If you’re a fan of Detroit rock ‘n’ roll of the late ’60s—amid all the crazy fandom for all things Alice Cooper, Grand Funk Railroad, Iggy Pop, Bob Seger, and Ted Nugent—you might have heard of Suzi Quatro with her bands The Pleasure Seekers (You Tube) and Cradle (You Tube).
Then she hooked up with British music impresario Micky Most and RAK Records to become one of the U.K.’s biggest glam stars. And that success grew when she began working with Mike Chapman and Nicky Chinn, best known for their work behind the scenes in making Sweet (“Fox on the Run,” “Love Is Like Oxygen”) into international glam stars.
Achieving only minor Top 200 chart placings in the U.S with her Top 10 Euro-hits “Can the Can,” “48 Crash,” and “Devil Gate Drive,” Suzi eventually found notice in America courtesy of her recurring appearances as Leather Tuscadero during the 1977 to 1978 season of the ABC-TV U.S sitcom, Happy Days (you can watch a compilation of all her music appearances on the show in the video below).
Unfortunately, the show failed to consolidate her success on U.S radio, but she did score her lone Top 10 hit, “Stumblin’ In,” a 1978 duet with British singer Chris Norman. Eventually, with the Knack-inspired new wave in full swing, she scored her final two, U.S Top 100 hits with “Lipstick” and “Rock Hard” from her 1980 album, Rock Hard.
Then along came an artist that Suzi inspired: one who achieved that number one single and album in America that eluded her: Joan Jett.
However, while the Detroit-born bassist never found mainstream success in her homeland, she kept on rocking, scoring an international hit with “Strict Machine” from her 2011 album, In the Spotlight, co-produced with Andy Scott of Sweet.
What elevates this Australian made documentary heads and shoulders above other pedestrian “talking head” rock documentaries is that director Liam Firmager chose not to travel the “feel good” promo route and create a puff piece on his subject; he eliminated all of the usual docu-candy coating. Suzi Q isn’t a cookie cutter journal that inserts a talking head here, an old photo there, and a rare film clip here; Firmager chose to tell a story—through over 400 rare archival film clips—that gives Suzi Q the feel of a musical biographical drama. However, unlike other rock bioflicks (The Doors, Ray, Walk the Line) this chronicle on the life of Suzi Quatro has no filtering; there’s no compression or compositing of characters and fabrication of pseudo events for “dramatic effect.”
Firmager not only researched his subject, he spoke to his subject; he got inside his subject. So, while Suzi Q is for the fans of an artist who sold 55 million records around the world, it’s also a film for Suzi Quatro. This is a film that shows rock ‘n’ roll fans that, at the end of the day, a rock star is just a musician. And a musician is just a job. And behind that job is a person. And that person has hopes and dreams, success and regrets, joys and pain. Firmager makes us, the fans, realize that those people behind those records on our turntables and posters on the walls sacrifice life’s normalcies that we take for granted. Through this film, Firmager provided Suzi Quatro a catharsis; a spiritual cleansing and life resolution that most of us will never be blessed; a realization that our lives were worth the journey. And that, maybe, we didn’t end up where we wanted to be or expected to be, but we ended up exactly where we need to be. And Suzi needed to rock ‘n’ roll and be the trailblazer and harbinger for the lives of others.
Suzi Q will launch on DVD, Blu-ray and VOD on July 3, while the film had a planned theatrical release at select U.S cinemas on July 1. However, with the COVID-19 pandemic closing theatres, Utopia Distribution will host a “SUZI Q” virtual event on July 1st featuring the film and an exclusive Q&A featuring Suzi Quatro and a Special Guest (available for 24 hours only) in advance of the film’s traditional release on VOD and DVD on July 3rd. The Q&A will be conducted by Cherie Currie of the Runaways and Kathy Valentine of the Go-Go’s. A portion of the proceeds from the event will support MusiCares, the Recording Academy’s™ charity, to raise funds in support of the organization’s COVID relief fund for music artists in need.
Suzi Q had its U.S. premiere at the Sonoma International Film Festival on March 29, where Quatro made an appearance; it made its theatrical debut last fall in the UK and Australia, where Quatro had her biggest chart successes. You can learn more about the film at its official website. There’s more Suzi tunes to be had at her official You Tube page.
Oh, and since B&S About Movies is a movie review site . . . there’s a “video fringe” connection to Suzi: her sister Arlene, also an ex-The Pleasure Seekers/Cradle member, is the mother of actress Sherilyn Fenn (Crime Zone, The Wraith, Outside Ozona). And here’s a tune from her uber-talented, underrated brother, Mike Quatro: a man who needs his own documentary flick. Speaking of which . . .
Disclaimer: This was sent to us by the film’s PA firm and has no bearing on our review.