Suzi Quatro changed the game. After playing in Detroit garage bands with her sisters in the 1960s, including chart-hitting act The Pleasure Seekers, Suzy emerged as a solo artist in the early 1970s, becoming the first female bass player to achieve rock-star status. Suzy’s success was abroad at first, scoring her first #1 hit in Portugal in 1972. Hits followed in the UK, Europe, and Australia.
It took television to bring Suzy home to America. In 1977, Suzy began a recurrent role on TV series Happy Days, where she played Leather Tuscadero, younger sister of motorcycle stuntwoman (and Fonzie love interest) Pinky Tuscadero. Leather was a rock’n’roller with a troubled past in the show’s weirdly-stylized, alternate-reality 1950s. Cynical readers will also note that 1977 was the season Happy Days infamously jumped the shark.
In a 2012 interview, Suzy said: “Before I did what I did, we didn’t have a place in rock ‘n’ roll. Not really. You had your Grace Slicks and all that, but that’s not what I did. I was the first to be taken seriously as a female rock ‘n’ roll musician and singer. That hadn’t been done before. I played the boys at their own game. For everybody that came afterward, it was a little bit easier, which is good. I’m proud of that. If I have a legacy, that’s what it is.”
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