My producer didn't like my songs, and my dreams of being a rock star seemed in tatters.
For some reason - perhaps to remind me of home back in Detroit - my father decided to send me a tape recording of my family enjoying their Thanksgiving dinner a few weeks earlier. He had left the tape running as he chatted to my brother Mickey and my three sisters.
"So how about that producer signing little Suzi up, eh?" I heard him saying. "What do you think of that?"
Mickey: "Yeah, goddammit! Who'd have thought it? I tried to get the rest of the girls a deal, but he didn't want 'em - just Suzi."
The sweet little rock 'n' roller herself Suzi Q
Dad: "The thing is, all you kids are talented. Why he picked Suzi I just don't know. Hell, I don't think she's even that good a bass player."
My sister Patti: "Dad, Suzi is sloppy, very sloppy. She would tell you that herself!"
Imagine how I felt, sitting alone in my room, excitedly putting on the tape, anxious to feel my family round me again - and hearing that. It really hurt, and I struggled for years to find a reason for the conversation even taking place.
I'd always been insecure. Being the fourth of five kids means attention is divided five ways, and to do this equally is impossible. I grew up feeling like the little orphan in the family, the one who didn't fit in.
It was the same at school - I had this thing about wanting to be liked. When I was seven I decided to buy all my friends some ice cream, but the problem was where to get the money. Sneaking into church, I went to the side of the altar where you can light a candle for your loved ones and took the money from the collection boxes.
The next week I was kneeling in the confessional box: "Bless me, Father, for I have sinned. You know those collection boxes next to the altar ..." The priest jumped out of his seat. He was coming to get me! I ran out of there as fast as I could.
One of my insecurities was my looks. I was short, cute and chubby, and Dad used to call me his "little fat sausage". But I always knew I had musical talent.
Dad had been a child prodigy on the violin and taught himself keyboards, accordion and bass. Looking back, I realise he always wanted a big career in showbiz. Instead, he had a day job at a car plant and played with his band at weddings and dances.
Once, in an unguarded moment when I was at the height of my success, he said to me: "Suzi, you did what I never had the guts to do."
All three of my sisters can sing and play instruments, and my brother is quite simply the best piano player I've ever heard. He could have had a brilliant career as a classical pianist but after my success in rock and roll he decided he wanted the same.
Sadly, it didn't happen for him and he ended up addicted to crack cocaine for a while after his wife killed herself. Thank God, now he's clean.
My own musical ambitions were born when I was five, watching the Ed Sullivan Show on TV. When Elvis Presley burst on to the screen, singing Don't Be Cruel, I felt my first sexual thrill, though I didn't know what it was at the time.
Later, when I was 14, I was again watching the Ed Sullivan Show. "Here they are, all the way from England - The Beatles!" I was blown away. All of a sudden my elder sister Patti said: "Hey, why don't we form an all-girl band?"
I was stunned for a moment - but soon we were making our plans. Patti would take lead guitar, our friend Nan Ball would play drums, and her sister Marylou would play rhythm guitar. I'd play the bass - it was all that was left.
We performed at the local dance hall, the Hideout, where I met my first boyfriend, Chris. He was my first love and my first lover. I was so lucky, because he was tender, gentle and attentive. He spoiled me, and throughout my life I have accepted nothing less.
We girls had been a band for just six weeks when we did our first gig. We called ourselves the Pleasure Seekers and were soon booked into dance halls all over the area, doing gigs with up-and-coming local musicians such as Iggy Pop and Alice Cooper.
The band went from strength to strength, with my sister Arlene coming in on piano. When I was 17, we got a two-week booking in New York. We were dressed in plastic, leopard-print minidresses and went down a storm.
Afterwards I was due back at school to get my high school diploma. I sat on my hotel bed and phoned Dad: "I don't want to go back to school. I've found what I want to do for the rest of my life."
He put down the phone, but there was no stopping us. First stop was Buffalo, supporting Chuck Berry.
After three years the Pleasure Seekers were signed up by Mercury Records. Our liaison man was a guy called DC: nine years older than me, married with a kid, 6ft 4in tall and gorgeous.
He liked my style: "You're the star of the show, Suzi, and some day you're going to have to say goodbye to the rest of your sisters." Naturally, I was smitten.
One night the phone rang in the hotel. It was DC! He began to flirt: "What are you wearing, Suzi?" "My sleepsuit." "Describe it for me." "Well, you know the kind that little kids wear? One-piece with feet and a trap door in the rear."
"Yeeeees, I get the picture."
I have always been a pyjama girl, which can be quite sexy in a little-girl way, especially for a certain kind of man. We talked for hours as DC got braver, finally saying: "I'm going to come up there, and do you know what I'm going to do to you?" Time to hang up. I was only 17.
