Patti Smith – Opher’s World pays tribute to a genius.


Patti was really a child of the sixties. She loved Jimi Hendrix, the Who, Stones, Beatles and Them but she delivered her stuff with such passion and energy that she readily fitted into the New York Punk Scene. Her poetry was so hot it scorched your neurons. I’d play her ‘Piss Factory’ regularly as I made my way into work. It filled me with idealised energy.

Patti was a fiery poet and performance artist living with the controversial photographer Robert Mablethorpe in the Chelsea Hotel in the early seventies. She set up with th guitarist Lenny Kaye to put her poetry to music and form a band. They did covers like Them’s ‘Gloria’ and the Who’s ‘My Generation’ as well as her own stuff and gained quite a reputation for her incandescent intros about Patty Hearst, the rich girl who got involved with a terrorist group, and Jesus.

The single ‘Hey Joe’ complete with the Patty Hearst snarling intro and B-side ‘Piss Factory’ set the tone. She was a defiant lady who was going to do things on her terms and was not to be messed with. The album ‘Horses’ with its classic version of ‘Gloria’ continued the same vane.

With her androgynous look and tie hanging half-mast she had a completely new image. Everything about her shouted Art and Style.

It wasn’t until the album ‘Easter’ with the single ‘Because the Night’ which she co-wrote with Springsteen, that she broke through into commercial success. There was little sign of the industry having mellowed her. The album was just as full of expletives and energy. It was more that the time of Punk had caught up with Patti.

The albums followed as did her marriage to Fred Smith from MC5 (That great protopunk band) and the stance remained unaltered. Patti was the leading-lady of Punk.