the smith nyc

8

Patti Smith and Robert Mapplethorpe photographed by Norman Seeff, 1969.   

“We wanted, it seemed, what we already had, a lover and a friend to create with, side by side. To be loyal, yet be free.”- Patti Smith

In her memoir Just Kids, Patti Smith details her intense relationship with Robert Mapplethorpe in which they struggle to become artists in New York City. They lived together at the Hotel Chelsea – home to numerous writers, musicians, actors and artists. Patti supported Robert by working in bookstores, he soon flourished as a photographer and encouraged her to pursue visual art. As a writer, Patti eventually turned her poems into songwriting. For the cover of her debut album, Horses (1975), Patti used a portrait Robert took. Once Robert came out as a gay man their intimate relationship ended but they remained friends until his death from HIV/AIDS in 1989.

3

Do not turn…away my friend…like a willow…I can bend…

—–

(With Stevie Nicks at the Prudential Center. Photographs by Riff Chorusriff. April 2, 2017….

After finishing “Stand Back,” Nicks interrupted the show. The late Prince Rogers Nelson was on her mind. While she clung to a scarf tied around her mic, a single spotlight stilled the auditorium. She still couldn’t believe he was gone. When she feels nervous before a performance, she admitted that she often calls on him to be with her. And he is. 

Nicks met Prince at a party in 1979 where she regretted advising him to be more social. She was grateful he didn’t mention it years later when she had to get in touch with him. Would he mind listening to something she just recorded in the studio? Prince said sure, he’d be right over. As fate would have it, he was only 20 minutes away.

After hearing his “Little Red Corvette” on the radio, Nicks was so inspired she substituted her own lyrics and composed a whole new song. She played it for him. Prince thought it was great. He even added some synth to the verses and a guitar part in the middle–the finishing touches to what became track six on her “Wild Heart” album: “Stand Back.” An hour later, she walked him to his car. As she recalled, it was an appropriately hued purple Camaro. 

Over the years, they grew closer. Prince used to call her up when he was worried about her. They’d speak for hours. In the midst of Nicks’ well-chronicled drug addiction, he was there for her. She wishes she could have been there for him too. Continuing to tug at another scarf, she asked the audience to do her a favor. Whenever spinning “Stand Back” or “Little Red Corvette” in the future, notice how they dovetail. And, most importantly, remember her friend.

When she resumed the concert with “Edge of Seventeen,” Nicks honored Prince with a slideshow. It rendered him floating across the stage again like a white-winged dove. The whole thing was bittersweet and transcendent. I snapped the images above from the tribute.)