Patti Smith在70年代早期是一个教徒，曾在一个唱诗班作过领唱。她的音乐直接师承Lou Reed的风格。最初她只是和两三个人一起表演。她的音乐将摇滚乐的民粹主义与她充满诡异色彩的诗歌结合在一起，并不太注重音乐的平衡性，声嘶力竭的演唱与重金属般的节奏是她的注册商标，从她早期的音乐中不难发现这一点。
1946年， Patti Smith出生在新泽西州的Pitman。在她的音乐生涯中，她曾受过无数人的影响，如她的偶像Jim Morrison、Bob Dylan、Jimi Hendrix、TheRolling Stones、Lou Reed等。长大后，她的最大志愿就是去纽约实现她的艺术之梦，因为当时的纽约是前卫艺术的大本营，所以她千方百计打工攒钱以筹齐去纽约的路费。一到纽约她马上就沉浸到了这个城市的艺术氛围中，在那儿她遇见了前卫摄影家Robert Mapplethorpe和音乐人John Cale（前“地下丝绒”成员）等人。初到纽约时她靠在书店打工维生，空闲时替“Cream”、“Rock”等杂志写一些演出方面的追踪报导。她那本著名的诗集“Cowboy Mouth”就成形于那时。当时曼哈顿的音乐风景已从六十年代的激进摇滚转换方向，其中的先锋人物是一支著名的华丽摇滚乐队New York Dools。Mercer艺术中心不仅是当时摇滚乐队玩纯摇滚的天堂，而且还是文人墨客小聚的乐园。艺术中心在1974年关闭后，在Bowery一个叫CBGB的小酒吧成了新的前卫艺术俱乐部。此时，Patti招募到了吉他手Lenny Kaye、键盘手Richard Sohl、贝司兼吉他Ivan Kral和鼓手Jay Dee Daugherty组成了一支乐队， 并遇上出品人Jane Friedman。Friedman建议PattiSmith开口歌唱，而不要只是吟诵她的诗。他后来成为她的经纪人。乐队很快就动手录制作品，Television的主音吉他Tom Verlaine也拨刀助阵，他们录制的第一张细碟“Hey Joe／Piss Factory”很快卖了1600张，这给了他们很大的鼓励。“Hey Joe”是一首车库摇滚作品，“Piss Factory”则以Patti当年在新泽西一家工厂做工时的生产线经历为背景。
这次成功改变了他们的命运，1975年，乐队成了曼哈顿第一支签约主流唱片公司的的地下摇滚乐队。他们在CBGB一次演出引起了Columbia唱片公司老板，曾经发掘Laura Nyro和Janis Joplin的Clive Davis的注意。Patti签了Davis新开的公司Arista。1975年5月，她的首张专辑“Horses”出版了，在摇滚乐界引起了广泛的轰动。此专辑由John Cale制作。那一年，大野洋子和约翰·列侬刚刚从歌坛引退。
Patti Smith的词作触及了女同性恋、自杀和不明物等问题。作品首次实现了摇滚与诗歌的结合。Patti的音乐是惊世赅俗的，对摇滚乐的冲击显而易见，她用生硬多刺的嗓音唱出：“Jesus died for somebody's sins but not mine.”这反映了她对规则的唾弃。“我不是在写歌，”她告诉“Melody Maker”说，“我只是在抱怨。”除了歌曲之外，另外她在唱片封套的构图上也施加了决定性的影响。她需要她的封面能捕捉她音乐中隐晦的意思。所以人们总是听到她和摄影师Robert Mapplethorpe无休止地争论着，比如能不能保住品质、有没有魅力等，然后又为什么叫魅力争辩着，最终谁都没能说服对方。不过那张著名的封套却是那个时代最出色的，与当时流行的女歌手专辑唱片封套截然不同，凝重的黑白图片对照鲜明仿佛有一种致幻的效果：照片中Patti瘦削的身影，牛仔裤、白衬衣，一条领带松松地吊在脖子上，居高临下，气宇轩昂。这在七十年代其它摇滚专辑中是很少见的。评论家Paul Taylor说：“我最初在澳大利亚一家店里看到这张专辑时，立刻就爱上了那封面，我不知道任何关于Patti Smith或Punk的事，但我在那图片的冲击下买下了那张唱片。它十分优雅又十分摩登。当我翻看摄影师名字时不自觉地想：Robert Mapplethorpe？ 他是哪路神仙？”过了许多年， “滚石”音乐杂志将“Horses”评为了“这个时代100张最伟大专辑”的第26名。
Patti傲慢的男性化的激进姿态是当时反叛女性的样版。她总是许多摇滚评论者的宠儿，一方面她本人也是一个写手，另外则是她传奇的经历。在她的艺术生涯中，她的偶像Bob Dylan对她的意义就等同于教皇的恩典。当Patti Smith比Bob Dylan更著名时， 她似Jim Morrison般不成熟的自毁形象仍是一个大问题。她从情感祭坛到耀眼星坛的过渡被烙上深深的记印。她又是一个孤独的好斗者，只凭直觉做事。她曾在《时代周刊》上写了一篇评论，讲述她在舞台表演时内心的紧张情绪以及天使与恶魔般的道义斗争。她是一个典型的双重人格者，在天才与乖僻、强力与怪异、艺术与癫狂之间游走。在她沉浸在音乐世界中时，听众并不是她主要要考虑的，她只属于她自己。在她的一首诗“Pinwheels”中她描述了一个烈焰般的女孩，这个狂热动的女孩显然就是她自己。尽管如此，她的音乐开始被摇滚歌迷广泛接受，因为她的激进刺激了歌迷的好奇心理。她的音乐对当时风花雪月的主流乐坛无疑掴了重重一耳光。不过，她的傲慢有时也会惹来别人的怒火，正当英国“New Musical Express”兴高采烈地宣称“Horses”是当时最好的专辑时，“Melody Maker”很不高兴地评论道，“‘Horses’只是业余水平，算不上是好的摇滚乐。”媒介对她的不满主要在于她对他们采访要求的态度冷淡。不过这对歌迷来说是次要的，“Sounds”杂志一位记者在一篇对Patti 1976年第一次在英国舞台上表演所作的访谈中写道：“太妙了！太妙了！演出简直刺激透了！她是我见过的唯一一位敢在舞台上吐唾沫的女歌手。”
Smith第二张专辑“Radio Ethiopia” 出版于1976年，但这一次没有引起评论界像对“Horses” 般的轰动。她的演唱事业在1977年1月遭到严重打击，她在佛罗里达州的Tempa一次表演时从台上摔了下来，扭伤了脖子。在住院期间，她写了另一本诗集“Babel”。1978年，Smith回到舞台，复活节那天她在CBGB组织了“复活”音乐会，随即推出第三张专辑“Easter”。这是一个光荣的回归，“Easter” 取得了她第一个Top 40，和Bruce Springsteen合写的“Easter”、“Because The Night”都取得了很好的成绩，在单曲榜名列前20名。如果说Patti Smith的回归是期待已久的惊喜，则取得排行榜前20名则是额外的红利，这使Patti惊喜万分，“哈哈，太好了！我们也有了热门金曲。”她对《滚石》杂志如是说。&
