Long-term residents of the hotel had accused Smith of selling out by agreeing to play the gig. All of the hotel’s residents were invited to the private performance, including the 30 or so that are being evicted by the hotel’s new owner, Joseph Chetrit. Some residents saw the planned performance as a sign that she was backing the new owners and their controversial revamp of the hotel and the eviction of permanent residents.
Smith then pulled the show after complaints, writing on her website, Pattismith.net, she said:
In respect for the wishes of the Chelsea Hotel Tenants Association I have cancelled tonight’s performance.
Patti Smith went on to defend her involvement with the hotel and its revamp, explaining that she has been involved in a ‘dialogue’ with the hotel’s architect after hearing that the hotel was to be levelled. She added that she has offered “uncompensated advice as to the aesthetics of the renovation project” and tried to help the renovators “develop positive communication with the tenants” as well as offer advice on a possible artists-in-residence programme.
Of her planned private gig, she wrote: “My small performance for the tenants was my own idea. My hope is that we might have a nice evening and the opportunity to communicate directly… I am an independent person, not owned or directed by anyone. My allegiance is to the Hotel itself, and I have done nothing to tarnish it. It is very difficult for me to embrace change, but my great hope is to witness the Chelsea Hotel find a strong and positive place in the twenty-first century.”
Other famous former residents include Janis Joplin, Iggy Pop, Leonard Cohen and Bob Dylan. Nancy Spungen – girlfriend of Sid Vicious of the Sex Pistols – was found stabbed to death at the hotel in 1978.