It is June 2017 and in a hotel by the River Thames Suzi Quatro is offering the kind of soundbite that sums up a career and a life in a few easy words. “My birthday was on the third. I’m now 67 and I don’t give a s***. And you can quote me.” As soon as she says it Quatro starts laughing at herself. “I’m so eloquent. That’s the Detroit coming out.”
Last night Suzi Quatro was onstage. Already today she’s been on Loose Women on ITV, presumably not giving a s***. And now she is sitting here telling me age is just a number and reminiscing about her “53 years in the business”. Through the glass door her German husband Rainer is sitting, waiting patiently. This, I suspect, may be something he does a lot.
Even at 67, Quatro is a force of nature. She comes in, sweet-talks the waiter, sits down and starts talking. She is wearing leather, naturally. Leather trousers. The leather jumpsuit is hanging up and won’t be seen until the next gig (she is coming to Glasgow in October).
There’s always a next gig. Quatro still enjoys getting up on stage. “I wouldn’t do it if I didn’t,” she tells me. “I don’t need the money. Not for a long time. I’m put on this earth to entertain. It’s what I do and each gig still feels to me like the first gig. I still get that adrenalin rush. Each audience is a different animal. I have to go out and win them. It never changes.”
And you, Suzi – have you changed? “I like it even better now. There’s not as much stress. My leathers fit me real nice and I’m comfortable in my skin.”

The waiter brings her some water for her dry throat. “And champagne is coming,” he says as he puts a glass down. “I hope so,” she says.
Suzi Quatro. Radio broadcaster. Novelist. Poet. Actor. Mother of two. Wife. Ex-wife too. But if you were at an impressionable age in the early 1970s then she is still – she is always – the girl in the leather jumpsuit screaming out Can the Can or Devil Gate Drive. The tomboy girl at the glam rock party. The girl from Detroit who came to the UK and, under the guidance of impresario Mickie Most, became a pop star.
At a time when women in pop were wearing flowery dresses and playing acoustic guitars, Quatro was all leather and guitar riffs (artificially sweetened by the songwriting talents of Mike Chapman and Nicky Chinn).
She’s older now. There are a few lines. But Quatro still has a youthful desire to be noticed. “I do need a lot of attention,” she admits at one point. “I will not be ignored.”
When you grow up one of five children that’s going to happen though, I suppose. Yes, she agrees. “I felt deprived and I’ve spent my life making up for it. Terrible. I say to my husband sometimes – if we’re out for dinner and there’s a lot of German people and I’m not understanding the language very well – I’ll actually say to him: ‘Pay me some attention.’ It’s embarrassing. I’m not the kind to just sit there at a dinner party. You’ve either got to engage me or I’m going to make you embarrassed.”
There’s an element of performance in all of this, of course. I am getting the Suzi Quatro she thinks I want, the one with all the vulnerabilities and insecurities taken out. But that’s OK. I’m enjoying the performance.
“What did my dad say to me?” she continues. “He said: ‘When God made you he threw away the mould.’ And then he went: ‘Thank God.’ So I’m not quite sure if he meant that to be a nice thing to say. I’m a one-off and I think like a man.” Well, Suzi, what does that mean? “It means I can be quite clinical. I am very focused. I can multi-task. But I do have the emotions of a woman. A lot of men find that off-putting.
I can tell a dirty joke with you, but there’s a line and if you step over it you’re in trouble. So I’m both things. Always been female but tomboy with it.”
There’s her original appeal summed up right there.

