From her confused and religious upbringing to her early days as a poet, punk and rock ’n’ roller, Patti Smith redefined the role of artist, writer and female performer. This major biography will rightly place Patti Smith as a central figure in late twentieth century popular culture.
Cited by musicians young and old as a major influence, Patti Smith is as fascinating an individual as she is a great artist. From a religious childhood in South Jersey she escaped to New York swearing she would become famous. Acting as muse first to Richard Mapplethorpe and then Sam Shepherd, Patti began her career as a performance poet and rock writer. She soon became the first punk rockstar mixing her distinct voice and poetry with rock and roll music. Yet in 1979 she gave it all up to live with her husband in quiet, suburban Detroit until he died an alcoholic in 1994.
As well as placing Patti Smith at the centre of the New York underground that included, amongst others, Andy Warhol, Bob Dylan, Lou Reed, Blondie, Jim Carrol and William Burroughs, Victor Bockris’s biography investigates the private world behind the celebrity – the confused childhood, the piss factory, torturous relationship with men, the secretive retreat to Detroit and the slow and historic comeback in 1995 as Patti returns to her rightful place as a central character and icon of 20th century popular culture and the queen of the New York Underground.