Patricia Lee Smith, popularly known as Patti Smith, was born on December 30, 1946. She had music in her life from a very young age and has since become one of the most prominent talents in rock and the music industry. An accomplished poet, she is known for fusing poetry and rock, becoming one of the key figures in the punk rock movement in 1970s New York. She has received many accolades, including a Hall of Fame induction. She is also a talented author and a passionate activist. It’s time to celebrate her special day.
Patricia Lee Smith
Patti, Punk Poet Laureate
December 30, 1946
Patricia Lee Smith, popularly known as Patti Smith, was born on December 30, 1949, in Chicago, Illinois. Her zodiac sign is Capricorn, and her ethnicity is part Irish. She is the daughter of Beverly and Grant Smith, and she has three younger siblings named Linda, Kimberly, and Todd. Growing up, her family moved to Philadelphia and then to New Jersey. She grew up listening to records her mother gave her. She graduated from Deptford Township High School, worked in a factory, attended Glassboro State College, then left in 1967 to move to Manhattan, New York, and met photographer Robert Mapplethorpe and poet Janet Hamill. In 1969, Smith moved to Paris, France, where she started busking and doing performance art, later returning to Manhattan and living in the famous Chelsea Hotel with Mapplethorpe. She spent this time refining her craft by writing and performing.
By 1974, Smith started to perform her own music, accompanied by Lenny Kaye and later a full band, calling themselves the Patti Smith Group. In the same year, the band recorded their first single titled ‘Hey Joe/Piss Factory.’ The band got signed by Arista Records and released their first album, “Horses,” in 1975. The album fused poetry with punk rock, which was just emerging, and featured a cover photo by Mapplethorpe, becoming one of rock’s classic images. The band began touring the U.S. and Europe and released their second album, “Radio Ethiopia,” the following year. In 1978, the band released what would become Smith’s most commercially successful album, “Easter,” and her most successful song, ‘Because the Night,’ the latter of which was co-written with Bruce Springsteen. The following year, the band released their fourth studio album, “Wave.” In the 1980s, Smith retired temporarily from music to be with her newly formed family, although she released her fifth album, “Dream of Life,” in 1988. It included the song ‘People Have the Power.’
In 1995, Smith toured briefly with Bob Dylan. The following year, she released her sixth album, “Gone Again,” and collaborated with R.E.M. on their single ‘E-Bow The Letter.’ In 1997, she released her seventh studio album, “Peace and Noise.” She followed it up with her eighth studio album “Gung Ho,” released in 2000. In 2004, she released her ninth album, “Trampin’,” her first album on Columbia Records. In 2007, Smith was inducted into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame and released her tenth album, “Twelve,” which was an all-covers album. The following year, she was the subject of a documentary film, “Patti Smith: Dream of Life.” In 2010, Smith released a memoir about her life in ‘70s New York, titled “Just Kids.” In 2012, she released her eleventh studio album, “Banga.” Smith’s concert-documentary film “Horses: Patti Smith and her Band” premiered at the 2018 Tribeca Film Festival to wide acclaim.
Smith moves to Manhattan and meets artists who inspire her.
After forming the Patti Smith Group, she releases her first album, “Horses.”
Smith releases her third album, “Easter,” which becomes her most commercially successful one.
After semi-retiring in the ‘80s, Smith makes a comeback by briefly touring with Dylan.
Smith gets inducted into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame.
“Just Kids” is published — it’s a memoir that chronicles Smith's life in ‘70s New York City.
Why We Love Patti Smith
She is a rock icon
Smith was a significant contributor to the development of punk rock, collaborated with several well-known musicians, and is still working today. Numerous bands have drawn inspiration from her work, including Morrissey, Sonic Youth, U2, Courtney Love, Madonna, and Florence and the Machine.
She is unapologetically herself
It doesn't seem like a simple thing to accomplish to succeed in a male-dominated industry as a woman who didn't care about her appearance. Smith, on the other hand, battled to find her position in the music industry without altering herself even slightly, and it worked!
She is a true activist
Over the years, Smith supported many important causes and wrote some protest songs. She often speaks out about injustice and human rights violations and donates to charitable organizations.
5 Surprising Facts
She has written a lot of books
While “Just Kids” is Smith’s most well-known book, she also published 25 books from 1972 to 2019.
She’s an award-winning author
“Just Kids” won the 2010 National Book Award for ‘Nonfiction.’
She hasn’t won a Grammy
Despite being an iconic musician and earning four nominations over the years, she hasn’t won a Grammy Award.
She was a Jehovah’s Witness
Smith was raised religiously as a Jehovah’s Witness but left the religion as a teenager.
She has a Columbia degree
Smith was awarded an Honorary Doctor of Humane Letters from Columbia University in 2022.
Patti Smith FAQs
What is Patti Smith's most famous song?
Smith’s song ‘Because the Night,’ co-written with Bruce Springsteen, is her most famous one.
Are Bob Dylan and Patti Smith friends?
Yes. The two met in New York City in the 1970s and have remained friends.
Is Patti Smith still married?
Smith is not married. However, she had a great marriage with the love of her life, Fred “Sonic” Smith, who passed away in 1994.
Patti Smith’s birthday dates