Patti Smith Cancels Controversial Hotel Chelsea Concert

By Mathew Katz on January 12, 2012 7:18pm 

Patti Smith performs in Venice, Italy in Sept. 2011. The songstress is set to put on a private show at the Hotel Chelsea on Thursday.
Patti Smith performs in Venice, Italy in Sept. 2011. The songstress is set to put on a private show at the Hotel Chelsea on Thursday.
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Pascal Le Segretain/Getty Images

CHELSEA — Songstress Patti Smith has canceled a performance at the Hotel Chelsea that had been set for Thursday evening but sparked controversy among the historic building's remaining residents.

“In respect for the wishes of the Chelsea Hotel Tenants Association, I have canceled tonight’s performance,” Smith wrote in a statement. “My motivation was solely to serve the tenants. If this serves them better, than I am satisfied.”

After receiving invitations to Thursday’s concert, the hotel’s roughly 80 residents largely slammed it as a sell-out move by singer-songwriter Smith — and a shady PR ploy by the hotel’s new owners, the Chetrit Group.

The hotel’s tenants have been locked in an extended legal battle over the safety of a renovation project at the building, and the Chetrit Group has filed eviction motions against several longtime residents.

Tenants reacted positively to the news that Smith had canceled the concert. In their own statement issued Thursday afternoon, the hotel’s tenant association declined the invitation to the concert, questioning the timing and citing an ongoing lawsuit over the renovation.

“This turn of publicity overshadows our concerns, and conversation with management, and we fear our participation in this event will be misconstrued,” it said.

The statement went on to say that the tenants represented by the association hope to come together with the hotel’s new management in a constructive way.

Smith played a show at the hotel for representatives of the developer and the building’s new management company, King and Grove, on Wednesday, residents said.

Some residents and protesters had planned to gather outside the hotel to rally against the concert and recite lyrics to Smith’s iconic song, “The People Have The Power” Thursday evening. It was unclear if the protest would still occur after Smith canceled the show.

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