“我在欧洲呆得比美国多，那些买‘Horses’或‘Piss Factory’的孩子日后都成了英国Punk的先锋，像The Sex Pistols、The Clash或别的一些乐队。”Smith 1976年在英国的演出恰好引发了英国的Punk运动，不能不说她曾对这个臭名昭著的运动起到过重要的影响。但Patti很快就离开了摇滚前锋，在1979年“Wave”出版后，她于次年3月嫁给了MC5乐队的吉他手Fred “Sonic” Smith，在1988年那张“Dream Of Life”推出之前，她一直在底特律的家中做贤妻良母。从1971年2月第一次在圣马克教堂的200名观众面前表演，到1979年9月在意大利佛罗伦萨的7万名孩子面前演出，她的故事是光辉圆满的。据CD杂志“Ice”说法，Arista将推出Patti全部旧作的全新混音版，另外还有一些附加的歌曲。今年6月初将推出的新专辑名叫“Gone Again”，由吉他手Lenny Kaye制作。 其中有一首回应Nirvana“About A Girl” 的歌曲“About ABoy”送给英年早逝的Kurt Cobain。她巡回演出的助阵队伍也非常庞大，有U2的Bono，R.E.M.的Michael Stipe， Television的Tom Verlaine，还有著名吉他手Jeff Buckley。这张新专辑据说会充斥大量acoustic的吉他，folk式的歌声，显示她从未有过的柔情。另外，她的新书“The Coral Sea”也将在今年5月出版。Patti Smith是美国Punk乐的先驱，她以她的杰出才华和对摇滚乐发展的不朽贡献而在这个摇滚史上取得了令人仰慕的地位。她属于她那个时代，但每个时代都是建立在对过去时代的承袭上的。我们尊敬前辈，是为了更好地发展自己，鼓励自己。只有这样，时代又一步向前延伸，精神不断向前进步。
Punk rock's poet laureate, Patti Smith ranks among the most influential female rock & rollers of all time. Ambitious, unconventional, and challenging, Smith's music was hailed as the most exciting fusion of rock and poetry since Bob Dylan's heyday. If that hybrid remained distinctly uncommercial for much of her career, it wasn't a statement against accessibility so much as the simple fact that Smith followed her own muse wherever it took her — from structured rock songs to free-form experimentalism, or even completely out of music at times. Her most avant-garde outings drew a sense of improvisation and interplay from free jazz, though they remained firmly rooted in noisy, primitive three-chord rock & roll. She was a powerful concert presence, singing and chanting her lyrics in an untrained but expressive voice, whirling around the stage like an ecstatic shaman delivering incantations. A regular at CBGB's during the early days of New York punk, she was the first artist of the bunch to land a record deal and release an album, even beating the Ramones to the punch. The artiness and the amateurish musicianship of her work both had a major impact on the punk movement, whether in New York or England, whether among her contemporaries (Television, Richard Hell) or followers. What was more, Smith became an icon to subsequent generations of female rockers. She never relied on sex appeal for her success — she was unabashedly intellectual and creatively uncompromising, and her appearance was usually lean, hard, and androgynous. She also never made an issue of her gender, calling attention to herself as an artist, not a woman; she simply dressed and performed in the spirit of her aggressive, male rock role models, as if no alternative had ever occurred to her. In the process, she obliterated the expectations of what was possible for women in rock, and stretched the boundaries of how artists of any gender could express themselves.
