Some of you who hear the Suzi Quatro interview on Thursday, June 25th at 7 p.m. on the Bold Brave Media Global Network (or Tune-In Radio) may be wondering how you can find the documentary on her life and her music.
Suzi Quatro, rock & roll legend, will be calling in to chat on the Weekly Wilson program of Thursday, June 25th. (Bold Brave Media Global Network and Tune-In Radio; 7 p.m. CDT on Thursday.) U.S. audiences often remember Suzi best for her portrayal of Leather Tuscadero on “Happy Days” and her hit “Stumblin’ In,” which rose to #4 on the United States charts.
The official Suzi Quatro documentary feature SUZI Q, which charts the 54-year career of the pioneering female rocker who burst onto the scene in the 70s, is set to (hopefully) open in theaters July 1st and release on VOD and DVD with special bonus features on July 3rd, courtesy of Utopia. I watched it before the pandemic struck. I wonder, now, if the plans to release it in theaters represent yet another hurdle thrown in the way of one of rock and roll’s trailblazing female performers.
It’s a terrific documentary and very entertaining.
Once Suzi Quatro of Detroit City saw Elvis she knew she wanted to be him. In a way, she did become the female Elvis—just not in her own homeland. In the process, she had to overcome some family disapproval, causing her to say, “You’re gonna,’ at some point, pay serious dues.”
Her career was hampered when the man responsible for much of her promotional success, Mickie Most, a promoter who had discovered The Animals and the Yardbirds, quit guiding her career in 1980 with the expiration of their contract. Mickey had urged her to come to England in 1971 when she was just 21 years old. She was the first female bass player to become a major rock star.:1–3
In the 1970s, Quatro scored a string of hit singles that found greater success in Europe and Australia than in her homeland. She reached no. 1 in the UK and other European countries and Australia with her singles “Can the Can” (1973) and “Devil Gate Drive” (1974). Following a recurring role as bass player Leather Tuscadero on the popular American sitcom Happy Days, her duet “Stumblin’ In” with Smokie‘s lead singer Chris Norman reached No. 4 in the US.
Quatro released her eponymous debut album in 1973. Since then, she has released fifteen studio albums, ten compilation albums, and one live album. Her other solo hits include “48 Crash“, “Daytona Demon“, “The Wild One”, and “Your Mama Won’t Like Me”.
Between 1973 and 1980, Quatro was awarded six Bravo Ottos. In 2010, she was voted into the Michigan Rock and Roll Legends online Hall of Fame. Quatro has sold over 50 million albums and continues to perform live, worldwide. Her most recent studio album was released in 2019 and she also continues to present new radio programmes.
This excellent film from Australian filmmakers Liam Fermager (director) and Tait Brady explains, “Suzi was the precursor to Joan Jett.” You could say, “Suzi Quatro was Joan Jett before there WAS a Joan Jett.” This message is driven home by riveting rock & roll footage of Suzi in concert and by such fellow artists as Alice Cooper, Deborah Harry (Blondie), Joan Jett, Cherie Currie (The Runaways), Tina Weymouth (Talking Heads), Donita Sparks (L7), Henry Winkler (Happy Days), Kathy Valentine (The GoGo’s), KT Tunstall, members of the Quatro family, and many more.
“Suzi Q” portrays Suzi as the trailblazer and inspiration for a generation of women musicians to follow. As the film says, “It takes a Suzi Quatro to come along and say, to other girls, this is possible.” Suzi is quoted as saying, “I was waiting for my shot” and “As soon as you make it big, they cut you to pieces. At that time, rock was a male-dominated business.” She also notes, of her work ethic, “I’m obligated to be the best I can be. That’s the attitude I take to my shows. You’re gonna’ get all of me.”
“Suzi Q” is the story of the girl from Detroit City who redefined the role and image of women in rock & roll. She broke through around the world in 1973. Since that year, she has sold 55 million records in a 54-year career. She was singer, songwriter, bass player, author, radio presenter, poet and she is still touring and recording music, with a new album, “No Control,” her 24th album, released in March, 2019.
