I have mentioned before that I was not a fan of rock icon Patti Smith until I read her excellent memoir, Just Kids, a few years back which I featured as a Weekly Read at the time. I became fascinated with her early years trying to make it in the New York art scene in the early 1970s as told in her wonderful prose. I still recommend that book, and now comes a sort of companion book that adds more layers to the story, Patti Smith – American Artist, by photographer Frank Stefanko, featuring photographs chronicling the rise of the storied artist.

About Patti Smith – American Artist by Frank Stefanko:

“A stunning collection of photographs from Frank Stefanko featuring the Godmother of Punk herself, iconic musician and author Patti Smith. ‘There I was sitting in a booth at the co-op of Glassboro State College, a bucolic school in the farmlands of South Jersey. . . Suddenly, the double doors of the co-op swung open and standing there in the vacuum created was an incredible apparition, a vision in a white leather coat with long, jet-black hair flowing down her back. She moseyed in like the bad guy walking into a saloon in an old western movie. This was the first time I set eyes on Patti Smith, and I was captivated.’ So begins Frank Stefanko’s wonderfully personal photographic tale of his friendship and artistic collaboration with Patti Smith. Stefanko’s photographs and his warm, personal recollections show us an amazing young woman, long before she became Patti Smith, the cultural icon. Through images and words, we follow her search for a unique voice—from the early days of the Chelsea Hotel to spoken word at the St. Mark’s Poetry Project to the release of her seminal album, Horses, and so much more. These photographs, along with the Stefanko’s first-hand account, capture an incredible era from the mid-1960s to the late- 1970s when a whole new genre of music and art was being born. Prior to the release of this collection, many of these stunning portraits had never before been published.”

In addition to the photos, Patti Smith – American Artist includes a poem from the artist herself, an introduction by Lenny Kaye, Ms. Smith’s longtime guitarist, and an afterword by editor Chris Murray, which puts the photos into context and sets the mood for the compelling collection that this is.

Patti Smith – American Artist, by Frank Stefanko is available from Amazon and other fine booksellers.