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The global acknowledgement of Rock and Roll’s first female icon has been long overdue. Over 50 years after her professional debut, the documentary, SUZI Q, celebrates the life and legacy of Detroit’s own Suzi Quatro.


One of the bassist and singer’s biggest advocates knows from direct experience
Quatro’s power and influence. A legend herself, as the lead singer of The Runaways, Cherie Currie spoke Exclusively with The Lady Miz Diva about Suzi Quatro’s essential place in Rock history, and gives her very succinct thoughts about those who would try to deny her.

Dig it!

 

 SUZI Q

Cherie Currie

 

 

 

The Lady Miz Diva:  Ms. Currie, it's so nice to see you again.  It’s been a long time since we met on the occasion of THE RUNAWAYS.  I’m so happy to see you supporting Suzi Quatro’s SUZI Q documentary.

Cherie Currie:  She’s great.  She’s truly a very dear, cherished friend.

 

LMD:  That is exactly what she said about you during my interview with her.  The friendship that you have is very evident in the film. 

At the end credits, you’re on stage singing a song that you wrote about Ms. Quatro called “Rock N Roll Rosie” which is a musical chronicle of her life, and one can sense the lyrics just pouring out of you.

CC:  Oh, it really did.  Liam {Firmager}, the director, had come and shot me here, because I was obviously passionate about her.  I mean, there are things that it just comes out how much someone has changed your life, and how important it is that she is recognised.  Because I was there.  I lived it.  I know absolutely how profound she was.

So, after that interview for the film, he said, “You know, you should write a song,” and I hadn’t written a song in so long, but I actually said, ‘Wait a minute. Holy crap, there’s so much I’d like to say.’  Honestly, I went, “You know what?  I’m gonna do that.”  I immediately reached out to Alex Michael, who I was working with at the time because I was getting ready to go out there to the UK, and I asked him if he had any really cool rock, because we had to do it quick.  And he did, and I just wrote her life story as I knew it, and incorporated as many songs as I could, and I think it turned out great.  And the fact that she liked it enough to get up on stage and do the singing with me was just super cool.  Then she closes the film with it.  I mean, it’s a dream come true!

 

LMD: Your first appearance in the film is telling the audience how she was the first; that “She broke the ice and kicked the door for us gals.”

For those who might ask, ‘Well, there were other girl bands and talented female musicians.  What was different about Suzi Quatro?’  Why does she stand out?

CC: {Laughs heartily} There was no one!  First of all.  There was no chick kicking ass like her.  There was no voice like hers.  She was first.  She was an absolute first.

Where there -- of course, there was Fanny -- but there was never anyone like Suzi Quatro.  I mean, she was a force.  Everyone wanted to be Suzi.  And of course, Joan {Jett}…  I just saw a picture of her bedroom -- Brad Alterman did shots of all of our bedrooms -- and it’s so funny because the shot just shows Suzi Quatro posters all over every little space she could fit.  Mine had Suzi Quatro, but it had a lot of David Bowie.  Joan had one or two David Bowie, but it was all Suzi.  I mean, Joan even cut her hair like Suzi.  She pretended to be Suzi.  Look, I pretended to be Bowie.  Suzi was taken, and Joan had the voice of Suzi. 

I mean, Joan took every drop of Suzi Quatro and used that until she could find out who she was, because we were too young to know yet.  We hadn’t really been on stage in front of anybody.  How do you take a 16-year-old girl -- 15, 16 -- and expect us to walk out there and just know who we are?  I mean we didn’t.  You know, I think Lita was Richie Blackmore.  Sandy was just Sandy; Sandy West was just a team player all the way around.  For me, it was David Bowie.  For Joan, it was Suzi Quatro.  And that’s the way we got through that first and second US tour, our UK tour.  Then we started evolving and becoming more who we became, as more professional performers.

 

LMD:  Being such a close friend, did reflecting on of Ms. Quatro’s life, and then seeing the completed documentary show you something about her life, or a view from her perspective that you didn’t know?

CC:  Sadly, the resistance from her family was extraordinarily hard.  I cried a lot watching that.  Still to this day, my heart breaks, because it’s still very obvious that even though they were kids themselves at the time, when you don’t grow out of that, really...

It’s heartbreaking to me that in just the way the audience would view it, they haven’t evolved past the fact that Suzi actually did something so profound and unique. 

Unfortunately, though they had dreams of doing that, it wasn’t in the cards.  Just like for me, as well, there are things that just wasn’t in the cards for me, and its acceptance is the key to all our problems today.  A lot of people don’t do that and that’s unfortunate, I think.  It’s heartbreaking and unfortunate, because there’s so much unresolved business, and it’s a very lonely place, especially when it’s family.  It’s a very, very lonely, uncomfortable place.  But sadly, what you do?

