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CBGB (Country, Blue Grass, and Blues) was a music club at 315 Bowery at Bleecker Street in the borough of Manhattan 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, and Talking 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 Today performing 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, or experimental 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.
CBGB Radio launched on the iheartradio platform in 2010
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. No cover 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.
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.
Hardcore punkThough CBGB was utilized as a hot spot for touring bands to hit when they came through New York, the scene that kept the bar alive during the 1980s was New York's underground hardcore punk scene. Sunday at CBGB was matinee day (also named "thrash day" in a documentary about hardcore). Every Sunday, a handful of hardcore bands took the stage in the afternoon to dinnertime hours, usually for cheap. Bands made famous by matinees include Reagan Youth, Bad Brains, Agnostic Front, Murphy's Law, Cro-Mags, Leeway, Warzone, Gorilla Biscuits, Sick of It All, The Misfits, Straight Ahead, and Youth of Today.
Over the years, CBGB's matinee became an institution. In 1990, violence both in and out of the scene caused Kristal to refuse to book hardcore shows. However, CBGB later brought hardcore back at various times, and for the last several years of its existence, had no rules about what genres could and couldn't be featured.
As an iconic referent for a hard-edged New York throughout popular and art media – despite closure and erasure – CBGB's life and presence has been extended by cultural awareness giving a nod to hipdom and historical sensibility. CBGB stands as both punk birthplace and emblem of that city. Most prominently, CBGB featured in a promotional ad during the bid for New York City to host the Olympic games in 2012.
CBGB duly featured on The Simpsons during their 19th season (episode 12, aired 2008-02-17) in the episode "Love, Springfieldian Style" with a spoof of the romance of Sid Vicious and Nancy Spungen and the film Sid and Nancy. Sid (played by Nelson Muntz) and Nancy (played by Lisa Simpson) get kicked out of CBGB by the Comic Book Guy and are informed that: "You are no longer welcome at CBGB: Comic Book Guy's Bar."
In Joan Jett and The Blackhearts' music video for their song 'Good Music' (the first song on their fifth studio album Good Music (album), they play a gig in CBGB's basement. It also shows the front of the shop as she walks in.
In the film The Warriors and its video game adaptation, a gang from the Bowery known as The Lizzies take three members of The Warriors street gang to their apartment. The Lizzies' building is directly across the street from CBGB. The film Bandslam, central character Will Burton and Sa5m (the 5 is silent) get into the then closed CBGB's through an outside basement door. Even artist Sage Francis used CBGB in his video, Escape Artist.
The club backdrops a bar brawl in the PS2/Xbox/PC game True Crime: New York City.
The club features in the 1999 Spike Lee movie Summer of Sam, where one of the central characters, Richie, becomes a regular patron after becoming a punk rocker. And again makes an appearance in movies including Woody Allen's Hannah and Her Sisters and Sylvester Stallone's Staying Alive. (In the latter film, John Travolta's character Tony Manero stops by the club one night when the performer on stage is, somewhat incongruously, Sylvester Stallone's pop singer brother Frank Stallone.)
CBGB inhabits language in the song Life During Wartime by Talking Heads, with a mention in the verse "this ain't no Mudd Club or CBGB..." New York punk band Sick Of It All's track "Month of Sundays" from the album Based on a True Story is about going to CBGB's for the Sunday hardcore shows. They even name check the doorman. Most of Rancid's Red Hot Moon video was shot at CBGB.
Season 4's Gilmore Girls shows Lane Kim and her band (including former Skid Row member Sebastian Bach) supposed to play the 1am Tuesday slot but they get bumped, while the movie Sex and the City 2 flashback scene, has Carrie reminiscing about her first meeting with Samantha when she worked at CBGB.
CBGB is featured as the only non-fictional venue in the 2010 rhythm game Guitar Hero: Warriors of Rock. The club was re-opened for one night only for the game's launch party.
The club is mentioned in the LCD Soundsystem song, "Losing My Edge" (2002): "I was the first one to play Daft Punk to the rock kids. I played them at CBGB