Smith was born in Chicago on December 30, 1946; her parents moved to Philadelphia when she was three, and then to the nearby, less urban town of Woodbury, NJ, when she was nine. Something of an outcast in high school, she found salvation in the poetry of Arthur Rimbaud, the writings of the Beats, and the music of soul and rock artists like James Brown, the Rolling Stones, the Doors, and especially Bob Dylan. She attended the Glassboro State Teachers College, but dropped out due to an unplanned pregnancy. She gave the baby up for adoption and took a job on a factory assembly line, thus saving enough money to move to New York City in 1967. She worked in a bookstore and met art student/future photographer Robert Mapplethorpe, who became her lover despite living most of his adult life as a homosexual. In 1969, Smith went to Paris with her sister, busking on the streets as a performance artist. Upon her return, she moved into the Chelsea Hotel with Mapplethorpe for a brief period, then became involved with underground theater, not to mention playwright Sam Shepard; she co-authored and co-starred with him in the somewhat autobiographical play Cowboy Mouth in 1971. During this time, she was also working on her poetry, and met guitarist Lenny Kaye, also a Bleecker Street record store clerk and rock critic. Kaye had written a magazine essay on doo wop that impressed Smith, and the two found that they shared a love of early and obscure rock & roll. When Smith gave a public poetry reading at St. Mark's Church in February 1971, she invited Kaye to accompany her on the electric guitar for three pieces.
Over the next two years, Smith continued to perform in plays and poetry readings; she also wrote for several rock magazines, published two volumes of her poems, and began contributing lyrics to the literary-minded metal band Blue Öyster Cult. She and Kaye performed again in late 1973, and their partnership grew into a much more regular occurrence. The following year, they added pianist/keyboardist Richard Sohl, and their performances grew into unique blends of Beat-influenced poetry, improvised spoken word with equally spontaneous musical backing, and covers of rock & roll oldies. Regular gigs around New York cemented their growing reputation, and in June 1974, with Mapplethorpe paying for studio time, the band cut a groundbreaking independent single, &Hey Joe& b/w &Piss Factory.& The former added a monologue about Patty Hearst, while the latter recounted Smith's stint as an assembly line worker in vivid detail, incorporating lyrical snippets from the rock records in which she took solace. Both songs featured Television guitarist Tom Verlaine, who briefly became Smith's lover, and along with Television's own &Little Johnny Jewel,& the single helped kickstart the independent, do-it-yourself aesthetic that remains punk rock's hallmark even today.
