"I don’t think people have any business doing rock ‘n’ roll if they are timid about their music."
Patti Smith is 67 years old today. Then-Times critic Robert Hilburn wrote this of Smith in 1975, the year her debut album, “Horses,” was released:
Smith, a 28-year-old poet-playwright-artist turned rock ‘n’ roller, knows, crucially, that the essential strength of rock is in the liberation of emotions. Thus, she allows herself - indeed, forces herself - to take risks. She explores and experiments in her songs, both reworkings of such rock classics as “Gloria” and “Land of 1,000 Dances” and merging her poetry and surrealistic images in a boldly aggressive way that creates her own potential classics.
It’s the kind of dangerous, vulnerable, illuminating abandon that one hasn’t found in a female rock artist since Janis Joplin. But Smith demands more of herself than Joplin did. Smith isn’t content merely being a great vocal stylist. She’s involved in creating the content of her music. There’s an almost missionary zeal about her desire to break through emotional barriers.
Photo: Smith in 1978. Credit: Los Angeles Times