 

LMD:  In our conversation, Ms. Quatro asked me what I thought of the Thanksgiving tape?  It choked me up to realise that all these years later, she is still so affected by what her father did, and it’s still at the forefront of her mind.

CC:  You know, I mean that’s because the pain has been 50 years long.  It’s a long time.  That’s a long time.

 

LMD:  You presented Ms. Quatro with the Icon Award at She Rocks 2020.  I’ve seen the clip and you started crying, and she started crying.  She mentioned that moment to me, and said it was something that is happening these days; besides you, the same happened with Kathy Valentine of The Go-Go’s, and Suze DeMarchi of The Baby Animals 

I had never met her before, and very quickly in the course of our conversation, and some of her observations and insights hit me very hard.  I wonder if there’s some sort of emotional chord that’s going through creative women, females who love and play rock, artists around her, that is hitting close to the bone at this particular moment, and why that might be?  What is triggering these deeply emotional responses around her at this point in time?

CC:  Well, simply because Kathy and I were there.  I mean, when you see what she did.  You know, I see her as just this tiny little thing.  That bass seemed as big as her when I saw her opening for Alice Cooper back in 75, and this tiny little thing, a powerhouse! And I want her in the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame, godammit. 

It’s like you know what?  Every time they don’t do it, they ignore that her in that way; not only does it make me think that the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame is a joke, but it also is an insult to people like The Go-Go’s, and myself, and The Bangles, and all the people that knew that if it wasn’t for Suzi, we wouldn’t have had someone to allow us to believe that we could do it.

The music industry was so different back then.  It was such a male-orientated business, and guys were being little pussies about it, because they didn’t want girls.  I don’t know if covet’s the right word, but they just didn’t want us to have that little piece of the pie, I guess.  That’s the way it felt.  Of course, again, they were youngsters, too.  Nowadays, I see things from a 60-year-old’s perspective, but I still feel like that teenager that watched her do what she did, and how she made it okay for us.  Not only did she make it okay, she made girls interesting.  Where those record companies were saying… 

Like even Alice Cooper, absolutely knew that women were going to be the big deal. Alice Cooper was told that girls, a girl band is going to be the next big thing, and he believed it.  That’s why I’m so glad he’s in the movie; because I don’t think he would’ve said that if it wasn’t absolutely true, and that intrigued him, as well. 

But it had to be a particular person.  I mean, Suzi was chosen because she was able to be strong enough -- far stronger than me, far stronger.  I couldn’t have done what she did; to leave her family, to be utterly alone in a foreign country, and believe in herself that much to stick with it.  But she was born to do it.  She was the chosen one.  It’s just the way it is.  It’s the way it is!  You know?  And she still pays the price for it, by not having the loving family situation that she should.  They might say it’s loving.  Listen, I’m acquaintances with both Patti and Nancy, and all that, but the truth is the truth, and I’d love to see that be different.  I really would.

 

LMD:  In the doc, the British press accused her of being a “Sexist tool of Male Chauvinism.”  That she was “totally dominated by her male producers” “borrowed a few male stage stances to appear like one of the boys – but in reality, she is a female singer; a woman’s subservient role in pop music.”

CC:  You know, that always comes from a place of fear.  When someone says that, it comes from a place of complete insecurity.  Because that’s about the dumbest-assed thing I’ve ever heard come out of a man’s mouth.  Embarrassing.  It’s really embarrassing.  But it also shows how small-minded men were, and how comfortable they felt they were at that time, because they were dead wrong.  Absolutely wrong.

And all those people that were flapping their jaws like that; they couldn’t have done what she did to save their lives.  So, it’s always funny to me, that these people even have a platform to be able to spew that kind of stuff, because they couldn’t do it.  They couldn’t have done what she did, no matter what.  That’s just a God-given fact.  I wish they wouldn’t embarrass themselves like that.  Why?  Why do they embarrass themselves like that?

 

LMD:  I told her I went into a shoe-throwing rage when a TV host called Russell Harty…

CC:  Slapped her butt!

 

LMD:  …Spun her around on live television to do it.  I used to have a good chuckle when people used to praise Madonna to the moon and stars for being some kind of trailblazer by dancing around in a corset, because I could swear I’d seen that someplace before…

CC:  I lost complete and utter respect for Madonna when she basically said she was the first one to do that.  I thought, boy oh boy, that’s why this business can be so cutthroat and ugly when you can climb over people to get to the top; because most the time you have to.  It’s sad to say, because I love the business.  I couldn’t do that.  I couldn’t do that, what these people do; take credit for things they didn’t do.  I find that not only disheartening and mind-numbing, but a bit repulsive too.  I feel sorry for them, you know?  Really? 