Suzi started playing in 1964, ’65 and ’66, singing songs with lyrics like: “I’m a red-hot fox. I’m a wild one.”
Quatro moved to England in 1971, after being spotted by the record producer Mickie Most, who had by that time founded his own label, Rak Records. He had been persuaded to see Cradle—the group that included Suzi and 2 of her sisters— by Michael, the brother of the Quatro sisters who had assumed a managerial role. Like many in the record industry at the time, Most was seeking a female rock singer who could fill the void that the death of Janis Joplin had created. According to the Encyclopedia of Popular Music, his attention to Quatro was drawn by “her comeliness and skills as bass guitarist, singer and chief show-off in Cradle.”
When Mickey Most saw Suzi and her sisters—Patti, Arlene and Nancy—playing and singing, he only wanted the cute, petite bass player. That set the family unit on a path of jealous envy. Suzi, herself, says, “You can always look back with regret…It’s important to be validated by the ones you love the most….But when you look at what you have accomplished, you have to realize that the mistake is that people overlooked you. That’s their mistake.”.
Suzi’s look—leather cat-suit—was modeled on the Jane Fonda film “Barbarella.” Suzi had to leave the country she grew up in to make it. Make it she did, but having your record by #1 in Portugal, France, the UK and Switzerland is not the same as making it in the United States. Her self-titled album, although Number One in Australia, only made it to #142 in the U.S. Even today, she lives in Essex, Hamburg (Germany, a country which embraced her), and, sometimes, in Detroit.
In 1974 Suzi came back to tour America, not having been back in 3 years. When she went home, she discovered that all of her clothes and albums in her childhood home had been removed. She played 65 cities in 72 days and opened for Uriah Heep and Alice Cooper on the Welcome to My Neighborhood tour (April 4, 1978). She even made the cover of “Rolling Stone” (Issue #177). But even Clive Davis couldn’t get Suzi’s songs played in the U.S. on radio and, as Joan Jett says in the documentary, “The key to success in the states has always been radio.”
After the Alice Cooper tour of 1974, there was no real push for Suzi’s music and “Stumblin’ In”, which went to #4 in the U.S., was her highest-charting song in her home country.
Suzi spent 3 years (1977-1979) on “Happy Days” as Leather Tuscadero, playing the younger sister of Fonzi’s girlfriend Pinky Tuscadero. In 1980, following the end of her contract with Mickie Most, who had discovered her and nurtured her career, she signed with Chapman’s Dreamland Records. Dreamland Records folded in 1981, leaving Suzi without a record label.
Suzi had fallen in love with her back-up guitarist, Len Tuckey. They were married in 1976, at which point she had spent 5 years abroad. Suzi spent 5 years after their marriage trying to have a child. She succeeded, giving birth to a daughter, Laura, in 1982. Her son, Richard Leonard Tuckey, was born in 1984.
The couple divorced in 1992, after 16 years of marriage. Lenny objected to Suzi’s taking a role in a 1986 production of “Annie Get Your Gun” playing Annie Oakley, saying, “You can’t do that and then sell rock and roll in the United Kingdom.” He added, “She didn’t want anybody holding her back.” Today, Suzi is married to German record producer Rainer Haas, whom she married in 1993.
SUZI Q positions Suzi as the trailblazer and inspiration for a generation of women who were to follow after her in the next decade, but whose trailblazing status was not sufficiently recognized by the music industry and contemporary audiences, especially in North America.
The documentary SUZI Q reminds contemporary audiences of her pioneering influence, white-hot talent and string of incandescent rock hits (CAN THE CAN, 48 CRASH and DAYTONA DEMON) that were the vehicle for her explosion of gender stereotypes in rock n roll. She rewrote the rule book for the expected image of women in rock music and reached millions of people worldwide in the process.
