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Today in Rock: Patti Smith is Born

Friday, December 30: 9 a.m.
Posted by Rock Hall
Patti Smith

Born on December 30, 1946, Patti Smith grew to become a bohemian New York poet and punk rock artiste whose 1975 debut album, Horses, stood in daring, unapologetic contrast to the slick, arena-rock ready production and pretension of the era. Smith's street poetry and her group's garage-band aesthetic formed the foundation on which the later punk rock explosion was predicated. Smith was raised in southern New Jersey, employed in a factory and studied to be a teacher before making the paradigm shift to the art of writing and rock and roll. 

When she arrived in New York in 1967, she connected with fellow art-boho misfits, including photographer Robert Mapplethorpe, playwright Sam Sheppard and music scribe Lenny Kaye. She and Kaye brought music and poetry together, giving Smith's poignant perspective a soundscape to build upon. It was the seed for the Patti Smith Group, which formalized their union of poetry and rock with a nearly two-month house gig at CBGB in early 1974. Early on, Smith turned to American record producer and music industry executive Clive Davis.

"When I came to Clive, I was really awkward, arrogant, couldn't really sing. I had pretty clumsy movements," said Smith ...


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