Legendary writer, artist and performer Patti Smith comes to Melbourne for the first time in a decade. Unabashedly intellectual and creatively uncompromising, Smith performs two unforgettable concerts at Hamer Hall
One of the most influential female rock 'n' rollers of all time, Patti Smith was born in Chicago, New Year's Eve, 1946, and raised in New Jersey, a landscape of swamps and pig farms. From an early age she gravitated toward the arts and human rights issues. To this end she moved to New York City in 1967 and burst onto its arts scene, vowing to 'kick poetry in the ass.'
Four years later Smith performed her first public reading accompanied by Lenny Kaye on guitar and in 1974 added Richard Sohl on piano, drummer Jay Daugherty and bass player Ivan Kral. Exuding an intense and powerful concert presence, the band fused acerbic garage rock with poetry. Smith seemed to find her true self on stage. Lean, hard and androgynous, she moved like Mick Jagger and Jim Morrison, sang like a jagged knife-edge and thought like Rimbaud and Baudelaire. Ambitious, unconventional and challenging, Smith's music was hailed as the most exciting fusion of rock and poetry since Bob Dylan's heyday.
The group played regularly around New York and helped to open up a restricted music scene that centred on the now infamous CBGB's club. They released their seminal album Horses in 1975. Generally considered one of the most startling debuts in rock history, Smith followed it with eleven releases, including Radio Ethiopia, Easter, Dream of Life, Gone Again, Peace and Noise, Trampin' and 2007's Twelve. In 1980, Smith retired from the public eye. She married Fred 'Sonic' Smith and they had two children. In 1988 they recorded Dream of Life, which marked her final collaboration with three of her closest companions, all who met with untimely deaths: Robert Mapplethorpe, long-time friend who photographed her for the cover; band mate Sohl and in 1994, her husband.
After a 16-year hiatus, during which she studied art, read voraciously, wrote and learned how to be a mother, she returned to making records at regular intervals through the 90s ñ a time when her own influence could be seen with performers like Sonic Youth, PJ Harvey and Hole.
Smith continued the process of merging tradition with the new. As in former albums, she drew on the inspiration of spiritual and political leaders and events, as well as heralding the efforts of the common man. A visual artist since the early 70s, Smith exhibits her work around the world. A published poet before she ever hit the stage, she also continues to write. Her books include Witt, Babel, Wool Gathering, The Coral Sea, Complete and Auguries of Innocence.
On June 10 2005, Smith was awarded by the Minister of Culture for the French Republic, the grade of Commandeur des Arts et des Lettres, the highest grade awarded to eminent artists and writers who have contributed significantly to furthering the arts throughout the world. On March 12 2007 Smith was inducted into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame. Aside from recording, performing, writing and making art, Smith is strongly involved in social issues and continues to participate in various human rights organisations.
As part of her long-awaited return to Australia, Patti Smith performs two concerts at Hamer Hall and showcases her new album Twelve and the best from her extensive back catalogue.