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Many consider Patti Smith the godmother of punk. That label, however, is inaccurate. Although she possessed the energy and irreverence that would later mark the punk generation, she was inspired by the beatniks and by Jim Morrison, Bob Dylan, The Rolling Stones, and many other figures whom the punk rockers were reacting against. Yet, she acted as a bridge between the two generations, finding common ground with both. The experimental and rebellious nature of her work made Smith and her band integral to the mid-'70s New York art rock scene, centered around the club CBGB on the Lower East Side. Smith's 1975 album, Horses, was the first album released from the scene and established Smith as a major artist. The androgynous appearance of Smith on the cover―shot by Robert Mapplethorpe―has become one of the most famous shots in rock history. Musically, the album was groundbreaking for its mix of improvisational music and Dionysian lyrics. As both an artist and a woman, she broke new ground.
Smith released three more albums before abruptly walking away from her fame in 1980. She reemerged in the mid-'90s to reshape her image and astound fans with her dynamic performances. Smith's impact on rock music―her rebellion against gender roles, her charismatic performances, her merging of poetry and music, and the way she's aged as a rock star―has been vast. She has redefined what it means for women to be rock performers and blazed trails for many other popular female musicians to follow after her. Individual chapters examine individual albums and account for parallel developments in Smith's life. Tarr concludes his work with an examination of the influence Smith has had on pop culture and on rock 'n' roll in general. Patti Smith is a guarded and private person, and little has been written about her. In this searching analysis of Smith's life and work, author Joe Tarr has filled a huge gap and provided an essential guide to the iconic artist's career.
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An analysis of the work of Patti Smith and of her influence on rock 'n' roll and popular artsAbout the Author:
Joe Tarr is a journalist and critic with almost 15 years experience working for the daily and alternative presses and television. He's written extensively about popular culture and music. In recent years, Tarr has worked as a freelancer, writing scripts for the Oxygen network's hit true crime show, Snapped!
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