Spike O’Dell, former WGN and Quad City native and radio personality, was the guest on the hour-long podcast Weekly Wilson on Thursday, June 11th, from 7 to 8 p.m.
The hour-long podcast is carried by the Bold Brave Media Global Network and Tune-In Radio, Channel 100. [While the site says it is on at 8 p.m., that is Eastern Time and the “live” call-in format airs from 7 to 8 p.m., our time]. The taped shows are later posted on WeeklyWilson.com for listeners who missed the original airing.
Spike O’Dell, whose father was East Moline’s Chief of Police, began his career in radio at WEMO-AM in East Moline in 1976, moving on to a part-time job at WQUA-AM (now WXFN Sports) and, in 1978, KSTT-AM, where he dubbed the street outside KSTT’s studio “Twinkie Boulevard.”
Spike ruled the Quad City airwaves until 1987, with a brief stint at WBT-AM in Charlotte, North Carolina.
In July of 1987 Chicago’s Dan Fabian of WGN hired Spike away from the Quad Cities and he was on the air in Chicago from 1987 until December 12, 2008, when he retired young (55) and moved to Nashville with his family. His parting comment at his last show from the Metropolis Theater in Arlington Heights: “It was a good ride.”
Spike was voted Billboard Magazine’s Top 40 Personality of the Year for a medium market in 1987, and also received an award for Best Radio Afternoon Show in 1999. In addition to being a member of the UTHS Hall of Fame (2000), Spike was awarded the James A Lovell Failure Is Not An Option award in 2003. In 2014, he became a member of the WGN Radio Walk of Fame, paying tribute to his successful 22-year career at WGN in Chicago.
Spike confided that he had always planned to retire early. Going to bed at 7 p.m. so that he could get up by 5 a.m. to make it to work for WGN’s morning drive was something he did from 1987 until December of 2008. Now, he told me, “I only do what I want to do.”
What does he want to do? He paints—very well, in fact—has his HAM radio license, golfs, enjoys life with wife Karen and a host of grandchildren, who called him “Grand Dude,” at first, [and now just call him “Dude.”] When I asked hi if he would recommend his career to any aspiring D.J.’s, he did not think that was such a good idea.
We talked about his famous interviews with the likes of Michael Jordan, the Beatles, astronauts, and others. (His favorite was an astronaut; listen to the podcast to find out which one). We talked about the millions of dollars his creative ideas had raised for charity, involving such ideas as “Wham! Bam! Traffic Jam!” which gifted money to the Annie Wittenmeyer Home in Davenport, and the Bite Your Butt mustard that sold way more cases than anyone had anticipated.
I had to ask Spike about sharing the news of “Uncle Bobby’s” death on the air waves in Chicago when his predecessor in morning drive was killed in a tragic plane accident. Spike remembers it as one of the worst days of his life and says he felt “numb.” Naturally, the station was scooped by all other stations in the metro area, as they waited for Bobby Collins’ family members to be notified.
Spike has always been a fun-loving guy, and it was the fun going out of the job, somewhat, that caused him to walk out the door at the young retirement age of 55. He described various directives coming down from the top, instructing on-the-air personalities to try to become cookie cutter personalities and, as Spike himself admitted, “I’m a personality guy.” Various words were declared to be off-limits when on air. One was the word “degrees” when discussing the weather.
I thoroughly enjoyed chatting with Spike about his time on the air and, while we were on a commercial break and he was asking technician Sean about the extent of the seemingly unending commercial breaks, I happened to glance a foot to my right, at the wall in my basement where a bulletin board hangs on the wood paneling. There was a large black spider roughly the size of a silver dollar right in the middle of my bulletin board
This thing was BIG! It had to be at least 3 inches across, and, initially, I thought my husband was playing a prank and had pasted a “fake” Halloween spider on the bulletin board. It was perfectly in the middle of the billboard, which is plastered with a variety of white memos. (It really showed up well on those memos.) I had not noticed it until the final commercial break, and I was just about to reach over and touch it when it MOVED!
