Suzi Quatro: ‘I can look into someone’s eyes and know their whole life story’

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Interview

James McMahon

The musician, 68, on understanding people, being home alone, missing Detroit and how Elvis changed her life for ever

I’ve never stopped missing Detroit. I’ve lived in Essex for years and years, but Detroit is who I am. When I go back I OD on the place. I go back to the house I was born in, I knock on the door, and the owner lets me in. I’ll walk from that house to my old school. I’ll go to the Catholic church there. I might have physically left Detroit, but it’s in my heart.

Elvis changed my life for ever. I saw him for the first time, on TV, when I was six. I was locked into the set. I knew right there and then that was all I wanted to do with my life. By 14 I was on the road in my first band. If I was going to do anything else, I probably would have been a psychologist. That sounds like a jump from being an entertainer, but they’re both about trying to understand people.

Emotions just pass through me; I don’t hold grudges

Sometimes people tell me I’m too open, but I think if you’re open, you get more from life. If I’m angry, I’m angry. If I’m hurt, I’m hurt… then let’s go for a cup of coffee. Emotions just pass through me; I don’t hold grudges. I think it’s helped with my acting, too. Ron Howard once told me not to take acting lessons… we were in Happy Days together and we still keep in touch. I don’t think I act a role, I think I take it on.

I’ve suffered from “empty nest syndrome”. When my son left home, then my daughter, I was lost. The house I live in is a house that should be filled with people. Suddenly it was just me. I’ve worked really hard to fill all the spaces. Where my son used to sleep is now my “Ego room”, with reminders of things I’ve done. I go in there and feel good about myself! I’m 68 and I can still go on stage and shake my ass, so I’m happy.

I think I’m extremely good at reading people. It’s a gift. I can look into someone’s eyes and within about five minutes I know their entire life story. My husband gets freaked out by it. It’s like what I imagine the cave people had before they learned how to speak. Sometimes it upsets people because I see things they don’t want me to see. I don’t speak at people, I speak to them. I just don’t do facade.

Younger female musicians treat me as a role model. I think they understand that I was the first to do what I did. I broke down the doors. I’ve often wondered why it was me who did it, and I think I’ve decided that it’s because I don’t do gender. I don’t think I looked like a girl on the television, I just looked like me. I think I was quite asexual and that helped break the doors down.

Legends Live Tour 2019 featuring Suzi Quatro, David Essex, Les McKeown’s Bay City Rollers, Smokie and Showaddywaddy takes in 10 arena dates starting on 4 April at O2 Apollo Manchester (legendslive.org)

 

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