Elvis wanted to meet her, she’s lived it up with the likes of Led Zeppelin and rocked along with the Rolling Stones – the Detroit-born, Britain-based chart-topper Suzi Quatro started touring at the age of 14 and, having clocked up five decades in the music business, is still on the road today.
The multi-talented musician has also found fame as a Hollywood actress, landed a lead role in London’s West End and starred in several TV shows. And recently she received an honorary doctorate from Anglia Ruskin University, Cambridge, in recognition of her services to music. “I’m now Doctor Quatro! It’s a great honour,” she says.
She has sold over 55million records and continues to write, perform and record her own material while juggling her weekly BBC Radio 2 show. “Music means everything to me,” she says. “It is my heart, my soul and my gift to the world. I feel honoured to have been doing my job for so many years.”
Performing around 80 gigs a year, Quatro plays all around the globe and is just off the plane from headlining The Red Hot Summer Tour Down Under. She’s on track with another gruelling schedule this year, with Lucerne and Vienna next on the bill.
But her favourite spot of all? “I’ve been going to Miami since I was eight and have never stopped loving it. I love Bal Harbour: beautiful beaches, great weather, great restaurants – whatever your wallet – and wonderful shopping, especially at Sawgrass Mills – I’m a shopaholic! I adore South Beach, Lincoln Road and all the Art Deco too, but I'm not so crazy about Downtown.”
Destinations still on the rock star’s bucket list include Greece and China, while a few far-flung performances have already struck a chord. “I love playing in Tokyo and have done since 1974 and, of course, in my second home, Australia, which has the best audiences in the world.” The Isle of Wight scores highly, too. “I headlined the festival a few years ago, which was a really nice one.”
Having travelled “all my life for my work,” Quatro has mastered packing. “The secret is to pack light, especially shoes: one walking pair, one going-out-to-dinner pair and one beach pair. You never wear everything you take on a trip – that is a fact.”
Her hit hotels include Sea View in Miami’s Bal Harbour, Crown Casino in Melbourne, Motorcity Casino in Detroit and The Beverly Hills Hotel in LA, while her favourite airlines are Qantas, Emirates and British Airways.
“There’s nothing more off-putting than noise when you’re trying to catch a few winks of sleep on a flight,” she says. “I always have some Valium, too, in case it gets crazy and I need to calm down. I’ve only actually used it for long-haul flights to Australia – you need to chill out and disengage sometimes. I also travel with a small flask of brandy for the hotel.”
Her big travel bugbear, like many of us, is queues: “Lines at the passport counter, customs, at baggage reclaim... and why does the turbulence always happen when you are finally able to get some sleep?”
As you'd expect, there have been plenty of highlights and rock ’n’ roll stories throughout her career. “My first big tour of Australia was crazy! And my 50th birthday in front of 22,000 people in Berlin was a highlight. I also loved performing in Philadelphia to a crowd of 60,000. I was once doing a 10-minute goodbye, real diva-like, walking side-to-side, bowing, waving – the whole thing – and then I fell over a monitor, bass on, legs waving in the air! That was in Finland and the band called it my 'big finish'!”
Having famously said, “I will retire when I go on stage, shake my ass, and there is silence,” this music business stalwart shows no signs of slowing down, and is as fit as she was in her 1970s heyday: “I jog, go to the gym and do yoga everywhere I travel.”
Every rocker needs a place to chill and the first woman of rock ’n’ roll heads to her Balearic bolthole on Mallorca for some much-needed R&R. “It’s a place to unwind,” she says. “I fell in love with Mallorca the first time I visited the island. I liked the pace of it – that you could be loud at the disco and quiet on the beach.”
She adds: “Mallorca means escape, peace and quiet to me, and the best thing about it is that it’s easy to get to from the UK, so there's no jet lag. I’ve had enough of that for a lifetime in my profession!”
The leather-clad rocker talks to about her relentless rock ’n’ roll life on the road
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