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The Story of CBGB’s, New York: The Birthplace of Punk.

The Story of CBGB’s, New York: The Birthplace of Punk.

 Above Photo: Patti Smith going into CBGB’s in 1976 (© David Godlis)

CBGB’s was a New York music club opened in 1973 by Hilly Kristal, in a former nineteenth-century saloon at 315 Bowery, in the East Village.

Talking Heads play at CBGB's in 1977.

Talking Heads play at CBGB’s in 1977. (© David Godlis)

CBGB’s is commonly known as the ‘birthplace’ of punk, although that wasn’t originally the plan. The owner wanted to set up a club for country, bluegrass and blues  – hence the initials CBGB’s (the OMFUG stood for ”Other Music For Uplifting Gormandizers”) , but the club soon became a famed venue of punk rock and new wave bands such as the Ramones, Television, Patti Smith Group, the Dead Boys, Blondie and Talking Heads.

The Ramones play CBGB's in 1977.

The Ramones play CBGB’s in 1977. (© David Godlis)

CBGB’s emergence as a Punk venue was assisted by the August 1973 collapse of a music and arts venue called the Mercer Arts Center, which had left New York bands with few options to play live in the city, so Mercer refugees—including Suicide, The Fast and Wayne County, soon began to play at CBGB’s.

The Cramps outside CBGB's (© David Godlis)

The Cramps outside CBGB’s (© David Godlis)

In April 1974, in the audience for Television’s third gig at CBGB’s were Patti Smith and Lenny Kaye, whose Patti Smith Group subsequently debuted at CBGB’s on February 14, 1975. Other early performers included the Stillettos—which included Debbie Harry on vocals. They also supported Television at CBGB’s on May 5, 1974.

Club owner Hilly Kristal stands outside CBGB's (© David Godlis)

Club owner Hilly Kristal stands outside CBGB’s (© David Godlis)

The newly formed band Angel & the Snake, later renamed Blondie, as well as the Ramones played in August 1974. Mink DeVille, Talking Heads, the Shirts, the Heartbreakers, the Fleshtones and other bands soon followed.

Sylvia Morales (who later married Lou Reed) and Mudd Club co-founder Anya Phillips outside CBGB's in 1977. (© David Godlis)

Sylvia Morales (who later married Lou Reed) and Mudd Club co-founder Anya Phillips outside CBGB’s in 1977. (© David Godlis)

CBGB’s made bands move their own equipment (that must have been Roadie Heaven) and stipulated that they only play original songs, in order to deter cover bands – although regular bands often played one or two covers in their sets.

CBGB’s growing reputation drew more and more acts from outside New York, and in October 1978,  The Police played their first US gigs at CBGB’s.

Richard Manitoba, lead singer of the Dictators, and a friend stand beneath the awning of the club. (© David Godlis)

Richard Manitoba, lead singer of the Dictators, and a friend stand beneath the awning of the club. (© David Godlis)

Meanwhile, CBGB’s had become a regular gig venue for other bands like the Misfits, the Dead Boys, the Dictators, the Voidoids, the Cramps, the B-52s, Blondie, Joan Jett & The Blackhearts.

Richard Hell, on his way to CBGB's during a rainstorm in 1977. (© David Godlis)

Richard Hell, on his way to CBGB’s during a rainstorm in 1977. (© David Godlis)

In the 1980s and 1990s, the club hosted hardcore punk and New York underground bands, but in the year 2000 CBGB’s became embroiled in a dispute over unpaid rent until the landlord sued in 2005. He lost the case, but a deal to renew CBGB’s lease, expiring in 2006, failed, so the club was forced to close.

The Ramones stand outside CBGB's in 1977.

The Ramones stand outside CBGB’s in 1977.

The club closed after a final concert, played by Patti Smith, on October 15, 2006, and Hilly Kristal died from complications of lung cancer on August 28, 2007.

Richard Hell plays at CBGB's in 1978. (© David Godlis)

Richard Hell plays at CBGB’s in 1978. (© David Godlis)

There was an alley behind the building,  called the “Extra Place”, which would later be lost under a pedestrian mall. The Dead Boys’ Cheetah Chrome said, “If that alley could talk, it’s seen it all”.

The Ramones play CBGB's in 1977.

The Ramones play CBGB’s in 1977.

In 2013, the former location of CBGB’s was added to the National Register of Historic Places as part of the Bowery Historic District.

The Patti Smith Group play CBGB's in 1977. (© David Godlis)

The Patti Smith Group play CBGB’s in 1977. (© David Godlis)

The  nomination read:

“CBGB was founded in 1973 on the Bowery, in a former nineteenth-century saloon on the first floor of the Palace Lodging House. The legendary music venue fostered new genres of American music, including punk and art rock, that defined the culture of downtown Manhattan in the 1970s, and that still resonate today. In this role as cultural incubator, CBGB served the same function as the theaters and concert halls of the Bowery’s storied past. The former club, now occupied by a retail business, remains a pilgrimage site for legions of music fans”.

Debbie Harry of Blondie plays at CBGB's in 1977.

Debbie Harry of Blondie plays at CBGB’s in 1977.

I have used some David Godlis (and other) shots of CBGB’s below, plus a You Tube link to a great Talking Heads track that mentions CBGB’s – Life During Wartime.

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Dee Dee Ramone of The Ramones plays CBGB's in 1977.

Dee Dee Ramone of The Ramones plays CBGB’s in 1977.

Outside CBGB's in the daytime.

Outside CBGB’s in the daytime.

No wavers (a short-lived subculture for people who rejected the new wave music-art movement), waiting outside the club (1978). (© David Godlis)

No Wavers (a short-lived subculture for people who rejected the new wave music-art movement), waiting outside CBGB’s in 1978. (© David Godlis)

Outside CBGB's at night (© David Godlis)

Outside CBGB’s at night (© David Godlis)

Dee Dee and Joey Ramone arrive at the club in 1977. (© David Godlis)

Dee Dee and Joey Ramone arrive at the club in 1977. (© David Godlis)

Flier for the first week of CBGBs, showing an impressive line-up of bands.

Flier for the first week of CBGB’s, showing an impressive line-up of bands.

Debbie Harry of Blondie performing at CBGB's in 1977 (© David Godlis)

Debbie Harry of Blondie performing at CBGB’s in 1977 (© David Godlis)

Another evocative daytime shot outside CBGB's.

Another evocative daytime shot outside CBGB’s.

Blondie Flier for a gig at CBGB's.

Blondie Flier for a gig at CBGB’s.

The Ramones onstage in CBGB's (© David Godlis)

The Ramones onstage in CBGB’s (© David Godlis)

Talking Heads – Life During Wartime

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