After a show in Miami, he held my hand for the first time. We walked barefoot in the sand until the sun started to dawn over the water. He put his head in my lap and said: "Suzi, I'm in love with you." Then he kissed me.
I wanted him so badly. I begged him: "Please, please, make love to me, now!" But he refused to consummate our relationship until I was legal at the age of 18, several months away.
The next morning, Chris - the boy from the dance hall, who was still officially my boyfriend - drove up to the hotel. He'd come all the way from Detroit. I said: "I'm sorry, Chris, it's all over between us. I've fallen in love with someone else."
My 18th birthday arrived on June 3, 1968. I stood on the driveway of the hotel waiting for DC to arrive. We didn't touch, didn't speak. Inside the room, we undressed, fell on to the bed and made love.
I wasn't a virgin, having done the deed with Chris, but I might as well have been. Nothing was ever like this. I never gave myself so completely to anyone ever again.
For the next couple of years, we met wherever and whenever we could. One day I was at home, planning to fly to New York for a rendezvous with DC. Somehow, my mom just knew - she was a staunch Catholic and her instincts were infallible.
"Where are you going, Susan Kay Quatro? Off to see that married man? Shame on you - shame on him!"
"Yes, dammit, I am, and you can't do anything about it, I'm 18!"
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With her friend 'Vinnie' - known to the rest of the world as Alice Cooper
I got a slap right across the face for that. It left a big red imprint as I stormed out of the door.
Two days later, as DC and I were lying in a hotel room, I called home. Dad answered. "What do you think you're doing? Do you know how upset your mother is?"
Then Mom got on the line. She didn't speak to me. She just started reciting: "Our Father who art in heaven, hallowed be thy name ..."
But Mom was right and I was wrong. The affair ended in a pregnancy, a termination and so much heartache I thought I would die. When I get to those golden gates, that lost child is the sin I will pay for.
I took refuge in my music and constant tours with the band. My brother was starting to promote concerts, and one of them featured Jimi Hendrix. Jimi's limo broke down, so Michael asked Dad to collect him in his Cadillac. I went along for the ride.
My sister Arlene left the band and my little sister, Nancy, moved in as lead singer. She and my sister Patti felt we needed a new image so we changed our name to Cradle and started to write our own songs.
Sadly, there was no creative spark. We were close to breaking up when my brother Michael persuaded the producer Mickie Most to come and see us.
Mickie was a legend whose acts included Donovan, Lulu, the Animals and Herman's Hermits. He watched us in action then called me aside and poured me a glass of champagne. "How would you like to make an album in England?" he said.
I thought he meant the whole group. In fact, he just wanted me as a solo artist. But he was reluctant to break up a family band, so the only person he told was my brother Michael. Michael then told everyone else in the family - apart from me.
I heard nothing more about it and a few months later the inevitable happened and the band broke up. I went to see my big sister Arlene.
"God, what do I do now? The band is my life," I said. Arlene replied: "Why don't you give Mickie Most a call? You know, he wanted to sign you as a solo act!"
How could my family hide the opportunity of a lifetime from me? I phoned Mickie and planned my departure to London. But the mood at home was sombre; it felt like someone had died. "You do realise your sisters won't make it without you?" said my father.
Above all, it was the end of Patti's hopes. The band had been her baby right from the start, and she wanted success every bit as badly as me, maybe more. In some ways, I still feel guilty about that to this day. But the overriding need to succeed took precedence.
I wrote 30 songs and gave them to Mickie Most when I got to London. He rejected all but one. "Work on that," he snapped. "I don't like anything else."
Every day for the next 18 months, I sat and wrote. I was desperate to deliver what Mickie was asking for: "That one magical song. When I can visualise you on Top Of The Pops, we've got it."
I existed in my little bathroom-less room in a threadbare hotel in Earl's Court. I was so short of money that I would "borrow" food from local pubs - diving into the kitchen on the way to the toilets, grabbing what I could.
England was a foreign country to me in every way. I was overjoyed when I heard my old friend Alice Cooper with his monster hit School's Out on the radio. But most of the time the DJs played middle-of-the-road junk.
I went into the hotel lounge to watch Top Of The Pops with Benny Hill singing Ernie: The Fastest Milkman In The West, and wondered what kind of "pop" music this was supposed to be.
Slowly, Mickie and I were building the image that would become Suzi Quatro. Girl singers at the time were sweet and feminine, like Lynsey de Paul and Olivia Newton John, but I wore a black leather jacket, played bass guitar and belted out rock and roll with the boys.
We placed an ad in Melody Maker to recruit an all-male backing band, then got university gigs supporting Slade. We drove miles every day, from Cardiff to Brighton to Edinburgh, staying in one dump after another. I hit it off with Len, my guitarist, immediately. He was a giant of a man with long dark hair, who could easily have looked menacing. But as soon as he smiled, the sun came out.
