Officially Patty Smyth Biography
by Carrie Fisher
reprinted without permission
Born in New York City to Betty and George Smyth, several years prior to Kennedy’s tragic assassination, Patty spent her childhood in three out of five possible boroughs – – Queens, Brooklyn, and Manhattan — with her elder sibling Elizabeth. Recovering fairly rapidly from the sting of not having been given a middle name, and her parents’ divorce, Patty recieved a generic limited education at the hands of the New York public school system. Indeed, some of her early songwriting sensibilities was informed by this low brow education — but it was later successfully treated with antibiotics and has since virtually disappeared from her musical styling.
Miss Smyth’s vocational gene pool consists of a male construction worker and a female night club owner. Clearly, Miss Smyth’s pull was toward the musically of the night club persuasion, although many claim she is “very good with her hands” and “a lot of fun on a work site.”
Far more compelled to dance with the band on stage than studying with the class at school, Patty was soon to be found singing everywhere, all the time. As there is basically no known antibiotic to cure this cheerful condition, Patty continues to this day to labor jauntily under this influence; this singing influence, or “Songster’s Influenza” as it has come to be known.
No biography would be complete without a nod to the subject’s arrest record. (Arrest record/recording artist — think about it.) Patty was arrested twice as a juvenile of twelve, once for harassing an officer, and again for standing on a street corner with intent to buy narcotics. (Or was it loitering with intent to puchase an officer and again for harassing a narcotic?!) The files have been, quote, “misplaced”, so little is known.
Patty’s first gig at the age of fifteen was at New York’s Folk City. She recalls singing a Cat Stevens song. (Everyone knows of Mr. Stevens subsequent questionable involvement with the Muslims — a move for which Patty accepts only partial responsibility.)
Following her fruitless but erotic brush with the law, Patty became a member of a bad nameless rock band in her mother’s club. Patty spent years floundering and festering until the formation of her first real band, “Patty and the Planets.”
Their first job was on a boat in Philadelphia singing only James Brown songs, as they watched their musical equipment sway and slide with the rolling Philly tide. Unbeknownst to her, Patty had begun amassing the modicum of hyper dignity that was to become a thriving part of her swelling trademark.
Subsequently, Patty experienced an invigorating bout of waitressing at a comedy club with such looniaries as Jerry Seinfeld, Larry Miller and Paul Reiser. (Everyone knows of Mr. Seinfeld’s subsequent television success, an event for which Patty accepts slightly more than partial responsibility.)
Somewhere in the eighties, Patty answered a pay phone in a steak house she was waitressing, and it was musician Zack Smith, who had been looking for Patty to join his band Scandal. Patty promptly did so, and a short time later the band had their first hit song, “Goodbye to You,” enabling them to tour with nearly every top band for about a year as the sacrificial opening act.
With Patty’s first money, she moved out of her tragic East Village apartment (T.E.V.A.) and into a less tragic East Village duplex. (L.T.E.V.D.)
Scandal’s debut album was the largest selling EP in the history of Columbia Records.
After touring for one year (O.Y.) and having a lot of facials, Patty went directly back into the studio with Scandal and recorded their second album; the album “The Warrior”. The album sold over one million copies, and had the band’s first top ten single, also coincidentally called “The Warrior.”
An article was done on Patty at the time in The Wall Street Journal about how one can sell a multiplatinum album and still not make any money — after recouping the cost of tour and video support and, of course, all those costly psychiatrist bills.
Having less financial security than her recent success implied, Patty did what any white, moderately educated New York chick would do — she promptly married a less financially secure New York poet (Richard Hell, musician, poet and occasional contributer to Rolling Stone – RR) and had a child. The real success of this comic endeavor was her daughter Ruby, who more than compensated Patty for her deficiency in funds and questionable taste in men.
After the newly single, formerly Mrs. Hell divorced, she completed her first solo album, Never Enough, which to Patty Smyth’s mind, and tragically, some others’, was hardly enough indeed.
After a period of fruitless introspection, and once again amassing that hyper dignity that has become her swelling trademark, our Miss Patty has rounded up the usual suspects and returned to the scene of the crime by cutting her new album, called, coincidentally, “Patty Smyth”. (also her name) Patty returns to us fresh from a long life, with a collection of songs to reflect this period of refilling the well — or possibly, a long sojourn at a writer’s block party.
The album’s first single, “Sometimes Love Just Ain’t Enough,” is a duet with the fabulous Don Henley. (Everyone knows of Mr. Henley’s on-going battle with bachelorhood — a phase for which Miss Smyth accepts only partial credit and some vocal back-up.)
Having accepted only partial responsibility for ever so many things, Miss Smyth would like at this time to take full and terrifying responsibility for her daughter, her singing voice, many of the songs on her new album, her courage, and her legs.
A special thanks from Ms. Smyth to Carrie Fisher for writing the “Officially Patty Smyth Biography.” In return, she will be writing a song for Ms. Fisher’s next novel. (Post Partum From The Edge.)
(Following the success of her 1993 album, Patty returned to New York City, and became involved with John McEnroe, the famous tennis player. In December of 1995, she gave birth to a second daughter, Anna. In April of 1997, Patty married John in a ceremony in Hawaii. In March of 1999, Patty and John had another daughter, Ava. Patty still plans to continue her career, although, as she says, “My plate is pretty full” — RR)
This biography was reprinted from the (late) Patty Smyth Fan Club Newsletter of Spring and Summer 1993. (Which this fan club is not associated with)