Cohen's former bandleader and guitarist Ron Cornelius said this to the Songfacts website:I wrote this for an American singer who died a while ago. She used to stay at the Chelsea, too. I began it at a bar in a Polynesian restaurant in Miami in 1971 and finished it in Asmara, Ethiopia just before the throne was overturned. Ron Cornelius helped me with a chord change in an earlier version.
I checked with BMI, and Ronald Dean Cornelius is listed as co-writer alongside Cohen. His name is not, however, listed with the U.S. Copyright Office, and not on any Cohen record.He claims that I helped him with a chord change in writing an earlier version of this song. The truth is that I co-wrote the song with him on an airplane (8 hrs) from New York to Shannon, Ireland. The reason it has a No. 2 behind it is that he tried to cheat me out of my share by recopyrighting it that way (he changed nothing) – it was just "Chelsea Hotel." Anyone can check out the writer credits by contacting BMI to get the truthful writer credits. I ran his band for a long time (worldwide), played on his records, and have nothing but honest input to look back on – Leonard can't say that!!!
What is the story here? Doesn't Leonard have the grace to share songwriting credit, or is Cornelius mistaken?