Patti Smith is an American singer-songwriter, poet, and visual artist who became a highly influential component of the New York City punk rock movement with her 1975 debut album Horses. Called the "punk poet laureate", Smith fused rock and poetry in her work. Smith's most widely known song is "Because the Night", which was co-written with Bruce Springsteen.
After working on a factory assembly line, she began performing spoken word and later formed the Patti Smith Group (1974-79). Her relationship with Fred "Sonic" Smith caused a hiatus in her singing career, but she returned to music after his untimely death. She went on to release more than 10 albums.
Smith's 1975 debut album, Horses, featuring the iconic singles "Gloria" and "Land of a Thousand Dances," was a huge commercial and critical success for its manic energy, heartfelt lyrics and skillful wordplay. The definitive early punk rock album, Horses is a near-ubiquitous inclusion on lists of the best albums of all time.
Smith has been a great source of inspiration for Michael Stipe of R.E.M. Listening to her album Horses when he was 15 made a huge impact on him; he said later, "I decided then that I was going to start a band."
Browse our unique collection of Patti Smith photos and prints below
Patti Smith relaxing at the Portobello Hotel, London shortly before her first London gig at the Roundhouse in 1976
Patti Smith pictured in a beautiful villa just outside Milan, Italy in 1996 during her Gone Again tour
Patti Smith performing onstage at the Rainbow Theatre, London in April 1978
Rock singer-songwriter Patti Smith photographed by Luciano Viti in the studio in Rome in 1996.