Reminiscing about CBGB’s last ever show when Patti Smith covered the Ramones, Lou Reed and more
When Hilly Kristal, the legendary owner of punk venue CBGB’s in New York (not the evil twin brother of Billy Crystal), finally had to give in on the financial demands of a small music venue and close down CBGB’s there was one woman determined to make sure the venue got the send-off it deserved.
Officially closing its doors on October 15th 2006, the iconic New York stalwart was formerly a biker bar but was transformed under Kristal to become one of the most important venues in the country during the late 70s and 80s.
The letters CBGB were for Country, BlueGrass, and Blues, which all speak to Kristal’s original vision. Despite this vision, CBGB soon became a famed venue of punk rock and new wave bands like the Ramones, Television, Patti Smith Group, Blondie, and Talking Heads and the on to providing one of the only welcoming platforms for hardcore punk during the 80s.
One key figure in the birthing of such an infamous scene was Patti Smith and her band. The punk poet is a firm favourite around New York (owing much to her love-affair with the city) and she showed why she was the only choice to be on the CBGB stage back in 2006.
Covering The Rolling Stones’ ‘Gimme Shelter’ with Red Hot Chili Peppers’ Flea on bass, she adds her own unique viewpoint on the dad-rock classic. Smith then moved on to not only play a Ramones-medley with an electric and energetic enthusiasm that would’ve made the gruesome foursome proud but then offers a touching rendition of Lou Reed/Velvet Underground’s ‘Pale Blue Eyes’.
The series of covers and the performance, in general, was Patti Smith’s final farewell to the place where so much of what we consider mainstay punk rock nowadays found its first words.