That was Hilly Kristal’s primary rule for CBGB’s on Bowery and Bleeker in New York City. Replacing Hilly’s on the Bowery, CBGB & OMFUG (Country, Bluegrass, and Blues and Other Music For Uplifting Gormandizers) stood at 315 Bowery from its opening in December 1973 until it was closed on October 15, 2006. It was built as a venue for new and upcoming bands to the new york music scene, and ended up becoming the birth of American punk rock scene and was a jump off point for the careers of some of music history’s greatest bands and singers: Patti Smith Group, The Stillettoes (featuring Blondie’s Debbie Harrry), Blondie (under their original name of Angels & the Snakes) The Ramones, Mink DeVille, Talking Heads, Tuff Darts, The Shirts, The Heartbreakers, The Fleshtones and even the Police played here.
The Gorilla Biscuits, the Cro-Mags, Agnostic Front, Sick of it All, Reagan Youth, Warzone, and Youth of Today were all part of New York’s underground hardcore scene started at CBGB’s and kept the bar a float through the 80’s. In 2005, however, the Bowery Resident’s Committee had enough of Hilly and the CB’s crowd and worked to get them removed from the property without compromise. Succeeding in closing the venue for good on October 15, 2006.
I moved to NYC in 05, and never got a chance to experience a show in CBGB’s but I did participate in the ralleys and free shows in Washington Sq to help spread awareness and get support for keeping the venue open. I went last week to the Tribeca Film Festival and watched the only movie of the fest (for me): a documentary called ‘Burning Down the House” The Story of CBGB‘. The show was April 30th, and I had the opportunity after the show to hear a Q&A hosted by Matt Pinfield, with the director (Mandy Stein), Chris Frantz of Talking Heads and Tom Tom Club, Jesse Malin of Heart Attack and DGeneration, and Tommy Ramone of well… The Ramones.
Mandy Stein is the daughter of eymour Stein, president and co-founder of Sire Records, who launched the recording careers of the Ramones, Talking Heads, and The Pretenders, among many others so it made sense she get access to all the people featured in the making of this film.
I sat solo in the theater surrounded by guests, friends and participants of many of the two dimensional people portrayed or interviewed in the film. It was a good film, not great, by film standards, however, the heart of watching the progression of CBGBs from hole in the wall nothing to, punk glory, to hole in the wall franchise and finally demise was a roller coaster of intense laughs and tears from an audience that was there and lived again vicariously through the digital frames.
The Ramones – Teenage Lobotomy