Suzi Quatro grew up in a suburb in Detroit. Upper-middle class. “There are some mansions down by the lake. Those were the real rich people.” In her biography Quatro described her dad Art as “a typical Italian, always had trouble keeping his trousers zipped up”. He had two jobs: one at General Motors, the other playing music.
Quatro herself started playing bongos at the age of seven. Her dad would even let her play along for three or four songs. She learned classical piano and then, when she was 14, she joined a band formed by her older sister Helen and their friends called the Pleasure Seekers, an all-girl garage rock band.
Quatro was the bass player. “Everyone chose an instrument and I didn’t speak quickly enough and the bass was given to me.”
She’d wanted to be a pop star since she first saw Elvis on The Ed Sullivan Show when she was seven. “I wanted to do what he did and the crazy thing is it didn’t occur to me that he was a guy. This is very much my personality. I don’t do gender and I never have.”
Well, most of the time. As a member of the Pleasure Seekers she wore short outfits because that’s what the nightclub owners wanted. It helped bring in customers.  “But I used to wear a top hat just to look a bit different.”
The Pleasure Seekers did the circuit for a few years and released a couple of singles before going out of fashion in the hippy era. So they changed their name to Cradle, brought in Quatro’s little sister Nancy to sing and Quatro, who’d been fronting the band, took a step back and learned how to play the bass properly.
But she still sang. “That was the band that Mickie Most saw me in. I did two songs and he just went …” She imitates Most cocking a finger at her.
Elektra Records had also offered her a deal. The label’s president Jac Holzman told her he would make her the next Janis Joplin. Most told her he’d take her to England and make her the first Suzi Quatro. “So I went with Mickie.”
Most is a seminal figure in British pop. As a producer he was instrumental in the British invasion of the 1960s, working with the Animals, Lulu and Donovan before setting up his own record label RAK, which became home to Quatro and contemporaries such as Mud and Smokie.
“Not everybody liked him,” Quatro admits. He could be difficult. But he was nothing but good to her, she says.  “Very much a father figure. He taught me a lot. We understood each other. He was another Gemini. So we were on the same wavelength.”

She sees me frowning at the mention of star signs. “What sign are you? Cancer? I know you’re not into it. Most Cancers aren’t.”
What I want to know, I tell her, is what it took, at the age of 21, to get on that plane to London in the first place.
“It was not easy. Really hard. My mum was crying and she said: ‘You’re going to be so far away.’ And then my dad looked at me and said: ‘You do know if you go your sisters aren’t going to make it without you?’ What a pressure to put on my shoulders. And I remember there was a pregnant pause. I took that on board and I said: ‘I have to go.’”
She spent the next 18 months on her own in London, crying herself to sleep every night. And then in 1973 Can the Can came out and went to number one.  It was the realisation of all her dreams.
“I remember the first conscious thought I had when we hit number one was: ‘I did it.’ All that belief, all that sacrifice, no money, no family, taking a chance. I could have had to come back to Detroit with my tail between my legs. All this is on the table. It’s an unknown. Just because I want it does not mean it’s going to happen. I was just so happy that I did what I set out to do.”
She had racked up another five top-five hits by the end of 1974.
When she first burst into the British charts Quatro was corralled into the glam camp. But, really, if anything it was the rest of the band, including her soon-to-be husband Len Tuckey, who glammed it up.
“I virtually didn’t wear any makeup. I wore a plain leather suit.”
But there was nothing plain about her. She was catnip for the music press. “I was very quotable,” she says.
Indeed. “You can’t separate sex from rock and roll because rock and roll is sex,” Quatro once said. In another interview she talked of her rejection of girly femininity: “You’re supposed to be soft, you’re supposed to be cute and you’re supposed to be pretty. You think … balls.”
That said, reading the 1970s interviews and reviews, I tell her, what is even more striking than her own turn of phrase is the sheer unadorned sexism of the writers who interviewed and reviewed her. “They didn’t know how to handle me,” she laughs. “Tell me what they said.” Here’s one, I say: “The simple fact is that Suzi is a beauty, a sex monster, a humping wild-eyed witch from Detroit.”
She thinks this is hilarious. Or how about the doyen of NME writers, Charles Shaar Murray, commenting on her appearance in Penthouse (NB: she didn’t take her clothes off) wrote: “How, you ask, can a chick with boobs so small break into the last stronghold of male chauvinist piggery?” There’s a statement blind to its own contradictions.
“I was a new kind of female.” Quatro suggests. “They weren’t quite sure what to do or what to say. It’s OK. Sure, if I had big boobs it wouldn’t have been the same. I see myself as an unthreatening sexual person.
I was not Marilyn Monroe.
“Mickie said to me when he signed me up: ‘I don’t know what you are, but whatever it is you are going to appeal to the gay girls and the straight girls. You’re going to appeal to the gay guys and the straight guys.’ And he ended up being correct.”

