Often greeted with remarks about her peat appearance and stature, the misogynistic undertones that had plagued pioneering rock’n’roll icon Suzi Quatro’s fifty-year career are explored with unflappable honesty in the inquisitive 2019 Aussie doco Suzi Q.
Director Liam Firmager looks at the life of Quatro, a powerhouse rock vocalist whose success as a singer during the ’70s escaped her American homeland, to offer insight into experiences had by one of the first women to pursue a solo career in the male-dominated world of rock’n’roll.
Despite being unable to crack the American charts, a feat attributed to the countries then unwillingness to support a female rock musician, the impact of Quatro’s career would influence many artists to reach for the mainstream success that Quatro was denied.
Quatro’s legion of decorated fans, including co-star on Happy Days (The Fonz himself!) Henry Winkler, Alice Cooper, Debbie Harry, KT Tunstall, and Joan Jett, lovingly detail the impact the ‘Can to Can’ singers legacy had on improving public perceptions of women in music and broader society.
Critical of her appearance, ability, and standing within the rock community, Quatro’s career is dominated by male scepticism and objectification. The legacy of this still a hot topic in today’s entertainment industry. Nonetheless, Quatro’s hard-bodied and unapologetically self-assured demeanour are embraced on-screen; demonstrating her star-quality and enabling Firmager to capture the music icon’s magnetic presence.
Starting her career by having to dismantle a band that comprised of Quatro and her sisters, the consequences of fame – and decisions made to secure it – had proven more of a constraint to Quatro’s wellbeing than a tailored leather jumpsuit. Quatro expresses vulnerability with a level of groundedness that is inviting for the viewer. She speaks with refreshing honesty and uses her dais to reveal the mighty sacrifices she made to pursue her dreams.
The fiery passion for music that burned intently inside the mind of a teenager looking to escape Detroit carries through in the now 69-year-old Quatro. With Suzi Q, Firmager delivers a sweeping documentation of a trailblazing music icon whose path to success had been riddled with sacrifice, misogyny, and under-appreciation, but never compromise.
Suzi Q is currently screening in selected cinemas across Australia. For more information, visit: www.suziqmovie.com for details.
Image: Suzi Quatro playing live (film still)
Review: Hagan Osborne