Suzi Quatro's Heroes



Suzi Quatro presents a series profiling six of her heroes.

3/6. Suzi talks to John Sebastian, who after watching The Beatles on Ed Sullivan was inspired to form The Lovin' Spoonful.


Suzi Quatro presents a series profiling six of her heroes.

4/6: Wanda Jackson

Hailed as the Queen of Rockabilly, Wanda was too much of a maverick for the country music scene and toured with Elvis Presley, and had huge hits with Let's Have a Party and Fujiyama Mama.


Suzi Quatro presents a series profiling six of her heroes.

5/6: Felix Cavaliere

Suzi talks to Felix Cavaliere, the lead singer, writer and keyboard player from one of her favourite groups, The Young Rascals.

In the second half of the 1960s, the Rascals had a long string of US Top 40 hits, including three No 1s - Good Lovin', Groovin' and People Got to Be Free.

The Rascals were signed to Atlantic - a record company releasing predominantly black music - and Felix was delighted to work with famous figures at Atlantic such as label heads Ahmet Ertegun and Jerry Wexler and, in the studio, recording supervisors Arid Mardin and Tom Dowd.

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Suzi talks to one half of the soul duo Sam & Dave, whose hits included Soul Man and Hold on, I'm Comin'.


Suzi Quatro profiles six more figures from the rock 'n' roll era. In tonight's opener, she talks to Chubby Checker in a programme that first broadcast in 2007, on the musician's 66th birthday.

Chubby Checker first made his name as a teenager with his vocal impressions of the stars of the day. He was in the eleventh grade at school when he enjoyed his first hit record The Class, in which he mimicked singers including Elvis Presley and Fats Domino. As he tells Suzi, he received his name from the wife of Dick Clark - the host of American Bandstand: "Chubby - like Fats: Checker - like Domino".

It was his fourth single that changed everything - a cover version of Hank Ballard's minor hit The Twist. Chubby's record sparked a dance sensation and was an American number in September 1960 and January 1962. Chubby recalls how he famously described how to do the twist; "It's putting out a cigarette with both feet while coming out of the shower and wiping your bottom off with a towel - to the beat. This is when dancing apart to the beat became the standard". His many million-sellers released on the Cameo Parkway were variations on the winning formula, such as Let's Twist Again, Pony Time, The Fly' and Slow Twistin'.

In this lively conversation, Chubby reveals to Suzi that he finds it hard to understand why his name is often forgotten when the 1960s are reviewed. "From the time Elvis went in the army to the time the Beatles got off the plane at JFK - I owned the planet! So where's my airplay?". He also reveals that he wants his tombstone to read: "Until dancing apart to the beat stops, he's all around you".

Suzi Quatro profiles six more rock 'n' rollers and tonight she talks to Chubby Checker.


Suzi Quatro continues to profile figures from the rock 'n' roll era. This week, Ben E King tells Suzi about his career, which - in his view - seems to have progressed by happenstance!

First of all, he was singing for fun with a group called the Five Crowns, who suddenly became the Drifters in 1959. The original group were fired by their manager during an engagement at New York's Apollo Theatre. Their manager had been impressed by the Crowns who were on the same bill and invited them to become the "new" Drifters.

He was a background harmony singer with the Five Crowns but when things were not going smoothly with a recording of his song There Goes My Baby, he was asked to step up to the microphone to sing the lead vocal. "I'd never done it before. It changed my life". His distinctive baritone voice graced subsequent Drifters US hits - Dance With Me, This Magic Moment and Save The Last Dance For Me.

He had not planned a solo career, but he left because he had failed to secure an increase in the Drifters' salary. His first solo hit was a song originally intended for his old group - Spanish Harlem. Luck had played a part again because, delayed by snowy conditions, the rest of the Drifters had not made it to the studio to record the song.

As Ben E recalls, he benefited from working with the dazzlingly inventive production team of Jerry Leiber and Mike Stoller singing songs written by the best songwriters around. His classic record Stand By Me was co-written by Ben E with Leiber and Stoller. It hit Number One in the UK in 1987 when it was featured in a jeans commercial - 26 years after it was first released.

Suzi Quatro profiles figures from the rock 'n' roll era. This week it's Ben E King.


Suzi Quatro continues to profile figures from the rock 'n' roll era. This week, she's in conversation with Gary "U.S." Bonds, in a programme first broadcast in 2007.

He chats about his career, in particular two eras of hits: the infectious party records of the early 60s; and those of the early 80s, when he was helped by a famous fan - Bruce Springsteen. It was no coincidence that Bruce's E-Street Band featured a saxophonist playing licks next to the lead singer just like on the records by Gary.

The first hits were characterised by a raw sound and an energetic atmosphere. His debut record New Orleans made it to the Top Ten, and, as Gary recalls, he spent all of his first royalties on a Cadillac. He topped the American chart with another rabble-rousing record, Quarter To Three; then followed with two topical songs School Is Out and School Is In, which hit the charts in July and September of 1961.

As his discs were always aimed at the dance floor, he easily embraced the twist craze with two Top Ten hits in 1962 -Dear Lady Twist and Twist Twist Senora. By the mid-60s the hits had dried up but he enjoyed a surprising comeback in the early 80s with Bruce Springsteen producing and writing for him. The Number Eleven hit, This Little Girl, launched a string of hit singles and he released two successful albums Dedication and On The Line.

Suzi continues to profile figures from the rock 'n' roll era. This week Gary 'US' Bonds.


In a rare interview Suzi talks to Mary Weiss, lead singer of the Shangri-Las, who made some of the most dramatic girl-group records of the 60s. Mary recalls how the group formed in 1964, when she was just 15. The other members were her sister Betty and identical twins Marge and Mary Ann Ganser.

Their chart success began when they teamed up with the mysterious George "Shadow" Morton, who produced their teenage melodramas - complete with sound effects and dialogue. Their string of hits was launched in 1964 with the US Top Five single Remember (Walkin' In The Sand). The follow-up was the American Number One Leader Of The Pack, which was a British hit on three separate occasions in 1965, 1972 and 1976.

Many of their other US hits included brilliantly delivered dialogue from the group. Give Him A Great Big Kiss includes the immortal lines: "How does he dance? 'Close. Very, very close". Their most mysterious record was the masterpiece Past, Present And Future, which featured Mary delivering a monologue over Beethoven's Moonlight Sonata. "Was I ever in love?', she wonders. 'Well, I called it love. I mean, it felt like love. There were moments when...Well, there were moments when."

During their conversation, Suzi and Mary discovered they shared many things in common. For example, both had toured in a group while in their early teens and missed the usual school rituals such as going to the Prom.

After the run of hits stopped in 1966, Mary disappeared from public view for most of the next forty years. However, when this programme was first broadcast in 2007, she had recently made a new album called Dangerous Game and had begun to perform again in the States.

Mary Weiss, the lead singer of the Shangri-Las, talks to Suzi Quatro in a rare interview.


Rock 'n' Roll: 5/6. Suzi talks to Freddy 'Boom Boom' Cannon, who recalls the early days of listening to rock 'n' roll radio as a teenager in Massachusetts.

Suzi Quatro talks to Freddy 'Boom Boom' Cannon.

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In the final episode of this 2007 series, Suzi profiles Big Joe Turner who was born in Kansas City in 1911.

The "Boss of the Blues" was one of the first artists to mix R&B with boogie-woogie, resulting in jump blues - a style that presaged the birth of rock and roll. His enjoyed a long career, continuing to record and perform until his death in 1985.

In the final episode of this 2007 series, Suzi profiles Big Joe Turner