My secret abortion and how I failed my daughter: In a painfully honest interview, a regretful Suzi Quatro reveals the woman behind the public persona
By SHONA SIBARY
About midway through my interview with Suzi Quatro who, at 63 — and no, in case you’re wondering, she’s not wearing a leather catsuit, but is clad in denim — leans forward conspiratorially and whispers: ‘I need to tell you something? Could this be it? Is the queen of glam rock about to reveal a story of such hell-raising shock value she has never dared share it with anyone else? A night of passion with Alice Cooper, perhaps? Or a 24-hour drink and drugs binge with Paul McCartney?
No, she isn’t. Instead she closes her eyes and hums. It appears that Suzi, a self- confessed psychic, is right at this very minute receiving a message from my dead grandmother who passed away eight years ago.
‘Your grandmother wants you to stop being so angry about everything and try to understand that this stage in your life is a learning curve, a clue you must unravel to become a better person,’ Suzi announces, eyes squeezed dramatically shut.
The outburst finishes as abruptly as it started, leaving an awkward silence that Suzi instantly fills with a bawdy laugh. ‘That’s not even me speaking,’ she declares. ‘Those aren’t the words I would use.’
I don’t know whether to be more shocked at the suggestion that Suzi believes she can communicate with the dead or that my grandmother — whose interests included Vermouth and knitting — appears to have chosen a formerly mullet-haired, leather-clad Seventies rock chick to impart wisdom from the other side.
Still, the revelations from Suzi don’t stop there. Her divorce, teenage pregnancy, abortion, mother-daughter conflicts and all-consuming guilt are all on the table.
She is talking to me to promote her one- woman show that will be running for six nights in September at a small venue in London’s Hackney.
The event is 90 minutes of Suzi standing alone on a stage and, using a mix of songs, video clips and a script she has written herself, exposing — she says for the first time — the woman behind her public persona.
Some will call it brave, cynics will no doubt see it as a desperate attempt to keep her brand alive and kicking.
It’s something at which Suzi has become adept over the years, having successfully reinvented herself several times — most notably as an actress and Radio 2 DJ — since her Seventies heyday.
There’s no doubt her show will reveal a surprisingly strong, nagging sense of guilt that underpins much of her life so far. Suzi attributes this to her Roman Catholic upbringing.
She was born in Detroit in 1950, the fourth of five children, to an Italian father, Art, and Hungarian mother, Helen. From a young age, she was encouraged to play piano, bass, guitar and percussion.
She and her sister Patti formed a band, The Pleasure Seekers, in their early teens and achieved such strong local success that Suzi decided not to go back to school.
The decision was supported by her father. The band soon had a record deal that saw Suzi — at the impressionable age of 14 — leaving home for a life on the road.
Looking back, it is clear that while she doesn’t regret this decision it did, nonetheless, have a lasting emotional effect.
Her eyes fill with tears as she tells me of her first big affair — which happened during this time — with a married A&R man from Mercury Records (whom she will only call DC).
The first time they slept together was on her 18th birthday and her resulting pregnancy ended with an abortion that still haunts her.
‘I would have loved to have had that baby,’ she says with an almost unbearable sorrow. ‘Not a year goes by when I don’t think about it — what that child would be like, how old they would be.
‘When I get to those Pearly Gates — hopefully — this is the sin I will pay for. I am so sorry for it, but sometimes you just don’t have a choice and I was absolutely petrified. Years later it still comes back to haunt me and I don’t think I will ever get over it.