Electric Lady Studio

Electric Lady Studio

52 W 8th St, New York, NY 10011

Recording Studio

Jimi Hendrix’s Electric Lady Studios, on West Eighth Street, was where Patti Smith recorded her debut DIY single and Horses, her debut album released by the major label, Arista.


Patti Smith Makes a DIY Single


With no major labels interested in signing an androgynous poet-singer, Patti Smith decided to do it herself. Lenny Kaye had produced an album by the Sidewinders for RCA Records and previously played on a single as a teenager, so he knew his way around the studio. “We recorded our single in June of 1974,” he said, “mostly just because I knew that you could make records easily from hanging out in these record stores.” Robert Mapplethorpe loaned them the money to press a seven-inch single, which was recorded at Jimi Hendrix’s Electric Lady Studios on West Eighth Street. The Patti Smith Group performed the Hendrix staple “Hey Joe,” along with one of her original songs, “Piss Factory,” to which Tom Verlaine added guitar. The group began distributing the single via mail order, at local bookstores and record stores, and during Smith’s shows—where Jane Friedman sold them out of a large shopping bag. “The DIY way of working in the poetry world was completely assumed,” Richard Hell said, “so that idea leaked into the music world when Patti Smith and Lenny Kaye pressed their single.” Hell also pointed out that this independent route was a continuation of what Warhol had done when he produced the first Velvet Underground record. Instead of waiting to sign to a major label, he paid for the sessions himself so as to avoid being constrained by record company executives.

From Chapter 31 of The Downtown Pop Underground — order online, or from a local independent bookstore