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Leather Tuscadero – A Fan of Leather and Happy Days

It’s not a type of couch or handbag, not even a fancy hat.  If you’ve ever had the theme song to Happy Days stuck in your head, you’ve probably seen Leather Tuscadero — a female rocker of the 1970s.  I will look at this unique character and the actress and singer-songwriter who portrays her.

Leather Tuscadero was a female rocker character on Happy Days.  Played by Suzi Quatro, a musician and actress who has played with several bands and also solos.  She has released three albums in five years and earned an honorary doctorate.  Songs include Can the Can, 48 Crash, and The Wild One.  

Have you ever wondered who Leather Tuscadero is and why her role was important?  If you’re a fan of Happy Days, have you wondered what happened to Leather Tuscadero?  

Who is Leather Tuscadero?

Leather Tuscadero was a female rocker who appeared in seven episodes during the fifth and sixth seasons of Happy Days from 1977-1979.  She is known as the younger sister to Pinky Tuscadero (Roz Kelly), a mechanic who has a brief love affair with Fonzie (Arthur Herbert Fonzarelli), played by Henry Winkler. 

Her look has been described as androgynous, as she most often dressed in leather from head to toe and sported a shag haircut.  Leather Tuscadero made her debut in Happy Days in season five during a two-part episode called “Fonzie the Rock Entrepreneur.”  She was the leader of her all-female rock band, although most of her appearances were cameos after the third episode.

Drums and a Guitar - Leather Tuscadero - Liberty Leather Goods
Drums and a Guitar – Leather Tuscadero

Who Played Leather Tuscadero?

It was a recurring role for several episodes of Happy Days, but who was that girl who played Leather Tuscadero?  Was she a real singer?  Let’s take a look at the actress who played Leather Tuscadero, Suzi Quatro.

Suzi Quatro

Suzi Quatro is a musician, actress, and American singer and songwriter born June 3, 1950, in Michigan.  She was one of five children raised to be musical and play multiple instruments.  She debuted in a jazz band led by her father, “The Art Quatro Trio,” playing the bongos.  She was heavily influenced at age six by Elvis Presley, whom she saw perform on television. 

Suzi Quatro has played bass guitar, percussion, and classical piano but is best known as a lead singer.  She has been a member of several bands, including the Pleasure Seekers with her sister, but went solo in 1971 when offered a contract in England.  Suzi Quatro has worked alongside artists like Peter Frampton, Thin Lizzy, and Andy Scott.  

Leather Tuscadero has been working professionally in music for 50 years.

Suzi was given the role of Leather Tuscadero by Garry Marshall because his daughter had a poster of Suzi in her bedroom. Suzi’s name has even been utilized in a textile reflection class where everyday phrases are translated into fabrics, as discussed by authors Hasling and Bang of Design School Kolding.  She has appeared in several other shows and movies, including Minder, Absolutely Fabulous, Mask, Cruella, and Licorice Pizza.  

Where is Leather Tuscadero Now?

Leather Tuscadero has been working professionally in music for 50 years.  She currently publishes music videos online on YouTube.  She was inducted in 2011 to the Michigan Rock and Roll Legends Hall of Fame and was given an honorary doctorate from Anglia Ruskin University in Cambridge in 2016 for music. 

At the Detroit Music Awards, her sister Patti presented her with a Distinguished Lifetime Achievement Award in 2013.  As recently as 2019, she was honored in a documentary about her life in Melbourne, Victoria.  Leather Tuscadero has released three albums in the last five years:

  1. 2017-Quatro, Scott & Powell
  2. 2019-No Control
  3. 2021-The Devil in Me

Suzi is still very involved in music to this day, both as a DJ and performing live.  Suzi Quatro is active and prominent in the UK, even in her 70s!  She began creating music in 1973 with her first album Suzi Quatro, on to Quatro in 1974, Your Mamma Won’t Like Me in 1975, Aggro-Phobia in 1976, If You Knew Suzi in 1978, Suzi… and Other Four Letter Words in 1979, and Rock Hard in 1980. 

