Rock Flashback: Suzi Quatro

Although [lastfm link_type=”artist_info”]Suzi Quatro[/lastfm] was from Detroit, she was never as big a star in the States as she was in the UK, where for a stretch of the 1970s, her records were guaranteed hits. Her American career didn’t really take off until she was cast on one of the most popular shows on TV.

Quatro started hitting in Britain during the glam-rock era. “Can the Can”  hit #1 in the UK in 1973; “Devil Gate Drive” would ascend the summit the next year. “Can the Can” was a minor hit in the States (although not until 1976), but “Devil Gate Drive” was both too retro and too rockin’ to cross over to the American charts of 1974. Quatro’s other hits, such as “Daytona Demon” and “48 Crash,” were what their titles implied — straight-up no-frills rock ‘n’ roll, made alluring by Quatro’s bad-girl looks.

In 1977, Quatro was cast as rock singer Leather Tuscadero on the TV series Happy Days. She appeared in only seven episodes, but the exposure gave her career a boost.

She scored her first big American hit in 1979, but “Stumblin’ In,” a duet with [lastfm link_type=”artist_info”]Chris Norman[/lastfm] of the group [lastfm link_type=”artist_info”]Smokie[/lastfm], was a tepid pop song that did not remotely hint at the fireball Quatro had once been in the UK. None of the four singles that followed was able to break into the American top 40, however; the last one appeared in 1981.

Recently, Suzi Quatro has been hosting a classic rock show on BBC Radio, and she still performs in Europe. Last fall, she released an album of new material called In the Spotlight.

Here’s “Can the Can,” performed on Top of the Pops in 1973.

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