Patti Smith Plays Songs by The Ramones, Rolling Stones, Lou Reed & More on CBGB’s Closing Night (2006)

Club own­er Hil­lel Kristal’s leg­endary CBGB died a slow death. A long, drawn-out affair that, when it came on Octo­ber 15, 2006, seemed inevitable. The old venue’s state then was per­fect­ly described by Ben Sis­ario in the New York Times as “the famous­ly crum­bling rock club that has been in con­tin­u­ous, loud oper­a­tion since Decem­ber 1973, serv­ing as the casu­al head­quar­ters and dank incu­ba­tor for some of New York’s most revered groups.”

But CBGB’s still had some life in it, as did all of the old New York haunts that fold­ed under Giu­liani and Bloomberg. CBGB out­last­ed so much of old New York that it seemed inde­struc­tible, and thus slight­ly annoy­ing until it was gone. Yet it need­ed to be seen into the next world in real style, and so it was, all thanks to Pat­ti Smith.

On the club’s clos­ing night, Smith and band con­vened to pay trib­ute to that “dank incu­ba­tor” by play­ing not only the bands it birthed but those who came before. At the top, see their live take on the Stones’ “Gimme Shel­ter.” It lacks the strange del­i­ca­cy of the orig­i­nal, but once Smith takes off her glass­es and Flea, who sat in for a few tunes, cuts loose, it’s a seri­ous rock­er. Smith’s ad-lib at the end is as cap­ti­vat­ing as her announcement—“Rolling Stones!”—is unnec­es­sary.

Smith’s band also played a Ramones med­ley (above) more than wor­thy of the for­mi­da­ble Queens four­some. Sure, any­one could play these songs—that was the point. But not many could so well cap­ture the Ramones’ tune­ful enthu­si­asm in the New York band’s ances­tral home.

Last­ly we bring you Smith and band’s “Pale Blue Eyes.” Although this footage pre­dates Reed’s pass­ing by sev­en years, it’s still a poignant trib­ute to the man who per­haps more than any oth­er musi­cian and writer inspired the ethos of the old CBGB. With­out Lou Reed, we would have no… bet­ter not to fin­ish that sen­tence. Enjoy the CBGB trib­ute above and see more of the final night’s cel­e­bra­tion here.

Relat­ed Con­tent:

CBGB’s: The Roots of Punk Lets You Watch Vin­tage Footage from the Hey­day of NYC’s Great Music Scene

The Ramones in Their Hey­day, Filmed “Live at CBGB,” 1977

The Talk­ing Heads Play CBGB, the New York Club that Shaped Their Sound (1975)

Pat­ti Smith Sings “You Light Up My Life” with Com­pos­er Joe Brooks on 1979 Show Kids Are Peo­ple Too

Josh Jones is a writer and musi­cian based in Durham, NC. Fol­low him at @jdmagness

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