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'Leather Tuscadero' Gets Her Due

Documentary pays tribute to pioneering female rocker Suzi Quatro
By John Johnson,  Newser Staff
Posted Jul 14, 2020 8:58 AM CDT
Updated Jul 18, 2020 7:00 AM CDT

(Newser) – She's a pioneering female rocker from Detroit named Suzi Quatro who gained a worldwide following in the 1970s with a string of hits like "Can the Can." Quatro's name, however, is recognized more outside the US than in her native country. In fact, she is perhaps best known in the US for playing "Leather Tuscadero" (also a leather-clad rocker) on the TV show Happy Days, notes Rolling Stone. Others might recognize her "mellow" hit duet Stumblin' In from the late 1970s, per the AV Club, though it's not really representative of her hard-rocking music style. Now, a new, on-demand documentary might help end Quatro's relative obscurity in America and cement her place "in the rock annals as the first woman to front a successful rock band while playing an instrument," writes Gwen Ihnat at the AV Club.

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The film, Suzi Q, has testimonials from more well-known figures in the music industry, including Joan Jett, Kathy Valentine of the Go-Gos and Deborah Harry, who say Quatro paved the way for female rockers who came after her. And that Happy Days fame as "Leather Tuscadero" doesn't bother her much, because her persona on the show matched her real-life persona. "I didn’t have the catalog of hit singles in America that I had everywhere else," she tells Rolling Stone. "So this is how they came to my table, through Happy Days. And that’s OK, as long as you’re there now. As long as you’re at the table, then we’re on the same page." Quatro—who scored a Rolling Stone cover in 1975—has lived in England since 1980. (Read more Happy Days stories.)

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