Wednesday, August 29, 2007

Hilly Kristal, CBGB Founder, Dies at 75

(From The New York Times)

"Hilly Kristal, who founded CBGB, the Bowery bar that became the cradle of punk and art-rock in New York in the 1970s and served as the inspiration for musician-friendly rock dives throughout the world, died in Manhattan on Tuesday. He was 75.

From its opening in late 1973, when Mr. Kristal, a lover of acoustic music, gave the club its name, an abbreviation of the kinds of music he originally intended to feature there — country, bluegrass and blues — until a dispute with its landlord forced the club to close last October, CBGB presented thousands of bands within its eternally crumbling, flyer-encrusted walls.

Most famously, it served as the incubator for the diverse underground scene of New York in the 1970s and early ’80s, with acts like the Ramones, Patti Smith, Blondie, Television, Talking Heads and Sonic Youth playing some of their earliest and most important concerts there, at a time when there were few outlets in the city for innovative rock music.

“There was no real venue in 1973 for people like us,” Ms. Smith said today. “We didn’t fit into the cabarets or the folk clubs. Hilly wanted the people that nobody else wanted. He wanted us.”

Besides his son, Mr. Kristal is survived by a daughter, Lisa Kristal Burgman, and two grandchildren."


I once rented CBGB Pizza (next door) as a location for a short 35mm film I made starring Richard Hell. Hilly was quite the gentlemen, taking my $300 for the day and letting us have the joint from 10am to 6pm. So we hauled all the shit in - Arriflex camera, dolly with tracks, hair, MU, actors, fucking Richard Hell and started shooting. At about 4:30pm, he came in and started screaming that we had to leave due to a sound check. I paid him another $100 and we stayed until 6pm. Awesome.

I used to see him in the East Village all the time leaving CBGB with the money bag and always wondered if he was able to make ends meet..., CBGB just sits there with a "For Rent" sign on it. I hope his family takes that shit to Vegas and makes a fortune...

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