A DJ Setup - Leather Tuscadero - Liberty Leather Goods
A DJ Setup – Leather Tuscadero

So you can see she is passionate about her music and a very dedicated songwriter and performer.  To this date, she has released a total of 17 albums and was performing up to 90 shows annually before 2020.  She has inspired many musicians, including Joan Jett, Alice Cooper, Debbie Harry, and Tina Weymouth.

Leather Tuscadero and Quatro’s style can be described as glam rock and hard rock primarily, but also Motown, garage rock, and power pop.

Leather Tuscadero Songs

According to author Robin Stilwell of Georgetown University, some of the most memorable musical performances on Happy Days were by Suzi Quatro as Leather Tuscadero with her band the Suedes.  Here are some of her biggest hits:

  1. Can the Can
  2. Daytona Demon
  3. Devil Gate Drive
  4. 48 Crash
  5. Mama’s Boy
  6. Rock Hard
  7. The Wild One
  8. Too Big

Many of these hits were big in the U.K. rather than in the U.S.  Leather Tuscadero and Quatro’s style can be described as glam rock and hard rock primarily, but also Motown, garage rock, and power pop.

Leather Tuscadero on Happy Days

Leather Tuscadero may have only appeared in seven episodes in two seasons of Happy Days, but there are a couple of on-screen relationships that were fairly important and deserve some explanation.

Leather Tuscadero and Pinky Tuscadero

Pinky Tuscadero was an older sister to Leather Tuscadero on Happy Days.  The sisters never appeared in an episode together due to Pinky (Roz Kelly) experiencing differences in creativity with the show’s producers. 

Pinky was once Fonzie’s flame but only appeared in three episodes.  The pair almost got married, but Fonzie had a change of heart.  Pinky was a mechanic, while Leather was a musician on the show.

Leather Tuscadero and Fonzie

Fonzie and Leather Tuscadero had a bit of a sordid past.  Leather had stolen Fonzie’s wallet, then sent to reform school.  In Part 1 of Fonzie, Rock Entrepreneur, Al is asked by Richie Cunningham to give Leather and the Suedes a chance to audition. 

Fonzie wasn’t sure that Leather could be trusted.  Leather’s band was preparing to tour, and Joanie wanted to join them on the road.  This brought us to a heart-to-heart between Fonzie and Joanie, which helped her realize that running away was wrong. 

Check out this fun video if you’d like to see Suzi Quatro’s appearances on Happy Days as Leather Tuscadero.

Related Insights

Was Leather Tuscadero a real singer?

Leather Tuscadero is a real singer and songwriter, known as Suzi Quatro, who plays bass guitar and sings in England and the U.S.

What was Leather Tuscadero’s real name?

Leather Tuscadero’s real name is Suzi Quatro, or Susan Kay Quatro.

How are Pinky and Leather Tuscadero related?

Pinky is Leather Tuscadero’s older sister in the series Happy Days.

Favorite Songs by Leather Tuscadero

I asked friends and family members if they knew who Leather Tuscadero was and what their favorite song of hers was.  Here is a table representing the percentages of their responses and what I learned from the survey about which Leather Tuscadero songs people like best.

Song TitleTimes Selected
Stumblin’ In13%
If You Can’t Give Me Love13%
Can the Can34%
The Wild One7%
Rock Hard20%
Glycerine Queen13%
Favorite Songs by Leather Tuscadero

Final Thoughts

She may not have had the most prominent role on Happy Days, but Leather Tuscadero certainly left her mark.  Suzi Quatro has made quite a life for herself through acting, singing, DJ’ing, and performing; some of her music has really stood the test of time.  It is truly interesting and inspiring to go down the rabbit hole in pursuit of everything Leather Tuscadero.  Now, if I could just get the theme song to Happy Days out of my head.

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