Debbie Harry, Suzi Quatro and Joan Jett in the late 1970s

No doubt the leather jumpsuit helped in all of this. “I remember standing in front of the camera for the first big photoshoot, the iconic picture you know. And I had my new leather jumpsuit and they were playing Can the Can in the background and [the photographer] Gered Mankowitz was there to do the picture.
“I remember Gered saying to me: ‘Give me that Suzi Quatro look.’ I didn’t know I had one, but when he said it all of a sudden it was there. It was a pivotal moment in my life. It was a combination of the music, that suit, the band and there we are. Boom. It was an attitude photograph and an attitude I didn’t know I had.”
On the cover of her first album she’s dressed in leather and denim while Tuckey is knocking back a beer with his hand down his crotch. They were becoming an item. When she had to phone home to tell her parents that she was in love with a member in the band her dad said plaintively: “Not the one with the bottle of beer and his hand down his pants?”
The truth is all the splendid froth and glitter of the glam era has been retrospectively Yewtreed these days. It’s hard not to see the stain of Gary Glitter and Jimmy Savile creeping into the vintage footage from Top of the Pops these days.
Quatro, though, says she never experienced anything untoward. “I was always protected. Protected mostly with my big mouth. I don’t suffer fools and nobody gets anywhere with me, not that way. Yeah, there was a lot of crap going on. You even had the Janie Jones scandal [Jones was jailed for a sex and payola scandal before emerging to record with the Clash], but I stayed away from that. My ex-husband was in the band so he was taking care of me. Mickie Most was always very protective and I wasn’t a mixer as such.”
The truth is, it doesn’t sound like it was all about sex drugs and rock and roll for Quatro. Let’s break it down though. Drugs? “No, boring.” Sex? “I only had one single year in my whole adult life. My husband always jokes: ‘On stage I’m the wild one, off stage I’m the mild one.’
“I believe in monogamy. I was with my ex. I’ve been with him,” she says, nodding to Rainer through the door, “for 25 years. I don’t feel the need to live the rock and roll lifestyle offstage.”
That just leaves rock and roll. Once, when her daughter Laura was seven or eight, Quatro was doing a photoshoot at home and she came downstairs in her jumpsuit, “and she looked at me and said: ‘Oh Mum, are you going to be Suzi Quatro today?’”
Not everything has gone smoothly in her life. “When a marriage fails that’s a regret. But it had to happen because it was finished.”
But she then married Rainer, a concert promoter, in the early 1990s. He still lives in Germany. She lives in England. “But we’re together most of the time. We go back and forth. It just worked out that way.”
She describes herself as a hands-on wife. “I’m a good person to be married to,” she says. “My ex would be back with me [if he had the chance] … I shouldn’t say that, but he would.”
The champagne is finished now. It is time to do the photographs. We go upstairs. But there is a slight problem. The room we are meant to be taking pictures in is full. It has been taken over by Chris Eubank and his son Chris Jr for a boxing press conference and it is still going strong. The Herald photographer is tearing his hair out.
Quatro is not fazed, though, and quickly introduces herself to Eubank.
Some 30 seconds later she is posing for photographs with Eubank. Like she says, she will not be ignored.
Over the years Suzi Quatro has done so many different things. She’s starred in musicals, she’s written a musical, she’s been broadcasting on Radio 2 for years. But the thing she loves most is still zipping up that leather jumpsuit. And there have been no shortage of opportunities around Europe and in Australia where she has always been popular.
The night after her birthday she was onstage in Budapest. “I remember after the show I said: ‘I feel like me now.’ Rainer said: ‘You can’t do this for ever.’”
The look on her face says she doesn’t believe it. You can’t even imagine that, Suzi? “You know my famous quote? When I turn my back on the audience and I shake my ass and there’s silence, then I’ll stop. But there hasn’t been silence yet.”

Suzi Quatro will be performing alongside the Osmonds, David Essex and Hot Chocolate at the SECC Hydro as part of Legends Live on October 13. Visit

With thanks to the Mondrian at Sea Containers Hotel, London.