And Madonna, I thought, you could have just turned around and said, ‘Yeah a girl a lot younger than me did that first, in a band called The Runaways.’  You know, I knew she knew, but she didn’t want to, because she’s one of those people that like to climb over people’s faces to get where she gets to.  And I don’t have much respect for people like that.  Oh, well.  But I do appreciate her workout regimen!

 

LMD:  Watching that clip of Russell Harty and Suzi, and seeing you at age 16 on stage in a corset at a similar time, I cannot imagine what you had to deal with in order to express yourselves. 

She talked about the sort of mental gymnastics of dealing with that kind of sexism.  How are you able to climb past it and do what you had to do?

CC:  Well, we started in the gutter.  I mean, we really did.  We climbed the old-fashioned way; we went out on tour.  I think the first tour was like three months.  We played the dive-y-est little bars throughout every little hole that you could get us into.  And whatever little dive-y bars just to get from point A to point B.  We did it the good old-fashioned way, as Suzi did, as well. 

But regarding the sexism, it was a different time and place.  It was just a different time and place, and I’m not going to turn around and give all these guys such a bad shake, because the thing is, it was just a different time. 

And us as being young girls, we liked the older men; to us older men would be in their 20s.  I think we were older mentally than we really were.  We just went out and we had a mission, and that’s what we had.  There were times when it was hard, but we had a mission, we kept each other on that mission.

 

LMD:  When the question of why Ms. Quatro didn’t make it in America, various people in the doc sum it up to it not being her time.  Do you agree with that?  Why was it not her time?

CC:  I don’t know… and I can also say that it’s not that it wasn’t her time:  I mean, the program directors chose what they wanted to play.  It is a money game, there’s no doubt about that.  I learned that from Steve Lukather, who was married to my twin sister, Marie, when his band Toto hit, and that was the late 70s.  He was saying, ‘Look, it takes a lot of money.’  It’s something like $100,000 a single.  Getting played on the radio is big business, you know? 

But, I knew who she was enough to go to her concerts, to buy her records, to buy every magazine that she was in.  She made a splash.  But again, it’s not like the USA was against this project, not at all.  She started that fire.  That rage that continues to rage today.  And anyone worth their grain of salt is going to turn around and say, ‘That woman was an absolute kick ass.’  She was the one that started it all.  They have to.

 

LMD: We know that Ms. Quatro just turned 70, and hasn’t slowed down a millisecond.  She has this amazing sense of clarity and purpose that propels her forward. 

You are still turning out amazing music last year’s “Blvds of Splendor” and “The Motivator” with fellow rocker Brie Darling from Fanny.  Do you share that sense of direction with Ms. Quatro?  What keeps you going as strong as you do?

CC:  You know, it’s funny…  I’m actually very lucky, I’m going to say.  Have I had any hits or anything like that?  No.  I think a lot of that timing, support, all that good stuff, was very, very important; I felt I missed that boat.  “Blvds of Splendor,” though, quite changed the game a little bit for me.  That record has sat on the shelf for 10 years.  That was the record I always wanted to make when I left The Runaways, so that being out now is such a gratifying experience for me. 

Am I like Suzi, were I would fight and claw for what I believe?  Well, she’s done it all of her life.  When she says in the movie, when she’s jogging and she’s thinking, ‘Maybe she just shouldn’t run so fast?’  A part of me keeps thinking, ‘You know what, Suzi, you don’t really have to run that fast.  You know, we’re running with ya.  Please, please be good to us!  We’re still trying to keep up with you! {Laughs}

 

LMD:  Ms. Quatro’s son is now an instrumental part of her music making; writing and performing with her.  I know your son is now an instrumental part of your music making.  Having your own musician under your roof, what kind of wisdom do you impart in terms of the music business, or staying creative?

CC:  Well, it’s funny, because when Jake was 16, his cousin, Trevor Lukather, Steve and Marie’s son, asked Jake to go on the road with them, and I said, “How would you like your know?  Fast or slow?”  And then he just looks like such a child, a baby… He was. I was when I started.  But, I was very lucky that anytime I did shows or anytime I did on-stage appearances, I always included my son from the age of 13. 

