Ad hoc hoyden

This time around: Suzi Q.

Suzi Quatro early 70s

On A Mailing List I frequent of which most members are USAns, we were having a long discussion of names and nicknames. Susan and its derivatives came up, which led to the discussion of Susie and how Suz, Suze and Suzi differed in the cute’n’perky factor. I mentioned Suzi Quatro/Leather Tuscadero to much blankness, which reminded me how I was astonished a few years ago to discover that Suzi Q never made it big in the States (biggest hit there was the duet Stumblin’ In with Chris Norman of Smokie).

I loved her in my teens: the tiny tomboy with the huge voice and huge guitar. Suzi rawked. And when her songs came up at the school dances, the boys loved them too, all of us punching the air on the “Yeah” after “Come alive!” during Devilgate Drive. There were no other rock-chicks like her at the time: the new-wave strong female singer bands like Blondie were still a few years in the future, and the other big-voiced gals like Linda Ronstadt, Chrissy Hynde and Pat Benatar hadn’t really crossed our horizon yet either. And none of them were Suzi Q rockers anyway: they played much more strongly on typical sexy objectification.

Suzi Q was always obviously a woman, and a sexy woman too, but she never did much (any?) of the conventional sexual posturing, the “slinky” glamour that was all too prevalent in female rock/pop performers of the 70s. Sure, the skintight leather was meant to sexualise her, and it did, but she didn’t pout, slink, duck her head down and look into the camera, none of that cutesie faux submission stuff.

That’s why a lot of us teen girls lurved her: she wasn’t playing along to those disturbing unwritten rules we were just becoming aware of. But maybe that’s why the move to glam-rock never quite worked for her: she strutted, she didn’t vamp, and the glam-rock fans only wanted their blokes to strut.

Mind you, it’s hard to be a slinky vamp when you’re toting the biggest bass guitar any Countdown fan had ever seen. So, here is some classic 70s Suzi, her first big European/Australian hit in 1973, Can the Can.

There’s some more Suzi Q performance videos here.

P.S. Who else would pay good money for Terry Pratchett to have Susan Sto Helit suffer a touch of the Suzi Qs? Apropos of which, Which Discworld Character Are You? (To my total unsurprise, I am Susan).

Categories: arts & entertainment, gender & feminism

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1 reply

  1. Did you see the thread on Shakespeare’s Sister about pop songs with explicitly feminist lyrics? Some good songs there.

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