Suzi Quatro: ‘It was only when we got the pictures back that I realised it was a sexy outfit’

The rock legend on the look that defined her in the 70s – and is still going strong today

This is the look I wore when I was 23, when Can the Can [Quatro’s second solo single and her first to reach No 1 in the UK] was about to be released. I was doing my first big, serious photoshoot, so I had a meeting with [the record producer] Mickie Most, and he asked: “What would you like to wear?” I said leather because I was a big Elvis fan – and he was kind of against it. He said it was old-fashioned, but I insisted, so he asked: “What about a jumpsuit?”

I thought it was a really sensible, logical idea because I jump around a lot, and I knew it would help everything stay in one place. It was only when we got the pictures back that I realised, in my naivety, that it was a sexy outfit. It hadn’t been my focus – I just wanted to wear leather – but I think that’s good. It was an innocent sex appeal.

The jumpsuit felt like “me” the second I put it on. It fit like a skin. I still wear them – it’s a timeless look and one that suits me. It says a lot that, at 69, I can still wear a jumpsuit on stage. They don’t last that long because you get soaking wet performing and eventually the thread just goes. If it’s a working stage outfit, then it will last for about two years of gigs, so there have been slight variations over the years. I had one with patches on the knees, one with fringing and one in white leather with the US flag on it. But the basic style, with the zipper from the top going down and the cuffs rolled up so I could play my bass, has stayed.

At the time [1973], wearing an outfit like this was still a shock. It just wasn’t done back then – it wasn’t done for a woman to even be in a rock’n’roll band. But I didn’t wear it to shock; I just knew that I didn’t have a niche to fit into, and that I needed to find my own style.

Contributor

As told to Leah Harper

The GuardianTramp

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