Artist picture of Patti Smith

Patti Smith

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Biography

Few artists have wielded more influence than Patti Smith, whose Horses album from 1975 retains iconic status as one of the most important and most articulate records of the punk era. The daughter of a waitress and a plant worker, Smith had a strong religious upbringing in Deptford Township, New Jersey and developed an early interest in Tibetan Buddhism, while absorbing the music of Harry Belafonte, Bob Dylan and The Beatles. On leaving school she worked in a factory, but a move to New York changed her life after meeting photographer Robert Mapplethorpe while working in a book store. Partly inspired by Mapplethorpe, she practised performance art and busked in Paris. Returning to New York, she lived in the famously bohemian Chelsea Hotel and became a fixture at alternative rock venues Max's Kansas City and CBGB's. She appeared in a play, Femme Fatale, with Wayne County and built a local following as a poet, painter, artist and writer, contributing lyrics to Blue Oyster Cult. She also became a rock journalist with Rolling Stone and Creem before forming a band with Lenny Kaye. Smith's first single Hey Joe in 1974 led to her being signed by Arista Records and the Horses album, produced by John Cale, launched her to international stardom. The fusion of punk rock and poetry was revelatory and her influential cult status was continued by her challenging second album Radio Ethiopia. In 1978 she achieved her biggest hit with Because The Night, co-written with Bruce Springsteen but, raising a family with her husband - former MC5 guitarist Fred 'Sonic' Smith - she dropped out of the limelight through the 1980s. However, she returned to tour with Bob Dylan in 1995 and the following year recorded her Gone Again album and worked with R.E.M.. In 2004 she released the acclaimed Trampin album, mostly inspired by her late mother, and in 2005 flew to London to perform the entire Horses album live for the first time with Tom Verlaine. In the summer of 2012 Smith was back again with a new album Banga and sang vocals on a solo record by Red Hot Chili Peppers' bassist Flea.

Artist biography compiled by BDS/West 10. All rights reserved