/Patti Smith says photographer Lynn Goldsmith took her “out of the black and white world”

Patti Smith says photographer Lynn Goldsmith took her “out of the black and white world”


Punk legend Patti Smith and longtime friend photographer Lynn Goldsmith, who shot Smith’s iconic “Easter” album cover, are celebrating a nearly five decade collaboration in a new book. “Before Easter After” is a collection of Goldsmith’s photographs of Smith from when they first met in the mid-70s.

“She’s my favorite to photograph,” Goldsmith said. One of her favorite pictures was used on the single cover of Smith’s hit “Because the Night,” she told “CBS This Morning” co-host Anthony Mason. 

Goldsmith had encouraged Smith to try something new. The cover of her debut album, “Horses,” shot by Robert Mapplethorpe, was in black and white.

“One of the things I was struck by in looking at — through the book is there’s a lot of really bright color,” Mason said.

“I feel that Patti is electric,” Goldsmith responded. “You know you want who you think that person is to be honored in the picture — to become iconic.”
 
“She took me out of the black and white world and put me in color,” Smith said. 

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Lynn Goldsmith/TASCHEN


Together, the two explored “everything,” Smith said.What did you say once? That we were like two girls playing.”

But they didn’t always agree at first. “I’d walk in and she’d have flowers strewn all over the floor,” Smith recalled. “I’d say, I don’t want to do that.”
 
“I had photographed Grand Funk (Railroad) for an album cover, ‘Born To Die,’ … and there were … funeral flowers,” Goldsmith said. 

She had the flowers from the shoot delivered to her loft. “I called up Patti and I said, ‘I’ve got all these flowers, come on over.'”

That wasn’t the only time Goldsmith gave Smith “Grand Funk leftovers,” Smith said, referencing another photo of her with more than a dozen champagne bottles. “I don’t even drink champagne,” Smith said. 

“I was also co-managing Grand Funk Railroad and backstage at every show … we had to have Dom Perignon and nobody drank it, so I always had it sent back to my apartment in New York,” Goldsmith said. 

Goldsmith traveled with Smith on tour, and was there the night in January 1977 when Smith fell from the stage. She caught the moment on camera. “I actually feel quite guilty about it,” Goldsmith said.

But Smith, who fractured her back, tailbone, cervical vertebrae and skull, and needed 52 stitches, told her not to feel guilty. “It was the shot,” she said. 

Goldsmith also captured Smith’s rehabilitation. “It was grueling,” Smith said. “Some things I lost. And the thing that I gained was, you know, this inner resilience that I still have.”

Her five-month recovery felt like a resurrection to her and she asked Goldsmith to explore that theme for her next album cover. “I drove her crazy because for ‘Easter,’ I wanted the cover to look like a holy card,” Smith said. “She had to find the right pinks and pale blues and symbolic colors and flowers for my hair. I mean we even thought of getting a little lamb.”

“And when she projected this photograph which was just me adjusting the bobby pins in my hair … she got this … thrust that I had been unable to do for months,” Smith said. “That was the one we took.”

But the photo got them in “a lot of trouble,” Smith said.
 
“When Arista (Records) first got it they airbrushed out the underarm hair, which is like, not Patti,” Goldsmith said. “They had to put it back.”

“And it caused the record not to be racked, even when it had a hit song on it, it hurt the album,” Smith said. “The initial concept I imagined, you know, so radiantly holy. And it wound up a picture that teenage boys were tacking up on their wall. … But, I think the picture is beautiful.”
 
The book also includes images of some personal items like Smith’s beloved stage boots, and intimate moments like the shot of Smith stopping the tour bus to call her late husband, Fred “Sonic” Smith.
 
“That’s why in ‘Because the Night’ it says, ‘Have I doubt when I’m alone, Love is the ring, the telephone,’ and it was about talking with Fred,” Smith said.
 
“All of these things suddenly come to life,” Smith said. “They didn’t disappear in time. They’re all there. And I’m so happy about that.”