Monthly Archives: August 2007

Goodbye, Hilly Kristal

Endless thanks, Hilly, for giving a whole hell of a lot of us somewhere to go and something to do.


CBGB Founder Hilly Kristal Dies

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Published: August 29, 2007

Filed at 1:03 p.m. ET

NEW YORK (AP) — Hilly Kristal, whose dank Bowery rock club CBGB served as the birthplace of the punk rock movement and a launching pad for bands like the Ramones, Blondie and the Talking Heads, has died. He was 75.

Kristal, who lost a bitter fight last year to stop the club’s eviction from its home of 33 years, died Tuesday at Cabrini Hospital after a battle with lung cancer, his son Mark Dana Kristal said Wednesday.

Last October, as the club headed toward its final show with Patti Smith, Kristal was using a cane to get around and showing the effects of his cancer treatment. He was hoping to open a Las Vegas incarnation of the infamous venue that opened in 1973.

”He created a club that started on a small, out-of-the-way skid row, and saw it go around the world,” said Lenny Kaye, a longtime member of the Patti Smith Group. ”Everywhere you travel around the world, you saw somebody wearing a CBGB T-shirt.”

While the club’s glory days were long past when it shut down, its name transcended the venue and become synonymous with the three-chord thrash of punk and its influence on generations of musicians worldwide.

The club also became a brand name for a line of clothing and accessories, even guitar straps; its store, CBGB Fashions, was moved a few blocks away from the original club, but remained open.

”I’m thinking about tomorrow and the next day and the next day, and going on to do more with CBGB’s,” Kristal told The Associated Press last October.

Kristal started the club in 1973 with the hope of making it a mecca of country, bluegrass and blues — called CBGB & OMFUG, for ”Other Music For Uplifting Gourmandisers” — but found few bands to book. It instead became the epicenter of the mid-1970s punk movement.

”There was never gourmet food, and there was never country bluegrass,” his son said Wednesday.

Besides the Ramones and the Talking Heads, many of the other sonically defiant bands that found frenzied crowds at CBGB during those years became legendary — including Smith, Blondie and Television.

Smith said at the venue’s last show that Kristal ”was our champion and in those days, there were very few.”

Throughout the years, CBGB had rented its space from the building’s owner, the Bowery Residents’ Committee, an agency that houses homeless people.

In the early 2000s, a feud broke out when the committee went to court to collect more than $300,000 in back rent from the club, then later successfully sought to evict it. By the time it closed, CBGB had become part museum and part barroom.

At the club’s boarded-up storefront Wednesday morning, fans left a dozen candles, two bunches of flowers and a foam rubber baseball bat — an apparent tribute to the Ramones’ classic ”Beat on the Brat.” A spray-painted message read: ”RIP Hilly, we’ll miss you, thank you.”

Other survivors include his wife, Karen, and daughter, Lisa.


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Update on the nightlife ordinance battle

Yes, the seemingly never-ending battle continues, and your help is still needed. After a meeting last week where more reasonable ideas were set forth, a few council members and the mayor seem intent on rolling back the progress made.

You have a voice. Use it, or be ready for the closure of your favorite rock club. Above and beyond being able to go out and listen to great music live, that means it will be that much harder for your band to book shows, and your friends who are bartenders, waitstaff, barbacks and doormen are going to be out of work, too. Worst of all, you and others won’t be able to wander into a club any given night and discover your new favorite band. That’s one of the biggest advantages of living in a city, especially Seattle — for a city with a century of amazing musical heritage, these proposals are particularly alarming and draconian.

Here’s the message that’s making the rounds, with suggestions on how to speak up and stop these pointless proposals:

Voice your opinion to the City Council!

Last Thursday, the City Council’s Neighborhoods and Economic Development committee passed a reasonable package of new nightlife rules which creates an advisory board, requires some nightlife businesses to develop security plans, and adds additional enforcement staffing for the city. This package can be viewed at

However, a last minute push by Councilmembers Jan Drago and David Della has put the mayor’s license proposal back on the table. The new proposal can be viewed here ( This new license, combined with the new rules the committee has already passed, makes this new package as extreme – if not more – than what the mayor proposed. In addition, the council is working on a new noise ordinance which has yet to be made public, but is expected to be voted on next Thursday, August 16. The council is now contemplating even more regulation than the Mayor proposed!

Here is what we need you to do:

* Contact the members of the city council and tell them you support the package that the committee has approved and we don’t need a license. They should just vote on what they have in front of them NOW and move on.

* Please contact the City Council today! Councilmembers email addresses are listed below.

* Attend the Monday, August 13th 2 PM City Council meeting and testify. You will have only two minutes, and they limit the total time allotted for public comment so sign up early!

* Attend the Thursday, August 16th, 6 PM meeting of council’s Neighborhoods and Economic Development Committee at the Highpoint Community Center – 6920 34th Ave SW. Testimony will be taken at the beginning of the meeting.

* Forward this email to your friends and colleagues asking them to voice their support of nightlife in Seattle. Neighborhood activists and the Mayor have been pounding on City Councilmembers these last few months. Our voice needs to be heard! Contact the councilmembers today!

Seattle City Council:
Sally Clark –
Richard Conlin –
David Della –
Jan Drago –
Jean Godden –
Nick Licata –
Richard McIver –
Tom Rasmussen –
Peter Steinbrueck –

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