Born Susan Kay Quatro in 1950 in Detroit, Quatro grew up in a musical family of Detroiters. Her father, Art, was a semi-professional musician who saw that she was classically trained in piano and percussion, and she played drums in her father’s jazz act, the Art Quatro Trio, at a very young age. Several of her siblings, including Michael and Arlene, are or were musicians.
After seeing the Beatles on television, Suzi and her sister Patti formed a band called the Pleasure Seekers, which release a few singles on Mercury Records. But then Suzi Quatro was “discovered” by record producer Mickie Most, who whisked her off to England, where she recorded a succession of chart-toppers for several years, effectively breaking the gender barrier for women in rock ‘n’ roll.
Quatro never quite garnered the musical fame she did after she left Detroit for the U.K. But when she was cast as Leather Tuscadero on TV’s Happy Days, she was so successful that producer Garry Marshall offered her a spin-off TV series based on the character. Suzi declined.
Now, with Detroit’s identity as a great rock ‘n’ roll city cemented over time, Quatro will occasionally return to her hometown. In 2012, she was scheduled to perform at the Detroit Music Awards, but injuries from a fall prevented her from making it. True to her word, she returned to Detroit the next year and wowed crowds.
Though she’s lived in the U.K. ever since the 1970s, she still loves Detroit. In a 2012 interview with MT’s Brett Callwood, she said her children love the city. “I took them there for my 60th,” she said. “They just thought it was the most amazing, magical city they'd ever been to. Even my granddaughter thought it was fun. She said she wanted to move there. There's a spirit of Detroit that doesn't leave. It's very special.”