One night, as we drove back from a concert in Bristol, I found him lying with his head in my lap. He looked up at me and said: "I love you, Suze." I was so surprised that my first response was: "You do?" Then I said: "You're coming home with me!"
The next morning, as I lay in bed, I said to Len: "Wouldn't it be funny if we got married?" The very next day we pooled our money to buy gold wedding rings for £8 each.
Now I had to tell Mickie Most. He exploded. "Who is this guy? You're lonely, and you've grabbed the first man that came along. I didn't bring you all the way over from Detroit to have you run off and get married. It would be bad for your image. Do this, and you're finished!"
Then he calmed down. "Live together for a while, see how it goes, and if he really is the one then you can get married."
Len and I were both in tears when I relayed this conversation, but we agreed to play it Mickie's way.
It was now that everything finally came together. Mickie hired two brilliant songwriters, Mike Chapman and Nicky Chinn, who came up with a screechy, exciting track called Can The Can. Then we put the finishing touches to my image: a leather jumpsuit with knee-high snakeskin platform boots.
My first appearance on Top Of The Pops was like a shot of pure adrenalin. I stared into the camera, screaming, hair flying, a lone girl in leather with three heavy-looking "hooligans" backing me. It was a huge shock for the audience. No one had seen a female performer like this before.
The record began to race up the charts and suddenly, in June 1973, at the age of 23, I found myself at Number One. Can The Can went on to sell two and a half million records around the world.
Well, I thought, that's a big "F**k you" to everyone in Detroit who thought I was a no-hoper.
We released a follow-up single, 48 Crash - the title refers to the male menopause - followed by an album. Soon it seemed as if we resided permanently at the Top Of The Pops studio, appearing over and over again with acts such as Boney M, the Bay City Rollers and Robert Palmer (who got drunk and pinched my bum).
Not everyone liked my image. I read an interview with Lynsey de Paul where she was quoted as saying: "I don't need to jump around with a bunch of sweaty, hairy, greasy-looking guys to be successful. I think Suzi Quatro is a dyke."
That made me mad. The next time we were both on Top Of The Pops, I marched up to a very nervous-looking de Paul, grabbed her by the neck and shoved her up against a glass door.
"Miss de Paul," I said. "You owe me an apology."
"I didn't say it," she spluttered. "Honest to God I didn't." I put her down and left the scene of the crime. Years later, we bumped into each other again, talked things over and became good friends. Lynsey says she was misquoted and I'm happy to accept it.
In 1974, I returned to the States and played a concert in Detroit. Part of me was really proud that I was returning as a hero, but another part was worried that there might still be jealousy and resentment.
Walking into the house was strange. My bedroom was bare: empty wardrobe, empty drawers, empty record rack. "Oh," said Mom. "Your sister Patti has altered most of your clothes. And your record collection - well, that's been shared out between everyone else. Don't know about the drawers."
Late at night I hunted around and discovered the sheet music for my early compositions. In the right-hand corners, where it read, "Music and lyrics by ..." someone had removed my name.
Loads of friends and family were at the gig, and it was a great feeling when I took to the stage: local girl returns a victor! The crowd went wild. After the show I asked Mom the $64,000 question. "Hey, Mom, so how did you like the show?"
"Well, Susan, it was very nice but do you have to stand with your legs so far apart?"
In the months that followed I made the cover of Rolling Stone and was even Playboy's Playmate Of The Month. There was lots of touring - much of it with my old friend Alice Cooper, or Vinnie as I know him (Alice's real name is Vincent Furnier).
One of my claims to fame is that I once broke Alice's nose in a dart gun fight. Well, we were bored at the time, and can I help it if I'm a good shot? The bandage made him look kind of cute.
Len and I bought our first house, near Romford in Essex, and in 1976 we decided to get married. I phoned home and asked Mom and Dad to come over for the wedding. Dad told me he wasn't sure they could afford it. I was astonished. He had worked hard all his life and had plenty of money in the bank.
What really annoyed me was that I had been earning my own living since I was 14. My sisters, on the other hand, had had their weddings paid for as well as cars and deposits for houses. I know I didn't need any of that myself, but that isn't the point. It's a matter of fair play.
I swallowed my hurt and booked the tickets, but there was another sickener to come. When my parents arrived and were looking through all the wedding presents, I overheard Dad say: "Wow, there are a lot of expensive gifts here. I think we'd better go and buy something ourselves."
So they went to Debenhams and bought some candlesticks. An afterthought.
Soon afterwards, I was offered a part in the sitcom Happy Days - playing a character called Leather Tuscadero - and went to Los Angeles to film it. My sister Patti was already in LA, trying to make it as an actress and model, and came along to watch my studio debut.
