Patti Smith opened a multi night engagement at Philadelphia's intimate
music venue, the Bijou Cafe on Wednesday December 17, 1975
to coincide with the release a few days later of her highly touted
debut album, "Horses." NEWSWEEK had decided
to review the album, for the issue that would be out that coming
Tuesday, December 16th, after one of my classes, from college, I
called one of the photo editors there, to ask him if he was interested
in looking at any photos of the Who. (I had just shot the
Who concert, the night before, having been given credentials for
that show thru Bob Guccione, Jr. Bob published a rock'n roll
magazine, called "Rock Superstars." He was cool,
nice and about my age. He liked some photos that I'd done
Rolling Stones and gave me one of my initial breaks, having
me shoot some major concert acts for his magazine.) Anyway
NEWSWEEK decided to pass on the Who, but the editor asked me if
I was going to shoot Patti Smith that week. I responded that
I might, but had not decided and were they interested. He
told me to call him back in a couple of hours.
was way before cell phones and inexpensive long distance calls.
I'm not sure how, but I had found out that if I would go
to the Theatre department, where I was taking a theatrical lighting
class, and if I picked up the wall phone in the backstage area,
it would connect to the school switchboard. Then I would say,
"Hi, I need to make a long distance call, Could you please
give me a line to New York?" The operator was very nice
and never asked me who I was. And she would dial the number for
me. Since it worked from that specific phone once, that is
the phone I would use for most of my New York calls. And it
worked every time, so I figured that one of the theatre professors
probably made frequent calls to New York, so the operator being
used to this, never questioned it.
you can imagine I am fairly excited at this point, hoping that I
can get through at least one more call, before my luck runs out.
I asked for the line, and was connected. During the conversation
the editor decided to send me, and asks me if I'll have any trouble
getting in? I told him no. (As it turns out, at the
Who show the night before, another photographer who I did not know,
had talked with me for a few moments, and mentioned the Patti Smith
shows. I asked him who the contact person from her record
company was, and he kindly gave me the mans name.) I drove
home and told my parents that I got a job for NEWSWEEK. I
was so excited. I think I called the Philadelphia promotion
man from Arista Records the next morning, which was Wednesday, the
day of the show. I told him I wanted to come to shoot Patti
for NEWSWEEK. I think he was as excited as I was. A
writer would be taking the train from New York, and I would be driving
into Philly from Bucks County. He told me what time the show
would start and that he would meet me inside the Bijou Cafe.
I was 18 years old at the time and the legal age for bars and nightclubs
in Pennsylvania was and is 21. In New York and New Jersey
it was 18, but this was PA. No one asked me for ID, perhaps
because I was working, I don't know why. There was an opening
act before Patti and her band, the Patti Smith Group, which featured
guitarist, Lenny Kaye, (behind Patti in photo above), would go on.
I was served a Heineken while being shown around the small club,
and it was packed. Patti, it seemed, already had a following
of loyal fans waiting for her to go on. I found a vantage
point to begin shooting from, and felt quite good. I was very
excited and proud to have this chance to work for a major magazine.
I worked hard, and had a great time listening to the concert, as
I did. I had not really known Patti Smiths music prior to
this night, but was impressed with her performance. The energy
in her delivery was powerful. This was the first of several
visits for me to the Bijou, including one a couple months later,
to shoot Steve Martin, in his stand up comedy routine.
the photographer . .
Steve Landis has travelled through many parts of the world during a career in professional photography incorporating the areas of photojournalism, fashion, beauty, and celebrity portrait photography for major publications for over 25 years. Steve has turned his life over to Yeshua the Messiah, (Jesus the Christ) and now primarily photographs weddings, family, actor, and executive portraits.
"I have been greatly blessed during my life and give the glory and thanks to Yeshua for a renewed life of peace and joy," states Landis.