Patti Smith Pays Tribute to Ric Ocasek, John Cohen at Detroit Show

Patti Smith
Daniel Boczarski/Redferns

Patti Smith performs during Riot Fest at Douglas Park on Sept. 15, 2019 in Chicago.

Amidst the high profile deaths of the Cars' Ric Ocasek, Eddie Money and broadcaster Cokie Roberts, it was easy for the passing of John Cohen on Monday to get short shrift. But not for Patti Smith.

Smith dedicated a performance of "Tarkovsy (The Second Stop Is Jupiter)" from her 2012 album Banga to Cohen during her Tuesday night concert at the Royal Oak Music Theatre in suburban Detroit. Smith spoke about Cohen's music with the New Lost City Ramblers as well as his photography, which included portraits of Jack Kerouac and some of the earliest images of Bob Dylan after his arrival in New York City.

Smith also acknowledged the work Cohen, 87, did with fellow photographer and filmmaker Robert Frank, who died on Sept. 9 in Canada, calling them "to really fine men. We salute them both. Farewell, John."  

As she did the previous night, Smith also paid tribute to Ocasek, who died on Sunday at the age of 75. But she took task with an appreciation of the Cars leader in Britain's Guardian, which she noted "plopped me in it," claiming that Smith "didn't make any headway until I got Bruce Springsteen to write me a hit."

Explaining that it was Springsteen who offered her "Because the Night," Smith made clear that, "I didn't get nobody to do nothing for me" before playing the song.


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