K-Chuck Radio: You’ve never heard of Suzi Quatro?

Okay, if I said to you, “What do you know about Suzi Quatro,” I’m sure I’d get one of three responses.

  • “Wasn’t she on Happy Days for a season or two?”
  • “Didn’t she have that sappy duet song called Stumblin’ In?”
  • “Suzi Who?”

I get it.

Let’s fill this out.  Suzi Quatro is one of the influencers in female rock and roll.  She had several worldwide hits, but you might not know her catalog (well, except for “Stumblin’ In”), so that’s why K-Chuck Radio is here.

Originally, Suzi was in an all-girl (and all-Quatro) rock band, the Pleasure Seekers, who had a few regional hits.  That’s Suzi on the low-slung guitar, second from right, in case you needed her pointed out.

Eventually Quatro became a solo artist, and moved to England, where she worked with British producer Mickie Most, and this single “Rolling Stone” came out.  No, it’s not the Bob Dylan (Like A) Rolling Stone, and it’s not the Muddy Waters Rolling Stone – but I will tell you that Suzi sounds more like she wants to be the next Mick Jagger.

So after her time with Mickie Most, Suzi found her way to the production team of Mike Chapman and Nicky Chinn, and it was with those producers that Quatro found her sound – a rocking, stomping, stripped-down string of rock and roll anthems, with lyrics that may or may not have made any sense.

Such was the case with her first international hit, “Can the Can.”

If you have a major hit like “Can the Can,” you need to follow it up with another stomper that sounds just like “Can the Can.”  Thus begat the hit “48 Crash.”

And if “48 Crash” is a hit, then you have to follow it up with another rocking stomper like “Daytona Demon.”

Can you see where I’m going with this?  Yep, another stomper that became a worldwide hit, “Devil Gate Drive.”

Eventually the hits started drying up … and although Quatro could rock with the best of the other male rock stars of the 1970’s, songs like “Your Mama Don’t Like Me” would have worked better as a Runaways track than a Quatro special.

So it’s around this time that American music fans finally experienced the power that is Suzi Quatro … sorta.

See, she was cast as “Leather Tuscadero,” the sister of Pinky Tuscadero, one of Fonzie’s girlfriends, on Happy Days.  Leather fronted a 1950’s rock band, “The Suedes,” which may or may not have included Happy Days character Joanie Cunningham on the band’s roster.  Quatro’s appearance as Leather on the series featured her performing some of her classic 1970’s hits in 1950’s-era arrangements, including this bit of “Devil Gate Drive.”

Quatro eventually turned down a Leather Tuscadero spinoff show, which makes total sense, because how would you like to be known as the singer who performed “Do the Fonzie” with a straight face?

Which leads us to … well … her biggest hit.  Her duet with Chris Norman of the band Smokie.  This easy listening piece of fluff called “Stumblin’ In.”  Listen, I’m sorry, but if you’ve had masterpieces with “Can the Can” and “Devil Gate Drive,” why in the world would you record some twee pop ballad in the style of some love-struck pop princess?

But “Stumblin’ In” irrespective, Suzi Quatro is a legend among female guitarists.  Joan Jett, the Go-Go’s, the Bangles, none of them would have made it to the top if Suzi Quatro hadn’t paved the way.

So that’s where today’s K-Chuck Radio blog post stands.  And I hope you like it.