When Rocker Suzi Quatro ‘Stumbled Into’ a Pop Hit

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Suzi Quatro and Chris Norman singing their duet, “Stumblin’ In”

Bass guitarist and vocalist Suzi Quatro, is best known for a series of hit singles in the 1970s and for her recurring role as “Leather” Tuscadero on the popular sitcom, Happy Days. She released a studio album, No Control, in 2019, her first solo studio LP since 2011.

The classic rock artist was born on June 3, 1950, and has successfully worked as a musician for more than 50 years. Though she’s from Detroit, Quatro’s initial success was overseas. As a teenager, she joined an older sister, Patti, in a band called the Pleasure Seekers. By 1969, they had changed their name to Cradle.

Quatro moved to England in 1971 and signed a solo contract with veteran record producer Mickey Most, who teamed her with the young songwriting team of Mike Chapman and Nicky Chinn.

This ad for Quatro appeared in the May 19, 1979 issue of Record World

Her big breakthrough occurred in a two-year span, from 1973-74, with a series of singles, two of which – “Can the Can” and “Devil Gate Drive” – reached #1 in the U.K. and several other European territories.

During that run, she released four more singles – all written by Chapman and Chinn – that became U.K. hits. Her career took off internationally, with tours of Europe, Australia and the Far East.

Though “Can the Can” and a cover of “All Shook Up” charted – with modest success – in the U.S., it wasn’t until her duet, “Stumblin’ In,” – yet another Chinn-Chapman collaboration – that Quatro achieved a hit at home when the song reached #4 on the Hot 100 in May 1979.

Ironically, the duet, with the English singer Chris Norman failed to make much of an impact in the U.K., peaking at #41.

Watch Quatro and Norman perform the duet

Quatro appeared on Happy Days as “Leather” Tuscadero – the younger sister of Fonzie’s former girlfriend, Pinky. A special two-part appearance led to the expansion of the role for seven episodes across seasons five and six, from 1977-1979. It was that exposure, on one of the biggest TV series of the era, that finally led to Quatro’s big U.S. radio hit.

Watch Quatro perform as “Leather” Tuscadero on Happy Days

Quatro is the subject of a recent documentary, Suzi Q. Subtitled, The Queen Has Come to Claim Her Crown, the film features Quatro, plus Alice Cooper, Deborah Harry, Joan Jett, the Runaways’ Cherie Currie, Talking Heads’ Tina Weymouth, Donita Sparks (L7), her Happy Days co-star Henry Winkler, the Go-Go’s Kathy Valentine, KT Tunstall, members of the Quatro family, and many more.

Watch the Suzi Q trailer

The leather-clad rocker continues to tour. Tickets for many of the shows are available here and here.

On her continuing to record and perform, Quatro says: “I’ll retire when I go onstage, shake my ass, and there is silence.”

Related: Links to 100s of current classic rock tours

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  1. Wiley
    #1 Wiley 24 October, 2019, 20:28

    She fears God and she reads Scripture

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