Wednesday, June 05, 2024

Hope I Die Before I Get Old -- Hey, Wait a Minute! No I Don't!!!!

So Suzi Quatro turned 74(!) last Monday. I was gonna make note of it here at the appropriate time, but I'm older than she is and it slipped my senile mind. Mea culpa.

That said, and I originally posted about this here several years ago, I bring the whole thing up because in honesty I was never particularly impressed with Quatro back in her early 70s glam-rock stardom period. Although in retrospect a lot of her records -- which were hits pretty much everywhere in the civilized world except the USA -- were actually pretty good.

To me, though -- and I say this despite the fact that my first ex-wife was a refugee from the Detroit rock scene and had lots of funny true stories about Suzi and the rest of her Motor City colleagues -- the only reasons I ever particularly took notice of her at all was because a) her name actually was Suzi Q (c'mon -- how cool is that?); b) she played Leather Tuscadero, the sister of Fonzie's girlfriend Pinky, on Happy Days ; and c) there was a credible rumor going around that she (Suzi) and Rick Derringer were in fact the same person.

Seriously -- did YOU ever see the two of them in the same room at the same time?

I think not.

In any case, I knew that Suzi -- and pretty much the rest of her immediate family -- had been in an all-girl 60s Detroit garage band called The Pleasure Seekers in those pre-stardom days...

...but I'd totally forgotten that the Pleasure Seekers had released a single (in either 1965 or 1966) that may in fact be the most astounding piece of garage rock ever waxed.

Ladies and germs -- behold in breathless wonder "What a Way to Die."

In case you can't quite make out the lyrics through the low-fi mono murk, Suzi is sending the following tender blandishments toward a potential lover (and Iggy, eat your heart out).

Well I love you baby
I’m telling you right here
But please don’t make me decide baby
Between you and a bottle of beer.

Baby come on over
Come on over to my side
Well I may not live past twenty-one
but WOO!
What a way to die!

Your lovin' fluctuates baby
And everybody knows
But the temperature always stays the same
On an ice cold bottle of Strohs

When I start my drinking
My baby throws a fit
So I just blitz him outta my mind
With seventeen bottles of Schlitz

You’ve got the kind of body
That makes me come alive
But I’d rather have my hands around
A bottle of Colt 45

Baby come on over
Come on over to my side
Well I may not live past twenty-one
but WOO!
What a way to die!


In a word -- wow.

Yes, obviously, on some level the song and the record are kind of a joke. As anybody who ever went to a high school dance back then knows, the Pleasure Seekers probably didn't really want to die before they got old, i,e, before they got laid a lot.

But still...that kind of gonzo nihilism, even if it was a pose they barely understood, was not only unprecedented for a bunch of suburban adolescent gals, but also, clearly, a huge influence in all sorts of unexpected ways on the rest of rock history.

Speaking of which, I think we need to research whether the song's lyrical mention of Strohs, Schlitz and Colt 45 was some kind of innovative product placement or just alcoholic bravado.

Tomorrow: that cool new power pop song I promised you guys yesterday. Sorry for the delay.


mistah charley, sb, ma, phd, jsps said...

speaking of suzi q, one learns from the wikipedia bio that the surname was shortened from "Quattrocchi" ("four eyes", meaning "bespectacled")

and that reminds me of the lovin' spoonful song "four eyes" - as a bespectacled boy i think that song probably helped cement my fandom, although "summer in the city" was what first drew my attention, of course

ChrisE said...

Good timing on the post, Steve. For those readers who like a physical product to listen to, Sundazed Music is reissuing a compilation on the Pleasure Seekers on vinyl - opaque, VIOLET vinyl, no less. The comp is due next Friday (June 14). There is also a CD version already available from Sundazed.

steve simels said...

ChrisE — thanks for the heads up. I had no idea……

Anonymous said...

there's a tear in my beer cuz i'm cryin' for you dear.....woo!

Anonymous said...

Strohs, my favorite Ohio beverage - R.I.P

Gummo said...

Wow, now THAT's punk!

I am impressed.

Billy B said...

Suzi's older brother had the Michael Quatro Jam Band in the mid 70s.


Alzo said...

She was never gonna be a has-been cuz she's still at it:

Anonymous said...

Fun song with great snarl. I think early 1966. It precedes the Seeds rise to fame. I was looking for this 45 for a long time. Every time I'd see one, which was rare in California, it'd be a thrashed. I finally scored a clean one, and a handful of other rare singles, from a guy in the Textones. He traded the singles for some dope. This was outside the Londoner, a club in Santa Monica. I bumped into the guy at Aron's Records earlier in the week and we got to talking about music. We ended up setting up the deal. His band was third billed that night at the Londoner, rounded out by the Plimsouls and Crawdaddys. Teri Nunn was in the crowd checking out Carla, Kathy and the Textones before her own gig at another Santa Monica club. I told her that she stole the show on that cornball Barnaby Jones appearance. She ate it up. Late 70's was a really great time for club bands in L.A. Lotsa clubs, lotsa interesting bands, lotsa work. Super vibrant. Unfortunately, most of them never got deals. The ones who did, got short shrift from the labels.

Saw Suzi at the Whisky in 1974. The place was packed and she delivered. The opening act was Rufus who played tight and funky. Kind of a weird bill. I came for Suzi but I also ended up getting Rufusized. Suzi did two shows. Atypically, the first one was better.

When I was in Australia a few months back, I caught her. She was great and so was her band. The set was pretty short – a drawback. On my 2022 trip to OZ, I saw her as well. That was definitely my favorite latter day show. Two sets with everything you could possibly want including, “Rockin’ in the Free World.” 20+ songs.

Long as Suzi’s the subject, there was a pretty good quality vinyl bootleg of hers named “Come Alive For Suzi.” My beloved uncle used to travel a lot and in the Spring of 1976 he came back from Japan with about ten boots as presents for me. Led Zeppelin, Queen, Rory Gallagher, Paul McCartney & Wings etc. Not long after, Vicki Vinyl issued the Quatro bootleg as “Naked Under Leather Or Bound to Please” with an S&M cover insert.

When the first Pleasure Seekers compilation came out in the early 80's, I snagged it. It's on the Satan label. Satan Records P.O. Box 1313 (why not 666?), Hell. Norton and some other cool labels put it out later. I wonder if the Sundazed versions have upgraded sound.

Re: Stroh's beer. They didn't have it in California till, I think the 80's. In the mid-Seventies I briefly lived in the Grand Rapids area of Michigan and it was my first exposure to the brand. Had a few longnecks at the White Rabbit during my time there and enjoyed the Bohemian style beer and the cool people.

The Pleasure Seekers mention Stroh's, Schlitz and Colt 45. Eventually all three came to be owned by Stroh's before the company went belly up.

Billy b – re: Michael Quatro - I only lived in Michigan for a short while but I ended up seeing Michael Quatro 3 times. Not because I wanted to, but because he opened for a lot of bands. He must have been the go-to opening guy in the region. One of the shows was opening for Aerosmith at Grand Valley State. Aerosmith was stunning.


danny1959 said...

Suzy's sister wound up playing in Fanny, a band I love despite the prevailing opinion on this blog.