Saturday, July 28, 2007

brushes with greatness: patti smith

Okay, so here's my kick ass story about the Patti Smith concert at the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame as part of yesterday's The Early Show on CBS. I wake up at 3:30am and get down to the Rock Hall at 5am... well, I think I was actually a few minutes late for work as usual, but seeing as the other production assistants didn't show up yet, nobody noticed. So somewhere around 5:30am I take this big bag of garbage from the stage area in front of the Rock Hall down to the back loading dock. Mind you, it's absolutely pouring rain and totally dark, especially behind the Rock Hall. So, I'm standing in the back with this huge bag of garbage over my shoulder and up pulls this big black limousine. I look around and notice that I'm the only one in that area of the Rock Hall grounds. Out of the limo comes the driver and then Patti's assistant, and then the rock legend herself pops out of the backseat. She gets out wearing her signature little black hat and she looks around and then looks at me and then says, "Hello! Good morning." I said, "Hello," and just thought to myself: how cool is that that this gritty folk punk rock superstar would actually say hello to a guy carrying a huge bag of garbage in the pouring rain at 5:30am? I love her forever now.
I Tivo-ed all the CBS morning shows yesterday, because I figured I'd be running around in the background somewhere, and sure enough during the 5:30am-6am show I was doing just that.
Anyhow, after her mini-concert she gets off the stage and goes behind the stage and steps on one of these big dolly's that the stagehands use to compile and move all the big pieces of the stage. Patti doesn't notice or care that this giant dolly is on wheels. So, she climbs onto this thing to greet people and sign autographs and have her picture taken by amateur photographers and the press, so I realize this platform she's on could possibly start to roll away or at worst she could get hurt, so I'm bracing the dolly and locking it with my arms together with one of the metal bike-rack-looking crowd barrier things. I'm like a foot away from her and she says hello again to me, not realizing I'm making sure she's safe from harm's way and I notice this guy with no legs in a wheelchair. Well, actually, during the concert I was asking people to move out of his way so he could see... including some woman in a suit who looked at me with a death look and then proceeded to enter the VIP area to show me how special she was. In any event, the guy in the wheelchair was clutching a black and white promo photograph of Patti and a Sharpie. So, after she was done with giving autographs she announces to the crowd that she has to leave. I say, "Excuse me, Patti... but can you sign this guy in the wheelchair's photo?" And she's like, "Of course, Honey." And she goes over to him and they talk for a minute and she asks what his name is so that she can personalize the autograph. And he says, "Well, today is my birthday, so can you write Happy Birthday?" She does him one better. She signs the photograph and then proceeds to sing him the Happy Birthday song. He was glowing.
Patti Smith is a class act. I give her major props for being such an awesome person.
So, again, I Tivo-ed the CBS Early Show and was so excited that my film teacher, Cindy Penter, and her husband Gordon, and her friend Frank were filmed in the crowd like at least three times. Here's a still:


  1. I love Cindy. She's the best. Viva la Hippies. Derek you're pretty cool too.

  2. This is a cool story. Thank you for sharing this with other people. I love Patti Smith. And this is another thing that is really wonderful of her.