Top critical review
12 people found this helpful
Rock and roll and tears before bathtime
on 8 January 2008
"Unzipped" starts well for a celebrity autobiography. How many times have you started to read someone's life story and had to plough through the formative years and life before The Big Break? Not in Suzi Quatro's story, because from the age of 14 it's been all about rock and roll. She really has spent her entire life on stage, pounding a bass guitar.
The first half is a very readable blast through a life in the music business in the 60s and 70s. As Suzi Quatro says, this may have been the last time people in the music business had to work hard and pay their dues. She certainly played the long game, touring local dance-halls and even Viet Nam in an all-girl band for eight years before producer Mickie Most brought her to England. Fans and any true child of the seventies will enjoy the detail about the two years RAK records invested developing the Suzi Quatro sound, band and image, and the three-year gravy train that followed as she became a truly global, endlessly touring pop icon
Despite Noddy Holder's ominous cover quote that promises "Suze ... you remember everything", "Unzipped" isn't a warts-and-all expose of the glam rock scene. There are some stories about late nights and vomit on tour, but she is surprisingly discrete about other people's misbehaviour and this isn't a detailed or candid glimpse behind glam rock's sequined curtain. Despite cover quotes from Richie Cunningham and the Fonz, there's also disappointingly little information about the year or so she spent as a recurring character on "Happy Days". Instead as the book goes on there's more and more about Suzi Quatro's own dysfunctional American family, her marriage problems and the effects of her life choices on her children.
Some men will find "Unzipped" increasingly hard going because after the tales of making it and touring, the second half is about how tough it was in the 80s and after to have been more famous in the 70s. This part of the book is a heart-on-her-sleeve confessional about failed relationships and the price of fame. The candour about family and spiritual matters is admirable but not everyone will be able to take all of it seriously and a number of "open letters" to friends, family and acquaintances are a long way up the foothills into embarrasment country. There's also an uncomfortable amount of poetry, but this is easy to spot and - if you choose, in a manly way - to skip.
From the start it's clear that "Unzipped" wasn't ghost-written, which is a double-edged sword. We're told in the introduction that the book was written to a tight deadline, so it rushes along at speed but also feels like a first draft. It's also held back by an odd choice to try and write as a split personality, first as real-life Susie Quatro and then from 1972 as rock star Suzi. Each comments on the other's memories, but the "voices" aren't really very different, and sometimes it seems to be a way to step back from responsibility for what's being said.
A couple of words of warning, especially about the hardback edition which could also have been called "Unproofread". Some of the dates dropped into anecdotes don't match up, as when stories apparently about 1977 feature a band member fired in 1975. There's a writing technique called the "unreliable narrator", but I don't think it's intentional here. Also lot sentences don't make sense due missing words and. Bizarre punctuation.