June 3: Bassist and singer Suzi Quatro is 61 years-old today.

Susan Kay "Suzi" Quatro was born in Detroit, Michigan. Her father was a part-time jazz musician. In her autobiography, Unzipped, she said her name was shortened from Quattrocchi by her paternal grandfather.

Quatro began her musical career at the age of fourteen. She played the bass guitar in the all-female band Pleasure Seekers and Cradle with her sisters Patti, Nancy, and Arlene. Her first bass guitar was a 1957 Fender Precision, given to her by her father.

(Patti Quatro later joined the band Fanny, one of the earliest all-female rock bands to gain national attention. She has a brother, Michael Quatro, who is also a musician.)

Known at first in the U.S. for her role as Leather Tuscadero on the TV show Happy Days (Leather fronted an all-girl rock band joined by principal character Joanie Cunningham,) Quatro moved to the United Kingdom in 1971 after being discovered in Detroit by the record producer Mickie Most, who produced The Animals, Jeff Beck, Lulu, and Donovan. By this time he had started his own label RAK Records, which made stars of Hot Chocolate and Mud.

Quatro's first single "Rolling Stone" was number one in Portugal, but did little sales-wise every place else. Most introduced Quatro to the songwriting and production team Nicky Chinn and Mike Chapman. Following a slot on a UK tour with Thin Lizzy and headliners Slade, her second single "Can the Can" was a number one hit throughout Europe and in Australia.

It was followed by three other hits in 1973-74: "48 Crash," "Daytona Demon," and "Devil Gate Drive" on RAK Records. "Can the Can," "48 Crash" and "Devil Gate Drive" each sold over one million copies, and were each awarded gold discs.

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Suzi QuatroUnzipped


These recordings, her version of hybrid of glam rock and bubblegum pop, did not catch on in the U.S. She did enjoy some success as a session player.

Quatro's fortunes did not change until 1978, when "If You Can't Give Me Love" became a hit in the United Kingdom and Australia. This did nothing to prompt Stateside success, but "Stumblin' In," a duet recorded that same year for RSO Records with Chris Norman of the band Smokie reached a #4 peak in the U.S. Both tracks are featured on the If You Knew Suzi album.

A year later, Quatro released Suzi... And Other Four Letter Words, featuring the singles, "She's In Love With You," which made number 11 in Britain, "Mama's Boy" and "I've Never Been In Love." In 1980, her song "Rock Hard" was featured on the soundtrack of the cult film Times Square.

Also in 1980, she released Suzi Quatro's Greatest Hits. It became her highest charting album in the UK, peaking at #4 in the UK Albums Chart. Her success in Britain didn't continue. Her last UK hit was "Heart of Stone" in 1982.

In 1985, Quatro collaborated with Bronski Beat and members of The Kinks, Eddie and the Hot Rods, and Dr. Feelgood on the Mark Cunningham produced version of David Bowie's "Heroes," released the following year as the 1986 BBC "Children In Need" single.

In December 2005, a documentary chronicling Quatro's life, Naked Under Leather, directed by former member of The Runaways Victory Tischler Blue, appeared. In February 2006, Quatro released "Back To the Drive," produced by Sweet guitarist Andy Scott.

In March 2007, Quatro released a version of the Eagles song "Desperado ," followed by the publication of her autobiography, Unzipped.

In addition to touring, Quatro has hosted weekly rock and roll programmes on BBC Radio 2. The first one was Rockin' with Suzi Q. Her second programme called "Wake Up Little Suzi ." It aired on Thursdays.

During her career, Suzi Quatro has sold nearly 50 million records.