Ivan Král, Patti Smith Group Member, Songwriter, Dies at 71

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The Patti Smith Group in a publicity photo (Král, 2nd from right)

Ivan Král, a core member of the Patti Smith Group who went on to write songs for other artists, direct films, produce records and more, died Sunday (Feb. 2) at his Michigan home. The cause was cancer; Král was 71.

Král’s death was confirmed online by his wife and fellow musicians.

Born in Prague in what was then called Czechoslovakia, on May 12, 1948, Král moved to the United States with his diplomat parents in 1966 as refugees. He began playing music professionally in the early ’70s, performing in New York venues with his band Luger. In 1973 he joined Shaun Cassidy’s band, then played briefly with Blondie before joining Smith in 1975.

Related: Watch Patti Smith perform “People Have the Power” with U2

Král stayed with the singer’s band, primarily as bassist, through 1979, as she helped usher in the punk movement; he appeared on her first four albums—Horses, Radio Ethiopia, Easter and Wave—and co-wrote some of the band’s most popular songs with Smith, including “Dancing Barefoot,” “Ask the Angels” and “Pissing in a River.”

Watch the Patti Smith Group, with Král on guitar, performing “Because the Night” in 1978

After leaving Smith (who began a long hiatus in 1979), Král joined up with Iggy Pop, appearing on the singer’s albums Soldier and Party, for which he not only served as guitarist but as co-writer. He also worked with singer John Waite, recording on three of the former Babys leader’s solo albums, and collaborated with guitarist Mick Ronson, John Cale and others.

Král in 2011 (From Wikipedia)

Král became involved as a film director in the late ’60s, a vocation which occupied him increasingly during the following decade. He filmed many of the punk groups of the New York scene, making one of the first compilation films documenting the nascent punk scene, Blank Generation, in 1976.

Král released a series of solo albums, starting with 1992’s Native. He returned to Prague in 1993 following the fall of Communism and worked with ock bands there as musician, producer and songwriter.

Watch Král perform “Dancing Barefoot,” a song he co-wrote with Patti Smith

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