You have not seen a woman jump out of a desk chair faster. I could hear Sean answering Spike’s question about the commercials on the show and I also was thinking, “If I have to speak into that microphone, my head will only be about a foot away from that thing!” I’m not a lover of spiders. I think it is a fear that I have passed on to my children. I remember being 9 months pregnant with my second child and not being able to convince my son (then 19) to climb up and kill a giant spider that was in the corner above our TV set. (We compromised and vacuued it up with a long vacuum tube.)
If you listen to the podcast (posted here within the week), you will hear me coming back from break and thoroughly freaked out by this “spider the size of a Buick.” (“Annie Hall.” Thanks, Woody)
It was a good show, and I want to thank Spike (“At the Mike”) O’Dell for agreeing to spend an hour with me strolling down memory lane.
Please leave a comment on the Bold Brave Media Global Network page, (if you listen to it there) that urges them to compensate their interviewer, i.e., me. Seems only fair.
We recently drove from Austin, Texas, to the Quad Cities, through Oklahoma, Missouri, and Chicago.
The entire landscape seemed dystopian and surreal. Nothing was open except large food chains like Wendy’s, Taco Belle, and McDonald’s, which had lines snaking through the drive-throughs, but signs on the doors saying, “No dining inside. Curb pick-up only.”
Rest stops along the way often had chains around their vending machines with the message “No Vending” posted.
The one pictured in this article had a message within the women’s rest room that said, “The streaks on the inside of the glass are from the disinfectant for coronavirus.”
And this is America by road today, in the year of our Lord 2020.
We spent one night in a small town near Springfield, Missouri. The “free” morning buffets have been abandoned and the Best Western—-which had only one bar of soap in the bathroom, and whose sink was not inside the tub/toilet room—looked like something you’d stop at in an impoverished country, There were only 2 motels in this small town and it had taken us so long to get through dallas (traffic accident) that we couldn’t make it to the bigger town of Springfield, so our choice of motels was a grand total of 2, both of them hard to get to.
When we got to St. Louis, we stayed at my brother-in-law’s house, who recently lost his wife (April 18) and on late-night television the demonstrations began in towns like Ferguson. I watched a clumsy Anti-Fa black-clad member try repeatedly to light a Molotov cocktail to throw through the window of a nice-looking brick pizza place (Luciani’s). A black resident of the city lumbered over and told him to “take that shit elsewhere.” After he tried (and failed) to be able to light the wick, again, he did, finally give up.
By the time we got to Chicago the streets were impassable. Police at each intersection kept us from being able to drive to my downtown condo, where my car had been parked for 5 months. I had to show the cop my driver’s license to be allowed to drive to Indiana Avenue.
When we finally reached the Quad Cities we learned that:
Tonight’s podcast featuring sci-fi horror author Barbara Barnett went well. We discussed her new release, “Alchemy of Glass” and her previous novel “The Apothecary’s Curse.” Next week’s (June 11th) guest is Spike (“at the mike”) O’Dell, WGN personality for 22 years, followed by New York Times Best-Selling author Heather Graham on June 18th.
I am currently booking guests for my Thursday night podcast into August.
While my last post addressed the months of May (one week remaining) and June, here are those tentatively scheduled for June, July and August. This week’s author is Anita Oswald, author of “West Side Girl,” a nice companion to last week’s book “Redlined” by Linda Gartz, also about the West Garfield Park neighborhood in Chicago. (Linda’s book was the 2018 Chicago Writers’ Association Nonfiction Book of the Year.)
June 4, 2020: Guest will be Barbara Barnett, Chicago author of “The Apothecary’s Curse” who is promoting the sequel to that book, “Alchemy of Glass.” Barbara is a member of both HWA (Horror Writers’ Association) and SFWA (Science Fiction Writers of America).