By the time we opened for Joan Jett in 2010 at the big Pacific Amphitheater, I brought Jake in on that band with Matt Sorum, Nick Mayberry, and Graham Fitzpatrick, and Jake held his own.  And you know what, the first time he ever really walked out on a stage was in front of 9000 people, and kicked ass!  And he’s got an amazing voice… That was 10 years ago and he has come so far.  I took him on the road with me.  I actually toured on “Blvds of Splendor” for a number of years trying to force Blackheart {Records}’s hand to release the record.  It didn’t work, but Jake went on four different tours with me, before he had his own band, Maudlin Strangers, which he toured, did great on his own, but he learned the ropes working with me and touring with me.  And I was the road manager as well, because I had to book everything, and I didn’t have support or record, but he learned a lot, and then he was ready to go on his own. 

And he lost his house, my wonderful ex-husband Robert Hays, and my son Jake lost their house in the Woolsey fire, including all of my guitars, even my Runaways tambourine, my violin, my mandolin, everything I had was in his studio.  This is now Jake’s studio.  Jake moved home after a year living elsewhere after the fire.  And it’s so great to have him here, because he’s just… What a talent, I’m telling you.  He just released a video which he shot here in quarantine for his new single, “Sober.”  You should check it out, because it’s pretty neat.

 

LMD:  Being such a big part of the SUZI Q documentary, has looking at Ms. Quatro’s life and her journey given you a different perspective on your own legendary journey?

CC:  So funny, I don’t even consider us the same.  Not even.  I mean, Suzi and I have become really good friends, super good friends.  She and I are both very strong believers that everything is supposed to happen for reason, and I’m so glad to know her.  She’s really that important.  She’s truly that important.  And I’m glad to be a friend, because no matter how strong you are, no matter what a rocking, iconic, pioneer you are, sometimes you do need friends that really do appreciate you. 

She’s got her children -- fantastic, by the way.  I mean, that we share the fact that both of our kids work with us.  It’s just great to be there if she needs anybody.  Just knowing that I’m there, whether she takes that opportunity or not, it’s just good to know that she’s truly loved and admired as a human being that has done something extraordinary.  You know I mean?  From a place of absolute love from her heart.  No other reason.  If I never saw or talked to Suzi again, I would cherish the time that I had to stand up in front of a large amount of people and say how much she means to me.  

I feel blessed enough to know that we are going to be seeing each other again.  And I plan to back her up when this movie finally comes out!  In fact, we had the quarantine starting right before it was going to be released in San Francisco at a film festival, and I was all gearing up to go and be her background singer.  I’m looking forward to that, to seeing in a theater with Liam and Suzi and watching this thing on the big screen. 

My older sister, Sondra Currie, and my brother-in-law, Alan Levi, they have a theater upstairs, and I took SUZI Q over there and with my son and his girlfriend, and we watched that film on the big screen and we were all crying at the end!  Because we’ve all been through something similar in a way, familywise.  How hard it is when you’ve got people in the industry.  My sister, of course, she’s done great acting work, she was with in THE HANGOVER trilogy, but we still know as a family, that the dynamic can be hard.  When you all strive, it’s built inside your DNA to strive, for whatever it is. 

And the one thing I believe is that you have your own path; you can’t walk that path with anybody.  No one.  It’s not something where you take someone’s hand.  No, they have their path, you have yours.  You have to understand.  That’s why I say never ask people’s opinions, ever.  Because they can never give you a good answer.  It’s not their path. 

So, whatever has been gifted upon you and your mind, that allows you to go forward into place that people would just say no…  Like even me with the chainsaws; just for an example, my family absolutely said, “You’re not doing this.  It’s too dangerous and you’re not doing it.”  But it’s like, well, I’m sorry to say there is no choice in the matter.  I am going to do it.  It’s a calling. 

We come from strong families; sometimes that can not be always a great thing.  We both come from very, very talented families, so there’s always going to be a little bit of jealousy here and there; it’s just built into us, I think as a species, unfortunately.  

I just want this film to be a success.  You know, this film the best one I’ve ever seen in my 60 years, so I wanted to be a huge success.  It deserves to be.  It really deserves to be, and I want her in the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame.  And when that happens, I will be absolutely thrilled.  My job will be done!  My job’s done!  I’m happy now, I can go build my cabin somewhere and make chainsaw art for the rest of my life.  I got the album I’ve always wanted to make, and I got to participate in a movie about a woman that deserves it more than anybody, and dammit, put her in the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame, so that I can breathe! {Laughs}

 

~ The Lady Miz Diva

June 24th, 2020

 

SUZI Q is available on VOD and DVD from July 3rd, on https://www.altavod.com/movies/suzi-q


Click Here for our Exclusive SUZI Q Interview with the Rock Legend herself, SUZI QUATRO.

 

 

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Photos  

Stills Courtesy of Utopia Distribution and CherieCurrie.com

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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