Bob Dylan lived in suite #2011. Madonna stayed in suite #882 during the early eighties. Charles Bukowski stayed in the hotel. So did Mark Twain and William S. Burroughs. Arthur C. Clarke wrote 2001: A Space Odyssey there. Jackson Pollock stayed there as did Tom Waits, Brendan Behan, most of the Grateful Dead and Jimi Hendrix. Jack Kerouac wrote On the Road in one of the suites. Several survivors of the Titanic even stayed at the hotel because of its proximity to Pier 54, where the White Star Line planned to dock the liner when it arrived in New York.
The Chelsea Hotel, located in the Manhattan neighbourhood of Chelsea, has seen its share of beat poets and hippie folksters, wide-eyed acid heads and apocalyptic burn outs, high-price hookers and guttersnipe tramps. In its 250+ suites, it has housed the famous and the obscure, the living and the dead. And of the countless legends that have emerged from its crude, marble hallways, perhaps the most enchanting is that of two lovers: Janis Joplin and Leonard Cohen.
On March 23rd, 1972, Cohen, who was 38-years-old at the time, debuted a song during the third show of his Royal Albert Hall concert series in London, England. He recorded the same song two years later during the sessions for this 1974 album, New Skin For The Old Ceremony. He would play the song thousands of times throughout the rest of his career, in fact, he plays it still. He has never been able to live it down. The song’s lyrics make mention of a woman ‘giving him head’, offering a rare glimpse into Cohen’s secretive love life. The song is Chelsea Hotel #2 and the woman was the late Janis Joplin.