Patti Smith Biography, Career, Net Worth, And Other Interesting Facts

Patti Smith is an American singer, songwriter, poet, painter, author, and photographer born on December 30, 1946. She became a significant figure in the punk rock scene of New York City with the release of her first album Horses in 1975. Smith is recognized for blending rock music with poetry in her creative works.

One of her most famous achievements is co-writing the song “Because the Night” with Bruce Springsteen which reached the top 15 on the Billboard Hot 100 chart and the top 5 on the UK Singles Chart in 1978.

Smith’s contributions to the arts have been honored globally. In 2005, she was named a Commander of the Ordre des Arts et des Lettres by the French Ministry of Culture. In 2007, she was inducted into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame. Her memoir “Just Kids” which won the National Book Award in 2010 was written as a tribute to Robert Mapplethorpe her longtime partner.

Recognized as one of the greatest artists of all time, Smith was ranked 47th on Rolling Stone magazine’s list in 2010. She was also awarded the Polar Music Prize in 2011 for her outstanding contributions to music.

Full NamePatti Smith
Date of BirthDecember 30, 1946
Place of BirthChicago, Illinois, USA
OccupationMusician, Singer-Songwriter, Poet
Height5’7″ (172 cm)
SpouseFred Smith
ChildrenJackson Smith, Jesse Paris Smith
Net Worth$4 million

Patti Smith’s Early Life and Education

Patti Smith Biography, Career, Net Worth, And Other Interesting Facts

Patti Smith was born on December 30, 1946, at Grant Hospital in Chicago’s Lincoln Park. Her parents were Beverly Smith who went from singing jazz to waitressing and Grant Smith, who worked as a machinist for Honeywell. Patti, the oldest of four siblings including Linda, Kimberly, and Todd came from a family with Irish roots.

When Patti was four years old, her family moved from Chicago to Philadelphia’s Germantown area, then to Pitman, New Jersey, before settling in Deptford Township specifically the Woodbury Gardens section.

Music played a significant role in Patti’s early life. She listened to albums like Harry Belafonte’s “Shrimp Boats,” Patience and Prudence’s “The Money Tree,” and Bob Dylan’s “Another Side of Bob Dylan,” given to her by her mother.

Patti graduated from Deptford Township High School in 1964 and started working in a factory. She briefly attended Glassboro State College in Glassboro, New Jersey.


Patti Smith Biography, Career, Net Worth, And Other Interesting Facts

In 1969, Patti Smith traveled to Paris with her sister and started performing on the streets and doing performance art. When she returned to Manhattan she lived at Hotel Chelsea with Robert Mapplethorpe. They often went to Max’s Kansas City on Park Avenue where Smith provided spoken word for Sandy Daley’s film. She also acted in plays and was active in the Poetry Project, painting, writing, and performing.

In the same year, Smith co-wrote and performed in the play “Cowboy Mouth” with Sam Shepard. She wrote poems about her relationship with Shepard which were later published. Her first public poetry performance was in 1971 accompanied by Lenny Kaye on electric guitar.

Smith briefly considered becoming the lead singer of Blue Öyster Cult and wrote lyrics for several of their songs. During this time she also worked as a rock music journalist for Rolling Stone and Creem magazines.

In 1973, Smith formed the Patti Smith Group with Lenny Kaye and later added Richard Sohl, Ivan Král, and Jay Dee Daugherty. Their first single “Hey Joe/Piss Factory” was financed by Sam Wagstaff. It included a spoken word piece about Patty Hearst on one side and reflected Smith’s feelings of alienation working in a factory on the other.

The band gained attention with their debut album “Horses” in 1975 produced by John Cale. It mixed punk rock with poetry starting with a cover of Van Morrison’s “Gloria”. The album cover a stark photo by Mapplethorpe became iconic in rock music.

As punk rock gained popularity the Patti Smith Group toured extensively in the U.S. and Europe. Their second album “Radio Ethiopia” was rawer and less accessible but has enduring songs. Smith’s career was briefly interrupted in 1977 when she suffered a serious neck injury from a stage fall.

