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In Photos: Patti Smith’s 1976 visit to Toronto

February 27th, 2013

Patti Smith, Dec. 19,1976, at the Seneca College Field House. Photo by Vince Carlucci.
© Vince Carlucci

This March, Patti Smith is visiting Toronto, and we’re very excited for her performances here at the Gallery during our next 1st Thursdays event on March 7. She will also be participating in screenings of the film Patti Smith: Dream of Life and doing a book signing while she’s here for the exhibition Patti Smith: Camera Solo.

This won’t be Smith’s first visit to Toronto, of course. She was here more than three decades ago, in 1976, for a Patti Smith Group concert, and we were lucky to hear from a photographer who was there and captured some amazing images of Smith on stage. Below, Toronto’s Vince Carlucci describes the event that brought his appreciation for Smith and her music to a new level and shares his photos.

Camera Solo highlights the many connections between Smith’s photography and her interest in poetry and literature, and this same interest is present in her music. Thanks to Vince for his contribution and for helping us celebrate Smith’s art across all media.


Patti Smith Group
Dec. 19, 1976

Patti Smith, Dec. 19,1976, at the Seneca College Field House. Photo by Vince Carlucci.
© Vince Carlucci

I had read some “hype” about Patti Smith before seeing this performance: “Jim Morrison Re-incarnated as a Hippie Chick” or some such. Regardless, two words described this show for me, “enigmatic” and “inspirational,” as I watched the Patti Smith Group in awe.

By December of 1976, at the age of 19, my exposure to “cool” and/or revolutionary female singer-songwriter-poet-musicians was limited. Joan Baez, Nico, and Joni Mitchell come to mind. That is, until Patti Smith pulled into Toronto.

Patti Smith, Dec. 19,1976, at the Seneca College Field House. Photo by Vince Carlucci.
© Vince Carlucci

Patti Smith, Dec. 19,1976, at the Seneca College Field House. Photo by Vince Carlucci.
© Vince Carlucci

It just so happened I was studying film and photography at the campus when Patti Smith and her ensemble, The Patti Smith Group, performed their first gig in Canada.

A few months earlier a friend had played me the Horses album, the first recording. And here she was, nailing every emotion, every nuance live and in living colour. In many ways, the live performance eclipsed the studio recording.

The coolness of the recording was replaced live with an intensity and freshness that I’d never seen or expected.

Patti Smith, Dec. 19,1976, at the Seneca College Field House. Photo by Vince Carlucci.
© Vince Carlucci

Patti Smith, Dec. 19,1976, at the Seneca College Field House. Photo by Vince Carlucci.
© Vince Carlucci

Even more intriguing was the fact that this Patti Smith Group symbolized a sort of metamorphosis, or spearhead of a new movement, originating in New York City around 1975/76. A sort of necessary Cultural Revolution — not seen since the early ’60s British Invasion — what would come to be known as the New Wave.

Patti Smith, Dec. 19,1976, at the Seneca College Field House. Photo by Vince Carlucci.
© Vince Carlucci

Patti Smith, Dec. 19,1976, at the Seneca College Field House. Photo by Vince Carlucci.
© Vince Carlucci

About the Photos

All photos were shot on Dec. 19, 1976, at the Seneca College Field House, Newnham Campus on a Pentax 35 millimetre camera with a 135 telephoto lens on Kodak Black and White Tri-X film.

I processed the original negatives in my parents’ laundry room, which I would convert into a darkroom about three times a week. Along with Patti Smith, I was fortunate to have captured John Cale, Lou Reed, The Ramones, The Dead Boys, Frank Zappa, The Kinks and even Dizzy Gillespie during my tenure as a film and photography student at Seneca, between 1976 and 1979.

Three of these photos were exhibited in Your Pretty Face Is Going To Hell (name taken from an Iggy Pop song), which featured Carlucci’s never-before-published photos of the Toronto punk music scene and artists such as Iggy Pop, David Bowie, Lou Reed, Deborah Harry, John Cale, The Viletones, Teenage Head, The Ugly, Cardboard Brains, The Ramones, Frank Zappa, and The Diodes. The exhibition ran from June 10–24, 2010, at Oz Studios (134 Ossington Ave., Toronto).

Patti Smith, Dec. 19,1976, at the Seneca College Field House. Photo by Vince Carlucci.
© Vince Carlucci


About Vince Carlucci

Born June 24, 1957
Musician, Photographer, Producer, Singer, Songwriter

1977-1983 Co-writer/founder of “Cardboard Brains”
Cardboard Brains released 4 recordings:
1977 – The White E.P.
1978 – Featured on Colin Brunton’s “Last Pogo” documentary and compilation album of the same name.
1979 – The Black E.P.
1981 – Live at The Edge

In 1983, Vince formed “Secret Songs Productions”.
Under the Secret Songs Publishing, umbrella , several projects evolved, including.
1984 – The first “Station Twang “ album, Secret Sides,
1987 – Contribution of 3 songs to the Golden Reel Award winning film “The Gate”.
1988 – Co-produced and executive produced “The Lawn, Peace In The Valley Album”
1989 – Co-produced and executive produced “The Dandelions “ album, which remains unreleased.
1990 – Produced the second Station Twang Recording on CD, “Adam and Eve”
1991 – Re-issued the Secret Songs recording on CD
1992 – Released “Comprovisations”, soundtrack and instrumentals performed on piano and electronic keyboards
1993 – 2012 Station Twang continue to write and play locally and have several unreleased recordings “in the can”.
2010 – Secret Songs Sponsored a photo exhibit at “OZ Gallery” from June 4 to the 28th, displaying a sampling of Vince’s black and white photo archives which included, Patti Smith Lou Reed, John Cale, The Ramones, Iggy Pop, David Bowie, and others photographed circa 1976-1979. (see program included)
2012 – Station Twang Cinema, a compilation of original songs spanning 1990 to 2010 synched to edited found video footage.

See updates and more photos from Vince at strange-tales.tumblr.com.

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