Leaving Normal: Hilly Kristal
Little Johnny Jewel Pt 1 & 2 by Television
Founder of legendary New York punk rock club dies
Last updated 10:02am (Mla time) 08/30/2007
NEW YORK — Hilly Kristal, founder and owner of an underground rock club in New York known as the spiritual home of American punk, has died of lung cancer, local media reported on Wednesday.
Kristal launched CBGB in 1973 in a derelict bar in the East Village, at that time a poor, rundown district of the city. A fan of acoustic music, he initially intended on offering music the club was named after: Country, Bluegrass and Blues.
But after he allowed two young, obscure rock bands — Television and the Ramones — to perform, the club evolved into a center for underground music and punk rock. And Kristal attracted raw talent by requiring bands that only play their own original music.
Patti Smith and “The Godfathers of Punk,” The Ramones, got their start at the dark, dank club, as did Blondie and the Talking Heads. The New York Times called Kristal a “rock midwife.”
“The formula driven Disco music and the long drawn out solos and other complexities in much of the rock of the late sixties and early seventies encouraged a lot of disgruntled rock enthusiasts to seek the refreshing rhythms and sounds of simple high energy rock and roll, which seemed to take shape right here at CBGB,” Kristal wrote in a history posted on the former club’s website.
“We called this music ‘street rock’ and later ‘PUNK’ — ‘come as you are and do your own thing’ rock and roll,” said Kristal.
The Bowery club closed its doors in October 2006, after a farewell performance by Patti Smith, due to a massive rent hike. Kristal said he could not afford the 65,000 dollars a month the landlord was demanding and spoke about reopening the club possibly in Las Vegas.
Kristal died on Tuesday, said New York One television, quoting relatives. He was 75.
special feature on CBGB’s & an interview with Hilly Kristal: glidemagazine.com