Childhood & Early Life
Patricia Smyth was born on June 26, 1957, in New York City, US, to Betty and George Smyth. Her father was a construction worker, while her mother was a night club owner. Betty also worked as a trapeze artist and served as the manager of noted rock'n'roll guitarist Link Wray. Smyth’s parents later divorced. She grew up in the Brooklyn neighbourhood Gerritsen Beach. He has an elder sister named Elizabeth.
When she was twelve, Smyth fell on the wrong side of the law and was arrested a couple of times. These arrests were made on the grounds of harassing an officer, and waiting on a street corner to purchase narcotics.
At age fifteen, she did her first music gig at the Folk City in New York City when she sang a song by British singer-songwriter and multi-instrumentalist Cat Stevens. She also played musical sets at ‘Catch A Rising Star’ comedy club. While struggling with her music endeavours, she sustained herself by working as a waitress in a steak house. She also came up with her first real band, ‘Patty and the Planets.’
Continue Reading Below
While working as a waitress in a steak house sometime in the early 1980s, she received a call from guitarist Zack Smith, which led Smyth to join the band ‘Scandal’ in 1981. The American rock band was formed by Zack the same year in New York City.
Smyth gained initial recognition and national attention as the lead vocalist of ‘Scandal’ that garnered considerable success in its early years. The self-titled debut EP of the band, released in 1982, emerged as the biggest selling EP released by Columbia Records. One of its tracks, ‘Goodbye to You,’ peaked at #5 on Billboard's Album Rock play list.
The success of the ‘Scandal’ EP was followed by that of the debut and the only full-length album of the band titled ‘Warrior.’ Released on August 21, 1984, by Columbia Records, the album peaked at #17 on the U.S. Billboard Hot 200 album charts while its lead single, ‘The Warrior,’ won a ‘BMI Airplay Award’ and peaked at the ‘Canadian RPM Top Singles’ ‘US Billboard Album Rock Tracks’ charts, and at #7 on the ‘US Billboard Hot 100’ chart.
Although Smyth’s fame surged with the success of the band, which by now had spawned charted hit tracks like ‘Love's Got a Line on You’ (1983) and ‘Hands Tied’ (1984), but internal differences among band members resulted in the disbanding of ‘Scandal’ in 1985.
She received an offer to replace David Lee Roth as the lead vocalist of American hard rock band, ‘Van Halen,’ as she was eight months pregnant.
She contributed as accompanying vocalist to a song (Where Do the Children Go) of ‘The Hooters’ album, ‘Nervous Night.’
She released her debut solo album, ‘Never Enough,’ through Columbia Records, in 1987. The album was well received and peaked at #66 in the US. The album’s title track peaked at #4 on the ‘U.S. Mainstream Rock Tracks,’ and the version of Tom Waits’ song, ‘Downtown Train,’ reached #40 on the ‘Mainstream’ chart.
On August 18, 1992, she released her second studio album, the eponymous ‘Patty Smyth’ that went gold with the popularity of its first single, ‘Sometimes Love Just Ain't Enough.’ The track peaked at #2 on the ‘Billboard Hot 100’ and also garnered Gold from the RIAA. It received a Grammy nomination in the Best Pop Vocal, Duo or ‘Group’ category. Other hit tracks from the album were ‘No Mistakes’ and ‘I Should Be Laughing.’
She also contributed as backing singer to many songs of the albums, ‘The End of the Innocence’ and ‘Building The Perfect Beast.
The 1994 song ‘Look What Love Has Done,’ co-written by Smyth, was included as the theme song of the American comedy film, ‘Junior’ (1994). The song received a Grammy nomination and was also nominated for the Academy Award for Best Original Song.
She co-wrote and performed in ‘Wish I Were You,’ from the original soundtrack album of the blockbuster hit American sci-fi disaster film, ‘Armageddon’ (1998).
In 2004, ‘Scandal’ reunited and included Smyth for VH1's Bands Reunited show. They did an array of concerts on the United States East Coast in 2005. Again in the summer of 2006, the band reunited for the ‘We Are the '80s’ tour of VH1. A new ‘Scandal’ compilation CD was released by Columbia/Legacy that year.
Billboard reported in July 2008 that Patty Smyth and Scandal would be coming up with new music and would feature original members, Keith Mack and Benjy King. On January 17, 2009, after more than two decades, Patty Smyth and Scandal debuted their first single, ‘Hard for You to Love Me,’ that is also referred as ‘Make It Hard as a band’ in Ridgefield, Connecticut.
On November 20, 2015, she released her Christmas album, ‘Come On December,’ which included the track, ‘Broken.’ Earlier, while promoting the album’s release, a campaign was crowd-funded by Smyth in support of Headstrong Project and money raised from pre-orders of the album went to the ‘Headstrong Project.’
She was married to American singer-songwriter, bass guitarist, and writer Richard Hell from 1985 to 1987. She has a daughter, Ruby, with him (born in 1985).
In 1993, she met John McEnroe and on December 27, 1995, their first daughter, Anna, was born. On May 23, 1997, she married McEnroe and their second daughter, Ava, was born on March 28, 1999.