Here`s a girl you just can`t stop to love. Trying to build her image as a very bad girl in this and other interviews, while we all really knew that inside she was a really, really nice girl. But it`s an interesting story of a girl trying to break into a male-chauvinist business. So the story of Suzi is always an interesting one! Enjoy.
Madcap of the Fourth or reincarnation of Attila the Hun? They couldn`t tell. It wasn`t what she said, it was…
WHAT SUZI DID
By Kate Phillips
Suzi Q, fantasy figure for the mini-libbers of the nation:
“I get all these letters from little girls telling me that they`re tough, that they swear like me, and they`re not gonna get stuck at home… and I did answer one, it was from a mother who said her daughter wanted to leave school and be like me, and could I write and tell her to finish school first. So I wrote back-”
-And told the kid to wait?
“-No. I said, if your daughter`s like I was, one year ain`t gonna make no difference. So it`s best to let her go. I know my parents could have kept me under lock and key and I`d have got out somehow and run away.”
Pretty much your standard hellcat raunch? Yup, Leatherclad Rap number 49, courtesy Chinn, Chapman and Mickie Most (image-makers to the public). But don`t give up just yet.
Why were you a rebel, Suzi?
“I wasn`t so much rebellious as a loner; and that made me rebellious in the end.
“There`s always one in a big family, and that was me, so I had to learn to take care of myself. I can remember every day of my life when I was a kid, though my teenage years are a bit hazy.
“Yes, that probably is because I was unhappy.
“I wanted more attention. I can even remember when I was three, biting my little sister`s fingers off…”
“I just hated her. She was such a pretty baby, too. And she lay with her fingers drooping over the edge of the cradle, and I crept up and just crunched them as hard as I could.
“I`m surprised they didn`t fall off. Then I ran upstairs and listened to her crying, and my mother coming in and saying `What`s wrong with this baby, she`s always crying` and I`d be up there laughing away. Isn`t that terrible?
“When I was about 11 it suddenly hit me. I went into her room late one night, sobbing. `Nancy, are ya sleeping? I`m sorry I used to bite your fingers, I`m sorry…` I was crying my eyes out, the memory has suddenly gone boom in my head.
“So anyway, when I got to the age when my parents thought they had to give me attention and protect me from the outside world, because I was growing up, I said fuck you, you never cared before…”
No, I don`t think it explains why Suzi`s a rebel; I don`t think she is a rebel, otherwise she wouldn`t still be tied up in the baby biker packaging in which her management present her.
It does explain her self-confessed need to be onstage regularly, since otherwise she gets “nervy” and bitchy without the adulation of a crowd to keep her happy. And it`s probably got something to do as well with her ritual “toughness”, which she demonstrates with naive pleasure during the course of our conversation. A nervous minion of RAK Records puts his head round the door to ask a question Suzi considers superfluous, so she sends him off with a chilly reply; and turns back with a conspiratorial smile to her audience.
“See, there, I got nasty there for a minute. I had a guy in here yesterday, shaking. He`d come in with this list of questions – `Why are you so butch?` `Why aren`t your tits bigger?` Really that stupid. I laid into him, told him he made me puke: he was trying to laugh, and pretending to write it all down, but he went out in tears.
“Of course I`m gonna behave like a bitch, if people treat me like one.”
Maybe they wouldn`t ask her silly questions, though, if she didn`t have such a silly image to live up to. Let`s get one thing straight; in spite of the fact that she`s rather small and very pretty and very charming, in her literal-minded way, it is not amazing (a) that Suzi plays bass (some girls play drums, remember?) (b) that Suzi swears (yawn) and (c) that Suzi wears leather onstage (double yawn).
If those things ever had any novelty value, it`s surely worn off by now – a suggestion backed up by the fact that none of her last few singles – “The Wild One”, “Your Mamma Won`t Like Me”, “I Bit Off More Than I Could Chew” – have done much business, and the new one, “I Maybe Too Young”, which is lyrically one of the crassest efforts so far (“I`m little Suzi, the backstreet girl/I`m gonna hang around and wait for you”) isn`t, as yet, creating any stir either.
To give Suzi her due, she`s genuinely bored with all these questions about what it`s like to be a female rock and roller. “It doesn`t matter what sex I am, but other people can`t get used to it,” she complains.
But until she gives up her position as teeny little cute front lady for all those Big Ugly Men, and till she starts writing her own singles and singing in a way that odd things on her albums have shown her to be capable of no-one`s going to believe her protestations of sexless equality with the rest of the band, or see her as anything other than a willing doll manipulated by Chinnichap.
Nobody has got her to say a word against them yet, or to admit that her claim to have broken the rock and roll barrier for girls is as yet a false one. But sometimes she really gives herself away:
“The only time the boys in my band think about me as a woman is when it`s time to change into our stageclothes and I go off to another dressing room, or when some big heavy guys come up and they know they might have to protect me a little, `cos it might get a bit rough – but otherwise I don`t think they think about it either.”
It`s not that I think the lady`s got to sacrifice her modesty, or get herself beaten up, to achieve parity: but I do think the best thing she could do (after casting Mike and Nicky into Outer Darkness) would be to get herself a gig as one of the boys in a band – a good one – and concentrate on living down her Lulu and the Luvvers aura for a while. After that, if she actually emerged as leader in her own right – well, then all us Little Girls would really have something to inspire us.
Back to Suzi`s childhood. Her own inspiration, she says, was Elvis: “It never occurred to me that I couldn`t look up to him, just `cos I was a girl. I just said, Oh I`d love to do what he does. I was one of those kids who practised in front of the mirror with a chairback and four big rubber bands for a bass. It really worked quite good. And I`d practise facial expressions – I could match myself in the mirror and not be embarrassed, it was like watching someone else. I didn`t even care when my mother caught me at it…”
Do you use any of those expressions now?
“No, not any of them; I use such ugly expressions onstage, and people say I`m a sex symbol! They must be mad. Sexy to me is when someone`s got their leg pointed, or they`re putting their body into pretty shapes…”
But you don`t only fancy men when they pose, do you?
“No but men are different..”
I have personally transcribed this from the original paper and you are free to use it as you like. If you use it on your own webpages – please credit me or put up a link to my blog.
This number of New Musical Express also contains articles/interviews with these people: Procul Harum, Genesis, Andy Pratt, Uriah Heep, Buddy Holly.
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