Monday, December 30, 2013

December 30: the "Godmother of Punk," singer and poet, Patti Smith is 67-years-old today.

Patricia Lee Smith was born in Chicago in 1946. She became an iconic singer-songwriter, poet and visual artist, and a highly influential component of the New York City punk rock movement with her 1975 debut album Horses. Unconventional to say the least, Smith's music was hailed as the most exciting fusion of rock and poetry since early Bob Dylan.

Her work has been a fusion of rock and poetry. Smith's most widely known song is "Because the Night," which was co-written with Bruce Springsteen and reached number 13 on the Billboard Hot 100 chart in 1978. In 2005, Patti Smith was named a Commander of the Ordre des Arts et des Lettres by the French Minister of Culture, and in 2007, she was inducted into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame. On November 17, 2010, she won the National Book Award for her memoir Just Kids.

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In 1967, she left Glassboro State College (now Rowan University) and moved to New York City. She met photographer Robert Mapplethorpe there while working at a book store with a friend, poet Janet Hamill. She and Mapplethorpe had an intense romantic relationship, which was tumultuous as they dealt with times of poverty, and Mapplethorpe with his own sexuality.

Photo by Robert Mapplethorpe
Smith considers Mapplethorpe to be one of the most important people in her life, and in her book Just Kids refers to him as "the artist of my life." Mapplethorpe's photographs of her became the covers for the Patti Smith Group LPs, and they remained friends until Mapplethorpe's death in 1989.

In 1969 she went to Paris with her sister and started busking and doing performance art. When Smith returned to New York City, she provided the spoken word soundtrack for Sandy Daley's art film Robert Having His Nipple Pierced, starring Mapplethorpe. The same year Smith appeared in Jackie Curtis' play Femme Fatale.

As a member of the St. Mark's Poetry Project, she spent the early 70's painting, writing, and performing. In 1971 she performed – for one night only – in Cowboy Mouth, a play that she co-wrote with Sam Shepard.

Smith was briefly considered for the lead singer position in Blue Öyster Cult. She contributed lyrics to several of the band's songs, including "Debbie Denise," "Baby Ice Dog," "Career of Evil," "Fire of Unknown Origin," "The Revenge of Vera Gemini" (on which she performs duet vocals), and "Shooting Shark." She was romantically involved at the time with the band's keyboardist Allen Lanier. During these years, Smith also wrote rock journalism, some of which was published in Rolling Stone and Creem.

On March 12, 2007, Smith was inducted into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame alongside Van Halen, the Ronettes, Grandmaster Flash & the Furious Five, and R.E.M. She released an album of typically eclectic covers, Twelve, that same year.

On June 5, 2012 Smith released her 11th studio album titled Banga on Columbia Records. Recorded throughout 2011 at New York's Electric Lady Studios, Banga includes a number of guest muscians including Tom Verlaine of Television, Jack Petruzzelli and Smith's own children, Jackson and Jesse Paris.

Inspired by Smith's "unique dreams and observations," the material on Banga focuses on "a wide range of human experience" and features songs about history, current affairs, death and nature. The album was announced alongside the release of its lead single, "April Fool," as a digital download on April 1, 2012.

Smith will promote the album with a 40-date European tour, beginning in Bergen, Norway on June 23 and concluding in London, United Kingdom on September 13.

For more about Patti and her new album, Banga, visit her Website at -


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