In late 1974, Smith and her band played a few gigs on the West Coast. When they returned, they added guitarist/bassist Ivan Kral to flesh out their sound, and joined Television as part of the emerging new-rock scene at CBGB's, a dive bar in the Bowery. Their two-month stand in early 1975 sometimes featured drummer Jay Dee Daugherty, who became a regular member, and attracted the notice of Arista Records president Clive Davis, who offered Smith a record deal. She entered the studio with ex-Velvet Underground member John Cale serving as producer, and in late 1975 released her debut album, Horses, which was essentially the first art-punk album. Rapturously received by most critics, Horses offered unorthodox covers of party-rock tunes like &Gloria& and &Land of 1000 Dances& (Smith opened the former with the declaration &Jesus died for someone's sins, but not mine&), as well as a mix of original songs and lengthy, improv-driven spoken word pieces. Despite nonexistent airplay, it sold well enough to climb into the Top 50.
The 1976 follow-up, Radio Ethiopia, was credited to the Patti Smith Group, and placed some of Smith's most straightforward rock songs (&Ask the Angels,& &Pumping [My Heart]&) directly alongside some of her most experimental, free-form pieces (the title track). In early 1977, Smith was performing in Tampa, FL, when she twirled herself right off the stage; she broke two vertebrae in her neck and was forced to take some time off to recuperate. During that period, she wrote a book of poetry titled Babel. She returned to recording in 1978 with Easter, a more accessible nod in the direction of album rock radio, which featured Smith's writing collaboration with Bruce Springsteen, &Because the Night.& The ballad climbed to number 13 on the pop charts and sent Easter into the Top 20; plus, 10,000 Maniacs' 1993 cover of &Because the Night& became their biggest pop hit and made the song something of a standard for the Lilith Fair generation. Easter also contained Smith's most notorious cut, &Rock n Roll Nigger,& which attempted to redefine the term as a badge of honor for anyone who lived outside the establishment. Some critics roasted her for the conceit in the ensuing controversy, but the song achieved a measure of redemption when it was included on the Natural Born Killers soundtrack in 1994.
1979's Wave found Smith's sound becoming increasingly polished, thanks in part to new producer Todd Rundgren; however, many reviewers found it her least developed set of material. Smith had been living with Blue Öyster Cult keyboardist Allen Lanier for some time, but now took up with MC5/Sonic's Rendezvous Band guitarist Fred &Sonic& Smith; indeed, Wave's &Dancing Barefoot& and &Frederick& were both dedicated to him. The couple married in 1980, and Smith retired to a life of domesticity near Detroit, raising two children with her husband. In 1988, Smith re-emerged for a one-off album, Dream of Life, on which Fred co-wrote all the material and also played guitar, with backing by Smith Group members Sohl and Daugherty. However, it wasn't intended to establish a full-fledged comeback, and Smith disappeared from music again following its release. She continued to write, however, completing a poetry collection called Woolgathering (among other projects), and gave occasional readings.
Sadly, in the span of a few years, Smith lost some of her closest associates: longtime friend and album-cover photographer Robert Mapplethorpe died in 1989, followed a year later by pianist Richard Sohl. At the end of 1994, both her husband and her brother Todd died of heart failure, within a month of one another. A grief-stricken Smith returned to performing as a means of therapy, and re-formed the Patti Smith Group — with Kaye, Daugherty, and new bassist Tony Shanahan — for a few small-scale tours aimed at reconnecting with her audience and reorienting herself to the concert stage. In 1996, the group entered the studio and recorded Gone Again, which featured a new second guitarist in Oliver Ray and guest spots from Tom Verlaine, John Cale, and Jeff Buckley. Gone Again took a stronger, more optimistic tone than might have been expected, and was well received by many critics. Following closely on its heels, Peace and Noise appeared in 1997 and earned a Grammy nomination for the track &1959&; a much darker affair than its predecessor, it took into account the deaths of two more of Smith's inspirations, Allen Ginsberg and William S. Burroughs. Smith returned in 2000 with Gung Ho, the most aggressive-sounding and socially conscious album of her comeback; the song &Glitter in Their Eyes& also earned her a second Grammy nomination.
Smith and Arista parted ways in 2002, with the label issuing Land (1975-2002), a double-disc compilation of hits and rarities, as a wrap-up. Smith subsequently signed with Columbia. Her first album for the label, Trampin', appeared in spring 2004. Horses received the deluxe two-CD treatment in 2005 when it was reissued by Arista in a 30th Anniversary Legacy Edition. 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.