punk song, I kept being who I was. That’s all you can do.
“It all happened when producer Mickie Most brought me to the UK. I could have gone with Elektra Records to go to New York to be what they called ‘the next Janice Joplin’, then Mickie made me the same offer in the same week.
“He told me he wanted to take me to England and he’d make me ‘the first Suzi Quatro’.”
Suzi remains philosophical about how things all turned out.
“It’s the way it was meant to be.
“All you’ve got in this world is who you are and you better not let it go for anybody.”
The Red Hot Summer national tour featuring Suzi Quatro, The Angels, Baby Animals, Moving Pictures, The Screaming Jets and Chocolate Starfish will hit the Sandstone Point Hotel on February 10 and 11.