“No-one had brought an electric guitar in the church before… it caused a bit of a stir”: Patti Smith on her controversial first gig – and why rock belongs to the people

Patti Smith playing an acoustic guitar
(Image credit: Pascal Le Segretain/Getty Images)

Multidisciplinary artist and punk-rock pioneer Patti Smith is receiving renewed interest after being name-dropped on Taylor Swift's new album, The Tortured Poets Department.

In a 2023 interview with Harvard Business Review, Smith talked about how she used instruments – including the electric guitar – to convey her unique brand of punk poetry, which continues to inspire generations of artists. 

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Janelle Borg

Janelle is a staff writer at GuitarWorld.com. After a long stint in classical music, Janelle discovered the joys of playing guitar in dingy venues at the age of 13 and has never looked back. Janelle has written extensively about the intersection of music and technology, and how this is shaping the future of the music industry. She also had the pleasure of interviewing Dream Wife, K.Flay, Yīn Yīn, and Black Honey, among others. When she's not writing, you'll find her creating layers of delicious audio lasagna with her art-rock/psych-punk band ĠENN.