We had a meal to celebrate, but halfway through she started crying. "Here I am, trying to get some acting roles, and you just waltz in here and land a part on the biggest sitcom in the country. You always get so f***ing lucky and it's just not fair!"
I sat there in stunned silence, embarrassed as hell. I felt really sorry for my sister that night but I didn't know what to say to her.
Later, Patti announced her engagement and Len and I were invited to Detroit for the party. We went to Las Vegas instead - he was being protective of me. Still, we always had a great sense of humour as sisters. When I was voted Rear Of The Year, what did my sisters say? That I won A**hole Of The Year, which cracked me up.
There were strains between me and Len as well. As I was reading the script for one Happy Days episode, he suddenly said: "You know, Suze, if you think I'm going to hang around in California while you act, you've got another thing coming."
In a way, it was the beginning of the end for us. I realised that Len would never be happy unless I was on stage in my leather jumpsuit and he was standing next to me, playing guitar. To be fair, that's who he fell in love with. At the same time, my fame was putting him under a lot of pressure. Everything was Suzi, Suzi, Suzi. It was hard to find space as a man in all that. Whatever the reason, he was drinking a lot. It led to many stupid arguments.
With the money from Happy Days, we were able to move into a beautiful Elizabethan manor house in Essex, with a moat, a huge orchard and a long, tree-lined driveway. I was very happy there, but I sensed a shift in our relationship.
Maybe Len just needed some distance from everything "Suzi", because he became obsessed with a new hobby: shooting. We spent hardly any time together.
I had been trying to get pregnant for a couple of years, but tests had shown I had low fertility. I went on a course of fertility drugs to help me along, but it ended in a harrowing miscarriage that left me feeling a total failure as a woman.
Then, out of the blue, just as we were finishing a new album, I found I was pregnant again. When I told Len, he was furious. "I suppose you think you're f***ing clever!" he shouted. "How are we supposed to promote the album with a baby in your belly?"
Baby Laura duly arrived, but we were now without a record deal. To keep my name in the public eye I asked my agent to book me as many TV appearances as possible.
I ended up on everything from Give Us A Clue to The Krankies. I was becoming a household name, but in reality, my career was down the toilet in gameshow land.
Len wasn't a hands-on dad, and left everything to me while he went out shooting and drinking. I was bringing in the money, being the mom and the dad. Another nail was being driven into the coffin of our marriage. Sexually we were off-track, too, but somehow I got pregnant again with our son, Richard.
By the Christmas of 1985 I had become disenchanted with everything in my life except the kids. I felt trapped in my image and leapt at the chance to star in my first musical, Annie Get Your Gun.
Mom and Dad flew over for the opening night in the West End and sat next to Princess Margaret in the balcony. Dad came to the dressing room and said these golden words to me for the first time: "Suzi, I am so proud of you."
Len, meanwhile, was sipping slowly from his flask throughout the show. Despite being emotionally and physically exhausted I had to drive us home. It's fair to say I lost a little respect for him that night.
My mother had drummed into me that Catholics don't divorce, but we were in deep, deep trouble. We started sleeping in separate rooms, and when we performed on stage we would barely look at each other.
After years of stalemate, it all finally broke when Len convinced me to make love one last time. He said it would help. "Help who?" I thought.
But Mom's teachings were always in my head: we were married, I had an obligation as his wife, so I agreed. I cried the entire time, and he never knew. Soon after, I told him I wanted a divorce.
I had long been drawn towards my promoter in Germany, Rainer Haas, and when the pain of my parting from Len had subsided, I made my first tentative steps towards him.
I told Rainer that if I were to start romancing a new man, I would want to be seriously wined and dined. He took me out to a three-star restaurant where he ordered a 1945 Chateau Lafite Rothschild. The bill came to £850. I was impressed.
A week later I visited him at the Dorchester hotel. He put his arms around my waist. This was the moment. Every life should have a marathon, and this was ours.
We made love for six hours nonstop, broke off to attend the opening of Grease, came back and continued. If this had been an Olympic event, we'd have won the gold for sure.
We were married in October, 1993. It's been an unconventional marriage for much of the time, with me in Essex and Rainer in Germany, flying back and forth to see each other whenever we could. But it's been a helluva ride and I'm just so glad we found each other.
Today, at 57, I finally feel I have nothing left to prove. I get on great with my sisters - we are, in the end, a truly affectionate family - and Len and I are friends again, too. I am at peace.
Oh - and I'll keep performing until the day when I turn my back to the audience, wiggle my bum, and they go quiet. Only then will I stop!
• ADAPTED from Unzipped by Suzi Quatro, published by Hodder at £18.99. ° Suzi Quatro 2007. To order a copy at £17.10 (p&p free), call 0870 161 0870.