Patti Smith and Frank Stefanko attended the same college in South Jersey during the mid-sixties and it was Patti who first recommended Frank’s work to Bruce Springsteen.
Frank recalls the time he first met Patti: “When I first saw her on campus, I knew instantly that she was not your cookie cutter classmate. Patti was rather a walking Modigliani, with elongated, sharp, angular features. She had long, raven black hair and pale blue eyes… She was stunning. She read Rimbaud and Baudelaire and carried a sketchbook everywhere she went. I wanted to be her friend. I was hardly your classic preppy student-type either. With my three-quarter Italian black leather coat, black Levis, and Flamenco style boots, I was reading Steinbeck and Sherlock Holmes, and stood tall, at six foot three. I guess we were destined to hit it off. We both liked Dylan and the Rolling Stones, so we had that in common, and I did make an impression. Many of my friends, including Patti, eventually migrated to New York City during this era of great social and creative change.”
Frank would often tell Patti just how great he thought Bruce’s music was, and when she ran into Bruce at a party in New York she let it slip to Bruce that Frank was his biggest fan. She also told him about Frank’s work as a photographer. This lead to Bruce picking up the phone to fix up that first 1978 shoot : from which the covers of Darkness on the Edge of Town and The River were born.
To quote Frank again: “Four decades have passed since Patti burst through that college co-op doorway. I feel grateful that not only did I know her, but I’ve been able to maintain a lifelong friendship with her as well. Because of my friendship with her, I’ve experienced the honor and privilege of photographing her all these years, documenting the amazing evolution of an important and very special human being.”