Patti Smith


Patti Smith (born Patricia Lee Smith, 30.12.1946)

Patti Smith is an American singer, songwriter, poet and visual artist. She rose to fame as a part of the New York punk movement in the late 1970s. She was inducted into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame in 2007.

Patti Smith: Childhood

Patti Smith was born in Chicago, to Beverley (a jazz singer) and Grant (who worked at the Honeywell plant). She was then raised in Deptford Township, New Jersey and was raised as a Jehovah's Witness. However, she later rejected organised religion and on her cover of 'Gloria' (originally by Van Morrison), she starts with the line "Jesus died for somebody's sins but not mine."

Patti went to work in a factory, as the family was not an affluent one. Her time here was later immortalized in her debut single, 'Piss Factory'.

In 1967, Patti Smith moved to New York City, where she met the photographer Robert Mapplethorpe. Two years later she moved to Paris with her sister and started busking.

Patti Smith: Music Career

When Patti Smith moved back to New York City, she started to hang out at venues such as Max's Kansas City and CBGB's where bands such as The Ramones, Blondie, Television and The Dead Boys all began their careers.

She collaborated with Mapplethorpe on a number of art projects, and starred in Jackie Curtis' play Femme Fatale with Wayne County. She also performed in Sam Shepard's Cowboy Mouth. She also contributed lyrics to Blue Oyster Cult.

In 1974, Patti Smith decided to get a band together. That band consisted initially just of herself and the guitarist Lenny Kaye, but they were later joined by Jay Dee Daugherty on drums and Ivan Kral on bass. Their debut single was a cover of Jimi Hendrix' 'Hey Joe', backed with 'Piss Factory'.

In 1975, having signed a deal with Arista Records, Patti Smith Group released their debut album, Horses. The album was produced by John Cale of Velvet Underground.

The second album, Radio Ethiopia was not as well received as its predecessor, but Smith still performs many of the songs from this album when she plays live.

Two more albums came, before the end of the 1970s: Easter and Wave. The former contained her biggest commercial hit, 'Because The Night', which was co-written with Bruce Springsteen.

After a hiatus from recording music, Patti Smith staged a comeback in 1988, with the release of Dream Of Life. The lead single from the album was 'People Have the Power'.

Patti Smith then took another extended break from recording, not returning to the limelight until 1996, when she recorded Gone Again. The album contained the track 'About A Boy', which was a tribute to the late Nirvana front-man, Kurt Cobain. Later that year, she collaborated with Michael Stipe of R.E.M. on the track 'E-Bow the Letter', off R.E.M's New Adventures in Hi-Fi.

The albums Peace and Noise and Gung Ho followed, with the tracks '1959' and 'Glitter In Their Eyes' being nominated for Grammy Awards for Best Female Rock Vocal Performance. In 1996, a box set of her work was released, entitled The Patti Smith Masters. This was followed by Land (1975-2002), a two disc retrospective that also included a cover of 'When Doves Cry' by Prince. Also in 2002, a solo exhibition of Patti Smith's artwork was staged at the Andy Warhol Museum in Pittsburgh.

In 2004, Patti Smith released a new album entitled Trampin'. The following year, she curated the Meltdown festival in London. She performed her debut album in its entirety, with Television's Tom Verlaine on guitar. She also gave a lecture on the works of Arthur Rimbaud and William Blake.

When she was inducted to the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame, she performed a cover of 'Gimme Shelter' by the Rolling Stones. She has often cited Keith Richards as a huge influence, both on her music and on her image.

In 2008, a live album was released, which featured a collaboration between Patti Smith and Kevin Shields (formerly of My Bloody Valentine). The album was entitled The Coral Sea (also the name of a book of poetry by Smith).

A huge number of artists have cited Patti Smith as an influence on their music, including Shirley Manson of Garbage, Morrissey and Johnny Marr of The Smiths and Sonic Youth. The Canadian actress Ellen Page also has a dog named Patti, after Patti Smith.

Patti Smith: Personal Life

After splitting from her long-term boyfriend Allen Lanier, Patti Smith married Fred 'Sonic' Smith of the Detroit band MC5. They have two sons, Jackson and Jesse. In 2009, Jackson married Meg White of The White Stripes.

Her husband Fred died in November 1994. Patti then had to deal with the death of her brother Todd and her keyboard player Richard Sohl.

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