Shure endorser Patti Smith accepts no substitutes for her Shure SM58
NEW YORK, NY, June 3, 2008 — Proto-punk pioneer, spiritual lost child of Rimbaud, Blake, and Burroughs, a woman whose intense poetry and aggressive rock music sent shock waves through the New York underground in the '70s: After 61 years of memories, loss, triumphs, and wayward adventures, Patti Smith is still a restless cauldron of ideas, and throughout her legendary career onstage and in the studio, she has yet to choose anything else but a Shure SM58 for vocals.
“I carry one around with me just in case,” she says matter-of-factly, just as if her favorite microphone was a cell phone or set of car keys. “It’s handy to have if I’m out somewhere and someone tries to hand me a mic I don’t like to use for whatever purpose—then I just politely ask them if I could use my own microphone. The SM58 sounds… Well, I’m not overly technical, but if I use anything other than an SM58, it doesn’t sound like me. It has always been my microphone of choice.”
Smith readily admits that she didn’t know much about microphones coming up through the club scene in the early ‘70s prior to the release of Horses, her first studio record. But when she saw a Shure advertisement featuring Mick Jagger singing into an SM58, she figured what was good enough for Mick was good enough for her.
“Once I was able to comprehend I had a choice and realized how consistent, reliable, and sturdy the mic was, I made the commitment,” she relates, looking back to when the marriage was made. “I use the SM58 onstage and in the studio, it has as natural sound as you can get with a microphone—others sound ‘tinny’. This is not some psychological thing on my part either. I could do a blindfold test with other microphones and know which one was my Shure immediately.”
Over the years, Smith has bashed, trashed, and badly thrashed many SM58s, all with no ill effect on her performance. Always choosing a hardwired model over wireless simply because she best relates to being on the end of a cord and making use of it in her act, she admits unabashedly that while she has used and owned countless SM58s at this point in life, she has indeed had a special attachment to some among the group.
“Oh, I've had favorites, all right, they’re the ones that I keep using seemingly forever,” she says with almost the affection of mother to child. “They get knocked over on the mic stand, beat to death on the road, and they just keep going. You get to a point, however, that you have to put them aside for aesthetic reasons if nothing else, they get so beat-up. When that happens, it's just like when they retire an athlete's jersey and number for me.”
Given her track record over the years as a free-thinking spirit who asks us all to openly question what we see and the things happening in the world around us, it may come as surprising to some that she would endorse anything, let alone add her name to the official roster of Shure endorsing artists.
“I don't have any problem with such a thing,” Smith adds, setting the record straight. “I'm proud to be associated with Shure. This is my microphone and always has been. It's a classic. Guitarists will turn to certain guitars to get a certain sound. For me as a singer, it's no different with microphones. There is no substitute for the sound of Shure.”