June 11, 2020: Spike (“at the mike”) O’Dell, former WGN on-air radio personality.
June 18, 2020: Heather Graham, New York Times best-selling author of the Krewe of Hunters romantic/paranormal series, speaking about her newest book, “Seeing Darkness,” the Krewe of Hunters Book #30.
June 25, 2020: Suzie Quatro, prior to the release of the documentary on her life. Suzi was Joan Jett before there was a Joan Jett.
July 2, 2020: Anthony Whyte, owner/editor of www.TheMovieBlog.com, the 3rd most heavily consulted movie blog on the Internet.
July 9, 2020: Lance Taubold and Rich Devin of Las Vegas, Nevada, book publishers and authors at Invoke Books.
July 16, 2020: Tori Eldridge, author of “The Ninja Daughter” from Polis Books.
July 23, 2020: Quad City author Sean Leary, author of “The Arimathean” series and other books.
July 30, 2020: Dan Burns, Chicago Writers’ Association treasurer and Chicago film critic and screenwriter.
August 6, 2020: Iris Waichler, author of “Role Reversal: How to Take Care of Yourself and Your Aging Parents”
August 13, 2020: Jon Land, novelist (“The Caitlin Strong” series) and screenwriter.
Some of the above are subject to change and tentative, but this gives you somewhat of an idea who is scheduled in the future. I was working on an interview with Cathy Moriarty, but her agent has said the pandemic has caused her to “go to ground” and cancel all such appearances. I’m still waiting to hear back from Gary Cole’s representatives.
May 21st – My guest on Weekly Wilson, the podcast, at 7 p.m. (CDT) on Thursday was Linda Gratz, talking about her book “Redlined.” It was a fascinating hour.
May 28th – My guest this coming Thursday will be Anita Solick Oswald, author of “West Side Girl” ad a founding member of the Boulder Writing Studio. Anita and I will talk again about the same neighborhood that Linda Gratz grew up in during the fifties and the sixties, West Garfield Park. Linda’s memoir is a more lighthearted look at what she remembers fondly as a great childhood growing up the changing Chicago neighborhood.
June 4 – My guest on Thursday will be Barbara Barnett, author of “The Apothecary’s Curse” and “Alchemy of Glass.”
June 11 – My guest will be former WGN on-air radio personality Spike (“at the Mike”) O’Dell.
June 18 – My guest is scheduled to be New York Times Best-Selling author Heather Graham, author of the Krewe of Hunters romance/paranormal novels.
June 25 – Rock star Suzi Quatro is scheduled to be with me in advance of the documentary about her life. Suzi was Joan Jett before there was a Joan Jett.
Just a reminder that THE COLOR OF EVIL, book number one in the award-winning series of the same name, is FREE for 3 days: May 15, 16 and 17th. In addition, the second book in the three-book series, RED IS FOR RAGE, is also being offered FREE for those 3 days. This series was named Best Indie Thriller Series of the Year 2018 by “Shelf Unbound” magazine, and book #1 sports a brand-new award-winning cover. The series is also available in paperback and audio book formats.
Also FREE for the dates of May 15, 16 and 17 are two of the three short story collections based on Dante’s “Inferno” and the crimes or sins punished at each of the 9 Circles of Hell in that classic. HELLFIRE & DAMNATION, books 1 and 2, are going to be FREE for the same 3-day period, in order to give you something to distract you from the problems of the world while sheltering in place, which many of you still are.
We also wanted to mention that the release “The Christmas Cats Flee the Bee,” normally a Christmas-themed book with puzzles and coloring book inserts, is one of the two newest releases of Quad Cities’ Learning and those of you who are true blue Progressive voters would find it a welcome addition to your child’s day, now that schools are not in session.
Click on the appropriate buttons for purchasing of the four FREE books, or to view “The Christmas Cats Flee the Bee,” a whimsical book for children aged 3 to 11 that also contains beautiful illustrations with the message “Elections have consequences. Choose your leaders wisely.”