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Fan Returns Items Stolen From Patti Smith Over 30 Years Ago

KELLY MCEVERS, HOST:

Poet and rock 'n' roll legend Patti Smith just got a big surprise. She's on tour for her latest book, and at a Q-and-A session on Sunday in suburban Chicago, this happened.

RACHEL WEAVER: A woman just pops up in the audience - and just really forceful - and is like, Patti, I have some things of yours. And Patti's just like, OK, calm down. What's going on (laughter)?

MCEVERS: That's Rachel Weaver. She co-owns The Book Table. It's a bookstore in Oak Park, Ill.

AUDIE CORNISH, HOST:

The fan was Noreen Bender, and it turns out she had a few things that were stolen from Patti Smith in the 1970s. It's thought the items were lost when a rental truck went missing after one of Smith's Chicago gigs.

MCEVERS: Turns out the stuff was pretty important to Patti Smith, like the T-shirt she was wearing when she first met Bob Dylan, and a big headband that Smith held up for the crowd. Someone caught Patti Smith talking about both of them on this video.

(SOUNDBITE OF VIDEO)

PATTI SMITH: I used to, like, wear this, like, on my head 'cause I thought it was really cool.

(LAUGHTER)

SMITH: This is the shirt that was on the cover of Rolling Stone.

UNIDENTIFIED WOMAN: Oh, my God. It is unbelievable.

CORNISH: But the most important memento returned to Patti Smith was a red bandana which she held onto all night before happily pocketing. It was her brother, Todd's. He was her tour manager. He died in the early '90s.

(SOUNDBITE OF VIDEO)

SMITH: He gave me this. He wore it when we saw Jimi Hendrix and then he gave it to me, and I would wear it like this. Sorry.

(APPLAUSE)

CORNISH: Rachel Weaver, the bookstore owner, said Smith got choked up and the audience did too.

WEAVER: She was really pleased and just really happy. I mean, she didn't let the bandana out of her sight.

MCEVERS: But the question was how did this fan get all of Patti Smith's stuff? Patti Smith says she doesn't care. She's just happy to have that bandana back in her pocket.

(SOUNDBITE OF SONG, "LOOKING FOR YOU")

SMITH: (Singing) I was looking for you. Looking for you. What can I do? I was looking for you. Along the black river, the ambassador jewels and you were reflected in all that I saw. Transcript provided by NPR, Copyright NPR.