Hell, you can't have got this far into the site and not know the story of Suzi's career: her years of playing in an all-girl band in America, her discovery by Mickie Most in Detroit, her departure for England and her eventual triumph in collaboration with Chinn & Chapman, including two British #1 singles in the shape of 'Can the Can' and 'Devil Gate Drive'. If you do need more information, then check out the Links page and visit Patrick Doonan's site - it's damn good.
So you know all this anyway, so what can I tell you? Well, maybe we should look at why Suzi still exerts such an impressive grip on the public imagination. After all, she wasn't the dominant chart act of the time - Slade, Gary, T Rex and many others far outstripped her sales - and she wasn't even the biggest Chinnichap act: both Mud and The Sweet were more successful. In fact, somewhat surprisingly, when you check out the statistics, she only notched up five top ten singles in Britain.
But while her contemporaries found the going almost impossibly difficult in the era of punk and disco, Suzi alone moved effortlessly into other fields, pursuing an acting career in Happy Days. And in 1978 she became the first of the glam generation to return to the British charts, reinventing herself as the queen of powerpop with 'If You Can't Give Me Love'. Since then she's done TV, legitimate theatre and, above all else, toured constantly - she reckons to have averaged 200 gigs a year since the early-60s. Like Alvin Stardust and Gary Glitter, she's one of the few trans-generational household names from the glitter years; unlike them, she's never even approached self-parody.
This is partly why she still occupies such a prominent place in pop culture. She takes her music absolutely seriously. While The Sweet saw the material they were given by Chinn & Chapman as being a dilution of what their real sound, Suzi insists that Mike Chapman reflected perfectly what she was all about. 'Before he wrote "Can the Can", we had to play them our live set, cos I had my band together by that time. And it was all boogie, it was all dum der-dum der-dum der-dum. And he went away and wrote "Can the Can". He wouldn't have written that if he hadn't heard what I did.'
More important than this, however, Suzi was important because she was a woman. It's difficult to get a grip on this now, at a time when most of the best music in the world is being produced by women like Polly Harvey, Beth Gibbons and Justine Frischman (assuming that she doesn't become the Peter Perrett of the 90s), but in the early-70s there were desperately few women in pop music. Pre-Suzi we had Sunny, we had Polly Brown, we had Lyn & Eve in the New Seekers, and we had precious little else. We certainly didn't have a female rock & roller. And Suzi rocked. She rocked big-time. As she says: 'I think I represented at the time, and still do now, a very ballsy woman: still feminine but ballsy. Knew her own mind, wasn't afraid to speak out, wasn't afraid to tackle the boys at their own game.'
For a while she was the female counterpart to Bowie, playing with gender stereotypes and inspiring those of us who were hitting the sexual turmoils of adolescence. Bowie sang about being 'not sure if you're a boy or a girl'; Suzi went for a cover of 'I Wanna Be Your Man' and didn't bother to change the lyrics. Unfortunately, when she changed musical styles, she didn't take her audience with her like Bowie did. Her 1975 trash-funk classic 'Your Mama Won't Like Me' is rightly remembered with immense fondness, but at the time it missed out on the British top thirty. And an album of material from the same year that's reputed to comprise an even more radical change of direction has still to see the light of day. Ultimately she fell victim to the syndrome described by Andy Scott: 'In Britain you're very rarely allowed to change your spots: you're a leopard, mate.' So while she continues to write and develop and grow as an artist, she's still defined as a product of the early-70s. She's moved on, but it's a hell of a job to shake off the era.
So you'll still see her on 70s revival bills, and you're advised to see her whenever you can. She's got a strong band - complete with horn section - and while she does new songs (which are actually pretty good), she knows her audience well enough not to disappoint them: you'll still get the Chinnichap classics. The same is true of her 1995 album What Goes Around which has some successful reworks of the old material with her current band. She was the first great female rocker (with the possible exception of Wanda Jackson) and she's not about to relinquish her crown as the Queen of Pop without a fight.
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