Patti Smith - behind the scenes at her open air poetry reading at the erstwhile Licorice Pizza, Los Angeles, 1978
I've said it many times: Patti Smith is the one who punk'd me. Maybe it was that I discovered her while I was in college studying literature - French Imagist poetry, at that... and she too revered Arthur Rimbaud so much that she name-checked him in her own poetry and in her music... maybe it was Jay Dee Daugherty, the drummer in her band, a home-boy who left the warm California sun to be a pioneering NYC punk... whatever it was, Patti Smith touched a great many people around the world, and she left quite a mark on Los Angeles.
Back in the mid-70s when Patti Smith and her band started playing regularly, there was a close-knit group of us who flocked to see her over and over again. We all became friends through our common bond of punk rock, which for Los Angeles began right along with the early Patti Smith shows.
My friend, another photographer, Donna Santisi was another who was deeply influenced and inspired by Patti. Of all us photographers in LA taking pictures of our friends and new anti-heroes, Donna was the first to put out a monograph.
Donna called her collection ASK THE ANGELS, after the Patti Smith song, and the volume is dedicated to Patti for "inspiration, motivation and communication."
The cover girls are Hellin Killer and Trudie. Marcy Blaustein compiled and edited the book. These people were our friends, but Hellin and Trudie have become living legends and icons of LA punk rock, alongside musicians like John Doe and Exene, Dave Alvin, Darby Crash, Joan Jett and so many others.
Donna's book was published in 1978.
Now, there's an updated edition, with images going all the up til 1980. The original book was spiral-bound across the top and measured about 5x7 inches. The new edition is perfect-bound and measures 8.5 x 11 - in short, a trade paperback sorta coffee-table sized book!
Donna will be at Book Soup on the Sunset Strip on Thursday, August 12 at 7 PM to talk about the book and the stories behind the photos and sign it. If you are in the LA area, check it out. If you're not in LA, check out Donna's work online at santisiphotography.com