Quatro Sisters, The Women of Rock n Roll 1964

“Detroit, 1960– In the world of rhythm and blues and bubble gum pop comes a suburban garage punk rock band who, with only their music, their talent, and their boots (sometimes high heels) on, ran the rock n’ roll world wild.

This is the story of their journey to the top: of love, music, and of heartbreak. This is the story of the Quatro Sisters.”

The Sisters

The sisters, Suzi, Patti, Nancy and Arlene, were born in Grosse Pointe, MI. They were raised Catholic and music was a mainstay in their household. Art, the sisters’ father, was a well-known musician and bandleader while their brother, Michael, was a child piano prodigy who was featured on national television.

All the Quatro children received vocal and classical piano lessons. That foundation paved the way for each sister picking up an instrument for the band years later and for what many call unforgettable vocals.

Humble Beginnings

The Pleasure Seekers were created in 1964 by the Quatro sisters and was trendsetting from the beginning. In an era dominated by male rock and roll acts, an all-girl band like The Pleasure Seekers as well as the Quatro sisters, as a group and individually, stood out. The band was Detroit’s first completely female rock act.

At first, audiences treated them like a novelty – girls playing in a man’s world. Then The Pleasure Seekers started playing and audiences were both awed and mesmerized.

The Pleasure Seekers proved that they could keep up with the male rock musicians in terms of musical ability and entertainment. While the band never took off the way it should have, The Pleasure Seekers paved the way for all female acts in the following decades.

Suzi Quatro, in her memoir Unzipped, states that the girls came up with the name The Pleasure Seekers after looking up the definition of “hedonism” in the dictionary.

Regional Fame

Their first break as The Pleasure Seekers came only a few weeks into the band’s existence. The sisters dared nightclub owner Dave Leone to let them play at The Hideout, a club in Detroit.

The band quickly cemented a cadre of followers and gained notoriety because of their musical talent. That led to playing at other clubs and concerts, including with Ted Nugent, Alice Cooper and Bob Seger.

Style and Transition

The Pleasure Seekers were not a typical “rock-n-roll” band. They did cover music that was popular from Motown as well as other rock bands, but their sound was much harder. Ultimately, the Pleasure Seekers disbanded in the late 1960s.

While the band was over, the Quatro sisters’ biography does not end there. Shortly after, the girls formed Cradle, which saw Nancy join the band and Arlene transition to Manager.

Members of Cradle were inspired by bands like Cream and Led Zeppelin and it was reflected in the music they made. Songs from the band have decidedly more mature content as well as a heavier sound. Nancy Quatro was said to remind people of Robert Plant while Suzi, some felt, sounded like Janis Joplin.

Cradle disbanded in the early 1970s. Patti Quatro Ericson moved to the West Coast and joined Fanny another all-female band that produced a few hits. Suzi produced her own albums, including several hits in the USA and Europe, and played a role as Leather Tuscadero on the television sitcom Happy Days.

Breaking the Mold

Whether playing under the Moniker of The Pleasure Seekers or Cradle, the Quatro sisters’ music took on and beat a lot of stereotypes while making inroads for women throughout the music industry.

Women were buttoned-up and pigeonholed. Women musicians were always a singer or a keyboard player,” says Ericson, “Women did not rock out on guitars. It was a very gender-biased era for women who wanted to rock their music in a heavy fashion.”

“We actually played down our femininity by wearing T-shirts and jeans, and then quickly changed that,” she said. “We were quite rebellious in attitude and really got tired of hearing, ‘You guys are good for girls.’ We wanted to be respected as musicians.”

Where They are Today

Many performers fade into obscurity or leave their art altogether. The Quatro sisters, as they did so often, break that mold. Suzi is still producing memorable music through the present day (her latest, released in March 2021, is The Devil in Me.)

Patti Quatro Ericson remained active in music, performing with rock icons like Keith Moon, the late drummer for the Who; she now lives in Texas and runs Starflight Tours with her husband, which makes tour connections from bands. Nancy Quatro Glass lives in Texas as well, where she runs a restaurant and oversees her son’s band Overscene.

Bands like The Pleasure Seekers and Cradle and performers like the Quatro sisters did much more than just produce a few albums and perform at a few concerts. In many ways, they set the stage for bands after them, creating a legacy that is as enduring as some of their hits.