Suzi Q Documentary Review – Awesome Tribute to the Queen of Rock and Roll

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Suzi Q, from Utopia Media, presents an explosive portrayal of trailblazing singer-songwriter Suzi Quatro and her rise from Detroit and an all-girl band to the first women of rock and roll, to a successful television and stage career.

Directed by Australian filmmakers Liam Firmager and Tait Brady, the documentary features interviews from a host of rockers including featuring Alice Cooper, Deborah Harry of "Blondie," Joan Jett, Cherie Currie of "The Runaways," Tina Weymouth from "Talking Heads," Donita Sparks of "L7," Kathy Valentine of "The GoGo’s," and more from Henry Winkler of Happy Days fame, Producer/Director Garry Marshall,  KT Tunstall, members of the Quatro family, and many more. 

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The documentary opens with roadies preparing for a concert and then moves immediately into a neon blast of album covers being pushed forward into collections, overlaid with opening credits all set to this power boogie beat, it immediately grabs the attention and lets the viewer know they are in for a treat.

And then Suzi Q quickly fades to Detroit, circa 1960s, black and white stock footage of the beginning of life for Susan K. Quarto, and her family. A typical Great Lakes/mid-western upbringing, a catholic mother, a talented father, four sister and one brother. They were living the American dream.

One night as they all gathered around the television to watch the Ed Sullivan Show, a relatively unknown artist, named Elvis Presley, performed. It was September 9, 1956, and for Suzi, it was the moment that cemented her career.

Her family, during the interviews, was quick to note she had inherited the performer gene. They were all talented musicians and formed the all-girl band The Pleasure Seekers, which is when her sister told her she would play bass. She went to her dad who gave her this over sized bass guitar.

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The band was promoted by her brother, Michael Quatro, who at the time was the regional promoter and when he booked a gig, he worked the girls into the lineup. This band eventually broke up and Cradle was formed which was the time, according to the documentary, that Suzi really began to advance as a bass player.

The documentary moves through this time in her life, and then the girls get a chance to play for British producer Mickie Most, who was working with Jeff Beck. At the end of the set, he asked Suzi if she wanted to make an album. He told her he wanted her only not the band. She cut her first record at Motown records.

She moves to London to work with Mickie Most, and as she said, "it was the loneliest time in my life." Nothing was coming together, the lyrics, the melody, it just wasn’t happening. Then songwriters Mike Chapman and Nicky Chinn after pitching themselves to Most in a rather ballsy way, ended up writing the first charted single for Suzi, "Can the Can."

In London, at this time, many very famous musicians were living in day to day hoping for a break, people knew people, and when they needed a band to go along with this beat they were producing Mickie Most put together a group of up and coming musicians, Len Tuckey on guitar, Alastair McKenzie on keyboard, Keith Hodge on drums and Suzi singing and playing bass.

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Len Tuckey, Suzi’s ex-husband, tells the story of filming Top of The Pops and watching the performance and they all decided to go to the pub to celebrate. It was instantaneous. They were an overnight success, ten years in the making.

With that one charted single, the band become a sensation in Europe, Australia, New Zealand, and Asia. It wasn’t until 1978, and a departure from her rock and roll roots, and her expertise on the bass, that she charted in the top ten with “Stumblin’ In.”

Suzi Q is an excellent documentary. Her story, with all the colors and layers of family, dreams, hopes and the desire for more captures the attention from the beginning. It is well told, weaving the highs, lows, the pinnacle moments, with truth. The documentary is clear about the high price of rock and roll or really any artistic pursuit.

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The documentary also showcases her musical skill from early teens. She broke the barrier for women in rock and roll and shatters the stereotypes of hard rocking females. Suzi Quatro wails on the bass. From the beginning she handles the guitar with a prowess that had never been seen before.

Rockers from Joan Jett to Alice Cooper all add to the accolades and contributions. Stage and screen actor Henry Winkler, producer Garry Marshall and producer Ronny Hallin provide insights into Quatro’s move from rock and roll queen to sit-com actress.

Suzi Q, an enjoyable look back at the Queen of Rock and Roll. As a singer, songwriter, bass player, author, and actress, Suzi Quatro is a powerhouse of talent.

With theaters closed, 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.

Suzi Q, significant, extraordinary, revealing. See this.

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