Despite this setback, the Patti Smith Group released successful albums like “Easter” and “Wave”. “Easter” featured the hit single “Because the Night” co-written with Bruce Springsteen.

Patti Smith Biography, Career, Net Worth, And Other Interesting Facts

Throughout the 1980s, Patti Smith lived in Michigan and took a break from music. She returned in 1988 with the album “Dream of Life” which included the anthem “People Have the Power”.

Smith continued to release albums and collaborate with other artists including R.E.M. and Bob Dylan. She received Grammy nominations and curated events like the Meltdown festival in London.

Smith has maintained a prolific career releasing albums like “Banga” and continuing to perform globally. Her influence on punk rock and poetry remains profound cementing her status as a musical maverick and cultural icon.

Patti Smith started focusing on “pure photography” in 1994 preferring to capture still objects naturally without using a flash.

From November 2006 to January 2007 an exhibition titled ‘Sur les Traces’ at Trolley Gallery in London showcased her polaroid prints. These were donated by Smith to support the publication of ‘Double Blind: Lebanon Conflict 2006’ by Paolo Pellegrin from Magnum Photos.

Between March 28 and June 22, 2008, the Fondation Cartier pour l’Art Contemporain in Paris hosted a major exhibition of Smith’s visual artwork from 1967 to 2007 featuring pieces from her Land 250 series.

In 2009, Smith wrote the introduction for Jessica Lange’s book ’50 Photographs’.

In 2010, Smith published “Just Kids” a memoir about her life in 1970s Manhattan and her relationship with Robert Mapplethorpe. It won the National Book Award for Nonfiction that year. In 2018 an updated edition of ‘Just Kids’ was released including more photographs and illustrations. Smith also performed at a benefit concert in New Jersey.

Patti Smith Biography, Career, Net Worth, And Other Interesting Facts

In 2011, Patti Smith announced her first U.S. museum exhibition of photography ‘Camera Solo’ inspired by a sign she saw at Pope Celestine V’s abode symbolizing her approach to photography. The exhibit included items of significance to artists she admires.

In addition to her photography, Smith was also working on a crime novel set in London in 2011.

Smith has made film appearances including a cameo in Jean-Luc Godard’s ‘Film Socialisme’ in 2010 and playing herself in Terrence Malick’s ‘Song to Song’ in 2017.

In 2018 her concert-documentary film “Horses: Patti Smith and her Band” premiered at the Tribeca Film Festival. She also contributed to Darren Aronofsky’s VR experience ‘Spheres: Songs of Spacetime’.

Smith’s musical influence spans decades inspiring artists like Todd Rundgren, Michael Stipe of R.E.M., and Madonna. She has also been referenced in songs by bands like The Waterboys and Hole.

In 2024, Patti Smith appeared in Abel Ferrara’s documentary “Turn in the Wound” where she composed music and read poems about life in Kyiv since the war in Ukraine began.

Smith’s achievements include being named an Officer of the French Legion of Honor and receiving honorary degrees from Pratt Institute and Columbia University. She was also nominated for the Songwriters Hall of Fame and ranked on Rolling Stone’s list of the 200 Greatest Singers of All Time.

Net Worth

Patti Smith has an estimated net worth of $4 million, according to Celebrity Net Worth. The main source of Patti Smith’s net worth comes from her career as a musician, singer, and songwriter. She gained fame as a prominent figure in the punk rock movement and later as a poet and visual artist. Smith’s income primarily derives from album sales, concerts, and royalties from her music.

Additionally, she has authored books and received accolades for her literary works, contributing further to her financial success. Smith’s diverse talents across music, writing, and art have collectively built her substantial net worth over the years.

Personal life

Patti Smith Biography, Career, Net Worth, And Other Interesting Facts

In 1967, Patti Smith left Glassboro State College and moved to Manhattan. There she worked at a bookstore alongside her friend poet Janet Hamill. It was in this bookstore that she met Robert Mapplethorpe a photographer and they started a passionate relationship. Their journey together was challenging due to financial struggles and Mapplethorpe’s exploration of his sexuality.

