Debbie Harry and Patti Smith say farewell to CBGBs

Legendary venue closes its doors in style

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Punk-poetess Patti Smith performed the last ever show at CBGB in New York last night (October 15).

Playing for three and a half hours, to a full capacity venue, Smith performed versions of The Velvet Underground’s “Pale Blue Eyes”, Blondie’s the “Tide Is High”, and a blistering rendition of The Ramones’ “Blitzkrieg Bop.”

Her set encapsulated the wonderful punk history of the venue. With the classic punk cover versions, she managed to get many of the bands that made their name there in the 70s, to be at the farewell, even if only in spirit.


Smith and her band were later joined by Television’s Richard Lloyd and Red Hot Chili Pepper’s bassist Flea, together playing a cover version of The Who’s “My Generation” – An apt choice of song, given that at the sound-check before the gig, Smith declared, “CBGB is a state of mind, kids all over the world are going to have their own fucking clubs and they won’t care about CBGB because they’re going to have the new places and the new places are always the most important.”

Bantering anecdotes between songs, Smith said her favourite ever CBGB show “was Easter 1974, Television played. To nine people.”

There were significantly more than nine people last night though. Even fans who had bought tickets were refused entry for health and safety reasons. The sold out crowd included actors Ed Burns and Elijah Wood, plus ex-Talking Heads Tina Weymouth and Chris Frantz, E Street band/Soprano’s star Steve Van Zandt and singer Jesse Malin


Debbie Harry also played a farewell gig at CBGBs on Saturday night (October 14).

The Blondie star performed classic hits “Hanging On The Telephone”, “Call Me” and “Tide Is High”. Like Patti Smith, a cover of The Ramones’ “I Want To Be Your Boyfriend” was included in the set to rapturous applause.

As previously reported, the club on New York’s Bowery is closing due to spiraling rent costs. A franchise of CBGB is set to open in Las Vegas next year.


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