CBGB (Country, Blue Grass, and Blues) was a music club at 315 Bowery at Bleecker Street in the borough ofManhattan in New York City.Founded by Hilly Kristal in 1973, it was originally intended to feature its namesake musical styles, but became a forum for American punk and New Wave bands like Ramones, Misfits, Television, the Patti Smith Group, Mink DeVille, The Dead Boys, The Dictators, The Fleshtones, The Voidoids, The Cramps, Blondie, The Shirts, andTalking Heads. In later years, it would mainly become known for Hardcore punk with bands such as Agnostic Front, Bad Brains, Murphy's Law, Cro-Mags, Warzone, Gorilla Biscuits, Sick of It All, and Youth of Todayperforming there.
The storefront and large space next door to the club served as the "CBGB Record Canteen" (record shop and cafe) for many years. Eventually, in the late eighties, the record store was closed and replaced with a second performance space and art gallery, named "CB's 313 Gallery". The gallery went on to showcase many popular bands and singer-songwriters who played in a musical style more akin to acoustic rock, folk, jazz, orexperimental music, such as Dadadah, Toshi Reagon, and The Shells, while the original club continued to present mainly hardcore bands and post-punk, metal, and alternative rock acts.The club closed in October 2006. The final concert was performed by Patti Smith on October 15. CBGB Fashions (the CBGB store, wholesale department, and online store) stayed open until October 31 at 315 Bowery. On November 1, 2006, CBGB Fashions moved to 19-23 St. Mark's Place, but it subsequently closed in the summer of 2008.
In 1973, before Hilly's on the Bowery became CBGB, two locals, Bill Page and Rusty McKenna, convinced Kristal to allow them to book concerts. Although the term "punk rock" was not applied to these acts, Kristal's son believes they helped lay the musical foundation for the bands that followed. After the Mercer Arts Center collapsed in August 1973, there were few locations in New York where unsigned bands could play original music, and some of the Mercer refugees, including Suicide, The Fast, Wayne County and the Magic Tramps all played in the very early days of CBGB.
CBGB had only one rule for a band to follow in order to play at the venue: they had to play primarily original music. Nocover bands were booked to play there. However, most of the regular bands played one or two covers during their sets. Kristal's son claims the policy was meant to help the club avoid paying ASCAP royalties for the compositions being performed.At the third Television gig on April 14, 1974, Patti Smith and Lenny Kaye from the Patti Smith Group were in the audience. The band went on to make its own CBGB debut on February 14, 1975. Other early performers included The Stillettos, featuring Deborah Harry, Elda Gentile and Amanda Jones on vocals, and Chris Stein on guitar), who supported Television on May 5, 1974. The newly-formed Blondie (under its original name of Angel & the Snake) and the Ramones both arrived in August 1974. Mink DeVille, Talking Heads, The Shirts, The Heartbreakers, The Fleshtones and many other bands followed in quick succession.As CBGB's reputation grew, it began to draw more acts from outside New York City. The club hosted the first American gigs by The Police, on October 20 and 21, 1978.
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In 2005, a dispute arose between CBGB and the Bowery Residents' Committee. The Committee billed Kristal $91,000 in back rent, while Kristal claimed he had not been informed of increases in his $19,000 monthly rent.After the lease expired, they reached an agreement for the club to remain for 14 more months while Kristal dropped his legal battles and his attempts to get historic landmark status for the club.
Kristal planned to move the club far from its roots with a new CBGB in Las Vegas, Nevada. The owner planned to strip the current club down to the bare walls, bringing as much of it to Nevada as possible."We're going to take the urinals," he said. "I'll take whatever I can. The movers said, 'You ought to take everything, and auction off what you don't want on eBay.' Why not? Somebody will."The club finally closed on October 15, 2006. The last week featured multi-night stands by Bad Brains and The Dictators, along with an acoustic set by Blondie. More contemporary acts, such as Avail and The Bouncing Souls, opened shows throughout the week.
The final concert was performed by Patti Smith and broadcast live on Sirius Satellite Radio. Flea of the Red Hot Chili Peppers attended the show and even performed on a handful of songs with Smith and her band. Flea turned 44 at midnight, and the band and crowd sang "Happy Birthday" to him. Television's Richard Lloyd also guested on a few songs, including a reworked version of the title track to "Marquee Moon". Toward the end of their set, Smith and her band played "Gloria", paying tribute to the Ramones during the chorus by alternating between the original lyrics and the "Hey! Ho! Let's go!" of "Blitzkrieg Bop". In her final encore, the song "Elegie", Smith read from a list of musicians who had died since they last played at CBGB.
Hilly Kristal died from complications from lung cancer on August 28, 2007. In early October 2007, Kristal's family and friends hosted a private memorial service in the YMCA near the village. Soon after, there was a public memorial where CBGB staff and others paid tribute.
After Kristal's death, his ex-wife, Karen Kristal, and daughter, Lisa Kristal Burgman, engaged in a legal battle over the purported $3 million CBGB estate, settling in June 2009 with Burgman receiving "most" of the money that did not go to creditors and estate taxes.