Breaking Up is Hard to Do

1979, Wave, marriage, the cold hard truth

[from Hit Parader, 1978-79, and New York Rocker, 1981]
by Lisa Robinson and the editors of New York Rocker

What follows are several short clippings which appeared in Hit Parader magazine reporting whatever tidbits of news came from Patti Smith's corner of the world as the 70s, and the PSG, wound down to a close. There is frequently a strong hint of underlying tension and frustration. For the Special 5th Anniversary issue of New York Rocker, in 1981, the editors revisited the shining lights of the scene which inspired the magazine's creation, and the 'Patti Smith entry' is reproduced here.

Hit Parader, 1978
Richard Sohl rejoins PSG, band plays Hurrah's

Before the Patti Smith Group left New York City to headline England's Reading Festival, they performed an impromptu set at Hurrah's Disco. It was the first time that the band was publicly reunited with keyboard player Richard ("DNV") Sohl. Sohl, who hasn't been with the band for about a year, rejoined recently when, as guitarist Lenny Kaye put it, "we realized we missed each other."

They played Hurrah's also to get a chance to try out some of the new songs they've been writing. "We like to try out our new songs out live before going into the studio," said Kaye. "Most of the songs on Easter weren't played in front of people before we went into record, and we're really a band that likes to expand material in a live setting.

"The songs grow that way," he added.

The Patti Smith Group is due to record in the late fall, and there's nothing known about the album yet exccpt that Lenny says the material is "different from what's come before," and that the album's twin themes will be "16th century Japan and American patriotism."

Portions from Lisa Robinson's Rock Talk

Hit Parader, 1979
Ivan Kral joins Iggy Pop, Lenny and Lisa put the spin out

When Patti Smith Group guitarist Ivan Kral stepped onstage as part of Iggy Pop's current tourlng band, many PSG fans wondered just what was golng on wlth the band and just what the future of the band really is. Word from Patti is that she's in a period of 'study', and that she's happy. And as anyone who knows the inside info will tell you, the original concept of the PSG was not for it to be a constantly touring band.

"We're enjoying taking the rest of the seventies off," sald PSG guitarist Lenny Kaye. "We're marshalling our energies for the coming decade. We are not breaklng up the Patti Smith Group, we are merely expanding its boundaries."

Upcomlng plans for the band include the release of a live album taped during their recent European tour. "We're also writing songs for our next studlo album," says Lenny.

Hit Parader, 1979
PS visits NYC, declares "I will move on..."

Patti Smith says that during the recording of her current hit album, Wave. she went through a very private period of reevaluatlon concernlng herself and her music. The result wlll be more rock and roll but also the continued exploratlon of her other talents.

"I have things I want to say with language", Patti said durlng a visit to New York from her current hometown of Detroit. "I want to write books, to do my drawings, I feel very full of energy to pursue all the domains of my imaginatlon. I'm only interested in working in rock and roll within the contexts of what the Patti Smith Group set up in the beginning."

"If it gets too out of hand or if too many people start getting too many ideas about me, or the demands have nothing to do wlth our earliest desires, I wlll move on to something else", added Patti.

Hit Parader, 1980
Smith weds Smith, and a PS status report

Two days before she married guitarist Fred "Sonic" Smith in the Mariners Church in Detroit. Patti Smith telephoned me to say she's working hard: "I'm paying a lot of attention to International affairs now." she sald. "I pray for the people of Afghanistan: It's really what I think about the most. I'm into serious study - I play the clarinet and Fred ("Sonlc" Smith) plays saxophone and we listen to a lot of jazz.

"I'm real healthy. and look the same. although my halr is very long-I haven't cut it in over two years. It's beatnik length." Patti added. "I'm gathering strength for a posltlve underground. I thlnk that in the 1980's true art is golng to be on the rise agaln. and I'm gettlng ready."

The only attendants at Patti's wedding were both sets of parents (Mr. and Mrs. Smith and Mr. and Mrs. Smith) and the bride wore an antique white wedding gown and ballet slippers.

From Lisa Roblnson's Rock Talk.

New York Rocker, 1981
Lenny Kaye sums it up, PSG CVs are updated

In many ways, the self-imposed exile of Patti Smith to Detroit, where she married guitarist Fred "Sonic" Smith and settled into her own version of domesticity, marked the end of this tumultuous five year period in New York rock 'n' roll. An Arista official still insists Patti is on the label, but hard at work writing a new book. Long-time accomplice and nice guy Lenny Kaye talks with Patti "every now and then," but admits that he has pretty much given up on the idea of the PSG ever reforming "like it was in the '70s."

"Patti wanted to break everything down to the beginning again; She basically sought a renewal, a starting over. The Lennon thing really brought home to me what Patti was up to . . . She just wanted to get off the music machine, control her art, learn clarinet and move out of the realm of predictability. She didn't want to merely repeat herself or become an art factory."

February 10, 1981 marked the tenth anniversary of Patti and Lenny's first reading at the St. Mark's Church, but the veteran scribe refuses to look back. "People like their stuff well-defined and I think Patti resisted easy categorization. Remember that Central Park show where Patti just went on and on. . .that kind of stuff just wasn't accepted in the spirit in which it was intended. I think the art in Patti's work was severely overlooked by the press. Patti just wanted more freedom than the rock 'n' roll format would allow."

Lenny insists the option remains open for the band to re-group. Last year, Patti and the guys performed a couple of songs for the benefit of the Detroit Symphony, including a new tome called "Afghanistan" and a version of the PSG staple, "Hunter Gets Captured By The Game." At the same time, Lenny agreed that the rest of the band must get on with their own careers. Lenny himself has formed his own band, the Connection, featuring drummer David Donen, bassist Patrick O'Connor and keyboardist Jan Mulaney. He has also released a Mer single ("the first thing I've done that has my own name on it") "Child Bride" b/w "Tracks Of My Tears." (Vin Scelsa was playing the reeord when the reports first came in that John Lennon was shot, an eerie coincidence.) Drummer J.D. Daugherty has been a busy man, backing the likes of Tom Verlaine, the Roches and Willie Nile on record and on tour. Ivan Kral spent over a year on the road collaborating with Iggy Pop, though with Mr. Pop's current limbo, Kral finds himself at a turning point in his own career. Space cadet Richard DNV Sohl still has not changed his reluctance to perform live, though he would apparently like to do more studio work instead.

But it remains to the ever-articulate Lenny Kaye to summarize what was an exciting, creative era of renaissance for all of us: "I've made my transition into the 1980's. I'm satisfied not to be trapped in any particular time period. I feel stronger creatively now than I ever did. I feel like a writer again, having to rely on myself and no one else. I've been playing in bands off and on for sixteen years and I'm not about to stop now. I don't ever want to be the Sky Saxon of punk rock, or something like that, stuck with a particular category or style.

"I would have liked to see a live album come out to finish the story but unfortunately we couldn't get together a coherent body of tapes . . . I still feel awfully proud of our four albums - I think they will stand the test of time."

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