May 26th, 2014
I recently finished reading Gillian G. Gaar’s She’s A Rebel: The History Of Women In Rock & Roll and thought it would be good to post some shows by bands/artists featured in the tome. The first woman I’ll feature is Suzi Quatro.
Garr notes that Quatro was considered a novelty. She wasn’t a singer-songwriter like Joan Baez or Joni Mitchell. Indeed, she wrote and performed hard rock and was often found in her trademark tight leather suits.
England’s music weekly New Musical Express wrote that Quatro was “Really just punk Penthouse fodder – all lip-smacking hard-on leather,” and Rolling Stone caller her a “pop tart”…
Her “tough chick” appeal came in for attack from critics who saw her look, not her music, as the act.
At a time when male performers such as David Bowie, Elton John, and Queen’s Freddie Mercury were toying with personae that freely questioned acceptable “masculine” and “feminine” behavior, such freedom for women came at a high price.
While it is certainly unfair to dismiss Quatro on the basis of her wardrobe choices, Gaar seems to forget that rock music and fashion are joined at the hip. Quatro is quote as saying, “I feel funny in dresses and skirts.” Fair enough. But I have a hard time believing that she said to herself, “You know, I really don’t like dresses so I’ll wear something more practical. Like leather suits.” Surely Quatro chose that look for reasons other than not liking dresses and skirts, i.e. – to craft an image.
Whatever the case, she certainly challenged stereotypes and, as Gaar notes, served as an influence on Joan Jett. Would we have had The Runaways, Bikini Kill, and Hole without Suzi Quatro? Perhaps not.
This is Quatro performing in Tokyo, Japan on 19 October 1975. It’s a rip of the bootleg Naked Under Leather which is a nice-sounding audience recording.
Suzi Quatro – vocals / bass
Len Tuckey – guitar
Alastair McKenzie – keyboards
Dave Neal – drums
48 Crash-Daytona Demon-Too Big Medley
Your Mama Won’T Like Me
You Can Make Me Want You
I Maybe Too Young
Can The Can
Devil Gate Drive
Jail House Rock
I found this tour doc featuring Quatro in Japan in 1975. Not sure if any of the performance footage is from the same show that I’ve posted or not.