Smith used Mapplethorpe’s photos of her on her album covers and wrote essays for his books including “Flowers” which was published after his death in 1989. Despite the ups and downs, they remained close friends.

Patti Smith regards Mapplethorpe as one of the most influential people in her life referring to him as “the artist of my life” in her book “Just Kids” which recounts their relationship. Her album and book “The Coral Sea” pay tribute to him.

At the age of 20 in 1967, Smith gave birth to a daughter and placed her for adoption. That same year she started at Glassboro State College but left to move to New York City where she lived with Robert Mapplethorpe.

In 1979, around the age of 32 Smith separated from her long-time partner Allen Lanier and met Fred “Sonic” Smith a former guitarist for Michigan-based rock bands MC5 and Sonic’s Rendezvous Band. Fred shared Patti’s love for poetry.

Songs like “Dancing Barefoot” and “Frederick” were inspired by their relationship. They joked that she married Fred because she liked her last name and didn’t want to change it. They had two children: Jackson who married Meg White of The White Stripes in 2009 and Jesse Paris who is a musician and composer.

Fred Smith passed away from a heart attack on November 4, 1994. Shortly after Patti also experienced the unexpected death of her brother Todd.


Patti Smith Biography, Career, Net Worth, And Other Interesting Facts

In July 2005, Patti Smith was honored by the French Minister of Culture with the title Commander of the Ordre des Arts et des Lettres. This recognition highlighted her impact on rock music and her admiration for Arthur Rimbaud’s work. In August that year, she gave a lecture focusing on the poetry of Rimbaud and William Blake.

On March 12, 2007, Patti Smith was inducted into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame. During the ceremony, she dedicated her achievement to her late husband Fred and performed a cover of The Rolling Stones’ song “Gimme Shelter”. Her song “People Have the Power” was used as the finale for the event where many celebrities joined in for a big jam session.

In 2008, a documentary titled “Patti Smith: Dream of Life” was released offering an intimate look into her life directed by Steven Sebring. The same year Rowan University awarded her an honorary doctorate for her significant contributions to popular culture.

In 2011, Patti Smith was honored with the Polar Music Prize alongside other notable musicians. At the age of 64, she made her television acting debut on the show “Law & Order: Criminal Intent” appearing in an episode called “Icarus”.


Patti Smith Biography, Career, Net Worth, And Other Interesting Facts

In 1993, Petti Smith contributed a live performance called “Memorial Tribute” to an album called “No Alternative” which aimed to raise funds for AIDS-related causes.

During the 2000 U.S. presidential election, Smith supported the Green Party and its candidate Ralph Nader. She participated in campaign rallies leading songs like “Over the Rainbow” and “People Have the Power”. Smith continued to be active politically supporting John Kerry in 2004 and joining protests against the Iraq War.

In 2006, Smith debuted two new songs in London that protested American and Israeli foreign policies. One song “Qana” criticized an Israeli airstrike while “Without Chains” focused on a Turkish-German citizen held at Guantanamo Bay. Smith expressed her outrage over these issues highlighting human rights violations.

Smith remained politically engaged supporting causes such as Rachel Corrie’s legacy and the Iranian protests in 2009. She continued her activism through performances and appearances at events like the American Museum of Tort Law convocation in 2015.

A strong advocate for Tibet House US Smith regularly performs at their annual benefit concerts at Carnegie Hall. She also contributed to local causes such as donating books to a Portland bookstore after a burglary in 2020.

Regarding climate change, Smith believes it’s the most critical issue of our time and performed at COP26 in 2021 to raise awareness.

In May 2021, Patti Smith joined over 600 musicians in signing a letter urging a boycott of performances in Israel until issues regarding Palestinian territories are resolved.

On February 24, 2022, Smith performed at The Capitol Theatre for the first time expressing her concern about the Russian invasion of Ukraine. She shared her emotions about the conflict through social media demonstrating her ongoing commitment to raising awareness through her art.