The autobiography of Suzi Quatro, the first female Rock Singing-Bassist. This fine read is entitled Unzipped
and it details her rise from suburban Detroit to commanding the stages as a Singing-Bassist around the world. She is very representative of a time when playback was non-existent, and when instrumental virtuosity was a paramount feature in the career of every musician. I zone out watching her performances on youtube wondering where all those notes came from and then realizing that they all emanate from that 5’1″ girl in the leather jump suit with a bass-guitar looking too big for her frame! To my knowledge she was also the first Singing-Bassist as a solo-act. Meaning, although she most likely could have recruited a bass-guitarist to perform for/with her, she opted to keep playing and singing.
I read this book as a source of general research on singing bassism, and found the following anecdotes of particular relevance:
- Suzi plays piano, guitar, percussion and bass-guitar
- she was urged to play bass-guitar at the age of 14 by her sister Patti for their groundbreaking group (as an all-female rock band), The Pleasure Seekers, whose rotating lead-singer position meant that Suzi became a Singing Bassist at the same time as becoming a bassist
- started on a wide-necked Fender Precision bass, then switched to a smaller necked guitar and experienced large leap in capability
- first record deal with the Pleasure Seekers at 14 years old, then recording one song as lead-singer
- states that her proficiency on the bass-guitar was obtained in a follow-up group, the jam-band Cradle, which featured instrumental-solos often exceeding 5 minutes in duration. Played mostly festival appearances in the US midwest.
- whisked off to England by producer Mickie Most to start her solo career at the age of 20. Kept playing the bass-guitar for her solo career!
- Often recorded as a Band in the Room, singing and playing bass-guitar
- Of all the hundreds of songs she has performed, Suzi needed practice in order to sing and play only one song in her entire career as a Singing-Bassist!
- Writes Songs on Piano, and occasionally performs live on the Piano
Unzipped is a fascinating account of how a normal suburban girl-next-door becomes a bass-guitar playing band-leader, owning the songs, owning the stage, owning her crowd. Suzi opened the door for instrument-playing rocker-girls, and did that all the while playing the bass and singing, bravo!