Michael Stipe Celebrates Patti Smith’s 70th
Longtime collaborators Patti Smith and Lenny Kaye celebrated their 70th birthdays during a pair of performances shortly before New Year’s Eve. Kaye, who has been Smith’s guitarist since her earliest days playing poetry clubs, marked his birthday with a performance featuring Smith and her band at their old haunt New York’s Bowery Ballroom on December 27. The one-off show also served as a reminder of the New Year’s residency Smith hosted at the Lower East Side haunt for many years. Earlier on in the show, Blue Öyster Cult’s Albert Bouchard emerged for a take on his band’s “Astronomy.” (Smith contributed lyrics to Blue Öyster Cult over the years.) Soon after, the ensemble presented Kaye with a cake and sang him “Happy Birthday” before jumping into a cover of Jimi Hendrix’s “If 6 Was 9.”
Just three days later Smith marked her 70th with a far larger home town show at Chicago’s Riviera Theatre. Once again backed by her group—with her son Jackson Smith and Andy York subbing for multi-instrumentalist Jack Petruzzelli—Smith ran through a mix of originals and covers, including a take on Burt Bacharach’s “My Little Red Book” sung by Kaye. Later, her daughter Jesse Paris-Smith, R.E.M. frontman and old friend Michael Stipe and Karen Nelson took the stage to give Smith a cake of her own and sing “Happy Birthday.” They returned at the end of the show too for a sing-along take on the anthem “People Have the Power.” Smith and Kaye then closed their birthday run with another show at Riviera Theatre on New Year’s Eve proper.