CBGB & OMFUG
CBGB's was a legendary music venue located in the Bowery neighborhood of Manhattan, New York City. It opened in 1973 and quickly became a hotbed of punk and new wave music, launching the careers of some of the era's most influential bands. The venue closed in 2006, but its legacy lives on as a symbol of the downtown music scene that helped define a generation.
- CBGB's was founded by Hilly Kristal, a musician, and entrepreneur who had previously owned a bar called Hilly's on the same site. Originally, CBGBs was intended to be a venue for country, bluegrass, and blues music, hence the name "CBGB & OMFUG" (Country BlueGrass Blues & Other Music For Uplifting Gormandizers). However, it quickly became clear that the real interest was in punk rock, which was just beginning to emerge as a force in the music world.
- The early years of CBGBs were marked by a chaotic and sometimes dangerous atmosphere, with drugs, violence, and poverty all playing a role in the scene. Nevertheless, the venue quickly became a hub for musicians and fans who were looking for something different than the mainstream rock of the time. Among the early bands to play at CBGB's were The Ramones, Blondie, Talking Heads, Patti Smith, and Television, all of whom would go on to become major figures in the punk and new wave movements.
- One of the coolest features of CBGB's was its lack of a stage or a backstage area. Instead, bands would set up on the same level as the audience, creating an intimate and sometimes confrontational dynamic. The club was also known for its unpretentious atmosphere and low prices, making it accessible to a wide range of people, including artists, musicians, and other creative types.
- As the punk scene grew in the late 1970s and early 1980s, CBGB's became even more influential. The venue served as a launching pad for numerous bands, including The Misfits, Dead Boys, Richard Hell and the Voidoids, and Tom Petty The Heartbreakers. It also attracted a diverse crowd of fans, including famous musicians like David Bowie, Iggy Pop, and Debbie Harry.
- Despite its status as a cultural icon, CBGB's struggled financially in the later years of its existence. Kristal's hands-off management style had left the club in a state of disrepair, with many of the fixtures and equipment dating back to the venue's early days.
- In 2005, the club was served with an eviction notice by its landlord, the Bowery Residents' Committee, which had plans to convert the building into a luxury development. Despite a massive outpouring of support from fans and musicians around the world, CBGB's was forced to close its doors in October of that year.
- Today, the site of CBGB's is a John Varvatos clothing store, but the venue's legacy lives on in the music and culture it helped to create. CBGB's remains a symbol of the DIY ethos and underground spirit that defined the punk and new wave movements. Its impact can be felt in everything from the music of contemporary artists to the design of modern rock clubs.
- In 2013, a CBGB's Festival was launched in New York City, featuring various events and performances celebrating the club's legacy. The festival has continued in subsequent years, with events taking place in various locations around the city.
In addition to its influence on music, CBGB's also played a role in the development of the downtown art scene. The club hosted exhibitions of art and photography.